We do a lot of sophisticated marketing for our events. We've built up relationships with local journalists, businesses, schools and reading groups. We do targeted PR, we have our own newsletter and mailing list, and we do a whole lot of other promotional activities, and co-ordinated stock display in the shop and the window. But sometimes, on the day of a big event, you just have to get out the big box of coloured chalk and go for something straight out of the John Wanamaker school-of-advertising-handbook:
I knew locating the shop on a busy main road would pay dividends eventually. And today was that day. People were pulling into the loading bay opposite all morning, rushing in and asking "Can it be true? Is Martin Clunes really here today at 4pm?". Several people asked "how long have you been here?". At least two people declared excitedly "this kind of thing never happens in Abingdon!" Oh yes it does. It was a really great event. Martin was hot-footing it from an event in Oxford at lunchtime to an event at Windsor in the evening, and I'm sure Martin's publishers were a little nervous about a big name like him coming to our little shop. But it coped admirably, and he stayed for nearly an hour and a half. In the build up to Friday, several people had reserved books saying they 'hoped he'd be really nice' (seeing as that was how he came across on the telly), but I was very confident he would be, having read his book "A Dog's Life". Martin really is potty about dogs, and whenever people write about their passion - and share it with others - you can't help but get swept up in the enthusiasm of it all. I spent most of Friday in a bit of a nervous state. Luckily we have a) a brilliant team at Mostly Books now, and b) they all know what I get like when I have too much caffeine before a big event, and that my frantic pacing around the shop is easily dissipated by getting me to do various menial tasks such as sweeping, updating the posters in the window, dusting, making tea - and in this case making sure the shop was dog-friendly (we had asked people to bring their dogs):
Martin arrived 10 minutes early - so we plonked him down at his table, rustled up a strong cup of tea, and he started to chat to the already substantial queue of people and signed books and was utterly charming - and very generous with his time. Anyone who bought their dog though did get special treatment:And one local dog who has his own blog got some quality time with Martin - and has blogged about it here. Not a great deal more to say about the event really. A lot of fun, nerves vanished, obligatory shots with chuffed bookseller:
And plenty of happy fans by the end of the day: Hope Martin made it safely to Windsor on a rainy Friday evening. What a gent. We will quickly get over our celebrity moment, and do the whole thing again this Saturday (November 15th) when Raymond Blanc will be here at 2pm. I feel more incisive chalkboard advertising antics may be in order...