Thursday, January 08, 2009
Black History Month is coming up - and it's a good thing because that's when the big push on black books is really on. That's when most black books are published by main stream publishers and even the trade pubs like Publishers Weekly and Christian Retailing have special sections or pages dedicated to the new black books! WOW!
But if you haven't notice, black book stores are hurting! We need our urban bookstores - if you're an author, you really need support them - if you want them to be around for your book signings.
(Just for the record, you know black people do buy books all year - though we celebrate Black History - we should keep conscious of our heritage 365 days a year)
But if the big publishers aren't pushing the customers into the urban stores, how do book stores create and keep traffic all year long?
Here are my TOP 10 TIPS
FOR RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL URBAN CHRISTIAN BOOK STORE
1. Pray. Have a “prayer request” box in your store so that customers can fill out prayer requests and every day have someone on staff pull out the requests and pray over them. Also, pray at least once a week as a team. Personal pray is a “given” but corporate prayer will make the major difference in your business.
2. Have a mentor or business coach. You either learn by mistakes or mentors. Mentors are better. Find someone who has traveled down the road a bit farther than you and seek their advice, counsel and let them be your sounding board of new ideas. They may even share their “secrets” with you. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Recommend: www.90dayplan.com – Biz Coach Andrew Morrison.
3. Network. Become a savvy “networker” at conferences, church events & trade shows. Develop relationships. Don’t just collect business cards – ask them if you can keep in touch. Then add them to your database immediately. Eblasts are great. It’s called viral marketing – it spreads like virus. Have a system like Constant Contact to store and retrieve your names/contacts.
4. Engage in Continual Training. Don’t be destroyed by lack of knowledge. Look for business development training at local colleges, trade associations or through the Chamber of Commerce. Sign up for webinars or tele-seminars over the internet with leading business consultants and coaches. Read the trade publications and other magazines like Black Enterprise.
5. Read up on what other successful stores are doing. Go to their websites. Google them. Modify what they are doing to fit your store. Send them a note if you are really impressed by their success.
6. Become more customer focused. Hold regular seminars or meetings for customers. Become a “go to” person and location for them. Survey your customers frequently. Ask them what they like and how you can better serve them. Ask them what media they read, listen to and how they get their news and information – and you target those media for advertising and press releases.
7. Brand. Take advantage of social networks like myspace or youtube (video tape & post book-signings of authors) to get people talking about your store. Coordinate your image: make sure your voice message, signage, ads & staff reflect your overall store image. Work on consistent details to build brand equity.
8. Read “Pour Your Heart Into It” by Howard Schultz. Talks about how STARBUCKS built a company (brand) one cup at a time. From one store to more than 2,000 stores nationwide yet has maintained its commitment to product, service excellence and employee satisfaction.
9. Set up a Community Advisory Board. Have church leaders, media friends or loyal customers who will champion what you do in the community. They will be your “eyes and ears” in the community you serve and will be act like a “customer evangelist” bringing others into your store. Reward them with free books and special recognition.
10. Apply at least ½ the information you learn at CBA/ICRS and from other conferences, books and articles you read. You’ll be ahead of the game for sure.
B Pam Perry, www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com, 248.426-2300
See www.PamPerryPRCoach.com too and www.ChocolatePagesNetwork.com!
. . .Dozens of Authors
. . .Thousands of Readers
. . .All Under One Roof
May 16-17, 2009
George R. Brown Convention Center