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Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What makes you want to buy something? Did you decide to watch a movie because you liked the title? Or buy a car because the color enticed you? Most likely, not. Customers make purchases based on research, need, and recommendations. Sometimes if I can’t choose between two items, I’ll choose the one that was personally recommended to me or that has the most noted recommendations. The same goes for books. A well-written shelf-talker inspires customers to investigate a book closer and greatly increases the odds that the book will sell.  If you’re not using shelf-talkers then you could be making a very big mistake. It is a fact that many people will go to a bookstore just to wander or spend a lazy afternoon. These people are looking for something to jump out at them. They want to see which books are recommended by the staff or other customers. These people want the shelves to talk to them!

You may be thinking, what the heck is a shelf-talker? Well, simply put, a shelf-talker is a small sign that attaches to a retail shelf or display. Aside from actually talking with your customers (which you absolutely should do) this is the best way to communicate with potential buyers. Effective shelf-talkers have big clear fonts so customers can read them quickly,. They are creative and informative. It’s important that shelf-talkers are kept neat. The last thing you want is for a shelf-talker to look like it’s been hanging since the dawn of time. They typically have a 50 word or less review of the book they are located under.

Who writes the review on the shelf-talker? Anyone. Both employees and customers should be encouraged to create them. Have a contest and use the most creative designs and messaging.

Who decides which books get a shelf-talker?  I personally feel that any book that someone (employee or customer) is passionate about is worthy of a shelf-talker. You could have a small table with blank shelf-talkers; there are several templates available online, and pens and markers. You could create a Committee of Shelf-Talkers (employees and customers) that gets together once a month to write them. If you currently hold a Book Club, you could ask them to write shelf-talkers.

IN CLOSING  Marketing is in my blood. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about how to improve commercialization of the companies I work with or patronize on a daily basis. I guess that’s just the curse of a marketing professional. Look, if anyone ever tries to sell you a magic marketing bullet for your problems, run away... fast! Truth be told, no single marketing idea will ever work for everyone. Everything we do carries with it risk. However, there is one thing I can assure you––something I can and will promise. The worst thing you can do in this life is nothing at all. Remember, do what you love, and love what you do, and the world will eventually follow.