Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Discoverability - the KEY to Marketing for Bookshops and Authors

A church minister, whose church was in the town centre, was lamenting to a friend about the reluctance of so many men to come through the doors of his church. His friend waved a £10.00 note  under his nose . 'See that betting shop over there?"  he said "I want you to take this money and put a bet on the next race."

Thoroughly uncomfortable with the idea, the minister refused and his friend asked him why? 'Well I'm opposed to gambling on principle" he replied  "and I've never been into a betting shop. I haven't the first idea about how these places work, so I wouldn't know what to do. Besides, one of my congregation might see me go in and wonder what on earth I was up to!"

That is certainly the underlying reason why many men don't want to be seen going into church, but to a certain extent it can be true of christian bookshops too.Our bookshops are full of 'treasure' but sadly most people who walk past are totally unaware  of the riches within. They feel that they wouldn't know what to look for in a 'religious' shop, and would be embarrassed to ask. So how do we increase the 'discoverability' both of our shops and of the books and other items within them? 

One of the important things is the appearance of the outside of the shop. Clean windows, eye catching window displays, and attractive signage will draw people in. When I was looking for the Light bookshop in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, the bright modern name caught my eye as I drove past. Invited to 'come into the Light,' I felt welcome and intrigued. and the sight of gifts and cards made  it seem like a 'normal' shop and 'safe' to go  in.

Ruth Creighton has dreamed of running a christian bookshop for many years, and when her family had grown up she and her husband had a long search for suitable premises for before discovering their shop, built on what had been the foundation of a Congregational church on a High Street Shopping Parade.  Initially they lived in Gloucester but have now found a home in Stonehouse

Both Ruth and her husband Keith are no strangers to stepping out in faith. They are also involved with an unusual  ministry to truck drivers, which offers support, 'goody bags' friendship and a listening ear at the many truckstops up and down the country  

Ruth [pictured left] wishes they had room for a coffee shop, but the kettle is always full and ready for use, and her warm personality and listening ear means that many come into 'The Light' for a card or a gift, and leave having shared problems, joys and perhaps discovered a book which can help them to see life in a different light.

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