THAT there are great advantages in the use of direct advertising is best indicated by the fact that within a few years the business has grown from practically nothing to a sum now estimated as in excess of $400,000,000 per year in the United States alone, and by the further fact that the industry maintains one of the largest trade associations 0f the country and holds annually a convention which is already one of the most significant business gatherings of the year.
We do not wish to represent direct advertising as an agency competing with other forms of advertising for the business of people who have commodities to sell. Not long ago some publishers and some people in the outdoor advertising field maintained an attitude of ill-concealed antagonism to this new force in advertising. They apparently reasoned along the lines of the old-fashioned labor leaders, who held that there were just so many jobs in the world, and that every outsider who took one of them deprived some other man of the right to work. We all know now that there is no limit to human demands, and that every human being alive is a mass of unsatisfied wants. We have seen the luxuries of yesterday become the necessities of today. Unthought-of things have come into the market, become of universal demand, and given employment to multitudes of people. For example, who wanted an automobile thirty years ago, and who wanted a radio set ten years ago? Now everybody wants both and most people seem to have them.
Every advance in civilization lets loose a flood of new desires and new employment. Hence there is no limit to jobs, and by almost the same token there is no limit to advertisement.
Direct mail advertising cannot be regarded as a competitor of earlier forms of business publicity. We have seen the volume of general advertising increase tenfold during the years in which direct advertising grew to its present vast extent. The truth is that direct mail advertising supplements and nourishes all other forms of advertisement. The greatest users of newspaper and periodical space in the world are almost without exception large users of direct advertising. Before a recent convention of the Direct Mail Advertising Association, Mr. Andrew L. Carmical, promotion manager of the Chicago Evening American, said that his newspaper had become one of the largest users of direct mail in America, and with excellent results.
There are, of course, great businesses that have been built up almost entirely on direct advertising. The so-called “mail-order” houses of the country are the most striking examples, and they are among the greatest and most successful merchandising enterprises of the world. But as a rule a business as it develops will find it advantageous to use more than one form of advertisement.
Direct advertising possesses certain unquestioned advantages of so fundamental a kind that its future is assured, and it will occupy an increasingly important position in the structure of business. Some of the considerations that lead more and more business people to use it may be briefly mentioned:
1. It is an individual, almost personal, appeal. For this reason it carries more weight and commands more attention than a purely general advertisement directed to all who may read. It implies a subtle compliment and recognition. You receive an advertisement or a letter from a great business institution, and you realize that you are known and that you are recognized as a person whose business is desirable.
2. By the use of direct advertising substantially all waste may be avoided. Apart from a limited number of objects of universal use, it may prove wasteful and prohibitively expensive to advertise to the entire nation. Let us illustrate by the case of paper. A manufacturer of writing paper for personal correspondence may properly, if he sees fit, advertise in a national publication, because every one writes letters or may write them, and is a potential user of writing paper. Our own papersBuckeye Cover and Buckeye Antique Text paperson the other hand, are used almost entirely in one or another form of direct advertising or in books. Printers, advertising agencies and the users of advertising are, therefore, the buyers of our papers. Of the one hundred and fifteen millions, or more, of people who constitute the population of the United States, less than one hundred thousand will ever have any serious use for our papers. The names of almost all of these are well known to us and to our merchants. It is, therefore, quite obvious that we should advertise directly to these potential buyers instead of advertising to the more than one hundred millions who have no concern with our product. We can and do supplement our direct mailings with advertisements in the trade publications of the printing and advertising industries which circulate almost entirely among the classes upon whom we depend for our market.
3. Direct advertising possesses the qualities of adaptability and timeliness. It may be produced in a great variety of forms, from the simplest to the most elaborate. A product may be de-scribed and pictured to any extent that may seem desirable, whereas there are limitations in all general advertising. Color may be called to the aid of the direct advertiser, as may all the various printing, engraving and typographical processes. The extent of the advertising and the territory to be covered may be absolutely controlled by the direct advertiser, but he who advertises in a medium of general circulation must send his message wherever that publication happens to have subscribers. The man who uses direct methods may time his appeal exactly, unhampered by publication schedules. He may take advantage of a temporary condition and he may follow his appeal at any interval he may himself determine. He may conduct “test” campaigns with the utmost precision, and he at all times retains entire control over his expenditures. Almost all manufacturers of articles whose use is confined to special classes can use direct advertising to the utmost advantage. The maker of belting knows that he must sell his product to the users of power, and the manufacturer of X-ray machines is interested mainly in doctors and hospitals.
4. Many young institutions cannot afford at the outset the large expenditures required by general advertising, where single pages now have reached so impressive a figure as $I 1,000; but they can afford to collect a list of persons who should be interested in their product and to address them directly. Many of these businesses will later extend the scope and method of their advertising. It is probable that direct mail is the greatest single feeder of the general advertising business.
5. Direct advertising affords for a time a certain degree of secrecy. It would be idle, of course, to assume that any one can long advertise his product by any method without informing his competitor of what he is doing. But this unostentatious and most effective form of advertising at least does not blazon his plans to his competitors at the moment it reveals them to his prospective customers. It is possible to make great progress toward the establishment of a market before competitors realize what is going on.
The Financial Advertisers’ Association has given out a series of ten advantages of direct advertising which may be taken as a sort of confession of faith of the advocates and practitioners of this form of sales publicity:
1. By using good lists of logical prospects there is practically no waste; each prospect receives your appeal.
2. You can reach any and all your prospects in the field in a few hours’ time. Thus you can divide your list into natural units and go after each unit separately.
3. Your mail advertising can secure business direct or assist the men in the field by doing missionary work.
4. You can get quick action in reaching any given list. Timely advertising can be released at the psychological moment. You can take advantage of opportune markets, business conditions or circumstances with profit.
5. There is an intimate personal touch in direct appealsespecially in letter mailingsthat is an advantage. They get under your skin. An advertisement in a publication is a speech to a crowd; a letter or mailing folder is a talk to one man in his easy chair at home, after dinner, or at his desk during the day.
6. Through the more personal appeal of direct advertising the advertiser can bring to bear a different kind of force than that derived from general advertising. He can hook this up to national, class or trade advertising, in many ways.
7. Your sales strategy is hidden from competitors. You don’t have to show your hand.
8. It permits you to key results. There is no large element of chance when proper tests are made and results noted. Direct advertising has the one great advantage of remaining under the eye of the one for whom it is working. He can watch it and develop it intelligently. Its operations are visible when properly systematized.
9. You can get prompt attention under the most favorable circumstances. Your proposition is placed in the hands of the prospect with order blank, return envelope, post-card, or other means of reply.
10. Most important of all, perhaps, you can build up an intimate personal acquaintance and good-will among your prospects and customers of immeasurable value, and at less expense than by any other means.