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ITH the purpose in view of securing information as to just what element decides the buyer
who has seen an article advertised, AGRICULTURAL ADVERTISING recently sent out a large number of letters to those whose testimonials were published by various advertisers, embodying the following questions:
What induced you to buy?
Was it the first second or subsequent letter you received from the firm after receiving the catalogue?
What is your opinion of follow-up letters?
It was felt that the replies to these inquiries would give some valuable hints on advertising.
Afterwards it was decided to widen the scope of the inquiry and subscribers of agricultural papers who are mail order buyers were invited in.
The inquiry brings to light a most surprising unanimity among mail order buyers in condemning follow-up literature.
However, the case against follow-up literature is not conclusive. It is yet to be proved that they were not influenced thereby. The man who drinks may condemn the cup that cheers.
The next important fact was that the catalogue is the determining factor, af
ter attention has been secured by the advertisement. These two, it would seem, make an invincible mail order team.
A large number of replies was received and after careful readings had been given them all, the letter of Jere C. Dennis, Birmingham, Ala., was held to be the best.
A lady in Michigan wrote: “If I see a thing advertised that I want I send for a catalogue. I think not more than one letter should be written and that to give rules and terms. If a person has a catalogue and has the money to buy the things, he will buy it, and if he has not the money no urging will make a sale. I do not like to be urged. Some firms keep on writing and when one sends and gets the article it is not what was expected. I don't want to be urged to buy."
An Illinois correspondent wrote: “I was induced to send a small order by comparing the catalogue prices with those of local merchants. The result being satisfactory, I have continued to buy both in St. Louis and Chicago. Some of my reasons for buying by mail
"ist. Low prices. "2d. A larger stock to select from.
"3d. The saving of time and trouble, as it is much easier to order from a catalogue than to go to town, the rural
route bringing things to the door. I never pay any attention to letters urging me to buy, as I prefer to use my own judgment. I never had a special offer of which I availed myself.”
Another Illinois correspondent, an incubator buyer, says:
"Several years ago, from an ad I saw in a reputable farm journal, I bought a setting of Plymouth Rock eggs from this firm and found them to be as represented.
"Two years ago I saw the advertisement of the same firm in an eastern magazine, calling attention to the fact that the head of the firm had begun to manufacture an incubator, and knowing his long experience I wrote for a catalogue.
"From the full information in the catalogue, about the incubator and the firm, I was induced to order an incubator. I was not influenced by any letters sent subsequent to the receipt of the catalogue. I would have been unfavorably impressed if the firm had persistently continued to write letters urging me to buy.
"After having made up my mind to buy, I do not take further interest in letters or representations or solicitations to buy an article. I was not influerced by the testimonials.
“The fact that the manufacturer only claimed average results, equal to the best, had more influence with me in persuading me to buy his machine than any testimonials.
"I would add that the incubator has proved entirely satisfactory.”
A wind mill buyer who forgot to give his address writes: “I was looking for a windmill and sent for several catalogues. I studied their good points together with the age and success of the firms and based my opinion on these. I did not buy immediately but considered and thought about it for months. It was the description in the catalogue that decided me to buy and the follow-up letters had no influence on me, although the firms showed an eagerness to sell.
“If they had written too frequently I would not have liked it. It was not their letters nor the smooth talk of the agent they sent to me that decided me to buy the mill. I was offered mills at $20 less than I paid for the one I bought, but thought the one I chose the cheapest, considering all things. Each firm put up the same claims and
the same kind of testimonials, but these did not affect me except to prove that power mills in general were good things. It was the way the catalogue described the mill that decided me."
A prominent poultryman in New York says: “I pay no attention to follow-up letters, as they do not interest
The catalogue is of considerable interest to me. As a rule a party who is interested enough to issue a good, clean catalogue, as good as his means will possibly allow, is the one who is interested in his business, and who is most likely to make or sell a good article."
An up-to-date fruit grower has this to say:
“I was influenced by the catalogue. I did not get any special offer. I seldom read a follow-up letter to the end. The follow-up letter has never sold anything. I would rather make up my own mind without urging. I think mail order houses make more up-to-date farmers than all local dealers put together, and that their catalogues educate them to a cash business.”
The very next letter we pick up is one from a live stock breeder in Minnesota, who says, tersely: "It was the description of the goods and the price that induced me to buy. Follow-up letters have no weight with me. Neither have special offers. I prefer to use my
judgment without urging, the order being given only when the goods are fully described and a taking price made. Of course the reliability of a house must be known before giving the order. I believe the catalogue house is here to stay and with a proper parcels post law will ultimately work a vast amount of good in the way of bringing the country to a cash basis." A Minnesota farmer says he depends
the catalogue. Follow-up letters do not influence him nor do special offers. He says: “I do not like urging letters. They do not interest me. I let my needs and means decide. I prefer to make up my own mind."
A young lady in Iowa writes that it is the catalogue that induces her to buy. She does not believe in "wigging" and her notion is that the more a person is urged to buy the less likely he is to buy. She believes the free distribution of catalogues would bring a lot of orders. She thinks that asking a price for catalogues is wrong in prin
Why I Bought His Eggs
Jere C. Dennis, Birmingham, Ala.
of the best Barred Rock eggs that could be reasonably bought for the money,
and after securing copies of several poultry publications, one particular advertisement impressed me more favorably than all the rest. I desired to look further into the matter, however.
I wrote for his illustrated catalogue, which came promptly by return mail, accompanied by a neat typewritten letter. Both the catalogue and letter head and envelope were printed and engraved in the most modern and up-todate manner, and the dealer's business and methods and his stock in trade were put before me in clear, concise and unequivocal English.
Several other advertisements had likewise attracted my attention, and I had written them for catalogues, but their response was not so prompt, and the printing, illustrations and stationery were not so good. All their claims for superiority in prize winners, however, were about the same, and it was now up to me to write my check and choose the lucky competitor. Having no personal knowledge of these dealers, and no easy way to verify their perhaps overdrawn statements, I am free to say that I judged the quality of their fowls by the taste displayed in their advertisements, catalogues and stationery. For if one man had the brains or the money to excel his competitors in the grace, style and finish of his ad
vertisements, catalogues and letters, why would he not also have the brains or the money to place the finest fowls in his yards? Or if one man exceeded another in the beauty and finish of his dress and speech, is it not reasonable to suppose that the aspirations which caused him to seek beauty and utility in one direction would also lead him to seek it, love it, and worship it in another?
Of course appearances are sometimes deceitful. All is not gold that glitters. Stonewall Jackson in his faded suit of gray may be a more dangerous competitor in battle lian the gilded ball room soidier or society favorite, but every man has an instinctive sense of worth and merit, and a high sense of taste, elegance and refinement are its surest indicia.
I do not think any special offer propositions, unless accompanied by some good reason there for, will have any influence in catching customers. It is not to be denied, however, that a little souvenir in the way of a card case, calendar, or in “your case, two extra eggs,
" has its influence and makes one feel that he is dealing with a broadgauged individual with plenty of stuff and who will give you the worth of your money.
Note.—Jackson had the stuff, but : Moral: It was no advantage to him to put his light under a bushel, if he wanted to sell his goods.