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Spark Community Imagination with Story Hour

Posted by Liz Schulte on 5/1/18 5:30 AM
Topics: MBS Monthly Marketing Plans, Bookstore marketing, community bookstore events

June is a great time to invite the surrounding community, alumni and hard-to-reach nontraditional students to your store. This May, plan for a whimsical and fun children’s story hour to remind parents families are welcome in your store.

Spark Community Imagination: May Monthly Marketing PlanWith a little imagination, there is a world of possibility

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Hosting a children’s story hour does more than give parents a free event to entertain their kids. Reading to young children can impact their behavior and academic performance. There are numerous benefits to children, including earlier reading skills, better communication, a more complete understanding of the world around them and increased empathy toward others.

This event will also strengthen your store’s community bonds. Campuses can seem like their own world — very much separate from the rest of the town. By inviting the community to your store with a fun, family-friendly event, you increase your pool of potential shoppers.

6 steps to host a memorable event

Follow these steps to get ready for a great children’s story hour.

  1. Select a bright, comfortable spot
    Location is important. You want the space you choose to be inviting and comfortable to kids and their parents. Set up kid-friendly displays near the story corner and remember to consider that parents might also shop for older siblings. If you carry middle grade or young adult books, display those as well.
  2. Curate a fun selection of books they may not have read
    When it comes to children’s books, there are classics that always seem to be popular: Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Cat in the Hat, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Where the Sidewalk Ends, etc. These books are fantastic and wonderful, but they are also books parents may already own and have read to their kids. When selecting titles, look for books that will work well with a lively reading, represent a diverse group of children, and introduce kids and parents to a potentially new character they will love.

    If there is a popular children’s author in your area, ask if they would be willing to come do a reading. Having the extra incentive of getting to meet the author will bring more people to the event.

  3. Find a performer
    There is nothing wrong with a person just reading a book aloud, but to make your event special look for someone who will also entertain. If your school has a theater department, check a student or professor is available to read on the date of the event. Or, find an extroverted member of your staff who would embrace silly facial expressions, character voices and dramatic pauses. An enthusiastic reader will help the children and parents enjoy the event to the fullest.
  4. Play dress up
    If you know what books you are going to read ahead of time, you and your staff could get into character. Consider dressing up as part of the book’s world. The costumes don’t have to be elaborate, just enough that the kids can make the connection once they hear the story. For example, if you were reading Harry Potter, staff members could wear the colors for different Hogwarts houses or house scarves. If you had more time to plan, the person doing the reading could dress up in a robe and wear the sorting hat. Have fun and get creative with how you blur the line between fiction and reality.
  5. Create an irresistible photo op
    We live in a digital world. If you provide families with a fun photo opportunity, they will take it. Attendees sharing their pictures on social media can spread the word about the creative community events your store hosts and help promote your next event.

    Possible ideas:

    Hang up a large poster at perfect selfie height (included in the marketing kit)

    Create a photobooth section with a few book-related props on hand

    Set up a Snapchat filter for the event

  6. Decide on a time
    Timing is everything. Do you want your event to be something parents can do with their kids after work or on a Saturday morning? In our monthly marketing kit, we have included a poster for a MoonLit Imagination: Children's Story Hour and a SunLit Imagination: Children's Story Hour. Or, you could do both and get double use out of the time and energy you put into setting up this community event.

    Don’t forget to check out community calendars before you set a date so your event doesn’t overlap with something else that might draw people away.

Market like mad

With this event, you need to reach out into the community. Here are some ways you can boost your marketing efforts.

  1. Hang flyers around town
    Look at places in your area where families might go to see if they will let you hang up a flyer. Places like the library, play areas, community pools, parks, church bulletins, grocery stores, etc. You could also reach out to local daycares or summer schools to see if they would be willing to share your event with their families.
  2. Get the event on community calendars
    Don’t know what community calendars are available in your area? No problem. Do a Google search with your city, state and the words “community calendar.” Submit the event to the ones that look the most promising.
  3. Set up a Facebook ad that targets your area
    Facebook ads make it easy to reach specific groups inexpensively. Use the included social media image and set up an ad through your business page that reaches your community. Be sure to include the dated, time and location in the ad.

    Also, set up a Facebook event. It will remind parents of the activity and make it easy to share with their friends.

  4. Send out an event press release to local newspapers and radio stations
    Press releases are tricky. They might not produce any results, or your might get some free promotion out of it. It’s worth the time to give it a try.
  5. Watch for unique opportunities
    This one is admittedly vague, but I can’t tell you what opportunities might pop up. The idea is to not limit your advertising to the usual channels. As your event approaches, pay attention what’s happening around your town. If something comes up that sounds like a great way to reach your audience, contact the organizer and see what you can do to get involved.

This event could become an ongoing series to continue to build community relationships, or you could just have it once. Whatever you decide to do, we would love to see pictures and hear how the event worked for your store.

Below are some example social media posts you could use to promote your event.




Featuring a range of in-store events and online promotions, our customizable  marketing plans come with step-by-step instructions to help you increase  customer loyalty and drive interaction. Check Them Out

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