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Book clubs have the potential to help your store cement relationships with core customers, draw first-time visitors, and boost sales. Once your strategy and plans are in place, try these marketing and sales tips from industry book club experts Heather Trost (The Greatest Gift & Scripture Supply), Angela Breidenbach (Christian Author Network), Daisy Hutton (HarperCollins Christian Publishing), Rachel Savage (Watermark Christian Store), Cara Putman (American Christian Fiction Writers), and Kim Marquette (DaySpring).
- Feature the current book club title at the cash wrap, along with a free bookmark with meeting information.
- Put the word round to local churches.
- Personally call some of your top fiction buyers to invite them along.
- Cross-promote with other local businesses: a nearby bakery might provide some cookies in return for a mention and may consider advertising the group to its customers.
- Mention other titles by the same author, or titles and authors in a similar vein.
- Encourage participants to recommend some of their favorite titles and authors to other book club members.
- Invite authors to attend book club meetings. Both CAN and ACFW authors are open to invitations to visit in person or virtually.
- Think beyond the printed page by spotlighting ancillary items that might be of interest to booklovers, like journals. You can balance out this sort of upselling with some club-only specials, like a bounce-back coupon that gives members a discount and helps track sales tied to the group.
- Offer a book club punch card so members can earn a punch for each book club title purchased from the store and one for attending a meeting. When the card is filled, it can be redeemable for a discount.
- Offer a book exchange, at which book club members can bring and swap past reads.
- Work with publishers about building programs that merchandise to book club leaders and offer them bulk discounts when they buy multiple copies on behalf of their clubs.
While there are ways to reduce the investment in events like books clubs, if they’re to be done well they don’t just happen. “It can be a lot of time and effort,” acknowledges Marquette, “but it also brings results. If you can create community, you absolutely create customer loyalty.”
— Andy Butcher