Friday, January 8, 2010

Barnes & Noble grows via the ground

I’m one of those journalists who is cross-trained in advertising -- there are a lot of us -- and it is that past experience and training that keeps me on alert for noteworthy retail marketing efforts. Sometimes that information is found in unexpected places.

I was introduced, via friend of a friend, to Carron Fillingim, community relations manager for Barnes & Noble’s Springdale Plaza store in Mobile, Ala.

Given that we are both Southern women with a penchant for marketing, we had plenty to talk about. Carron told me that Barnes & Noble has found the most successful route to customer loyalty is often via the ground.

Carron said her marketing focus has shifted to a grassroots approach that involves cementing relationships with the local media to ensure publicity of the bookseller’s in-store events, which include author signings and special storytimes.

“In terms of grassroots marketing, we are going to use our local media contacts much more often this year in order to publicize our events,” she told me. “I am trying to think out of the box more, and truly make our bookstore the community bookstore.”

In Mobile, Barnes & Noble doesn’t opt for traditional media to advertise sales or seasonal specials. Rather, it employs community-oriented tactics to keep the store top of mind for local citizens.

“The public school system allows me to send them a quarterly newsletter of our store events, and then they send a mass e-mail out to every employee in the public schools. With over 90 public schools, you can imagine how many educators get those newsletters,” she said.

With the myriad of cost-cutting measures being employed by retailers across the country, I think we’ll see grassroots marketing supplanting traditional media across the retail industry.

-- Katherine Field

No comments:

Post a Comment