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Books on:



Mass Media









Profitable Newspaper Advertising






Arnold E. Profitable Newspaper Advertising. – New York, Harper and Brothers, – 140 p.









1 "Selling" in Print

2 Say Something!

3 Keep It Functional

4 Let the Type Talk

5 Use White Space Generously

6 Use Pictures

7 Look at Your Signature Cut

8 Don't Worry About Position

9 Use Big Space Frequently

10 Keep It Invisible





A son, just turned four, is at least as educational as a book . . . especially to the father who frequently finds himself on the receiving end of instruction when he thinks he is teaching his child.

One evening my son, Bruce, and I were playing at the manly art of self-defense. He dashed around the corner from the kitchen, propelled his stomach into the heel of my left hand, and ricocheted onto the floor.

Four is an age of quick tears but fierce pride so he sublimated his hurt into indignation. "You told me, Daddy" he reproached, "always to keep my guard up".

"Yes, I did, son," I admitted. "And I also said, 'But watch for that punch to the bread basket "

"But, but, but," he retorted. "You got too many buts".

It is to avoid too many buts in this book that I hereby solemnly admit that the observations made on the following pages can almost always be suffixed with a but. If most rules have an exception, so, more reasonably, must broad generalizations. Generalizations are what these suggestions are, not immutable laws.


In fact, there are no hard and fast rules for advertising. The situation under which an advertisement must work, just as the situation under which you serve an individual customer, changes from day to day. If it's raining and Mrs. Customer has forgotten her umbrella, you use an altogether different sales pitch from that used if, on a sunny day, her husband comes in looking for a birthday gift.

You, as a businessman, cannot issue inflexible laws to your sales people on how to clinch a sale; all you can do is lay down some basic principles. So this book must state broad axioms which can be modified or adapted to meet your specific needs. It will tender some solutions, observed and studied from I he-points of view of an advertiser, an ad salesman, a printer, and a newspaper publisher, each of which pursuits it has been my pleasure to follow.

While these solutions have worked advantageously for many diverse business organizations, none is presented as the "standard" answer to a problem. Under conditions that vary as much and as swiftly as those in which a retailer works, each problem is in some degree different from each preceding one and the "right" answer can be one of many.

To find the solution that is right for his specific problem, the businessman must draw upon the accumulated experience of himself and his contemporaries in his own and allied fields. Then he must adapt an answer to his problem of the moment.

It is to make many suggestions easily available that this book was planned. It has gone to press by following one of its own suggestions: drawing on the experience of many people. They are far too many to list individually but each contributor knows he has my warmest appreciation.

Edmund C. Arnold


l. “Selling" in Print


Advertising is not black magic, to be practiced only by an initiate into a mystic fraternity. Neither is it a skill that the novice can master by simply reading a decalogue of simple rules.

Advertising is a facet of a daily activity of every businessman – "selling".

"Selling" is in quotes because it is far more than the exchange of goods or services for money. "Selling," in business language, includes offering quality wares at a fair price, in pleasant and convenient surroundings, with friendly, intelligent service, and under conditions where the purchaser finds it physically easy and financially advantageous to make a purchase. All this, plus advertising, is "selling".

For it does not matter how good your merchandise and services are, how efficient and courteous your sales people, or how attractive your place of business unless you get customers into the store. That is, of course, the job of advertising.

Every businessman maintains a profitable operation by constantly "selling". The more favorable factors he can combine – including effective advertising – the more profitable his business.

Because this book concerns itself with newspaper advertising does not deprecate the importance of other selling tools. Advertising is only one, albeit a very important, link in a chain of endeavor.

Advertising might well be compared to plowing as part of the business of farming. No farmer plows a field just to get wholesome outdoor exercise; no advertiser buys newspaper space just to keep a publisher in business. The farmer wants to harvest a crop; so does the advertiser.

The advertiser plows his field by advertising. The seed is quality merchandise and fair price. He irrigates by efficient, friendly service and he cultivates by keeping his business place neat and pleasant with attractive point-of-purchase displays and salesmanship. The advertiser's crop is sales.

Advertising is not an end unto itself. As a crop depends on the seed the farmer sows, so business success is determined by the merchandise and services offered for sale. We have examples, of course, where advertising has created the illusion of self-sufficiency. Not many years ago a spellbinder built a fabulous patent medicine empire through all-out advertising. However, its apparent success was short lived because in the final analysis he did not have a good product.

While techniques of advertising have been sharpened to a point where highly developed and specialized skills can be used, the basic necessary skills are not rare or exotic.

Any person of the intelligence demanded for success in any business can learn to prepare effective advertising. As with your own business, sport, or hobby, proficiency in advertising can be increased by experience, practice, and study of fundamental axioms. These you adapt to ever-changing conditions just as a halfback, no matter how well coached in fundamentals, must do his own running and thinking when a hole opens in the line before him.

* This star, when you see it throughout this book, will indicate an axiom, flagged this way for your convenience and easy reference. Titles of the next nine chapters themselves state principles that many successful advertisers consider the most basic.

Advertisers play percentages just as baseball managers do. The wise businessman knows that there are some times when he will strike out and when he will have to modify his strategy. But he remains confident that "playing the percentages" is the most effective way of reaching his goal.

The principles defined here have been proven in all types of local business advertising. While there will always be exceptions to keep anyone from batting 1.000, the advertiser who follows these axioms knows that the odds for success are in his favor.

This book concentrates on local newspaper advertising because it has proven to be the most practical way for a retailer to reach his public, the public that must be persuaded to deal with a business place before it can achieve a profitable operation. The local paper covers precisely the market you are interested in, concentrated in your own community and in the adjacent territory and giving maximum coverage among the people who are most interested in hearing your message.

Newspaper advertising is welcomed by the reader. The paper that conveys your advertising is a familiar visitor in your customer's home. The editorial matter the newspaper carries–news, features, comics, and editorials–has high readership that makes sure the maximum number of people are exposed to your advertising. Given that exposure, your ads can then do their job under favorable circumstances. As a matter of fact, many people welcome the newspaper particularly because your advertising does appear in it. Countless readership surveys show that Americans are eager to read advertising if it is balanced with news and feature material.

Newspaper advertising is economical. Not even a government postal card can provide guaranteed delivery of a written message as inexpensively as a newspaper ad of the same size can do.

And the fact that an advertising message is written–or printed–is a major advantage to the retailer. A newspaper ad has no fixed working hours. An ad that is not yet read at 6 o'clock when the paper is delivered has not vanished like a fleeting commercial on the air; it is just as effective at 8 o'clock that evening. Newspaper advertisements .are often clipped and saved for future reference, as many a merchant can testify from his own experience.

Newspaper advertising is effective. The most successful businesses in your own community, and in the United States, demonstrate that. In both cases you will find that these organizations are consistent and wise users of newspaper space.

For the horrible examples, we have such once-lustrous lights in American commerce as best selling cigarettes, renowned autos, and a soap used in almost every home. Riding the crest of popularity, these companies decided that advertising was no longer necessary. With a tapering off of advertising – in all media but especially in newspapers – came a much sharper drop in sales; today these once-familiar items are relics of the past.

More recently – at the end of the 50's – a major automobile manufacturer suffered a sharp slump of the sales curve after diverting his major advertising efforts to electronic media. He resumed intensive newspaper advertising in a frank belief that it was the only advertising channel that could reverse the trend.

A great American is credited, perhaps more in admiration than in accuracy, with being the first commercial advertiser in the country. Benjamin. Franklin's success in selling a bumper apple crop through newspaper advertising is, at least in Madison Avenue folklore, credited with encouraging others to use the same method.

The first newspaper ads were simple announcements, in the same type as news stories, without headlines to catch attention or even decorative borders to set them apart from news matter. Jonathan Blow, Esq., has a shipment of tea fresh from India he is offering for sale, or Housewife Prudence Brown has lost her milk cow and offers a suitable reward for its return. These ads were, in appearance and content, very similar to classified ads today.

For many years this advertising was sufficient for the typical local businessman. But at the end of the nineteenth century new conditions brought need to revise advertising techniques. In order to do all the business he was capable of handling, the merchant had to reach a much larger audience…"


The full text of the book can be found at bookstores, e-bookstores and libraries.


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See also:

Newspaper Advertising Sales

Make the Sell. How to Sell Media with Marketing

Cable Advertising. New Ways to New Business

Books on Advertising

Books on PR

Books on Mass Media