A manufacture does not calculate before lunch, “I believe I’ll use a page in The Ladies’ Home Journal,” after lunch dash off a clever bit of copy, and telephone to the magazine to send a messenger for it before five o’clock, so that he can see the proof tomorrow. Advertising passes through an intricate mill that grinds slowly but exceedingly fine.
The four-color display which makes the back cover as attractive and as forceful as the front, has much history behind it. To begin with, the space it occupies was ordered a year or more ago for there is keen competition among advertisers to obtain the cover positions of leading publications.
The idea of this particular advertisement, as a part of an extensive campaign, was conceived perhaps a year ago. Six months ago a highly trained artist was commissioned to begin the painting, and soon after, the copy man was at work, writing and rewriting.
As long as three months ago the magazine insisted on receiving the design and copy in order that its mechanical staff might begin the process of reproduction. Between the first suggestion of a campaign and the cash-in on the last of the resultant sales, per- haps years after, there stretches an orderly series of shafting, pulleys and gears possessed of tremendous manpower.
Like a newspaper press, each advertising ma- chine is constructed individually to meet particular needs. The inventor who sells, by mail, a line of little household conveniences turns out his own one-inch advertisement in a couple of evenings at home, and mails it direct to the publication, while the large advertiser, spending considerable sums, sets a huge mechanism moving in well-oiled and balanced revolution.
This machine has as its main features:
(1) The firm.
(2) The sales manager.
(3) The advertising manager.
(4) The advertising agent.
(5) The publisher’s representative.
(6) The publishing house.
Under one or the other of these six divisions fall all the numerous supplementary heads the copy writer, the illustrator, the space buyer, investigators and statisticians, follow-up men, engravers, designers, printers, clerks to check up results and answer inquiries. It is, of course, the firm, the board of directors or other management, which is ultimately responsible for the advertising. But seldom does the initiative proceed directly from these sources.
A new national advertiser is born of the suggestion of a publisher or an agent, the energy of some one far-sighted member of the firm, or the progressiveness of the advertising manager (who may for years have been restricted to small local, circular or trade-paper publicity). Many large advertisers are graduates from trade-paper advertising.
The best trade and technical papers not only fill an important place by helping many advertisers to reach their distributors simultaneously with consumer publicity, but they also serve as a preparatory school for wider efforts. No manufacturer, however, can afford to judge the probable value of national advertising by the results which he has been getting through specialized mediums. In the first place, direct and tangible returns are admittedly not the province of many trade papers. Their function is to build and retain good- will.
Second, the manufacturer who employs trade papers unfortunately does not always accord to his copy there the serious attention which it deserves.
Third, there is of course no influence exerted by the trade paper upon the ultimate consumer, who in the last analysis controls the course of commerce. Generally, the advertiser who goes into the national field after using trade papers will be astonished by the increased response, both direct and through his trade itself. It is the firm which authorizes the spending of the money and makes the appropriation.
It also approves the general plan and scope of the campaign whether the methods shall be general or mail-order, the keynote, to what classes the appeal shall be directed, and what type of publication shall be used. The firm also very often, with the advice and cooperation of a publisher in whom he has confidence, selects the agent who seems best qualified to handle the account.
When the day comes that these “men higher up,” the men who now so often either ignorantly handle a good advertising plan or give too free rein to an inefficient * ‘ expert,” when the directors and officers of the firm themselves try to know more about advertising, then we may expect an even greater average of success than is being attained today.
The second factor is the sales manager. His connection with the advertising varies widely with different types of organization. In some he has authority over the advertising manager; sometimes the two offices are combined in one; often the two have equal power and pull together in double harness. There is much divergence of opinion as to the most efficient relation. H. H. Bigelow, president of the National Sales Managers’ Association of America, writes: “In my judgment, the advertising department should be under the direct supervision of the sales department.
Advertising departments are only one form of selling . . . and the advertising department not in close connection with, and not having the hearty support of the sales manager, and, through him, of the salesmen, is a failure.” Others will tell you that because advertising strikes the dominant note of the sales policy the relation should be reversed.
There is at least no disagreement as to the need of close connection and the hearty support of the advertising by the whole selling organization. From the sales manager must come the data as to what kind of help he most needs, in what localities and at what times.
From him will emanate many of the arguments to be used in the copy – although not always the most powerful ones. It is his responsibility to enthuse the salesmen, to keep them informed about the advertising and to insist that they take best advantage of the favorable attitude which it fosters.
His department will also handle the incoming inquiries, and in some firms attend to the follow-up methods of reaching dealer and consumer. The advertising manager, the third factor, may be a big man or a little one, a help or a hindrance. His efficiency or inefficiency may have much to do with success or failure, according to the amount of responsibility given him.
“An advertising manager’s success,” according to “Modern Advertising,”* “depends upon his knowledge of what to do and what not to do. His freedom to carry out his plans also depends upon his relation to his company. Many a well-planned campaign is spoiled by the efforts of various members of a company who insist upon the exploitation of their own ideas.
On the other hand, many companies have been wrecked by allowing an incompetent advertising manager full scope. Probably no other business depends so fully upon the temperament and disposition of the man doing the work.” In some concerns the advertising manager does little more than interview solicitors, transmit instructions to the agent, read proofs and report upon results.
In others he works in constant touch with the agent, controlling the progress of the campaign, ferreting out ideas, planning and writing some of the copy. Usually a manager of this calibre has much to do with the selection of the agent.
Still another kind of advertising man- ager has broader duties, conducting a large department which plans campaigns, writes and illustrates all copy, and attends to the primary dealer-work and the follow-up, leaving only the actual purchase of space, distribution of copy and checking of insertions and results to the agent. Such a system often signifies insufficient service on the part of the agent.
The best agencies refuse to accept an account where their duties are to be limited solely to “placing” or “clearing.” In general, the true position of the advertising manager is between the agent and the firm ; representing the latter and directing the former.
He should be a man with a thorough comprehension of advertising methods, and, at the same time, closely concerned with the policies of the company. To the board of directors or the firm, made up of men unfamiliar with advertising, he interprets the plans and campaigns of the agent. Upon the enthusiastic agent he impresses the viewpoint of the firm, and exercises the check of conservatism.
To this chief function he may add such of the duties and prerogatives of either party as necessity or policy may dictate or permit. The next factor, the agent, is the transmission in the machinery of advertising. His function is so all-pervading that it deserves consideration in a separate chapter.
The fifth factor is the publisher’s representative. An even wider diversity of types occurs in this classification than in that of advertising manager. The representative ranges from the accomplished semi- blackmailer for a useless sheet who often receives as much as 50 per cent, commission, to the high-salaried expert with years of merchandizing experience, who can sit across the table from the president of a great corporation and advise with him.
We are dealing here, only with the kind of man who represents the leading reputable publications. The ideal representative, and the one who will prevail, is no mere “copy-chaser,” to follow up firms already advertising and attend to petty details. He is not a space seller not simply a brilliant salesman qualified to hypnotize the manufacturer into writing his name on the dotted line while still only half convinced. He is not a “pinch-hitter,” dashing in to sell a page here, a cover position there.
He is a business builder. The ideal representative never solicits an ac- count until he knows enough of the man’s business, selling conditions and markets to be reasonably sure that success will follow. Frequent consultation with other members of the staff of his publication fortifies him with the fullest information. His duties include not only the selling of space but often the suggestion of how to fill it and how to follow it up, and at times the recommendation of the proper agent.
Such a representative is quite likely to be a graduate of commercial travelling or to have had other previous business experience. Invariably he is a welcome visitor in the offices of many an important company, because he helps them sell their goods. The final factor is the publishing house. The old idea, and one that even today prevails in many quarters, was that the sole duty of the publisher was to print the advertisement and accept a check for it. This is far from enough.
A large percentage of the revenue of any publication is derived from advertising. It is highly to the publisher’s interest that all advertising reach a maximum of effectiveness, that it be ethically and commercially on the highest possible plane. From the leading publications should emanate the policies which influence advertising progress. A few of them have accepted the task.
The censorship of copy, the basic principle of publishing only advertising which promises to bring results, the willingness to guide advertisers to agents who can render the most efficient service these and similar efforts to direct the course of printed merchandizing into straighter channels stand to the credit of the far-sighted publisher.
Consumer, manufacturer and agent must look to the publisher for the unifying force in advertising. This topic will be discussed more at length in later chapters, with examples drawn from the experience of one publishing house which has succeeded by the employment of these methods.