The Newsletter Pro May 2018

#343 in the 2016 INC. 500 | #120 in the 2015 INC. 500 | 2016 & 2017 Best Place to Work in Idaho | Marketer of the Year | 24K Club Winner

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As Seen On:

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

PAGE 2 How Trello Keeps Projects Moving PAGE 3 Newsletter Marketing: Why It Works, and How to Get the Best ROI PAGE 4 Make Customers the Hero by ‘Building a Story Brand’ Attorney Jim Monast on Building Client Relationships PAGE 7 Have You Met Katie Pelazini? PAGE 8 Survival of the Modern Bookstore

WOULD YOUR BUSINESS

IF YOU COULDN’T WORK?

What would happen to your business if you couldn’t spend even one day working for the next three months? Is your team prepared to do business without you at the helm, making all the decisions? Would sales and marketing for new customers grind to a halt if you weren’t walking in the door every day? I have reflected on these questions multiple times throughout my business life. Of course, the answer varies as to how well-prepared I am should the need arise for me to walk away for a while. Since the start of the year, these questions have come flying back into my life as we started becoming very concerned about Kellen, my 5-year-old boy. You

see, Kellen has these strange, random fevers each day and has night sweats. He is always tired, has issues with his memory, and has developed some lumps on his neck. Of course, this has us concerned. So we started seeing doctors. Shortly into our search for answers, I was at the office, and my wife, Mariah, called to tell me the doctor wanted us to pull Kellen out of school immediately and rush him in for a scan to check for lymphoma. Mariah was on a field trip with one of our other boys, so I dropped everything and took Kellen to the doctor. The results of the scan were inconclusive.

“ IS YOUR TEAM PREPARED to do business without you at the helm, making all the decisions? ”

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COVER CONTINUED ...

us. This made me wonder what would happen to my business while I’m away, so I evaluated the questions I asked earlier in this article and found that — at best — I got a C- grade for preparedness. Recognizing this, I went into overdrive to become prepared. I had meetings with management, sales, and marketing to give instructions and empower people more than I had before. After the surgery for the biopsy, my wife was checking in daily (sometimes multiple times per day) for the results. Finally, we came in, and the nurse said what no parent wants to hear: “I have the results, but I can’t share them with you. The doctor wants to speak with you in person tomorrow morning.” Previous test results had been delivered over the phone, so this could only mean one thing: bad news. I did my best to mentally prepare for this life- changing news. I researched the best lymphoma doctors in America and learned all I could about chemotherapy. I comforted my wife and tried not to break down, myself. I prayed and begged for mercy. I can’t remember the last time I was that scared.

I was speechless. The doctor had also ruled out an autoimmune disease. My prayers were answered. Ultimately, the doctor wanted to see us to tell us he didn’t know what was wrong with Kellen, and he was referring us out. Cruel if you ask me, but I’ll take the good news. As of today, we still don’t know what is causing Kellen’s symptoms, and we’re seeing more doctors to figure it out. But my guess is that whatever is causing his symptoms, it is unlikely to be worse than cancer. For me, this is a very personal story and hard to share. From an emotional standpoint, this wasn’t easy for me to write. But my desire for everyone reading this is twofold: 1. Go hug and kiss your loved ones today. We are not promised tomorrow. 2. Look at your business and plan for what would happen if you weren’t there next week, next month, or for the next six months.

Weeks went by with the threat of cancer and an autoimmune disease hanging over our heads. Then the doctor called again and told us they wanted to perform a biopsy on one of Kellen’s swollen lymph nodes. The doctor told us, “You need to be prepared for this to be cancer.” We prepped for surgery a few days later, and after doing some research, I realized that if this was cancer, our family had a long road ahead of

I know this topic isn’t as fun as hearing about my next marketing campaign or the new product I’m creating, but if you

KEEP YOUR TEAM MEMBERS ON THE SAME PAGE –Shaun We arrived at the doctor’s office the next morning, and of course, he was running late. After a long wait, he told us Kellen was cancer-free. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to ask why he made us wait to give us good news, but for maybe the first time in my life, get the last-minute call that a loved one needs you to drop everything, you’ll be happy you’re prepared.

RESOURCE OF THE MONTH

With Trello Project Management Software

Organization within a company is extremely valuable for keeping the team aware of what’s happening with projects, campaigns, and client accounts every step of the way. On the other hand, when projects are disorganized, it can lead to uncompleted tasks and frustration. Tracking and prioritizing complex projects can be a bit tricky, so we’ve turned our management and marketing teams to Trello. What Is Trello? Trello is an online dashboard for organizing collaborative projects. With its board system, you won’t have to keep multiple spreadsheets and documents open at once to know what’s going on with any given project. Trello allows you to see at a glance who’s working on what and where something

to riffle through a plethora of emails to find the latest update for their marketing campaign, nor will you have to track someone down in the office to find an answer. Simply click the project card in Trello, and all team entries can be viewed instantly. Don’t be discouraged by the number of people working on your project, either — there isn’t a member cap. You can include everyone on the team if you’d like. Each member will have access to everything on the board at once, and anyone can update descriptions, due dates, checklists, and comments. Prioritization for the Win Prioritizing a project is now easier than ever. With a click and drag, you’ll be able to move entire boards or adjust the priority of a project your team is working on. By prioritizing and organizing your projects (by color tags or placement level on a board’s lists), you’ll let your team know what has fallen to the back burner, what has been finished, and which projects need immediate attention.

You can create checklists, color code and name the boards, add detailed notes, activate due dates,

and individually comment on each project. All team interactions are recorded for the duration of the project. You can even adjust your project subscription settings to be notified about every change or to just receive summaries of changes periodically throughout the day. With unlimited boards, lists, cards, and team members, the organizational possibilities are endless. Before we discovered Trello, The Newsletter Pro Marketing team used Google Sheets to keep all their project and campaign information organized. It was a huge pain to adjust priorities — delete cells, add rows, and copy and paste information. But our processes were streamlined once we switched to Trello. It’s very simple to move items, update information, and get everyone together on a single project. If you’re eager to try, the initial platform is free. You can check it out for yourself at Trello.com.

is in the overall process. Collaboration!

One of the best features about Trello is that it’s made for collaboration. Viewing every aspect of a project at your fingertips is its specialty. Your team won’t have

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MARKETING HOW-TO

WHY IT WORKS THE TRUTH ABOUT NEWSLETTER MARKETING: & Best ROI How to Get the

Have you ever wondered if newsletter marketing still works? In this age of social media campaigns, email marketing, and article marketing, will this technique still work to grow your business? The answer is absolutely, but just like all small-business marketing, only if you do it right. In this article, I’ll show you the dos and don’ts to make sure your newsletter marketing campaign crushes it. Newsletter marketing is different than your typical direct-response marketing campaign. A newsletter marketing campaign is not meant to be a stand-alone piece that drives 100 percent ROI. According to Tony Robbins, it now takes 16 touches to get someone to simply take notice of your products or brand. This doesn’t mean to buy — just to know you exist. I know that sounds like a crazy number of touches, but with all the advertising coming at us day in and day out, there is simply too much noise for our brains to process, so we start tuning some messages out. “According to Tony Robbins, it now takes 16 touches to get someone to simply take notice of your products or brand. THIS DOESN’T MEAN TO BUY — JUST TO KNOW YOU EXIST. ” For our most successful clients, the primary goals for their newsletters are to accomplish the following: Support all other marketing campaigns and promotions.

So how do we speed up a prospect’s or customer’s awareness of the message we’re trying to put out? We have to send them information they will actually consume, using media they will consume. That means you should use multiple media channels to get your message out to both prospects and customers to ensure that they consume what you’re sending.

For the extra effort of using a multimedia strategy, you’ll also be handsomely rewarded.

For example, combining your promotions and sending a multistep email marketing campaign with a direct mail newsletter campaign will increases response rates by 118 percent, according to merkleinc.com. Two of the very best ways to make sure your message is seen by as many people as possible is with the use of a newsletter marketing campaign and an email marketing campaign. Direct mail has a 99.9 percent and 74 percent same-day open rate. Email has a 99 percent deliverability rate (including what goes into spam boxes) but only a 12–24 percent average open rate, depending on a variety of factors. Even with email marketing’s overall low open rate and click-through rate, combining email and direct mail gets you a 118 percent increase in response rate. It makes perfect sense to use this omnichannel marketing approach to get better results. Bottom line: Adding a newsletter to existing marketing campaigns and promotions will close more deals, making it a profitable decision. Stay in touch with prospects and provide prospect-only offers to help close more sales. Just like in the previous section, where we talked about the increased response you’d get from combining email marketing with newsletter marketing, the same is true if we’re trying to close more prospects and turn them into customers.

In addition, I found out long ago that people are ready to buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell to them— regardless of how much we all wish that were different. If you’re selling anything that tends to have a longer sales cycle or requires a big decision, you need a marketing strategy that includes solid follow-up on a consistent basis over a long period of time. Even if buying your product is normally a quick decision, we all know people are slow to react, and very few companies are closing greater than a few percentage points of the overall leads they get. So what’s going on with the other 95 percent of the people who were interested at one point or another? If your business operates anything like mine, you’re able to drop 10 percent of the leads because they are unqualified, but that still leaves 85 percent of your leads on the table unconverted. By using newsletter marketing, you can follow up with those leads for a predetermined period of time and make special offers just to people on that leads list to get them to convert and become customers. At my company, The Newsletter Pro, we were able to add $1.2 million in new revenue from leads who found us over 12 months ago — before they were ready to make a purchase. In almost all cases, the salesperson had long given up on that lead, but my print newsletter and email newsletter had not.

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In the newsletter, I provided value, built a relationship with the prospect, and showed them success stories of other clients getting amazing results with newsletter marketing. This allowed the prospect the time to feel comfortable about their decision and investment. By simply using a print newsletter in combination with an email version of the same newsletter, you will close more sales if you follow the simple strategy I laid out above. One word of caution, though: If you change the strategy — for example, leaving out the relationship- building aspect of the campaign or trying to save money by scrapping the print version and doing a once-a-month email-only version of the newsletter — you’ll be disappointed with the results. MARKETING HOW-TO CONTINUED ...

“Get to the point.” Your prospective customers may not say that to your face, but odds are that’s what they’re thinking when they encounter your marketing. We live in a busy world with thousands of blogs, podcasts, advertisements, and cat videos competing for our attention every second of every day. You need a clear message to cut through the noise. That’s why Donald Miller wrote the Wall Street Journal best-seller “Building a Story Brand.” A marketing professional who has helped thousands of businesses clarify their messaging, Miller packed his book with the kind of wisdom that’s often left out of many advertising handbooks. The book revolves around this singular idea: Your business needs a narrative. Storytelling is perhaps the oldest human tradition; narratives help us relate to one another and the world around us. Mastering this art form can be the difference between an effective marketing campaign and a lot of wasted money. According to Miller, your marketing should guide people on their own hero’s journey. You need to present customers with a problem, or villain, and then present your products or services as the tools they can use to face down that threat. Your business shouldn’t be the hero of the story — it should be Excalibur. “Building a Story Brand” is full of such insights, backed up with real-world examples and actionable steps you can implement in your next marketing campaign. If you’ve been struggling against stalled advertising efforts, this book needs to be on your nightstand. As the Pros of the newsletter business, we see the power that narratives have every day. Learning ‘Building a Story Brand’ OUR BOOKSHELF Will Change the Way You Think About Marketing

marketing, content marketing, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The worst part is that what I just mentioned is the tip of the iceberg. Getting new customers is hard and expensive. As an added point of frustration, I know many entrepreneurs —myself included —who have some of our identity wrapped up in growth and our ability to add new customers. It can be demoralizing when you’re not seeing growth. The funny part of this issue of growth is that, many times, you’re getting enough new customers; the problem is that you’re also losing customers, aka churn. Churn is the silent killer of businesses. Every business has a day that arrives at a different time each year, but when it arrives, it is one of the single best days for all entrepreneurs. That day is Churn Freedom Day! Churn Freedom Day is the day when your business has gotten enough new customers to replace the customers you’ll lose each year from churn. For example, if you have 500 customers and get 10 new customers per month, but you lose 100 customers per year, your company’s Churn Freedom Day is Nov. 1. By doing a little simple math, if everything else is equal, you’ll have 520

Decrease customer churn by building a relationship with your customers.

When you think about growing a business, it becomes apparent that the most difficult task for any business is getting new customers. Look at all the things you do to get new customers. Think about all the promos, offers, schemes to get email subscribers, direct mail, trade shows, marketing campaigns, word-of-mouth marketing, referral

CLIENT SUCCESS

Attorney Jim Monast on Building Client Relationships When most people consider contacting an attorney, they often expect us to be unapproachable and intimidating professionals, understandably so. As I’m fond of saying, “You’re not having a good day if you have to call a lawyer.” Working with The Newsletter Pro these past 16 months has done wonders to dispel the notion that I’m some big shot who isn’t actually invested in my clients. Each month, I share a phone call with my writer, who then turns my anecdotes and ideas into easygoing, fun-to-read articles. These chatty and personal cover stories help me connect with folks on a meaningful level, encouraging them to open up and trust me with their cases. Planting Deep Connections to Cultivate Success

how to make a connection with your clients and cut through the noise to deliver a clear, consistent message is the key to success as a small business in the digital age. So, what is your story?

After listening to Shaun Buck talk about the newsletter process and hearing many enthusiastic recommendations from Ben Glass and the Great Legal Marketing community, I couldn’t resist signing on

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customers at the end of the year, or a growth of 4 percent for the year.

no regular communication with their customers unless it is a sales message.

The challenge to solving this problem is scale. How do we build relationships and make a large group of customers feel special and feel that we care? The answer is newsletter marketing. When you send a newsletter in which, rather than selling, you open up, share what’s going on in your life, and take an interest in topics that may be important in your customers’ lives, you now have the start of a relationship. With time and consistency, that budding relationship goes from casual to one where they feel a real connection with you. People who know, like, and trust you don’t churn out. Not only do they not churn out, but they refer friends and spend more money with you. All of this makes you more profitable. If we circle back to Churn Freedom Day and our original example business that has 500 customers, gains 120 new ones per year, but loses 100, and we add in newsletter marketing and relationship building to decrease churn to 50 customers per year, the business radically changes. Its Churn Freedom Day is now June 1. It now adds 70 new customers per year and grows at 14 percent per year. If the average customer has a first-year value of $2,000, that is an extra $100,000 per year in revenue, not to mention that existing customers typically have a much larger annual value than new customers do.

with The Newsletter Pro. Still, I wondered how many of my clients would actually be interested in what I had to say. But almost immediately, I received responses from my clients that put my anxieties at ease. Since the beginning, we’ve received all kinds of fantastic feedback. Just this week, Wilma, our director of operations, got a call from a former client we hadn’t heard from in almost five years — yes, we put old clients on our mailing list. This former client got in touch just to chat about the article Wilma was highlighted in. Lately, moments like these have become a regular occurrence. When clients call, they almost always mention something from the newsletter, whether it’s to tell us they tried a recipe we included and it turned out great, to chat about this month’s cover, or to tell us how excited they are to be featured in the testimonial section. At the end of the day, growth is better than being flat or experiencing declining growth, but 4 percent growth isn’t much to write home about unless you’re a massive corporation. With all the effort, expense, and marketing needed to grow, your business will most likely get a better ROI if, instead of creating a new email series or marketing campaign to get more new customers, you focus on decreasing churn. Newsletter marketing done right is one of the single best ways to decrease churn. Before I get into the steps involved in newsletter marketing, let’s look at some of the top reasons customers leave a business. According to a Rockefeller Corporation study, 69 percent of customers leave a company because they feel the company is indifferent to them. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, perception is reality, and your customers who leave perceive that you’re indifferent to them. What causes that? One of the leading causes is lack of communication. Business relationships are not that different from personal relationships; they need nurturing and regular communication. Most business have limited or

Think about the communications you’ve been sending over the last 6–12 months. How many of those emails, social media posts, or direct mail campaigns were simply sales pitches? Or disguised sales pitches? (A dental office sending an appointment reminder email is still a sales message.)

What do you think your number is?

In most businesses, it is greater than 90 percent sales communication, which leaves only 10 percent for nurturing and relationship-building. If you’re asking for money every time you chat with your customers, and you never call or write just to say hi or share something personal or exciting with them, why wouldn’t you expect them to feel you’re indifferent to them?

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Have You Heard the Good News?

Life and business are about relationships. I’m always eager for our clients to get to know my team and me better so we can get to know them better in return. The team at The Newsletter Pro has helped us do just that. I’m happy to recommend them, their excellent product, and their conscientious approach.

Philippians 3:13-14 – “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” II Corinthians 12:9-11 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It’s wonderful to hear from them and know that we’re using the newsletter to build real connections and stay in our clients’ thoughts.

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MARKETING HOW-TO CONTINUED ...

without the relationship aspect the newsletter provides, you’ll cripple every other benefit to the point that, for most readers, it has no value.

There are three factors that will help you increases referrals. 1. CONTENT: Is the content relevant, and does it build relationships? Do people consume it? All of that matters. 2. FREQUENCY: In a perfect world (for me), all of my customers would wake up and want to help me grow my business, but that is not the world we live in. Instead of wishing for that to happen, my goal is to provide value on a regular basis, which is why I recommend monthly print newsletters and weekly email newsletter marketing to make sure you’re in your customers’ thoughts. Of course, the only way a customer is going to be willing to consume all this content is if you’re not boring. You have to build a relationship, and you should help them with their problems and issues. 3. ASK FOR REFERRALS, AND HAVE A GREAT OFFER: One simple rule of getting more referrals is to simply ask. That seems obvious, but few people ever ask. Many times, people don’t ask simply because it feels uncomfortable. One way to bridge that gap is with an amazing offer. One of the most successful marketing campaigns we’ve put together to generate referrals was for a doctor, where he gave away a trip to Disney World for a family of four. Over a seven-month period, we generated 348 new patients who all showed for appointments and paid for services. By having an amazing and exciting offer, the team and doctor didn’t have to simply ask for a referral; they could tell the patients about the contest, instead, and then ask them for the referral. If you’re a small business, you may think you can’t afford a trip to Disney World, but one of the best reasons to offer an amazing referral program with a gift is that you get paid before you typically have to give away the prize. In my above example, this dentist got 348 new paid patients before he had to cut a check for a trip. One big mistake I see people make with a referral campaign is trying to save too much money — they go cheap on the gift and then wonder why it didn’t work. Another rookie small-business mistake is to send a bulk email once and then complain about not getting enough referrals. A simple marketing email isn’t enough to get people to take notice. In my above example, we advertised each month in our print newsletter, sent emails, and promoted the referral contest in-office. Having a killer newsletter marketing strategy that integrates print, email, and social media can easily be a home run for any small business.

Step 3: USE OMNICHANNEL MARKETING WITH OFFERS

You want to make sure you’re sending the same offer that’s in the newsletter in emails, on social media, and via direct mail as well. Combining the powers of these medias will make your efforts much more effective. Step 4: GIVE THE OFFER TIME Newsletter marketing isn’t like social media marketing or email marketing, because the media isn’t consumed the same way. With email, people are just trying to get through the 120-plus emails they get a day. With social media, people are really looking to see what their friends and family are doing and don’t care much about the ads. With a newsletter that is done right, people actually look forward to getting it and set it aside to read when they can focus on it. This means it might linger on their countertop or in their work bag for days, or even weeks, before they have time to consume it … but they inevitably will, and at a rate much higher than digital content. Step 5: ROTATE YOUR OFFERS You can’t show the same offer month in and month out without “offer fatigue.” You need to have multiple offers, and make sure you rotate through them for the best results. If you don’t have multiple offers yet, you’ll have to rest offers periodically, or they will lose all effectiveness. One of my favorite newsletter marketing strategies is to get more referrals using your newsletter. We’ve found that simply sending a newsletter that is personal and filled with useful content will get an increase in word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. This is because you’ll get what we call “pass-around value,” which is where one person reads your article and then hands the newsletter to a friend or family member they feel the article would be useful for. Studies have shown that you only get top-of-mind awareness with customers for a maximum of three days after each no-sales contact with them. Each day after the third, they are thinking less and less about you. This is one reason you should mail monthly and communicate 2-4 times per month at a minimum. It is during this top-of-mind awareness period that you’re most likely to get a referral. Promote and generate new referrals.

Part of your overall marketing strategy must include churn reduction if you want to see real growth, and the single best way to do that is with a print newsletter and using the newsletter marketing techniques we’re talking about here.

Sell more to existing customers.

We just talked about building relationships and reducing churn, but another way to reduce churn is to actually sell more to existing customers. The more lines of business a person does with your company, the less likely they are to churn out. If you use your newsletter marketing campaign to build relationships and then make sure that your customers get a free-standing insert (FSI) with that newsletter that sells your other products and services, you’ll see an increases in sales and referrals but a decrease in churn. Those factors combined equal a nice increase in profits. Below is a simple marketing strategy to make more sales to existing customers. Step 1: REFINE YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY When you’re first starting your newsletter, 100 percent of the content should be focused on readership. Without readership, you have nothing. I recommend that you spend the first three months building up readership of your mailing list. With few exceptions, you simply don’t want to promote anything during the first few months. After the third month, promotions should happen every month, but with the exception of an event or referral campaign, all promos should be done on your FSI (free-standing insert). Do NOT do coupons or other promos directly in the newsletter, and especially not on the back page (the first page they see in a self-mailer). Step 2: MAIL MONTHLY If you can’t mail monthly, you may as well skip the newsletter marketing strategy as a whole. You can’t build a relationship with quarterly communication, and

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RADBYDESIGN

INTRODUCING YOUR NEW PRO OF THE MONTH Aside from her stellar design skills, Katie Pelazini is known around the office for being an exceptional team player. Due to her drive and desire to improve every day, Katie’s teammates on Blue Team love working with her. Plus, she’s a pretty cool human being outside of work, too. person, and that type of camaraderie motivates me to push harder.

“When I first learned that The Newsletter Pro employees work in teams, it was definitely a plus,” Katie says. “I

In high school, Katie played varsity softball for four years, and she was also on a tournament team throughout the summers. She continues to stay active by working out at a local gym that focuses on form rather than speed. “I like it because it blends well with my competitive nature, and I feel as though I’m still on a team,” she says. “I am a big team-sport

believe that working as a team is more effective than working on your own. Knowing that other people are relying on me motivates me to give my best in everything I do. I like knowing that what I do matters to my teammates as well as my clients.” When Katie is not designing at work, she’s designing at home. Recently, she created a sketch of mountains and shared it with her friends on Facebook. She got many likes and shares, and when someone suggested she add “Idaho” to the draft and try to sell it, she was inspired. After a quick redesign, Katie reached out to a local clothing company, who bought her design and started selling it on ball caps. Soon, Katie hopes to see her work on T-shirts “in the wild.”

When asked what she enjoys most about working at TNP, Katie says, “I love that I can do so many different design styles in one day. I also love that I can learn what my clients really like and try to create something that speaks to them and their audience through small details and design touches.” In the future, Katie hopes to continue growing both professionally and personally. “I look forward to continuing to create standout newsletters. Also, I would love to start traveling more, say yes to more opportunities, and become confident and comfortable with the person I am.”

Thank you, Katie, for all that you do at TNP. Congratulations on earning Pro of the Month!

KEEP UP P With Our BEST POSTS If you’re looking for more great content to drive your business forward like what you’re reading in this newsletter, take a look at these articles on our blog:

Lead Nurture for The Long Haul NewsletterPro.com/lead-nurture

The First Rule of Being an Entrepreneur NewsletterPro.com/entrepreneurs-dreams

The Irresistible Pull of Purpose NewsletterPro.com/black-hole-focus

Overcome Rejection & Save the World NewsletterPro.com/overcome-rejection

Getting New Customers Is Hard! NewsletterPro.com/keeping-customers

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BUSINESS PROFILE

A Brick-and-Mortar Bookstore Is Transformed Through Community Involvement WRITTEN INTOTHE PAGESOF SUCCESS

In the age of Amazon and online shopping, brick-and- mortar booksellers are on their way out. Or at least, that seems to be the narrative. With major retailers like Borders and numerous smaller independent shops around the country calling it quits, the death of brick- and-mortar bookstores is a narrative that makes sense.

businesses. Making a constructive change is necessary if you want people to notice you. When you make waves in your community, people look up, and they look to you. For The Booksmith and Kepler’s Books, their top priority was to become staples within the community and become ingrained in the consciousness of their surrounding San Francisco neighborhoods. Fundamentally, the couple had do what other bookstores weren’t doing. “Our business plan has always been to do everything that big-box retailers can’t or won’t do,” Christin says. “We strive to create a welcoming space for our community to come together.” When community is everything, you need something that brings the people to you: events. That simple concept is how Christin reinvented the bookstore. Or at least, it is one of the ways she reinvented it. At both The Booksmith and Kepler’s Books, you’ll find an ongoing calendar of events. There is always something going on. It’s all about customer and community engagement. For instance, the shops hold regular “silent readings.” This function is an opportunity for folks to come in and just read while enjoying freshly made cocktails and other drinks. It’s relaxing, simple, and fun. On other nights, you’ll find musicians playing their experimental riffs. And it doesn’t end there. The shops also host mom yoga, book swaps, book clubs and discussion groups, author readings, and author meet-and-greets. The list goes on. Christin and her team at both shops are willing to try new things to find what works. They keep a sharp eye on which events bring people in and foster an even greater sense of community. This year, The Booksmith is undergoing something of an expansion. About a block from the store, Christin is planning to open an event space with a bar and cafe.

That is how dedicated they are to community events: They are willing to devote an entire separate space to it. The two existing bookstores simply aren’t enough to meet their demand. And that’s not all. The couple also helped establish Kepler’s Literary Foundation, an organization that “enriches the community through literary and cultural programs that feature notable writers, artists, and original thinkers.” These programs foster creativity and learning within the community, and they cultivate excitement about reading and exploring new avenues of expression. Christin and Praveen also bought a company called GiftLit, which they incorporated into their bookstores. Like The Booksmith and Kepler’s Books, GiftLit was established in San Francisco and had already made a name for itself in the area. GiftLit, a subscription box service, allows you to gift a book to someone special every month. Behind the scenes, the GiftLit team curates every book they send out — an aspect of the business they take very seriously. After all, they have a team of librarians, educators, authors, and booksellers ensuring each recipient will connect with and enjoy the titles they are gifted. With such an incredible focus on community, Christin and her bookstores thrive in the age of Amazon. While the major online retailer can deliver books to your doorstep on a whim, they cannot offer you a mimosa between chapters or introduce you to neighbors who have the same taste in literature. In short, no big-box retailer — not even Amazon — can compete with community.

Until it doesn’t.

Meet Christin Evans, a small business owner and entrepreneur who has set out to change that narrative. As booksellers close their doors left and right, Christin is in the process of expanding her two San Francisco- based bookstores in 2018 — a feat nothing short of remarkable. In 2007, Christin and her husband Praveen Madan bought out a small San Francisco bookseller, The Booksmith. Christin bought the store after quitting her high-stress corporate job with a major global management consulting firm. She wanted to pursue something more fulfilling. While owning her own bookstore might sound like a fulfilling career change, at least on a personal level, you might ask, “Was it a practical career change?” With brick-and-mortar bookstores closing left and right, it’s a risky business to go into. In 2012, the couple bought out a second bookseller in San Francisco: Kepler’s Books. Clearly, Christin and Praveen had found success in the bookstore realm — but how? Well, it all came down to their vision of “reinventing the bookstore in the 21st century.” When you have the shadow of Amazon looming over you 24/7, reinventing the brick-and-mortar bookstore is no easy task. Conventional thinking must be thrown out the window. So, that’s what Christin did. First and foremost, Christin knew she needed to have a positive effect in her community. It’s something a lot of businesses can learn from, especially brick-and-mortar

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