Last Friday, I posted a response to a Soapbox column written for Publishers Weekly by book buyer Mike Joachim, who offered five “rules” to help self-published authors. When it came to self-published titles, I thought that independent and regional booksellers could do better than adopt the model already in force for traditional imprints.
More recently, Publishers Weekly featured a Soapbox contribution from marketing expert Kirk Kazanjian, whose latest book focuses on “driving loyalty”. In the piece, he calls on the owners of bricks-and-mortar bookstores to take four steps that would help them cultivate loyalty and compete against Amazon’s price advantages:
- Create a welcoming experience
- Hire right (book enthusiasts!)
- Embrace technology
- Practice two-way marketing
Some of what Kazanjian suggests seems a bit limited. His idea of a “welcoming experience” involves saying hello and getting to know frequent customers on a first-name basis. No argument there, but a welcoming environment can also include things like self-evident navigation, a clear path to the register, a place to sit and read (or meet readers), as well as my “local author” idea from last week.
In a similar vein, “embracing technology” should include more than point-of-purchase recommendations. A comment on last week’s post, added by Kobo’s Ami Greko, explains how independent booksellers can partner with her firm to offer digital formats to customers who prefer that option.
While these suggestions fill in Kazanjian’s guidelines, they really don’t take away from one of his core points: “Customers do business with you because they want to, not because you’re the cheapest place around.” That’s the value of loyalty.