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In a classic business-to-business print ad from the late '50s for McGraw-Hill Magazines, an imposing-looking executive sits in his chair. He has both feet planted firmly on the ground, and a look on his face that is a cross between a frown and a scowl. His hands are folded together in front of him, and his elbows rest on the chair; he leans ever so slightly forward. To his right run these eight lines of copy:

I don't know who you are.
I don't know your company.
I don't know your company's product.
I don't know what your company stands for.
I don't know your company's customers.
I don't know your company's record.
I don't know your company's reputation.
Now—what was it you wanted to sell me?

Across the bottom, a single line of copy drives home the selling proposition:

MORAL: Sales start before your salesman calls—with business publication advertising.

This ad amplifies and expands on what many, including David Ogilvy, consider the best definition of advertising ever given. "Advertising," said copywriter John E. Kennedy nearly 80 years ago, "is salesmanship in print."

Any salesperson worth his or her commission check will tell you that landing worthwhile new business takes a repeated and concerted effort—and lots of contact with the decision maker. This is all the more true with salesmanship in print (or across the airwaves, phone lines and other forms of modern communication).

Repeatedly Exposing Your Market to Your Message

Repetition is, of course, fundamental to the success of any advertising program. The marketplace proves this fact, as does scientific research. Several years ago, a group of researchers at Harvard University were asked, "How many times must a prospect see a marketing message to take them from a state of total apathy to purchasing readiness?"

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image of Ernest Nicastro

Ernest Nicastro is an award-winning B-to-B freelance copywriter who is also equally adept at crafting B-to-C content. For more information, and to review samples of his work, visit Positive Response.

LinkedIn: Ernest Nicastro

Twitter: @enicastro