What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The Printers will not Promise to exchange after the first of August next.”
Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, gave one of their advertisements a privileged place in the July 3, 1772, edition of their newspaper. They positioned their notice about “Compleat Sets of the new and correct Law-Book, for the Province of New-Hampshire” at the top of the first full column of advertising, increasing the likelihood that readers would take note of it as they finished the news items even if they only quickly glanced at the advertisements.
To encourage sales of the new edition, the Fowles offered a deal to customers who owned copies of the previous edition. They stated that they “will take the old ones of such Persons, as were subscribers for that Edition, and allow them one Dollar for the same.” In other words, those customers received a discount when they traded in the outdated edition. To convince customers that this was a good deal, the Fowles proclaimed that the previous edition was “not worth a Farthing” now that they published a “new and correct” edition, so customers might as well take advantage of their generosity in allowing “one Dollar” for it.
The Fowles also attempted to create a sense of urgency by making clear that this was a limited time offer. They asserted that customers who wished to return the previous edition must “purchase a new Book now.” They warned that “the Printers will not Promise to exchange after the first of August next.” Customers had only four weeks to contemplate this offer before the Fowles potentially rescinded it. In addition, the printers had “but few to dispose of in this Way,” or so they claimed. That meant that interested readers needed to make the exchange while supplies lasted.
The Fowles deployed several savvy marketing strategies when they published a new and updated edition of the laws of the colony. They offered discounts to former customers who traded in the old edition, simultaneously pressuring them to purchase the new volume soon by cautioning that they had limited supply and the offer expired soon. Prospective customers needed to act quickly or risk missing out!