300 Seconds

300 Seconds: Walking Advertisements

It’s been a while since we’ve spent 300 Seconds changing the message on our receipts. Sales receipts are a great place to spread the word about events or promotions.

Even though you’re using the receipt as a promotion tool, customers will see it more as a necessary item they need to take with them, and they’ll usually hold on to the receipt until they’re sure they’ll keep the book. Or if they’re like me, they’ll keep receipts in the books to use as a bookmark or as a reminder of when it was purchased.

On my desk right now, in addition to some recent purchases, I have books purchased in 2008, 2012 & 2013. On these receipts, I was reminded of these bookstore services and promotions:

  • “Order lunch online by 10:30 a.m. and eliminate the wait!”
  • “Now you don’t have to choose between buying eBooks and supporting your local independent bookseller!”
  • “Be happy… earlier. Enjoy 1/2 price drinks 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.”

You can use receipts to promote just about anything… a sale, a book signing, or even happy hour. If you promote an event or something timely, set a reminder to change the receipt message when the event or promotion is over.

Are you helpful after hours?

I follow a lot of bookstores on social media, and I was happy to see so many posts warning customers ahead of time about Easter Sunday closings.

If you have signs on the door, or changed your answering machine to reflect the closing, remember to change it back.

But this is also a good time to spend 300 Seconds getting into the minds of our customers to see how they perceive the store when it is closed for the day or after hours. Even though the store might be closed, customers still have access to your store through a variety of portals.

  • Answering machine. Listen to your outgoing message. What does it say? Thanks for calling? We’re sorry we missed you during store hours. Do you send them to your website or Facebook page for more information? Do you encourage them to leave a message, with the caveat that the call will be returned the next open day? (Was the speaker smiling when they recorded the message?)
  • Website. Browse your site as if you were a customer looking for a book, for a book club, for storytime, for an upcoming event, for a job application, for the store address, phone number, email address or directions to the store. Can they navigate your site and find what they’re after?
  • Physical store. The store is closed, but your windows are likely open. How does the store look from the sidewalk? What can customers see? What might thieves see?

You might have set hours when you staff the store. But during these 300 seconds, remember that you’re always open.

300 Seconds: Are you protected?

In Kansas, our weather-related school closings are typically caused by cold, snow and ice. But today schools are closed because of downed power lines, sections of roofs and other debris blocking the roads. I couldn’t sleep during this whopper of a storm. One of the reasons is because I was reminded (repeatedly) with each lightning strike and power outage that it’s probably time to replace my surge protectors.

The life of a surge protector is measured in joules instead of years, so they’re rated by the amount of energy and extra voltage they can absorb. You see, a basic surge protector uses something called an MOV, which stands for metal oxide varistor. When there’s a spike in voltage, the protector steers it away from your equipment and diverts it to the MOV, which is degraded with each hit. After the MOV has absorbed all of the joules that it can, the surge protector simply becomes a power strip.

Some surge protectors have little lights showing if they’re still offering protection. But some experts say these indicators cannot be trusted. They’re also hesitant to give a “time” reference for replacing surge protectors, because they do not want to give a false sense of security. I’ve heard that anything older than 2 years should be replaced. And if you don’t remember when you purchased the surge protector, it’s time to replace it.

I like to break tasks down into manageable segments, so…

  1. First, take 300 Seconds to note all of the areas in the bookstore where you want surge protection.
  2. Then sometime the next week, buy the number of new surge protectors that you need.
  3. Once the surge protectors are purchased, don’t wait to install them. Even though experts want us to measure in joules instead of years, sometimes you have to use what you can grasp. So either directly on the hardware or on a piece of tape, write the date that it was installed. I do this because even though I have a better grasp on time than the amount of joules absorbed by my surge protector, time can be tricky; what feels like two years was actually four years ago and before long I’m back to not knowing when I bought that surge protector after all.


June IndieNext Nomination: The 3 Step Plan

The deadline for nominating titles for the June 2015 IndieNext list is this Friday, April 3. By dividing the task into a few 300 Second blocks of time, you still have time to submit a thoughtful nomination.

  1. Today, select a title to nominate that will be released June 2015 or beyond. Take a few seconds to write down initial thoughts.
  2. Tomorrow, look at what you’ve already written and tweak it a bit. Have you captured what you want to tell readers and booksellers?
  3. And then on Friday, look over your nomination one last time. Read it out loud. Once you’re pleased, use this nomination form or send an email directly to the ABA.

300 Seconds: How to take a screenshot.

So you want a refresher on how to take a screenshot and save it as an image? Here are some easy instructions to do so on your PC, Mac, or smart phone.

If you have a PC: Click the window you want to capture. Press Alt+Print Screen by holding down the Alt key and then pressing the Print Screen key. The Print Screen key is near the upper-right corner of your keyboard. The image is now saved to your clipboard and you can paste it (ctrl+V) where you need it.

If you have a Mac: To capture the entire screen, press command (⌘)+shift+3. This will save the screenshot in an image file on your desktop. If you’d rather have the image saved to the clipboard rather than to a file, add the control button to the sequence… control+command (⌘)+shift+3.

To take a screenshot of a partial screen on a Mac, press command (⌘)+shift+4, and then drag the crosshair pointer to select the area. Hold shift, option, or the space bar while you drag to resize the selection area. To cancel, press Escape (esc) before you release the mouse button.

On an iPhone or iPad: simultaneously press the sleep/wake button and the home button at the same time. You’ll hear a camera “shutter” sound, and the image will be on your camera roll.

On Android devices, the capture method is similar. Press the home button and the lock key at the same time. Some Galaxy devices support capturing a screen image by swiping your open palm across the screen from right to left. With either method, you’ll now be able to see the screenshot in the Gallery app, or in Samsung’s built-in “My Files” file browser.

If we haven’t included your device here, send me a note and I’ll help find it. Or simply Google, “How do I capture a screenshot on my ______?”