One of the best ways to get involved in your community and expand your customer base is to host one (or a series) of store events. Book lovers are some of the most creative and passionate people out there, so it’s important to choose a theme that will engage, excite, and entice your customers to rush through your doors! But where do you start? There is a wealth of brilliant book-related ideas for events, so let me help by sharing a few that have worked for us!
Our store has a wide and energetic customer base made up of young readers, so some of our most successful events are geared towards children. While kids’ event ideas are easy to come up with (you can turn almost any animal, song, character, TV show, movie etc. into an event), some of our biggest and most popular events are (not surprisingly) our book/author-themed events. Take a look at your top sellers and dig around for popular trends in children’s literature, and planning the rest of the event will come easily. It’s also always a great idea to dip into your stock of classic titles to put an event together; Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Mother Goose are sure to be a hit with parents and children any time of the year! Some other very popular kids’ themes that have worked based on our sales are The Gruffalo, The Day the Crayons Quit, Peppa Pig, Frozen, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Kids are attentive, easily entertained, and very grateful for any stories/crafts/snacks you prepare, so these kinds of events are always rewarding. Choose a theme that you and your staff can get excited about (costumes and decorations don’t hurt either!) and your kids’ events will be wildly successful!
When you need a break from dressing up in silly costumes and reading stories in funny voices, you may want to give some adult-themed events a try. Your adult customers will be harder to please than the wee ones, so these events require dedication and a great deal of thought. An artsy phenomenon that seems to be sweeping across bookstores, malls, restaurants, and art shops alike is the ever-popular paint night theme. This event is a great deal of fun, but also requires a great deal of planning, including securing a talented artist to lead (helps if you’ve got an artist on your staff!), preparing all the supplies (i.e. canvas, paint, pallets etc.), and setting up a large enough area to fit a decent crowd of aspiring artists. Most establishments charge anywhere from $10-$50 for a paint night, depending on what is being offered, so know that your creative customers are willing to shell out a few dollars to visit your store and get crafty. To complement this kind of event, you may want to set up an array of art-themed book displays to drive your sales, or offer a ‘today-only’ kind of coupon to entice your painters to spend some time shopping while their canvases dry. Similar events can be achieved with workshop-type themes such as gardening (paint and plant your own flower pots), card-making, the art of book folding, or maybe jump on the adult colouring book bandwagon and host a colouring and cocoa morning!
If your kids’ and adult events have shown some success, you may want to consider starting a series of events dedicated to a store book club. This may be tricky depending on your customer base, but it never hurts to try something you’re passionate about. If you have the dedicated book-loving staff to help run monthly gatherings, then a book club can not only form a solid community with your customers, but it can also drive your sales. Consider offering an exclusive discount on a certain title (or range of titles) for your attending book club members. Not everyone who purchases a discounted book may come back for your event, but offering exclusive discounts and encouraging attendance to a local event will promote loyalty and admiration amongst your customers. If attendance is low at your first meeting, don’t be discouraged! Word of mouth and local advertising will help to increase the member count of your book club and you will continue to see new faces as long as you put in the effort to make the meetings worth their time.
Book lovers are passionate and thoughtful, so providing your customers with the opportunity to gush about their favourite books is a great way to open discussion and hear what they have to say. While talking about your newest title and sharing some coffee and nibbles, you can always ask your club to fill out small surveys to gauge their interests and their likes and dislikes about your store events. Be open to their suggestions—remember you are hosting these events for them, and their thoughts will help you to improve your overall customer experience and make your store events something that can’t be missed!
Book Outlet Retail Store