Bookstore Seeks Community Partnerships

Yesterday, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) announced a program available to its member stores wishing to explore partnerships with community businesses. Bookstores are allowed to submit the names of three local businesses to receive a complimentary copy of Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

This is one type of community partnership, a topic that can be daunting to explore, and almost more difficult to define. But for a local independent business, the community partnership—relationships built with like-minded businesses and organizations–can be a vital piece of the marketing mix.

Partnerships involve give and take, and can somewhat be defined by the entity receiving direct benefit. Was your bookstore asked to be a community partner? Or did you do the asking?

To keep with my stated vision of presenting marketing solutions in manageable pieces, I’m going to divide this piece into two segments. Today I’ll cover community partners bookstores should seek. And on Monday I’ll present options and benefits for when community organizations seek partnership with the bookstore.

Bookstore Seeks Community Partner

A bookstore-driven partnership might be born out of an author event. What business, group or organization can help the bookstore with a good or service for a better event? Here are several:

Venue. For events that might be too large for your bookstore, having a reliable go-to venue is a must. Because venues host events besides yours, it’s a good idea to have several options in anticipation of calendar conflicts. You should also look for potential venues beyond the obvious. Museums (art, science, history, etc.) can be a perfect setting for a particular book. Schools, universities, and churches can be appropriate as well. The Give/Take: Ask venues for a reduced or free rate. They benefit through community exposure, possible rental fees, concession/bar sales. You can also offer to advertise their other events through your bookstore. You receive a larger venue, greater sales potential, and exposure to a larger audience.

Hotel. If you have a hotel close to the bookstore, or one that might offer a benefit like shuttle service, approach them to see if you can work out a rate agreement. Give them an estimate of the number of authors you anticipate for the coming year, and the hotel should give you a reduced rate package based on that estimate. In exchange you can list them as an event sponsor. The Give/Take: The hotel receives a guaranteed number of guest stays in exchange for a better rate. The bookstore receives a partner that is appealing to publishers. It’s beneficial to publishers making the author tour schedules and plans, especially if transportation is built into the hotel amenities.

Corporate, Group & Media Sponsorships. Corporate, group, and media partnerships can add great value to an event and can help defray costs. By identifying organizations whose interests align with the event, the bookstore can benefit from greater audience exposure, especially if tasked with filling a large venue. Radio stations like to give away event tickets and books. Author talks about a specific sport (running, rowing, cycling, etc.) might be of interest to a local club. The key is to identify and secure potential partnerships early in the planning process. The Give/Take: The media partner receives an enhanced image in the community. The positive publicity can create a heightened image of their product, service or cause. The bookstore receives greater market exposure and potential sales.

Print. Although print can fall under media, I like to keep it separate because the process is more simple. Printing needs for events might include posters, tickets, bookmarks, signs, banners, etc. To keep event costs down, ask a local printer to sponsor your printing in exchange for a listing as an event partner. The Give/Take: The printing partner receives advertising on printed pieces and sponsorship mentions leading up to and at your event. The bookstore receives free/reduced printing costs and greater event exposure through the print media.

Stay tuned. On Monday I’ll cover when Community Organizations Seek Bookstore Partnerships.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay