Thursday, September 6, 2012

Driving Traffic to Your New Bookstore

A bookstore event is something special that’s happening in your bookstore: a reading, a signing, an art show, a story time, a book club, a wine tasting, a party. We’ve had them all, and more, and I love to do events! Plus, it drives traffic; traffic is people coming in to your store, and people in the store means sales. Like direct selling, it’s a numbers game – the more people, the more sales.

Contrary to popular belief, these things aren’t expensive. It costs you nothing to invite an author for a signing – especially if they bring their own books. This is marketing for authors, gets their names out there, lets them mingle with the public and promote their books. Same goes for a reading or an art show or exhibit. Story time only requires someone to read the stories – you could do that yourself. Lots of groups need places to meet, but you might have to open a little earlier or stay a little longer. Suck it up, honey, you’re a business owner now – no such thing as 9-5!

Now that the ideas are churning in your head, what next? Advertise! You should probably already have a running ad for your bookstore in the local paper, or regional paper, or doorhangers or fliers or whatever you can afford. But something! You could add your events to that, maybe for a fee, or you could use free stuff:

Your own website – you better have one!
Your store windows/door
Posters in the store
Fliers at the store counter
Free announcements in the online papers, websites, even Craigslist!

Cross-posting and copy/paste are your new best friends.

Treat all your events as celebrations – whether it’s a new book, new product, new author, or new event, celebrate, decorate, talk it up! And if, as sometimes happens, no one shows up…do it again! The advertising mantra is repeat, repeat, repeat. It takes a lot to get people in general to pay attention. Over and over, you want your bookstore name out there. It does take time – we have folks who come in and ask “how long have you been open?” a year later! Friends with bookstores have reported the same thing – FIVE years after their grand openings!

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution