Ci7 Education: Marketing Events to Ensure a Home Run

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The “Advanced Bookselling & Special Topics: Marketing Events to Ensure a Home Run” education session at the American Booksellers Association’s seventh annual Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, featured panelists who shared tips on best practices for creating marketing campaigns to make your bookstore event catch fire.

Booksellers can watch a full video of the session on ABA’s Education Resources page (a BookWeb username and password are required; e-mail for login credentials).

The June 27 session featured bookstore marketing and events managers as panelists, including Nichole Cousins, manager of White Birch Books in North Conway, New Hampshire, who served as moderator; Joy Preble, children’s and teen programming director at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas; Colin McDonald, marketing manager for Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois; and Stephanie Heinz, children’s buyer and events coordinator at Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine.

During the session, booksellers shared ideas for opportunities for advertisement; areas for potential partnerships for cross-marketing; marketing timelines; using social media methodically to get the most out of your posts; and thirteenth-hour efforts for the final push. Here are some of the tips and to-dos the panelists shared during the session:

Social Media Advertising

  • Develop an editorial calendar
  • Schedule posts for times of increased traffic 
  • Coordinate posts with your social media team
  • Make sure the “voice” of your posts taps into your store’s personality
  • Create event banners for Facebook, images for Instagram, and link to event on Twitter
  • Use Canva as a resource to create images
  • Make sure your marketing brand is cohesive across all your social media sites
  • If you have one, boosting your events on Facebook is a good use for your ad budget 
  • Look at what other stores are doing on social media
  • Don’t hesitate to explore design styles, images, color palettes in your branding
  • Schedule posts ahead of time (you can even schedule day-of reminders months in advance)
  • Create a social media style guide and share with your marketing team, if you have one
  • Use Edelweiss for high-quality cover images

Other Forms of Advertising

  • Reach out to parent and community bloggers online (blogs, Facebook groups)
  • Create a community newsletter and include a “Coming Up” section
  • Advertise kids’ events in your existing adult-oriented newsletter
  • Place ads where other events are being advertised
  • Make sure to keep author’s publisher in the loop
  • Use both physical and digital versions of fliers for events
  • Stay aware of where community calendars are available (community websites, newspapers)

Suggested Marketing Timeline

  • Four months out
  1. Communicate with staff about your plans for the event
  2. Reach out to any community partners you want to work with
  3. Aim to get your event posted on social media
  4. Once the event is booked, ask publishers for more galleys for staff to familiarize themselves
  • Two weeks out
  1. Send list of reminders to partners/event contacts
  2. Check with partners that agreed-upon tasks have been completed/resources gathered
  • One week out
  1. Send managers complete information on featured events  
  2. Tell staff at register to remind customers about event 
  3. Ask school librarians to put up large-print, kid-friendly fliers promoting the event

Forming Partnerships

  • Partner with related organizations
  • Offer special perks for partnering
  • Tackle marketing efforts as if you were putting on the event alone
  • Add the publisher as a co-host (with permission) to expand marketing reach, resources
  • Contact writers in the schools to introduce events
  • Think of your local partners (librarians, schools, organizations, businesses) as well as publishers and contact them for promotion help
  • Reach out to any authors who live locally as event partners

Tips for Pre-order Campaigns

  • Market pre-orders in conjunction with your events
  • Get the publisher and author involved in the campaign
  • Offer swag to customers who pre-order
  • Create a landing page for pre-orders on your website so you have an easy link to send the author to post on social media
  • Designate a point person to handle pre-orders
  • Follow up with authors to make sure they are sharing links you send
  • For pre-orders with school visits, have a one-sheet for librarians and teachers. set minimum sales goal for schools
  • Think hard about which pre-order campaigns you choose to plug, based on personality of your store

Creating Your Own Event Persona

  • Give events a personal touch in any way you can, find your brand
  • Introduce interactive components
  • Offer food, drinks, and goodies
  • Be yourself, even if you’re a bit weird. It’s that spark of individuality that makes you different. Loosen up!
  • Create a monthly theme, echo theme in social media, ask local artist to paint themed mural on front store window

Last-Minute Marketing Tips

  • E-mail librarians, schools, and organization contacts with whom you have established relationships
  • Reach out to specific individuals you know would be interested in attending the event
  • Invite local authors and illustrators to the event
  • Cross-post on your social media pages
  • Involve staff in talking to customers about the event

Booksellers can find Joy Preble’s own list of tips for running successful children’s events in’s Education Curriculum section, as well as a video recording of the session.