300 Seconds

300 Seconds: Back To Reality

Do you have just 300 seconds to devote to marketing today? Take those 5 minutes to ease back into reality if you’re just getting home from Winter Institute, or to just do a mental reset if you never left.

If you have been at Winter Institute, this might mean implementing a new idea borrowed from another store. Or it just might include looking through those business cards you collected and adding action items to your to-do list. Did you promise a publisher a review? Publishers, did you promise a bookseller a galley? Add these to your list and attach a deadline. (And if you can delegate, even better.)

What items on your to-do list are weighing on your mind? Have they actually been added to your to-do list? Sometimes the act of writing down your tasks and prioritizing them allows you to free your mind to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes a long to-do list can be daunting. (Mine is so long I’m almost embarrassed.) But if you just tackle it one item at a time, you’ll be able to make good progress even if it’s in 300 second increments.

300 Seconds: No #backwardsbooks, please.

300 Seconds: No #backwardsbooks, please.

The #backwardsbooks design trend on Twitter and Instagram might be dividing the internet, but I’m fairly sure I can guess on which side of the debate most booksellers would side.

You know how much thought goes into cover design–and by extension–spine design.They’re meant to attract and intrigue. Covers and spines are meant to be seen. 

Take 300 seconds today and look around your store. Do you see colorful covers and spines? Or do you see stacks of white pages on shelf and table tops? To make full use of the design, rotate those stacks of books so the spines are visible to those approaching the display.

Do you have extra room on your shelves? Fill that space by turning a few books face-out.

These covers and spines are designed to sell. Let’s make sure they can be seen.

300 Seconds: Website Check

When it comes to these 300-second tasks, I often focus on the store website because it is often the public face of your store, especially after business hours. If you have an eCommerce site, it’s more than a glorified YellowPages ad. In a way, you’re always open. 

Take 5 minutes today and check the content of your site. Click on menu items to make sure the links are working. Do any of the landing pages read “coming soon” or reflect maintenance? Use your 300 seconds to make a list of those pages, and then use open moments during the day to develop a plan of attack.

Also, take a moment to see how your site looks on a phone or tablet. One of my favorite stores has the search option in the right column. It looks good on my laptop, but when I want to search for an item from my phone, I have to scroll past a quite a bit of content just to get to the search box. It’s not a deal-breaker, but sometimes I do wish it were positioned closer to the top.

Remember that you can enlist your staff to help with something like this, too. Ask them to look at the site from a computer and from a phone and try to order a book, taking notes along the way. Try not to take the suggestions as criticism. Just remember that the end goal is a great customer experience.

300 Seconds: Tis the Season?

If you still have holiday decor up in your store, hey, I’m not one to judge. One year I threw a party on February 25 just so my friends could help remove ornaments from my tree.

If you have decided it’s time to switch out the seasonal theme, you might take 300 seconds to walk through the store to make sure you’ve caught all of the hidden places.

Look at your front door for posters or signs that might be out of date. Glance at your website to make sure it doesn’t have any stray holiday messages. Check your answering machine, the bottom of your receipts, and even your wrapping paper selection. Sometimes we become so accustomed to seeing items in our daily lives we do not realize they’ve expired.

And if you’re free the evening of February 25, the festivities begin at 7.

300 Seconds: Simplify by Number

This ‘300 Seconds’ piece isn’t for everybody. Some of you have all areas of your life in order and I applaud you. Instead, this task is for anyone who at the very least considered a 2018 resolution to declutter, simplify, or organize some part of your life. I call this strategy “simplify by number” and here’s how it works:

  • On the first day of the month, purge 1 item.
  • On the second day of the month, purge 2 items.
  • On the third day of the month, purge 3 items.

I’m pretty sure you can catch the pattern here. Continue to purge the number of items corresponding to that month’s date. Add up a typical month of 31 days, and you have the potential to purge 496 items.

When my self-proclaimed life coach first instructed me to try this method, I didn’t think I had 496 items available to purge each month. And I was especially fearful of failing around day 28. But then I remembered that stack of magazines growing in the corner. And the galleys I’d been needing to send to my reviewers. And my email inbox that will never be at Inbox Zero. And the duplicate files in my Dropbox. Yes. Digital items count, too.

Some of the reasons this method has continued to work for me is because I tell myself that I can skip days and pick up again when I’m able, I can start the process on any day of the month, and the daily finite number gives me a stopping point so I do not become overwhelmed.

Today is January 4. File, toss, or distribute 4 items. One could even be this email. [grin] And remember, there will always be more available to purge tomorrow. But wait until tomorrow to do so.