ABA’s Marketing Meetups Offer Booksellers a Forum for Learning and Networking

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The American Booksellers Association offers booksellers an opportunity for online live education through twice monthly Marketing Meetups, which cover a range of marketing-related topics, from using Google Analytics to organizing and promoting in multi-store events.

ABA Marketing Meetup logoAll booksellers are invited to participate in these bookseller-led educational conversations, which are conducted through Zoom.us and held at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on two Thursdays a month. Booksellers can sign up now to participate in any upcoming Marketing Meetup.

BrocheAroe Fabian of River Dog Book Co. in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, said that she regularly attends Marketing Meetups, noting that there was a helpful session on non-book gift products that provided her with an entire list of vendors to check out. “I have definitely reached out to vendors as a result of getting a tip from other booksellers on these meetups,” she said.

She’s also attended meetups focused on children’s bookselling, which, she said, were like a mini-Children’s Institute online, as well as a session on marketing to romance readers. “I thought [the Romance meetup] gave booksellers a great starting point for exploring this genre in their stores and making romance readers feel more welcome in indies,” Fabian noted.

“There have also been some really helpful documents shared from booksellers, like consignment forms from one store or membership benefit enrollment information and tiers from another meetup, that I've adapted to fit my own store’s needs,” she added. “I was already participating in Bookstore Romance Day, but if I hadn’t been, I would have definitely learned about it and wanted to participate based on the romance genre-specific meetup!”

Overall, she said, the meetups are a great reminder of the amazing camaraderie among independent booksellers. Said Fabian, “You see familiar faces and hear familiar voices participating in these calls, letting you know you’re not the only one out there struggling with something or wanting to learn more about how to do something.”

Jessica Hahl, events coordinator at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana, said that the online meetups are a great way for booksellers to learn and process new skills outside of industry events and conferences. She’s attended many sessions, including ones on working with ticketing services and blog marketing.

“I love being able to hear and see what other stores are doing that’s really working for them. Having access to those with their boots on the ground for a particular challenge is so helpful when you feel overwhelmed,” she said.

Marketing Meetups, she noted, are helpful for “straight-up instructions on how to do specific technical things; to learn other ways of approaching a problem, task, or procedure; to think outside the box (that’s often on fire with whatever today’s emergency is); and to network with other booksellers around the country who are meeting similar challenges in their community.”

Said Hahl, “Booksellers don’t have time to reinvent things, so borrow from your friends and colleagues who are also super smart and passionate about our industry.”

Suzanne Droppert of Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo and Bremerton, Washington, added that she regularly attends the meetups and has learned something from every session. Some of the notable sessions she’s attended include ones on non-book gift items, promoting pre-orders, and selling audiobooks through Libro.fm.

“Each store should have someone listen in on all the sessions,” she said, noting that she usually takes notes while listening and writes down what she’d like to implement in her own store; she also said she will look up the speakers’ websites and subscribe to their newsletters to learn more from them.

“I think I might know enough about the topic being discussed,” Droppert said, “but then I always learn something to try.”

The American Booksellers Association now offers two opportunities for live online education: the twice-monthly Marketing Meetup and a monthly Technology Meetup. All member booksellers are invited to participate in these online discussions; subscribe to the mailing list here to receive invitations for the Technology Meetups, Marketing Meetups, or both.