Summer Marketing Ideas the Topic of Booksellers’ Virtual Roundtable

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Chalkboard signs don’t have to be the only marketing tool indie bookstores use to drive customers into their shops during the summer months. Booksellers participating in last week’s online marketing roundtable hosted by the American Booksellers Association looked at some of the other summer marketing strategies around the web.

Open to all ABA members, the marketing roundtable is a biweekly online video conference held on and led by IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies. At this most recent session, participating booksellers discussed several articles chosen by IndieCommerce Specialist Ryan Quinn that featured different summer marketing ideas.

The website’s list of 10 summer marketing tips small businesses can try included the idea to create branded stickers and place them in outdoor areas where they are sure to get noticed; offering a discount on especially hot days based on how high the temperature climbs; generating publicity by inviting the community to a litter pick-up day; or partnering with non-competing businesses for a program in which each company markets and sells a themed package (for example, a restaurant, theater, and a hotel would create a couples’ weekend package), and all three split the proceeds.

“You can partner with another small business in the area to gather more traffic. Maybe potential customers know about a shop down the block but they have never come to yours,” added Quinn.

According to Amidon Marketing’s list of hot summer marketing ideas, independent businesses might want to try their hand at a promotion where customers receive $10 off any purchase of $100 or more when the temperature rises above 100 degrees. Bookstores can also give away seasonal items like free beach towels, T-shirts, or sunscreen to customers with their purchases (branded with your store name or logo, if possible) or give summer shoppers 10 percent off if they photograph their purchase or themselves in your store and tag you when they post it on social media.

Quinn reminded booksellers to always make they are documenting what they are doing on social media during the summer months. “Even if you’re just doing a promotion in-store, at least mention it on your website or social media to get the word out in various forms,” she said.

The last article Quinn presented to booksellers came from Forbes Magazine and featured 13 summer marketing tips, such as taking the time to write a non-promotional thank-you note to customers to show your appreciation for their business; using Facebook Live to hold a special sale for social media followers; launching a loyalty program for summer; and making appearances at local summer festivals, markets, or other events where local retailers can set up vendors’ booths.

“Take it outside of your store,” said Quinn. “Does your town do a lot of festivals where retailers can sell their products? What about other businesses that do things outside that are looking for other local businesses to join them? See where you can partner with music festivals, other businesses, and outdoor restaurants. You need to go where the people are.”

Booksellers at the marketing roundtable also talked about their plans for the forthcoming Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 28. Liz Whitelam, owner of Whitelam Books in Reading, Massachusetts, has plans to host five local self-published authors on the day of the event. As a new store, Whitelam said she was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of local authors asking her to sell their books.

“I can’t manage a consignment program; we’re too new to work that out so the plan was to have several events a year so self-published authors could come in. For Indie Bookstore Day, each author signed up for a time during the day to bring in their books; we’re going to sell it for them and give them 60 percent,” said Whitelam. “It’s a neat and tidy way of addressing that.”

ABA hosts these 30-minute online marketing roundtable videoconferences at 11:00 a.m. EST on two Thursdays a month. Stores do not need to be part of the IndieCommerce program to participate. Booksellers who would like to take part can send an invite request to