OK, gang, here's a question. I am really looking for tips and advice on this one. I have done about 20 bookstore drop-in signings. For the majority of these, I have sent ahead of time a packet with large (11 x 17) posters and a bundle of flyers. In my mind, the flyers would have been by the register and anyone who bought a thriller or mystery would have had a flyer stuffed in their bag. Uh....don't think it happened. Once in awhile I've seen the posters on the door and windows, but I've also arrived to find ZERO evidence of any in-store promotion activity. Also, I've loaded up event calendars on all the local newspaper web site calendars, I've submitted news releases to every community newspaper and on-line site weeks ahead of time. I would say 1 or 2 total people have told me that they spotted my promo materials and arrived at the "event" as a result. I've even purchased display ads in newspapers. (Ouch! Won't do that again!)

Nonetheless, I've had terrific drop-in events. I've been invited back to the last 3 bookstores and 4 out of the last 5. Most of the "work" and "sales" have come with bookstore customers who just happen to be there THAT DAY.

Enough set-up, here's the question: is the advance poster & flyer action worth it?

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Comment by Tina on October 4, 2007 at 4:35pm
Hi Mark, thanks for the friend invite, I thought I would post here and give you some feed back. I was a sales rep for a wholesale company and I did a lot of retail point of purchase marketing. First rule, no one wants to add any work to what they are doing, so offer to put the poster up yourself a few days in advance and see if the flyers can be placed with the free publications or if you can stick a small laminated card about your visit on this rack. Post at coffee stores, libraries, community centers nearby too. The most effective in store POP I used to do was on the shelf. In other words try making up a couple of small, laminated cards that can be affixed (by you, with something sticky that won't wreck their shelves or have it on card stock that can be folded on to the shelf and tucked under the books) that say "Mystery Writer Mark Stevens here on Tuesday March..!" to be put in the mystery section. Make it look good and simple. I don't know what bookstores would say, but I was able to put up signs like these for in-store demos (it was at gardening centers). If you do the work for them it is amazing how willing they become! Another idea is to see if they will let you put bookmarks between books in the mystery section for browsers to 'find'. But you are doing lots of great self-promotion, I'm impressed, you've really thought this through. Nice meeting you!
Comment by Mark Stevens on August 8, 2007 at 11:25pm
Thanks. The fact that some store owners put the posters up and had the flyers in visible spots never made me think to ask ahead of time. Sounds basic -- but that's excellent advice. Yeah, by "drop in" I just meant "no big speaking event / audience listening" type of event, just doing meet-and-greet work. Oh well. The last 3 bookstores I visited I had instant invites to return, which was heartening.
Comment by Steven Torres on August 8, 2007 at 4:13am
My guess would be that it really isn't worth it though if you're friendly with a couple of bookstore owners, they might give a better idea. Now, to me, a drop-in signing means you drop in at the store unannouced and sign stock as well as shaking hands with a manager.

The fact of the matter is, in terms of getting people to an event, newspaper and radio ads and the like are unlikely to make them change their plans unless you're Stephen King et al. That is, when they read a flyer (if it is posted) but they weren't originally planning to be at the store next Wednesday night, will the flyer be enough to make them change their plans? Probably not. It might, however, make them think about buying the book. Maybe...

A lot of bookstores don't post flyers because they don't want to set a precedent - if they post your flyer, they'll have to post everybody's. Same thing with bookmarks.

Here's what I'd do: when you're setting up the event with the CRM, ask if they'd be able to post a couple of posters about the event which you'd be happy to send out. If there's any hemming or hawing, take that as a sign that they'd rather not.

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