The Tailor who Paid too Much

September 21, 2011  |   Advertising and Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

Another classic short story about advertising from The Clock that Had no Hands And Nineteen Other EssayAbout Advertising By Herbert Kaufman

I was buying a cigar last week when a man dropped into the shop and after making a purchase told the proprietor that he had started a clothes shop around the corner and quoted him prices, with the assurance of best garments and terms.

After he left the cigar man turned to me and said:

“Enterprising fellow, that, he’ll get along.”

“But he won’t,” I replied, “and, furthermore, I’ll wager you that he hasn’t the sort of clothes shop that will enable him to.”

“What made you think that?” queried the man behind the counter.

“His theories are wrong,” I explained; “he’s relying upon word of mouth publicity to build up his business and he can’t interview enough individuals to compete with a merchant, who has sense enough to say the same things he told you, to a hundred thousand men, while he is telling it to one. Besides, his method of advertising is too expensive. Suppose he sees a hundred persons every day. First of all, he is robbing his business of its necessary direction and besides, he is spending too much to reach every man he solicits.”

“I don’t quite follow you.”

“Well, as the proprietor of a clothes shop his own time is so valuable that I am very conservative in my estimate when I put the cost of his soliciting at five cents a head.

“Now, if he were really able and clever he would discover that he can talk to hundreds of thousands of people at a tenth of a cent per individual. There is not a newspaper in town the advertising rate of which is $1.00 per thousand circulation, for a space big enough in which to display what he said to you.”

“I never looked at it that way,” said the cigar man.

It’s only “the man who hasn’t looked at it that way,” who hesitates for an instant over the advisability and profitableness of newspaper publicity.

Newspaper advertising is the cheapest channel of communication ever established by man. A thousand letters with one-cent stamps, will easily cost fifteen dollars and not one envelope in ten will be opened because the very postage is an invitation to the wastebasket.

If there were anything cheaper rest assured that the greatest merchants in America would not spend individual sums ranging up to half a million dollars a year and over, upon this form of attracting trade.

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