In the last issue, I talked about smart community partnerships for bookstores. Today, we’ll continue with options and benefits for when community organizations seek partnership with the bookstore.
Corporate Sponsorship. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the bookstore is asked to be the corporate sponsor. For instance, a local organization (medical society, bar association, education conference, professional marketing organization, etc.) would like help securing an author to speak at their annual convention or upcoming meeting. Or maybe a local school would like a donation for an upcoming fundraiser. For the same reasons you ask for partnerships, you should consider these requests and the potential for positive publicity.
Board Appointments. Serving on the board of directors for local organizations can be great in terms of public relations for your store. Before you say yes to a board appointment, find out how long you will serve, how often the board meets, how many board members must be present to take action, names of others on the board, and why you were asked. If the organization’s mission fits with your own, consider serving.
Professional, Civic or Service Organizations. Belonging to professional, civic, or service organizations can also take time away from the bookstore, but it’s important to get out into the community if you want the community to come to you. You should also encourage your staff to represent the bookstore through these organizations.
Educational Institutions. It’s always a smart business practice to build relationships with schools associated with all levels of education: elementary, upper levels, and universities. You might provide an author for the 7th grade English class; they might call on you when the grant money for books comes through.
Local Personalities. Don’t forget about local personalities. Think about well-known individuals in your community… the TV news anchor, the mayor, the coach who just took his team to the national championship… they can be utilized to em-cee at an event, give an author introduction, or read at Storytime. Your relationship centers on promoting literacy — a win/win for both of you.
Business The final area to explore in terms of community partnerships is the area of business.You do not have to be in a city with large corporations to sell to businesses. Instead, you can offer specific services catered to individual businesses. Offer a special day on which employees from your business partner can receive a special discount. Select a book that would make a nice employee holiday gift and send it to the business owner, offering a discounted price for the bulk order. Offer to run a book club for corporate employees. These are just a few ways you can remain top of mind for future book purchases.
Now What? So, where do you go from here? Take an inventory of where you stand now in your community partnerships. With which organizations have you formed a community relationship? Now make a list of those you might want to foster, including the benefit for you as well as what’s in it for them. Then suggest a meet-up over coffee. Many great journeys begin with a single step. Or in this case, a single cup.