ABA Education - Exploring New Markets - Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association
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ABA Education – Exploring New Markets

Great Ideas for Reaching
New and Existing Customers

ABA Presentation at the Spring Meeting
March 27, 2015



Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and Oren Teicher from the American Booksellers Association

Increasing Sales to Existing Customers:

  • Valentine’s Day cards and/or other holiday cards/birthday cards. Send cards to your best customers every year. Include a small store credit and a thank you for their business.
  • Pop-up bookstores at a customer’s workplace – for a short time and tailored to that customer’s needs.
  • “Secret Password Sale” – if the customer says the password during a three-day period, she/he receives a percentage off one item.
  • “Suggest a Title” – provide a centrally-located bulletin board for customers to post their own reviews, raves, and suggested titles. Provide a thumb’s-up icon for others customers to “like” the review.
  • Ingram Shipping Direct to Home – offers customers an option for shipping special orders to their homes.
  • Curbside delivery – offer to bring the title out to the customer’s car.
  • Rainy day delivery – offer to hand-deliver titles to the customer’s home.

Reaching the Millennial Market:

  • Book clubs hosted by staff in their 20s. For example, start a Comedy Book Club and invite local young comedians to read the same title and perform a five-minute “riff” on the title. This gives the comedians valuable performance epxerience and raises the profile of literature and the store among millennials.
  • Stay open later to cater to the “going out” crowd.
  • Expand authorless events to include social events such as speed dating, DJ nights, and community interests such as CASs. Host author events in hip places; one ABA bookstore hosts drinks with an author in a local bar, calling the event “Pints & Pages.”
  • Keep an active and updated social media presence. Include QR codes, your Twitter handle, and website address on all printed materials such as bookmarks. (One bookseller suggested making a QR sign for the front window so young people could shop on the web even when the store is closed.)
  • Start a story time for adults who want to gather and listen to a story read aloud.
  • Stay active in neighborhood events to help promote your town and your store.
  • Be creative with shipping offers. Offer customers an option for shipping special orders to their homes.

Reaching Generation X:

  • Offer free downtown delivery for customers who are at work.
  • Offer free gift wrap.
  • Keep all web content and social media content updated.
  • Offer extra benefits for special orders. One bookstore offers 50% off any coffee drink when the special order customer comes in to pick up the book.

Reaching the Baby Boomer Market:

  • “Friend of the Grandparents” program includes a book-of-the-month club for grandchildren, a curated shower, baby gifts, etc. Also ask grandparents to provide birthdates and interests of grandchildren so you can send reminders of the child’s approaching birthday, including titles suggestions for that child.
  • “Friend of the Bookstore” program offers special discounts, preorders, and an appreciation evening. Help to feed the meters during the event.
  • “Women of a Certain Age Discount Mondays” linked with visits by experts on finance, health, skin care, etc., for WOACA.
  • Add vinyl records and/or generational CDs during the holidays. Create a music display featuring The Beatles and related records, books, and gift items. Baker & Taylor has programs such as NPR Discover Songs and Vinyl Lives.
  • Many boomers enjoy increased mobility and relocate seasonally or throughout the year. Provide low-cost shipping for them no matter how many books are in the box.
  • Boomers on staff can help you reach boomer customers.
  • “Books and Breakfast” – serve muffins, coffee, juice, water, and talk about new books and authors. Breakfast clubs can create community goodwill.
  • Keep a file for customers who want to keep wish lists physically in the store.
  • Work with a local tour company to create local, national, and even international literary tours.

Reaching Young Readers:

  • ALWAYS say “Yes” when a teacher wants to do an event or provide kids’ programs to the store.
  • Create projects like BookSmartArt once a month that are easy, season-based art and craft projects, ehich take about an hour. Charge $3-$5 depending on the craft.
  • Create a Teen Advisory Board. Have teens apply to join and then have a hand in marketing and hosting events for teens.
  • Provide internships/work study programs where permissible (check local and state regulations) for ages 13-15.
  • Provide book talks for kids ages 8-12 once a month.
  • Host writing and illustration contests to promote enthusiasm for reading.

Reaching a Diverse Customer Base:

  • Look for data on your community composition. Don’t assume you know who is in your community. Schools often have this information.
  • Have diverse staff to better reflect your community.
  • Host a bilingual story time for children. As it becomes popular, increase selection of Spanish/other bilingual titles.
  • Create in-store displays for various cultural groups in your community.
  • Hold bilingual readings of popular foreign authors. One bookstore chose short passages from ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE and had one presenter read the passage first in Spanish ad then another presenter read the same passage in English.
  • Participate in cultural festivals.
  • Partner with local religious/cultural/service groups to cultivate events and customers, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Reaching Online Shoppers:

  • Be creative with your shipping options, including discounts and special programs.
  • Continue to integrate the online and in-store experience.
    • In-store displays with signage that reads, “As Seen on Our Website”
    • In-store signage that advertises the store website.
    • Post store hours and directions prominently on your homepage.
    • Keep webpage content fresh!
  • Offer coupons in your e-mail newsletter for customers to print and use in the store.
  • Provide coupons in the store for online purchases.
  • Create an online portal for your book-of-the-month club.



Posted April 16, 2015

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