I come from a family of retailers. When my grandfather emigrated from Poland to the United States he somehow found his way to Akron, Ohio where he opened a small tailor shop. That was in 1926. My father and uncle took over the business in the 50’s and under their management it grew and grew. This was a true American success story.
On Saturdays, all the cousins (including myself) were expected to work in the store. Our job mainly consisted of opening safety pins…for hours! Why? Because it took less time for the employees to tag garments when the safety pins were already open. Speed and efficiency, right?
As you can imagine, it wasn’t much fun for kids to work in a store when their friends were outside playing. But I loved being there. I guess business was always in my blood. I worked at the store on Saturdays even into high school.
So, what does this story have to do with marketing?
One day I noticed my father at work on a sketch for a newspaper ad. My dad firmly believed in advertising. He taught me that the way to grow a business is to attract new customers all the time. Nothing like being indoctrinated at an early age.
I’d watched him work on ads before but this one really intrigued me because of the headline:
What does that mean? Dad explained, “We always offer free alterations, but I’m looking for a big surge in business, so next week we will offer on the spot alterations.” In other words, customers would be able to come in, buy a pair of pants, and walk out of the store with them perfectly fitted and ready to wear. Instant Pants!
Did the ad work?
You bet it did! The store had its biggest moneymaking week in company history. All because of the ad! To me this was magic: the perfect combination of words and images can actually influence human behavior. The Instant Pants ad was the beginning of my lifelong fascination with advertising and marketing.
Yes, the world has changed dramatically since the days when I worked at my family’s store. Today, businesses have way more options and much more control over when they advertise, where they advertise, and the return on investment. Regardless of the medium a perfect combination of words and images can influence human behavior.
One of these days I’m going to find that old ad. But in the meantime, here are some that I think are clever and persuasive. What’s your favorite?
Thanks for reading,