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.
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.
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.
Below are simple ways for you to rapidly create content that is relevant, compelling, yet requires zero creativity for your bookstores.
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:
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.
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.
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:
This can be short, sweet, and to the point, as it reinforces what makes you unique and valuable.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)