300 Seconds: Education Services

Today’s 300 seconds piece is a little prep work for tomorrow. August is Back to School time. Take 5 minutes and make a list of every service you offer educators.

Maybe you offer a discount, order classroom sets, or stock text books. Is the bookstore a field trip destination? Just quickly write down the services as you think of them.

Then look at your list and jot down any services you do not currently offer but would like to explore.

After you compile the list, set it aside until tomorrow. (I’ll let you enjoy one last day in July.)

Display Analytics

I’ve enjoyed the displays submitted for this month’s contest. (You have until midnight tonight to submit one for the July contest.) One tool that can help determine the effectiveness of your different displays is to run some analytics. But you’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way. With a notebook and POS reports.

Pull sales data for ISBNs on display for time periods that include before, during and after those titles were on display. If you notice that Book A sold well for a while and then suddenly stopped, look to see why. Was it moved? Did you sell out?

You can also perform a test on display locations. Try placing Book B on a table display, then after a set amount of time, move it to a window display. Next try it by the cash register. Try it shelved vs. faceout. What happens when you make it Book of the Week? Or put a “Staff Favorite” bookmark in it?

Running a test like this will not take much time and will require only a little bit of organization. Simply make notes on dates/locations of a title, and then run reports for those dates. This type of “analytics” study can really help identify display strengths and weaknesses.

Help Customers During “Simplify Your Life” Week

When I compiled the August Content Calendar, I became very excited when I saw that the first week in August is National Simplify Your Life Week. In our over-committed society, there are so many possibilities to engage with and help our customers. Here are just a few ideas that come to mind:

1) You can share this video: How to Organize Your Kitchen Like a Pro (and the Secrets of an Organized Mom book that goes along with it!) The author, Barbara Reich, also has a How to Shop Like a Pro video.

2) Create your own National Simplify Your Life Week display, with books about organization, self-help books, or books featuring beautiful design.

3) Have a bookcase makeover contest. Invite customers to take photos of their disorganized book cases and invite them to take control of them. Have them send before/after photos which will be judged. You can offer prizes for the most unique shelving system, most transformed, etc.

4) If you have ideas, tips or tricks about organizing or productivity, share them in social media, on your website or in your blog. Or if you do not have any of your own, share some of mine, like teux-deux or focus at will. Content marketing can drive customers to your websites. They might come for the knowledge you’re willing to share initially, but then they’ll return when they need a book.

Door Prize Survey

Yesterday we talked about reaching out to potential customers where they are by using online community calendars. One way you can find out how customers heard about your event is by asking them. And one way to do that is through an on-the-spot you’ve-got-’em-where-you-want-’em door prize survey.

With this survey form, you basically ask attendees how they heard about the event. For their participation, they have a change to win a door prize.

The prize can be a book signed by that night’s visiting author, a store gift certificate, or a bag of themed galleys.

Since most of you use Microsoft Publisher, I created this quick 4-up text survey in that program, just to show that it doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be clear.

  1. This survey asks for the the attendee’s name and the event.
  2. It then asks how they heard about the event.
  3. Finally it asks if they already receive the store e-newsletter and, if not, would they like to.

By monitoring where your customers go for information, you can streamline your efforts for the best use of your time.

David Mitchell answers fans’ questions.

Since the first week in July, Random House has published a video on YouTube featuring author David Mitchell answering a question from a fan. There are 10 questions scheduled to be answered, and they just released this 4th question.

I don’t know the release schedule for the questions/answers, but if a pattern has emerged, it looks like the answer to question 10 will be posted after the September 2 release date of The Bone Clocks. With this perceived schedule in mind, this is how I would approach posting the videos to social media.

Between now and August 4 – schedule 5 posts in social media:

August 5: Question 1 of 10

August 8: Question 2 of 10

August 12: Question 3 of 10

August 15: Question 4 of 10

August 19: Question 5 of 10 (which should be posted here on August 4)

At this point, I’d monitor customer interaction and feedback. You can subscribe to the channel on YouTube so you’ll be notified in real time when another answer has been published, at which point you can decide whether or not to share it.

If you do not share the videos with your customers, it’s important for the booksellers on staff to watch them. More “interaction” with an author creates better handsellers.