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Unlocking Local Bookstores' Profit Potential: A Simple Marketing & Content Plan

Marketing 3-4-5™ Fundamentals Specifically Crafted For Local Bookstores - Browse all industry plans here

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Local bookstores have more ways to market themselves and more ways to make money than most realize

How to get started marketing your bookstore in just a few steps:

This simple marketing and content plan is based on our Marketing 3-4-5™ approach and shows how every local bookstore can clearly and effectively market themselves online without requiring much time or expense.

Scroll down for step-by-step examples to help you rapidly create content that is relevant, compelling, yet requires zero creativity for your bookstores.

Show people that you aren't selling a commodity people can buy cheaper somewhere else by demonstrating your unique value.

Let's be honest, the internet can offer books at a lower price and wider selection than a local bookstore but what's often missed is the unique value you bring to the table. Addressing this is doubly important because local bookstores are still a vibrant part of many local communities and visiting one is a unique and heart-warming experience. 

While competition has grown, bookstores are in a great position to add value to local consumers and remind them of it regularly. Sadly, most bookstores do not effectively communicate their unique value online and fail to monetize their value.

As we always say, content drives marketing, and it's surprisingly easy for local businesses to follow a repeatable process for creating impactful content.

Book Box Monthly Subscriptions

Selling books is fine but it's transactional and a very competitive space. Selling a subscription is a higher margin activity that introduces recurring revenue.

I have a 13-year old boy who reads like crazy, he's already read more books than I have (and I'm the CEO of a marketing tech company with 2 advanced degrees). The trick is that his interests are not such that I can help him find his next read i.e. we have different tastes.

I would love to be able to visit my local bookstore, share some information about my son and his interest then be able to 'subscribe to a book box subscription' where the books would be curated by a staff member with similar interests. I'd be willing to spend $25-30/mo for a couple of books and they could be new titles, old titles, used books, whatever!

Like all things, this is an opportunity to create and share content including:

  • The book box curator (your team member)
  • The subscription's theme and perhaps basic interests of the recipient
  • Which books were included and why

You can charge for shipping or free with pickup - I might shop while I'm there ;)

With subscription revenue, your business is insulated against slow months, snowstorms and pandemics alike.

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Customer Success Story

What better way to attract customers than to celebrate how you helped deliver value?

This can be as simple as helping a wayward customer find exactly what they were looking for. Maybe a customer was longing for a new series to read and you suggested what would become their next favorite or someone had been looking for an obscure title that you helped them find.

Can you think of a time someone was wowed by your bookstore? They gushed about how you delivered a terrific experience? - perhaps you provide a Book Box Subscription that they appreciated ;) These are stories worth sharing.

People love to see that you provide a unique and personal experience while showing your appreciation to those who step into your bookstore. 

Ask your customer if they'd mind if you tell their mini-story. If they agree, take a picture with them in the section they found the book or with a notable backdrop and ask them:

  • Where they're from (local or visitor),
  • What brought them in or why they've become a regular,
  • Did they eat at the bar, in your dining room, outdoors, etc and are there any COVID-specific adjustments that you've made to accommodate people?
  • What's something they'd say to someone looking for a book or who wants to support local,
  • What did they buy and how do they feel about their purchase.

This can be short, sweet, and to the point, as it reinforces what makes you unique and valuable.

Host Book-Swap Events

A book swap is an opportunity for avid readers to bring some of their old books and swap with others in their community.

This might sound counterproductive to selling books but, remember, you're trying to monetize an experience. You can charge admission to these events - which is 100% profit - and reinforce your role in the community as the place where local readers come to find their next great book.

More than that, you can encourage people to post their finds to social media and tag your business to get a massive boost in reach to help attract more customers.

Book-Swaps and public events are well served with a calendar on your website (it should be sortable with the ability to access past events not just a list of activities). A simple post commemorating a recent event or Book-Swap reliving happy finds and new relationships forged reminds people of the great time they had or that they missed out on a fun experience at your bookstore... either case reminds people to visit you again soon.

Oh, don't forget, people who attend the swap will probably also shop while they're there. You can sweeten the pot by offering one-day-only discounts on books or Book Box subscriptions.

Take this concept further by partnering with a local restaurant. You can either have food options or charge more for a ticket and include a meal with admission.

Employee Recognition & Employee Favorites

Whether you have 2 employees or 20 recognizing them in a blog post is an easy way to reward them for a job well done while helping people get to know your business.

You have a few options to recognize employees. You can recognize employees regularly as an employee of the month, you can recognize them in an ad-hoc way when customers report a great experience to you or even celebrate new hires or work anniversaries.

Additionally, easy-to-share content includes highlighting Employee Favorites such as an all-time favorite book or a new release. This creates a friendly and approachable experience for customers.

Book Reveals and Announcements

Content featuring products enables people to learn about what you sell and window shop from wherever they are at the same time. It creates the feeling of being there which can lead customers to want to be there in person.

Did you just get a new best-seller? Maybe a shipment of sequels to a fan-favorite just arrived.

In either case, it is a great idea to announce this to your loyal and potential customers. Show them what has arrived and when it will be available for purchase!

We wrote the Local Lovin' Book on Marketing

Simplify marketing into 15-minute activities that help you get found - everywhere!

Bookstore Exclusives

As a local bookstore, you don't just sell products you curate an experience.

Why you choose the books and other products you sell is important and should be part of your messaging and this includes any items that are hard-to-find, locally made, or those items exclusive to your store.

Like sharing new arrivals, you want to share books that are part of a specialty series or perhaps relate to local history, other locally made items, or unique products that people aren't likely to find on Amazon.

These details help people learn about you or remember the last time they visited.

Community Interest Article

Let's face it, where you live matters to you - and it should. Why not highlight local causes and other businesses you support?

This makes you look good - it's ok to make yourself look good - and it shines a light on a local organization you care about in real life.

Go further by highlighting Local Connections™ and feature local events in a community calendar, we have an app for that ;)

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