Over the years I have tried a plethora of different advertising/marketing ideas. I'm always interested in broadcasting the news that the business exists without spending mega bucks to do it. So here are a few of my adventures in advertising.
Flyers - Myself and family members hand delivered flyers I made all over the neighbourhood. Excellent rate of return on these items. Every time some went out, usually in batches of 20 - 30 I got one or two people into the store in the next week mentioning the flyer. Very time consuming and takes loads of walking.
Newspaper - I've tried the local newspaper every years and every year not a single soul reports finding out about me through the paper. Very expensive, lousy response, complete waste of time and money.
Yellow Pages - I've had this type of advertising recommended as the best but I don't agree. Too expensive and time wasting. People just call all the time asking questions that make me run around only to have them not buy the book. 99% of people calling never show up in the store to buy a book even if I have told them it is in stock. I'd rather have them visit to try and find it. More often than not they buy something else instead.
TV, radio, magazine I can't afford these so I can't comment.
Sign on Van - This was the very best investment I ever made. I swear, every time I drive somewhere someone comments that they saw the van. I even got customers who saw the van in Florida and came shopping in the store! The down side is that everybody knows where you live and they make sure they tell you. It's kind of freaky to have total strangers saying, "I know where you live". I was out one day and this guy was pointing at the van talking about how he knew the lady who owned the van and the store. I was standing right in front of him and I don't know him. He didn't seem to recognize me in the flesh!
Other things I have tried.
I went to the other 5 bookstores in town and asked them to do couple joint advertising spots.
1) joint christmas ads in the newspaper, we shared the cost ($100 each for 2 ads)
2) I made postcards, with info and map to our stores, to handout in our stores ($5 for 100)
All but one of the other stores has backed out of doing these again.
I have advertised in the local college newspaper.
I dropped off some books at the local laundromats. The books had the business stamped inside them and I asked to post a notice in the laundromat in return for the free books.
I run a book club at the library and they refer people to me at the store.
I went to Chapters and Indigo and told the clerks about the store. They refer people to me all the time.
I left books in my doctor's and my dentist's waiting rooms with information about the store plastered inside.
The book drives are great advertising.
I went to local elementary schools and asked if I could post notices in the teachers lunchroom. I figured they would want to find somewhere to get books for their classroom libraries. I was right.
I mailed flyers to the literacy guild and the local community centres.
These are the bulk of my attempts to advertise the business by spending almost no money. They have had a variety of success rates. Anybody got any ideas?