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P.T. Barnum on Advertising

Want to learn a thing or two about really great event marketing and promotion? Consider investing some time in reading up on P.T. Barnum.  During the 1800, he was the king of promoting events. Even though his advertisements and books were published over 125 years ago, they contain lessons that can still be used today.  You can find most of Barnum's writing and a number of advertisements with a simple Google search. Below is an excerpt from the Advertise Your Business chapter in Barnum’s ‘Art of Money Getting.' The excerpt below focuses on the importance of repetition in your advertising.


You may advertise a spurious article, and induce many people to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as an imposter and swindler, and your business will gradually die out and leave you poor. This is right. Few people can safely depend upon chance custom. You all need to have your customers return and purchase again. A man said to me, "I have tried advertising and did not succeed; yet I have a good article."

I replied, "My friend, there may be exceptions to a general rule. But how do you advertise?"
"I put it in a weekly newspaper three times, and paid a dollar and a half for it."

I replied: "Sir, advertising is like learning--`a little is a dangerous thing!'"

A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases." Your object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost. You are like the fellow who told the gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save him a dollar. "How can I help you so much with so small a sum?" asked the gentleman in surprise. "I started out this morning (hiccupped the fellow) with the full determination to get drunk, and I have spent my only dollar to accomplish the object, and it has not quite done it. Ten cents worth more of whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the dollar already expended.

In the above example, Barnum points out the importance of delivering value and repetition in your advertising. If you have an event, delivering value and constant advertising should be near the top of your priority list.  Take some time to look over Barnum’s advertisements. Look for ideas that you might be able to integrate in your own event advertising. I’ve included some links below. 

P.T. Barnum Advertisements from the 1800s

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