Yesterday, I wrote about preparation and sales etiquette, today, the crowd rallying specialists.
Barkers, Salesmen, and Street Venders all have one thing in common, they know how to lure an audience and keep them. Remember, crowds pique the interest of passersby.
Take a look at how the holy trinity of pitchmen works the room during a book promotion. How would you blend their techniques with your style?
~ THE BARKER ~
This method is as old as trade. Most people know it as the "step right this way" pitch, but it can be much subtler and more suitable for a bookstore or convention.
Barking requires paying attention to your surroundings. Being observant will help you start up a conversation or get someone's attention.
People love to talk about themselves, so look for ice breakers like,
- "What a beautiful baby!"
- "Hey, I've often looked at the book you're about to buy. What have you heard about it?"
- "How about those Mets?"... should you spy a Mets tee-shirt.
Remember, the idea is to keep people around you.
~ THE SALESMAN ~
We rely on written hooks, but in public few people will stop to read a hook even if it's printed on giant neon banner. To hook a crowd, you'll need to catch their eye.
When I was a kid, I remember salesmen coming into my dad's store with great smiles and amusing tricks.
Tricks and props casually draw attention in a non-threatening way. Good props make people smile. They also give the signal you're accessible, fun, and good natured.
Crazy tricks I've used to draw attention that worked:
- Set out bowls of vintage candy with a sign... What's Your Favorite Penny Candy?
- Set out and made balloon animals and hats to give out to kids with permission.
- Set up a chess set with a sign... Community Game: Make Your Move
People enjoyed my creative approach and hung around, talked and bought willingly because I wasn't being pushy, desperate or worse... aloof.
~ THE STREET VENDER ~
The street vender uses all of the skills above, but he has yet another trick up his sleeve... assistants. These assistants are there specifically to make him look interesting.
Like in the case of the barker and salesman, people assume you have something desirable if others are gathered around. The difference is sometimes venders plan their support.
The assistant/assistants can be friends, family or even better, a special interest club you've arranged to meet in the bookstore or prior to the signing for a discussion. If you've wowed them, you will have an instant opening crowd.
When inviting friends and family:
- Let them in on the caper so they'll know you're not snubbing them when potential fans approach the table.
- Try to arrange a schedule for pop ins. If all your friends stop by at once, it will look more chaotic than inviting.
Note: When you're out of town, special interest groups can be found through the Chamber of Commerce. You can schedule special meetings along with your signing. Create a program for them to tie in with your book or an area of interest.
Example: Writing groups love to have discussions about getting published.
I hope this helps someone along the way.
Best to you all, and I'll keep an eye out for writers workin' the room:)