This article was written by our Retail & Publishing intern, Jess Watson. She's really quite great!
A few weeks ago the Attwell Books team sat down in our newly re-layed-out office to discuss our strategy for growth and success at Attwell Books. We recounted the days of old, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when we were churning in two million dollars a year. We naturally yearn for those days to return and continually ask ourselves why this can’t be possible. We have a lovely space, nicer than it’s ever been before (thanks to the wonderfully creative Tammy) and we have a collection of excellent books, but we were confronted with one over-arching problem; no one knows we’re here! We need more customers! New customers will search for a local bookstore, find us, and then either proceed to drive around the parking lot, not realising that we are inside the church itself, or, come in and find out that we're a wonderful store. We need to address the first problem, and increase the number of people who find us. But how?
How does a seemingly invisible, well stocked book shop become visible? First, we looked into some equations. We set a goal of having 5 customers in the store at any given time throughout the day. That would require us to obtain 3000 new customers. We will attempt to get these customers from 1000 churches in the GTA and we would reach 60,000 people via social media. Our efforts should hopefully lead to 160 people coming into our store daily, which would bring us back up to revenue levels we saw in times past. These figures currently seem ambitious, but in two years’ time I think we can do it.
First we need to reach our target audience in the churches. You see, we don’t just cater for Catch The Fire attendees, we have customers who come into our store on a Sunday morning before they rush off to their church service elsewhere. But we want all members of all churches to be aware that we’re here, so we started off by ringing each church that we could find and asking them to advertise us on their bulletins or simply allow us to drop off flyers. Among ourselves we discussed discount incentives whereby if a customer brings in a coupon attached to the bulletin they could get a discount or if a customer brings a friend into our store, they’ll get a loyalty discount. Not all churches have the space for a book shop, but we do, so we want to make the most of it. Most churches are very receptive to having flyers dropped off.
We furthermore looked at a few other ways to let customers know of our whereabouts. We advertised in yellow pages, a more popular advertising medium than we initially thought (OK, honestly, we thought Yellow Pages was long dead), but it turns out 8 + million Canadians are searching each month. We went about contacting publisher’s whose books are popular in our store, asking them to add us to their website and any other resources, letting their customers know that we carry their books. Our endeavours were well received and the process of communication continues as we establish ourselves across different channels. Additionally we have discussed the creation of some ‘stop and stare’ flyers with the Catch The Fire creative team, and we have yet to print and distribute our other flyers to local churches and organisations.
What other strategies could we implement to get that desired bustling feel whereby our sales are sky high and our targets are easily met? We want to draw people in, attract them to our store, so how could we forgo social media platforms!? Facebook ads are paramount in reaching people. If we want 3000 new customers, and we know Facebook conversion rates are abysmal, then we need to put ads in front of some 60,000 relevant, local people. We also plan to do product reviews and post them on YouTube, so that customers may get our outlook on some of the new books we’re carrying in store, like Eric Johnson’s new book Christ in You that was recently reviewed by my fellow intern, Luke Richards.
One thing that we have as a team at Attwell Books, that we consider a strong asset, is that we can hear the voiceof God rendering us full of vision and excitement about His up and coming plans. We want God to be the centre of all our plans and all our efforts. This isn’t actually about the sales or the turnover; this is about sharing with people the messages that changed our lives: the Father Heart of God, the Prophetic and our Oneness with Christ! These realities are so intertwined with Catch The Fire’s values and teachings and we want to make these messages accessible to people who can’t make it to a Sunday morning service, or who are deeply involved in other churches. We've experienced real transformation by a loving God, and that's the core reason we run this bookstore at all, to spread transformation to others who are hungry for change. If we can do that more effectively, and bring in more income to resource the Kingdom, all the better!
So this is our plan. Perhaps you’ve been inspired by our ideas to implement some strategic thinking to your own business, or maybe you’ve thought of some innovative ideas that we’ve missed, if so please share them with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you think!
Thanks for reading.
- Jess Watson