Growing up I had this idea that bookstore owners were these eccentric characters who hung out in the back of the shop until the protagonist needed a little divine intervention in the form of a fascinating read. The idea of a book lover and a go-getter entrepreneur were totally incongruent to me. It just didn’t match.
Today indie bookstore owners often don’t have a choice but to be social and outgoing. We’re competing with a big faceless internet market, and the best way to combat that is through our unique personality and our ability to provide a different kind of customer service. Yet the internet doesn’t need to be the enemy. Here are some ways you can use the internet to your advantage, all while adding an even more personal touch to be more effective at marketing your bookstore.
We’ve all heard of using Facebook and Twitter to advertise, but here at our children’s bookstore we are avid Instagram users. As a way to get our business off the ground we posted picture after picture of our growing store, all the while building up to our grand opening. We used hashtags, descriptions, tagged customers, who would in turn repost their photo. By the time we officially opened we had at least fifty followers; a little under a year later we have over 5,000.
Instagram is our main method of advertising. It’s a quick and easy way to share photos of our beautiful books and some of the activities we have at the store. If there’s a cute photo or good quote about the importance of reading, we share it along with a little blurb about why it’s important to us. To avoid cluttering our profile we make sure to take down any adverts after the event is done, so all that are left are pictures of our store.
Pro Tip: Does your camera phone suck when it comes to bad lighting? The free VSCO Camera app will work wonders for you. You can easily take photos and adjust the exposure so you can stop taking dark looking pictures of your bright and sunny store.
Blogging may seem like an early 2000s kind of thing, but believe me when I say that blogging is not dead. As a children’s bookstore our biggest advertisers have been blogging mothers who bring their children and agree to write up a nice thing about us. It’s a great way to boost your bookstore marketing efforts and best of all it’s free.
If you’re a specialty store I strongly recommend finding some local bloggers who write in your field of interest. Invite them to your store, offer them a cup of coffee, and chat. Any specialist will be able to recognize another specialist, and if your passion for your subject comes through while talking, you better believe that’s what the blogger is going to write about. With the help of one person you’ve gone from a bookstore that might have that one obscure thing your customer is looking for to the bookstore with the guy that knows what he’s talking about, and if he doesn’t have what the customer is looking for he will find it for them.