« AnteriorContinuar »
The Business Book The First of a Series of Articles on the Building of Business Literature
By MARCO MORROW
T is not the purpose of the series
of articles, of which this is the first, to lay down hard and fast
rules for the building of “business literature”-if we may use so ambitious a term to describe the circulars, pamphlets and books, circulated for the dissemination of information and misinformation relative to a man's business.
The writer does not expect to shed any new light upon the subject; all he hopes to do is to set forth in more
less logical sequence a few facts which must be apparent to every man who studies business literature, and from them deduce a few of the fundamental principles underlying the selling of goods and the development of business by paper and ink.
talk," and he starts a recent booklet (not to quote exactly) something like this:
"If I could drive out to your place and walk over your farm, look over your live stock and talk the situation over with you, I'm pretty sure that I could make some suggestions, drawn from my 18 years' experience, which would be of value to you and help you make more money from your live stock.
“Unfortunately I can't do that this year. Neither can I write a letter to you, unless you let me know where you are and who you are. So I am sending out this booklet in the hopes that it will fall into your hands. It tells some of the things I know about feeding livestock and gives some of the reasons why Standard Stock Food will help you make more money."
I quote from memory, but have the spirit of Mr. Sanborn's talk. Don't you think that sort of talk will attract the attention and hold the interest of the farmer and the stockman I'm sure of it.
The Business Book today occupies a position of greater importance in the business world than ever before-partly because it is, as a rule, better than ever before, but more because of the changed attitude of the great buying public toward advertising in general. This changed attitude has been brought about very largely by improvements in advertisements, by saner advertisingand it in turn has made better, more effective advertising possible.
The Business Book formerly was compelled to sneak into a man's office and steal upon him unawares. Today, if it be worthy attention, it usually receives due consideration. It has advanced from the peripatetic book-agent class to the “personal representative" class.
First, then, make your Business Book your personal representative. Send it in lieu of a personal interview. Remember when writing every line, when drawing every picture, when setting every type, when printing every impression—this represents me; it is I and my house and my wares.
Mr. X., to whom it goes, has no other way of knowing me and judging of the value of the proposition I make him.''
I do not mean that every Business Book should be written in the first person singular, and in a colloquial style. I do not mean that every booklet should be a famiilar “heart-to-heart's talk any more than I would say that the same argument, the same manner and the same tone should be used toward your banker when negotiating a loan and your coachman when trying to induce him not to “yump his yob."
In fact, I mean exactly the contrary.
More Business Books fail because the writers do not take into consideration their audience than from any other one cause perhaps than from all other
Size up your customers.
Don't waste a bomb-shell on an kuglish sparrow; don't try to stop an elephant with bird shot.
There are not many things tbat the multi-millionaire and the day laborer use in common; even if you have such an article it is not probable that both extremes will buy of you. Your customers most likely are confined to a distinct class of persons who think and feel very much alike on subjects akin to your proposition.
It's your business, then, before pen is put to paper to ask yourself: What sort of a person am
| most likely to interest in my wares ?
What are his chief characteristics? Where is his most vulnerable point?
How can I most forcibly impress myself upon him
trouble in producing a good resultbringing Business Book, unless be wanders from the track when it comes to its execution.
Of course, you very likely have no one typical customer; you may count all sorts and conditions of men with their sisters and their cousins and their aunts among your customers, but even so, if you remember who they are, don't try to pot them all with one shot. Don't scatter all over the woods. If you expect to catch several kinds of fish, use several kinds of hooks and several kinds of bait. Remember that what is one man's meat is another man's poison; what is foolishness to the Greek is salvation to Paul, and for goodness sake, don't scatter.
Have a definite idea, a definite mark and shoot straight at it.
T doesn't seem to be much of a
trick for any advertiser to get business, but not many are or
ganized to handle their orders in the best possible manner after securing, them. Therefore the effectiveness of publicity depends with about equal weight on the character and extent of the circulation of the mediums used and the ability of the individual or company to take care of customers.
A breeder of pedigreed live stock who advertises intelligently has no difficulty in getting a rich harvest of inquiries, but lacking tact, business sense and an appreciation of the peculiarities of his correspondents he loses business that a shrewder competitor with perhaps inferior stock easily captures.
I have known many cases where sales of cattle, for example, were prevented by the bad English used in the advertiser's letter to his inquirer. Nowadays it is assumed that a man who breeds purebred cattle, sheep or hogs is above the average in intelligence and business ability, otherwise he would not have the temerity to engage in such an undertaking. If this breeder is an advertiser, receives letters from possible customers and answers them in language which proves him an ignoramus the probabilities are that he will effect very few sales. The public seems to think that, in such a case, the character of the stock offered should be judged by the education and general business qualifications of the owner. This is hardly fair, however, as it is strangely true that some of the best stock comes from breeders of very meager intellectual attainments. Nevertheless the greatest achievements in the breeding and improvement of domestic animals have been placed to the credit of men of education and large mental caliber.
From the foregoing the deduction is warranted that an advertiser should be able to write a good business letter, nr at all events, be in position to have some one do it for him, and be so organized as to take care of inquiries promptly.
Several years ago I ordered a watch from an advertiser in a high-class magazine, and in about ten days thereafter received a letter to the effect that owing to the large demand for the watch
An investment last winter and spring of $78 in advertising space in two agricultural publications put $2,400 in a farm boy's pocket. He advertised seed corn. It was the first publicity-purchasing he ever did and naturally he went about it in that diffident, incredulous manner which is of considerable assisttance to the new
in killing trade. Still he made money, and, what is more important when philosophically considered, learned to appreciate the value of printers' ink. This year he is enlarging, his appropriation for space in farm journals and has begun a paign which will undoubtedly yield him generous results.
Instructors in ad-writing are growing numerous and arrogant. Examine almost any magazine and one of the most conspicuous ads that will meet your gaze is that of a handsome artist who guarantees to make you a successful adwriter in a very short time for a trifling pile of coin. He teaches the art by mail, and appeals to any one who is dissatisfied with his
present salary! Hundreds of young men, ambitious to become expert ad-writers and recipients of the princely emoluments made easily obtainable by the knowledge imparted, have swallowed the alluring bait and paid good dollars for the instruction received, but few of them seem to have become ad-writers.
In the first place it is difficult successfully to teach anything through correspondence. Young folk have learned that it is even impossible to conduct a harmonious love affair by mail. Ability to write ads that will attract attention is not acquirable except through persistent, zealous efforts to write ads-not specimens for criticism by so-called ex
Life in the Corn Belt T. N. CARVER, in World's Work for December
as steers. A common case is that of a retired merchant who had made a snug little fortune in business, and had decided to buy himself a good farm and to spend his declining years in the light work of superintending it. Now a man who has lived continually on
a farm until past middle life will frequently move to town and make a success as a merchant or as a banker. I know of at least a half-dozen such cases.
But I have yet to find a man who had livell continually in the city until past middle life and had then moved to the country and made a success of corn-growing and cattle-feeding. The inevitable result was that the retired merchant lost money on every trade he made, and in the course of a few years was sold out by the sheriff. The corn belt is full of monuments of just this kind of foolishness. Eastern men and city men, who have imagined that farming consisted simply
HOSE who derive their
knowledge of the world from the comic papers
and cheap theaters think RA
of the farmer as a lean, gawky, bewhiskered crea
ture, ignorant of all topics that lie outside the sphere of farms and crops.
A closer acquaintance with the western farmer, such as I had the good fortune to secure last summer in a 1,000-mile horseback ride through the corn belt, would do such people good.
The average western farmer is as well informed upon the questions of the day as the average business or professional man of our eastern cities, though he lacks acquaintance with many things which some regard as essential to culture. He takes a deep interest in politics, and he is better informed about what goes on in our legislative halls than any other class.
I remember the chagrin expressed by an aged farmer, whom one would pick out as an unusually well-informed man, because of his inability to tell me of a recent act of his legislature. He assured me that he always made it a practice to know what the legislature was doing, but in some way or other this had slipped his mind. In western farmhouses one sees a great many copies of reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, and there are indications that these reports have been studied. Agricultural papers are to be found in all farmhouses.
In Emporia I met a farmer with “Oom Paul'' whiskers, a large, benevolent nose, and a face as bland as a May morning, but in whose eye there lingered no trace of greenness.
He told me with the utmost naïveté of a transaction that he had had with a man fresh from New York who “thought he knew it all,'' a transaction which had made him richer and the New Yorker poorer by some hun. dreds of dollars.
“I hated to do it,” he said, “but it was just like finding money; if I hadn't picked it up some one else would.''
The transaction related to steers, and there was nothing which the New Yorker was accustomed to buying that required so much knowledge and careful judgment