Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Advertising and Selling Tea

This tidbit is really about the art of advertising during the 19th century. However, the example is from a small book "Tea-Blending as a Fine Art"©1896 and has a chapter dedicated to how to advertise and sell tea. Below is a large excerpt from this book.

(1.) Make an attractive display of your Teas, utilizing a show-case when convenient to do so for an exhibit of your finest varieties, having on such kind a neatly printed show-card after the following styles:—
"We sell Tea to sell again." "If it's anything in Tea, we've got it." "What you require in Tea is to be had here." "It's our pleasure to please you in Tea." "A good Tea for you is a gain for us." "Our Teas make our prices look small." "Every Tea as advertised, or—a little better." "No Tea customer must leave our store dissatisfied."
"You can make a little money go far by buying your Teas here."
"Misrepresentation in our Teas would be the suicide of our business."
"Our Teas are pure, pungent, piquant, perfect."
"Blank's Teas are distinctive in leaf, distinctive in liquor, distinctive in flavor."
"Blank's Teas are cleanest in leaf, heaviest in body, richest in flavor."
It is an old axiom "that goods well bought are half sold," and the same is equally true of Teas well displayed in the dealer's store or window.
Goods conveniently placed and marked save time, temper, labor and money in showing. When a line of Teas have been placed in a prominent position, with the prices plainly marked and attached to them, they often become their own salesmen.
A good customer secured being a promise of larger salary in the future, the good Tea salesman will always increase your business in addition to adding to your profits, while the poor Tea salesman will only serve to drive away customers and may ruin your Tea trade in other respects.
In a grocer's window Tea should always be given a prominent position, especially if neatly sealed up in handsome packages, or even "dummies" may be conveniently used for the purpose with good effect. But they should be perfectly fresh and clean, in fact, every package exhibited should be carefully examined and made as inviting as possible. It is not prudent, however, to make too copious a display of loose Teas as it collects dust and absorbs moisture in addition to the loss resulting from deterioration in strength and flavor, its appearance also disgusting the customers who are apt to reflect that they must become the consumers of the article when removed from the window. Again, nothing can look worse than a window in Summer sprinkled over with flies—dead and alive—or in Winter than a heap of damp and discolored Teas, so that all loose Teas should invariably be scrupulously covered over with well-polished glass-shades or invitingly displayed in small sample bowls appropriately labeled. The colors also should harmonize in order that the window will look well, attract customers' attention and gain favorable criticism. Care should also be taken that the Teas be not kept too near the heat of gas, heat or sun, or exposed to these influences as they are often irretrievably ruined thereby.
There is great art in dressing a window well with Teas; some dealers having a natural talent for it, while others can only imitate it indifferently, others, again, being entirely incapable of either. The art, however, has a very important bearing in the sale of Teas and is certainly worth careful study on the part of the dealer, as a well-dressed and judicious arrangement of Teas in a window is sure to attract attention and admiration from the passers-by, people turning again to look at and admire it. So that a Tea window-dresser should possess good natural taste as well as be a good designer and systematic arranger of the goods. All labels and show-cards should always be neat, clean and bright, that is, removed often, and when prices are affixed they should be reasonable, neither too high nor too low, as the best customers like moderation, but Teas that are exceptionally cheap and plentiful should always be marked in plain figures.
Cleanliness goes a long way in selling Teas, as in all things people want to eat and drink, and a clean store is a customer's delight, so that dusting and sweeping are among the mast important functions of a well-kept Tea store. These duties should be performed every day, or oftener, and should be done under the best conditions possible, as all dust is destructive to Tea, and all losses thus entailed must be kept down as far as possible.
Do not attempt to place too many varieties or grades in the window at the same time, as such a display serves only to confuse the mind and weary the eyes of spectators, neither aim at quantity. A good plan for the dealer is first to consider what Teas are most in demand or most likely to be in request in his neighborhood and not simply what he has most of. Then making out a list of what he decides to show he should map out in his mind the best manner of arranging the same.
The window display should be frequently altered and the Teas never allowed to remain until they become discolored, stale and dirty, as in such cases instead of attracting trade it will only serve to repel it, and no favorite cats should be allowed to sun themselves near the Tea no matter how sleek or handsome they may be. In emptying the window also each package should be carefully examined, cleaned and replaced in stock, ready for sale and hidden out of sight regardless of its condition. Carelessness in this matter is a source of serious loss.
The Tea salesman of the future must not be illiterate or ignorant of his business; the day for such has gone by in this country, never to return. Any salesman can take orders but very few can impart information about the Teas he sells or tries to sell, so that the customer learns nothing from contact with him, while many of the best purchasers like to talk to an intelligent and well-posted man in order to learn all they can about the article. Again, it is the Tea salesman who knows the meaning and feels the power of what he is talking about that will naturally speak earnestly and with the right emphasis; while otherwise he will not emphasize it at all and very often a good sale of Tea depends on the proper emphasis given to a few important words in reply to the customer's question about the article. The good Tea salesman should speak to explain, convince and persuade and should keep this final object constantly in mind; he should know instantly the effect he is producing on the customer, and the more favorable the effect is the better he can talk, because his faculties are thus encouraged. But when a question can be made clear at all it is made all the clearer by brevity, as all sensible intending purchasers prefer evidence to eloquence.
Many Tea dealers and employees have an idea that a certain kind of smartness in dealing is a praiseworthy business qualification, and that success in the Tea business depends largely on that kind of sharpness and chicanery in dealing with their Tea customers. This is a most mistaken idea, if not worse, as it should be the first and fundamental effort on the part of every business man to gain the respect and confidence of his patrons, not their ill-will and contempt by getting the best of them, as he foolishly supposes. As a customer who once finds himself deceived in either quality or price in buying Teas will consequently be suspicious ever afterward of the dealer who has deceived him, so that the dealer who thought himself so sharp in making a little extra money on the first transaction loses in the end a good and prompt-paying customer who might have traded with him for years if he had but retained his good opinion and induced him by fair dealing to continue his patronage. It has been wisely and sensibly said by President Lincoln that "You may fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Enduring prosperity in the Tea business cannot be founded on cunning and deception, as the tricky and deceitful Tea dealer is sure to fall a victim sooner or later to the influences which are forever working against him. His business structure is built in sand and its foundations will be certain to give way and crush him in the end. Young men in the line particularly cannot give these truths too much weight and importance, as the future of the young Tea dealer is secure who repudiates every form of deception and double dealing, thereby laying the foundation of his business career on the enduring principles of ever-lasting truth and honest dealing.
A reputation for intelligence and truthfulness is indispensable to a permanent and satisfying success in the Tea business, and politeness is also among the few weapons that the small Tea dealer has at his command to meet the competition of larger dealers who
buy their Teas more cheaply. But the larger the business the greater the number of hands required and consequently the less chance of the customers being treated with deference. That these advantages are not fully realized and utilized by the average retailer is well known to all who come in contact with them. One important point in particular to be impressed upon your assistants is the necessity of careful and polite attention to the smallest customers. There is an old and trite adage which says, "When you buy, keep one eye on the goods and the other on the seller, but when you sell, keep both eyes on the buyer." Customers are drawn to the dealer who greets them cordially, treats them with civility, shows them little courtesies, manifests an interest in their wants and seeks to gain their confidence. Do not imagine that customers consider cheap Teas and "cut prices" are the equivalent for such treatment, for if you do you will soon have to discontinue business for lack of brains or be sold out altogether, although you may charge your misfortune to other causes.
Don't smoke in your store or encourage your customers to do so.
Don't let your store smell of mice and rats, or allow dogs or cats around the store.
Don't permit your store to smell of oil, fish, soap, strong cheese or other loud smelling articles.
Don't clean your scales, weights and other utensils or wash your counters and shelves in the presence of customers.
Don't spit on your store floor or allow others to do so, and never be without a clean handkerchief, even when you wear an apron.
Don't use the same set of scales, weights or scoops for sugar, flour, rice, cheese or other articles for Tea, as they invariably impart their odor to it.
Don't store your Teas in damp places or they will soon contract a musty, mildewy smell and flavor, and be careful of wet cellars, which produce the same results.
Don't permit your store to become a lounging place for idlers, local gossipers or cheap politicians, no matter how profitable they may appear to you, as particular customers do not like to have their business exposed to such hangers-on.
Don't have dirty hands, face or wear your fingernails in half-mourning, and don't wear a sour, illtempered face—nothing so repels a sensitive customer —but cultivate a cheerful countenance at all times and under all circumstances. In other words, if you do not possess this virtue at least assume it.
Don't overbuy, as most Teas deteriorate by long keeping, particularly after opening, get dirty, lose strength and therefore become unsalable. And when you happen to get stuck on a bad lot dispose of them quickly and as privately as you can, even at a sacrifice. Above all things don't try to work them off on your customers, either regular or casual, as nothing will ruin your Tea trade quicker or surer.
In conclusion, be thorough in all you undertake, as nothing conduces like thoroughness and sincere earnestness to build up and retain a successful Tea business. And remember that it is much easier to do particular work yourself than to show others how to. Master the whole business and the road to success has been mapped out, as most certainly the dealer who notes what a community is most in need of and supplies that want most thoroughly possesses the attributes of a successful Tea merchant.

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