300 Seconds

300 Seconds: January IndieNext Nominations

indienext-logo1Once Halloween arrives, it’s difficult to get your bearings until after Christmas. So take 5 minutes today and plan for your IndieNext nominations. The IndieNext deadline for books released in January 2015 and beyond is November 4. It’s a little more than a week away, so you have plenty of time to submit your nomination.

The ABA makes nominating titles easy. Use this form on their website or click here to send an email. They recommend that you write conversationally, as if you were handselling to a customer. (And they even promise to take care of grammar and punctuation.)

I say “January 2015 and beyond” because the ABA will accept any nominations for books released after January. So if you just finished a book that will not be released until March, go ahead and nominate it. They’ll hold onto the nomination until the appropriate time.

300 Seconds: Test Kitchen

Using Workman’s show-and-tell method of marketing can be as easy as going to the cookbook section and planning tonight’s dinner. Take 300 seconds and select a recipe you’d like to try in your home kitchen. Test it with your customers in mind. They’ll want to know:

  • Were the ingredients easily accessible?
  • Was the recipe easy to follow?
  • How did it taste?

Take a photo and write about it on social media, your store blog or in your newsletter. (If it’s a kid-specific cookbook, try to have some children helping in the photos.)

I’m filing this under 300 Seconds because the recipe selection and the photo follow-up will take about 5 minutes each. I’m assuming that the shopping for ingredients and dinner prep is something you would have done anyway. And, of course, clean-up is optional.

Holiday Hours

I’ve mentioned before that the philosophy behind 300 Seconds is the thought that these short 5 minute marketing sessions add up to more time spent on marketing than we typically allow ourselves. But I also want to alleviate the daunting, always-behind feeling that plagues small business owners.

Today, look at your calendar for the next 90 days. Will you have any special holiday hours? Do you close early on Halloween? Do you open early on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday? Do you extend your hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas? What time will you close on Christmas Eve? Are you open New Year’s Day?

These are questions to ask yourself while you sit down at the computer. Then take the time and print all of the door/store signs you need between now and January 1. Special store hours signs need not be fancy with extra graphics. You really only need the store name, the holiday to which you’re referring, and the hours in bold, legible type.

Books & Whatnot
Special Halloween Hours
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Always open at booksandwhatnot.com

Special hours signs should be placed on the door and in the store about a week prior to the holiday. Except for the Christmas Eve/Christmas hours. They can go up anytime after Thanksgiving.

By creating all of these signs at the same time, you save the time it takes to think through a task from scratch –go to the computer, decide which design program, determine paper size, portrait or landscape, which font, what size, what color, should I add graphics, how many should I print, etc.–and you only do this once for multiple tasks. And instead of feeling daunted, you’re one task closer to being poised.

300 Seconds: Other Nooks & Crannies

Yesterday we looked in nooks and crannies for cobwebs. Today you should spend 5 minutes in other nooks and crannies.

What is your most neglected section in the store? Head over there and organize, alphabetize, or maybe pull for returns or a sale.

We tend to handsell books that we can quickly call to mind. If you spread yourself around the store a little bit, your handselling rate should increase as your book awareness increases.

300 Seconds: Nooks & Crannies

If you only have 5 minutes to spend on marketing today, walk around your store with a long-handled duster (or an equivalent tool) and remove cobwebs from your corners, nooks & crannies. We usually don’t notice these things until we look around with our customer’s viewpoint in mind.

It’s amazing how quickly cobwebs can appear. Or so it seems. If we’re around them every day, we become accustomed to their gradual presence.

And even though we’re approaching Halloween, the only acceptable webs this time of year should be synthetic.