Create Your Own Speakers Bureau

Giving book talks to groups is a fantastic way to build up the positive public image of your store. I’m sure you’ve given many talks in the past. Do you actively promote the service? Think about the many different topics you can speak to as an expert. Look to your staff and consider the topics they can cover. You have a built-in speakers bureau.

New books. Typically, book clubs want to hear about forthcoming books. But this talk can be presented to a variety of organizations. Teachers and librarians use the bookstore as a primary source of new book information. Presenting at teacher in-service meetings can be considered a great service. And during the holidays, you can find a captive audience in most any group.

Display. I’m asked to give talks several times a year on display to one group in particular… librarians. You likely have some in your area with whom you can share the wealth. After you tell them your tips and tricks, invite them to visit the store often to steal ideas from you.

Timely issues. Civic groups often have weekly meetings for which they need to find presenters. Professional organizations usually meet monthly, and they, too, need to fill speakers slots. If you have an opinion about The Future of the Book, the Shop Locally movement, or Paper vs. eBook, add it to your list of topics and promote your availability.

At the talks, be sure to leave some take-aways behind. If your talk was about new books, hand out an order form on which they can take notes while you speak. If your talk is about other issues, leave behind a dated coupon for them to use on their next visit to the store. This helps to measure the effectiveness of your PR efforts.

How do you spread the word that your store is willing and able to speak about these issues? The first place to list the information is on your store website. Even if a person plans to call you, they will usually research your website first. You can also create a flyer or bookmark to have at the counter with other store information. If you’d like to actively pursue the speakers bureau, mail a letter, along with the list of topics, to the program chairs of these organizations. And finally, never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

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