Top 10 Things to Know About: ABA’s Fall Marketing Campaigns

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The American Booksellers Association’s latest “The Top 10 Things to Know About...” session took place on Thursday, October 8. In “Top 10 Things to Know About: ABA’s Fall Marketing Campaigns,” ABA CEO Allison Hill and ABA COO Joy Dallanegra-Sanger discussed the “October is the new December” marketing materials as well as the upcoming campaign coordinated with DCX advertising.

A recording of this session is available to view on the Education Resources page on

Here are the top 10 tips:

  1. Use marketing campaigns to break through the noise of the moment.
  2. Start a conversation around ABA’s “October is the new December” marketing materials.
  3. If possible, share those marketing materials with local businesses in your area to spread the word.
  4. Be sure to communicate the importance of shopping local and early with customers. View an example here from Oblong Books and Music.
  5. Take advantage of industry book lists, such as the Indie Next List, Kids’ Indie Next List, the Indie Gift Guide, Reading Group Guides, and the ABC catalog for young readers. Send them by mail and digitally to customers to promote titles during Q4.
  6. The media is currently hungry for non-COVID and non-election related stories. Reach out to the media to get news coverage about happenings at your store.
  7. Consider sharing your store’s story and struggles through an op-ed.
  8. Use press releases to not only alert the media to events and happenings at your store, but to also establish yourself as a resource for future articles.
  9. Use assets related to the upcoming #BoxedOut campaign to promote shopping with indie bookstores.
  10. Assets can be shared in-store or online across social media platforms. Stores in major cities across the country have already launched installations.

Here is a more in-depth recap of the session:

  • Marketing campaigns are a way for booksellers to break through the noise of the moment.
  • One option ABA has created is the “October is the new December” campaign. Booksellers are encouraged to use the assets ABA has provided, as well as share them with other local businesses. In November, new assets will be available that say “November is the new December.”

  • Booksellers should also take advantage of the Indie Next List, Kids’ Indie Next List, the Indie Gift Guide, and Reading Group Guides, which are available in digital and print, as well as the ABC young readers catalog (IndieCommerce stores will be able to enable the ABC catalog on their sites). These assets can help booksellers easily share titles with customers.
  • Right now, the media is hungry for content. Since the world has shut down during the last seven months, a lot of what is normally covered — live theater, movies opening at the box office, etc. — isn’t happening. Outlets are looking for news outside of COVID-19 and the election. This is an opportunity for booksellers to get coverage.
  • Press releases can be different from how booksellers might have been trained to write them. Rather than solely focusing on big events or campaigns, booksellers should use press releases to connect with the press — either for coverage or to establish themselves as a resource for future stories they might be planning at some point. Be clever and add personality to get media attention.

  • Op-eds are also a tremendous opportunity for booksellers to get coverage, gain exposure, and start a conversation. Reach out to ambassadors/persuaders/community connectors to break important stories.
  • It’s hard to balance how much should be shared with staff and the public, but right now the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. Depending on their specific circumstances, booksellers should take the opportunity to communicate their struggles if they can.
  • ABA launched a marketing campaign with DCX on Tuesday, October 13, called “Boxed Out.” It’s a campaign targeted at millennials through paid advertising on Twitter. But the assets will be available for all social media platforms and newsletters. While this isn’t a magic bullet, Hill believes it is a campaign that will capture media attention and open a conversation about what’s at stakes for indie bookstores.