If I were opening a Christian Bookstore today. Part III of V

VIRTUAL SOCIAL NETWORKING AND PROMOTION

I’d have my barista double as my social networking guru if I couldn’t afford a stand-alone social networker.  It would be up to this person to concentrate on marketing through the Internet.  I’d offer incentives to each customer that would “like” our store’s home page on Facebook.  I’d offer an incentive for people to submit their e-mail addresses.  I’d have this person shoot videos for posting on YouTube and on our company Facebook page, even if YouTube does download 60 hours of footage every minute.  You never know when something like The Red House could go viral.

I’d have my barista become a guru on Pintrest and other hot social networking sites that would raise the visibility of my store in our community.  My guru would have to have understand and embrace Twitter and use it as a marketing tool for the store.

I’d be sure to have a website listing the products we sell, offering free shipping in the contiguous United States.  I would make it the responsibility of the my vendors to supply me with the jpegs for website updating.

The database that I would gather on my customers would enable me to promote through e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pintrest, and YouTube, all at no charge.  Cutting down significantly on space advertising in newspapers would go a long way to covering the costs of social networking.

As the owner of the shop, I would set up a blog on WordPress and post three times a week.  I would also be personally active with a Facebook account.

Rather than make a conventional business card, I’d have an attractively designed, two sided book mark made up with an inspirational message, stuff one free into each purchase or with each cup of espresso.  On the bookmark I’d be sure to have prominently printed not just phone numbers and addresses, but the social networking sites of my website, Facebook accounts, blog.  The mission statement of the store would also be included in bold print.

I’d work at finding lucrative ways to market through paid advertisements with Google in addition to  negotiating with the newspapers.  I’d remind myself that my customers are getting their news on their phones and tablets, and that is where I should be as well.  6,500,000 tablets and smart phones were opened this past Christmas day alone, with 250,000,000 apps downloaded the same day.

ACCEPTING THE E-BOOK REVOLUTION

I would not lay awake at night concerned about e-books.  That’s for my grandkids to worry about.  In my lifetime there will always be hardcore customers who prefer holding a book printed on paper rather than a frigid, sterile tablet or notebook. I would accept the fact that the market for books and music has shifted while recognizing other opportunities have opened up at the same time.

I would use CROSS:SCAN or Above the Treeline to track, which books are selling nationally in my industry and be sure to keep a good inventory on those.  This may be heresy, but I’d also track the secular industry best selling books and be sure to stock those as well, books such as Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, and any book by Michael Pollen.  Just as all gift products would not have to have a cross on them, not all books would have to extoll my personal faith.  If a customer walked in and asked for Omnivore’s Dilemma and my response was we do not stalk books of that nature, I’m not sure how I could rationalize such a response.  And how could you not stock Seth Goodin’s books on marketing?

Having said that, I would personally vet the secular books I would carry.

I would implement an inventory system that would minimize my investment in product while maximizing my return.  If that necessitated ordering every day from certain suppliers (who pay the freight), then that is what I would do.

There are three marketing groups within this industry alphabetically listed – Covenant, Munce, and Parable.  I would evaluate each of them, and choose to become a member of the one that offered the services most complimentary to my store.  They offer services comparable to a franchise that allow me to target my customer, offering pinpoint mailings, and reduce printing costs of flyers.

Part IV tomorrow.  COMMENTS?  ARE YOU STILL WTIH ME?!! 🙂

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3 Responses to If I were opening a Christian Bookstore today. Part III of V

  1. Bob Kirk says:

    Yes, keep it coming Peter!!! 🙂

  2. Bob Kirk says:

    Peter, another niche online Christian bookstore to check out is evangelicalbible.com. They have not opted for a bricks & mortar piece, but are building a brand entirely online. They may have elements which could be considered by someone contemplating your model.

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