A GREAT many people make the mistake of looking upon advertising as a commodity.

If you have an idea that it may be a good thing to buy so many dollars worth of advertising, as a commodity, you are very likely to waste your money.

Advertising is in reality a means of communication. And if treated as a means of communication you will use it only when you have something to say.

You wouldn't think of going to the telephone every evening, calling a number of people and saying, merely, "John Smith, the photographer in your town, 108 Main Street." Neither should you do such a thing in an advertisement.

Advertising is the cheapest possible means of communication and the most profitable means of communication if it does the five things you should attempt to make it do.

1. It should attract attention.

2. Be read.

3. Create a desire for the thing advertised.

4. Stimulate action to buy.

5. Locate the advertiser or thing advertised.

If you will keep these five things in mind every time you write an advertisement you will be more likely to write advertisements that produce the desired results. If you can't write such advertisements yourself, then get someone who can, and analyze each one to see that it comes up to these requirements.

To meet the first requirement your advertisement must be attractive. It must not be lost among the great number of other advertisements that appear in the newspapers. To make it attractive you must not crowd the space with text matter or fancy, distracting borders. A good illustration will often attract attention.

To cause your advertisement to be read, what you say must be short and snappy and the first line should be of enough interest to cause the remainder of the text to be read.

People read to be interested or entertained or informed. And above all things people are interested in themselves. They don't care a straw about you or your studio or your ability as a photographer unless you can show them how photographs of themselves will give them pleasure and answer some useful and satisfying purpose.

So write your advertising communication with the idea of interesting the reader from the very start - then he will continue reading.

If the first sentence or paragraph of your advertisement tells of your ability as a photographer it is uninteresting.

If it tells of the wonderful quality of the photographs produced by your studio, again it fails to create interest.

But if it says: "Photographs of the children never grow up. Your children will smile out of their pictures at you through all of the years to come. You want them to grow up, to be sure, but why not also keep them as they are today - in photographs."

Every word in that paragraph will interest the mother or father who reads it. It will also create a desire for photographs. All that is needed is a suggestion to make an appointment or to see the examples of children's portraits in your display case or to call at your studio. And of course the studio location is also important.

Anything indicating service, comfort, convenience or the ease with which photographs are made by modern methods also has its value in stimulating the reader to action and influencing actual sales.

When the stipulations we have mentioned have been complied with, an advertisement becomes what it should be - a communication to prospective customers. It is creative, it does not seek to destroy another's business or even to divert it. It is the kind of advertising that builds up business by creating a more favorable sentiment towards photography, which is the most sound and sensible means of increasing any business.

As to its cheapness - ask the advertising manager of your local paper what it will cost you to use the space you need for printing your communication in his paper. Divide the cost by the number of subscribers (bonafide) to his paper and you will find that you can deliver your message in this way cheaper than it would be possible even to print form letters, to say nothing of the expense of mailing them.

Portrait Film Negative, Vitava Print From a Demonstrator's Negative.

Portrait Film Negative, Vitava Print From a Demonstrator's Negative.

Then, too, newspapers are read, and if your advertising is made attractive, it will also be read, while form letters more often go into the waste basket.

Personal letters, typewritten and mailed in sealed envelopes are possibly the best forms of advertising communications but we have not mentioned these as they come in a class by themselves.

They should be used as much as possible and must be carefully written, but the expense prevents their wide use.

Get away from the idea that advertising is a commodity - keep close to the idea of the advertising communication - carefully prepare every advertisement with the prospective reader and customer in mind - weigh the effect of every word, from the disinterested reader's point of view and you will become, in time, a successful advertiser.