Guerrilla Marketing Tip: Bookstores and Libraries

September 27, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Everyime I go to the library or Barnes n Nobles I see tons of people reading magazines, flipping through books and enjoying themselves. They are the perfect prey to this marketing tactic.

Opportunity: People read specific categories of interest. They are relatively targetted for local marketing on specific things such as cars, computers, clothing, etc…


Solution: Put flyers and or bookmarks in magazines/books that are related to your product/service. Not a scalable solution but great for small things trying to gain traction at a low price.

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27 responses to “Guerrilla Marketing Tip: Bookstores and Libraries

  1. Kira Reply

    Yeah, I plan to do much the same thing with the business card ads I have for my site – I’ll probalby just leave them everywhere though, instead of targeting any particular section. 😉

  2. Jason Reply

    Be careful. Most people just let those subscription fliers hit the floor. If too many B&N employees get tired of cleaning up your mess, you might spread bad word of mouth. 5,000 stores equal about 15,000 employees.

  3. mroonie Reply

    So I was a barnes the other day and went to check out that book “The Game”. I was flipping through it and I thought it was hilarious. I already have a friend I want to give it to, and his birthday is coming up….perfect timing!

  4. colleen Reply

    Cool idea, and well suited to the Mastes of Mischief, Edgar & Ellen. If I were to do it, I’d give something of value to the person who found it. A sheet of stickers, a whoopie cushion? Something that would delight the finder–beyond a brochure or flier.

    My own blog is and my company’s corporate site is

    I’d be happy to add you to my blogroll.

  5. E Reply

    This idea is foolish. I’ve come across peoples’ flyers/business cards/whatever in library books and at Barnes & Noble, and I’ve thrown them out. They’re annoying, much like flyers on car windshields.

    That’s not guerilla marketing; it’s the tragedy of the commons.

  6. ian Reply

    Not really related, but how many times have you been reading books in the business section and been approached by someone feigning interest in you, but really trying to get you to join their MLM scam?

  7. noah kagan Reply

    that is creepy ian, i have never had that happen.

    E, I agree it is not the most effective approach but it is affordable and easy to do. How is it tragedy of the commons? No one is really doing this…yet.

  8. Jason Reply

    Everytime I order books online random companies put bookmarks inside the books or inside the box. I also remember my college bookstore slipping bookmarks inside the books after you buy. It has been done, just not by the mainstream bookstores.

  9. noah kagan Reply

    When people put random flyers in my car window or on my doorstep that is not effective. It is effective if my lawn is unkept and they leave a lawn mowing service on my door.

  10. Marco Reply

    Yep, seen this done before at my local bookstore (Borders) as well as my local library. For the books I brought home, I threw out the brochure and the business card. For the books that I was browsing they tended to drop on the ground.

    Why did I throw them away? Because they didn’t have anything attractive to offer me. No Offers. Zip. Nothing. They need to appealing enough and present something that would be of use to the reader.

    E: And yes, they are like flyers on a car windshield (thankfully they are outlawed where I live). But the great thing is when you are trying to sell something it is some smart advertising.

  11. udandi Reply

    seems more wasteful than effective – flyers fall out and litter the floor and/or library workers shelf read and trash them as they see the flyers. with a background in marketing, I understand, but as a librarian, I don’t like it!

    now if you “accidently” left an imprinted pen/pencils/highlighters with your URL on the library table, I would probably not think anything of it because how am I know it’s your actual business and not just a pen a patron left behind?! But don’t leave a bunch that won’t get picked up by anyone except the cleaning crew!

  12. Berry Reply

    Well, I suppose this is my opportunity to SPAM Noah’s blog. Consider it my business card in Noah’s book.

    After reading an article from a VC a couple of weeks ago I came up with this idea. It’s not new but the key here is doing it in hundreds of LOCAL places including many medium size towns.

    Let me know what everyone thinks or if you have any questions.

    Here is the site:

  13. Joe Suh Reply

    I’m also not fond of this idea. But it shows Noah’s creativity and outside-the-box thinking. He’s got some really brilliant ideas, but I guess he saves those for his clients 🙂

    Thanks for meeting with us today Noah.

  14. Jason Reply

    How about this…

    If you spend a certain amount of money each month the buyer is given a free magazine from the category of his choosing. He can fill outa form or they can give him a magazine by looking at his/her recent purchases.

    The buyer would have to pick up his magazine at the first of the month, which would get return customers in the door each month.


    How about computers at the end of the aisle where you can scan the book and read excerpts and reader reviews from your area where the store is located at. And if you write a review you get a discount on your purchase or a free magazine.


    How about slipping coupons inside books that give you discount on items in the cafe or around town, and then if you purchase the book the coupon doubles in value. Make the coupons scarce, so not every book has one. It is almost like a treasure hunt.

  15. Mike Sabat Reply

    I was just trying to sell a house and we were going to print stickers with a picture and description of the house and put the sticker in all the free booklets neat the exits of grocery stores. Of course we would just do it in the local area.

    We didn’t do it for two reasons. First, we figured it would be a good deal of work and for a few hundred dollars we could purchase advertising that would be just as effective. Secondly, we didn’t want to cover up the picture of someone that paid for the ad. They may have been a little crazier than us and since our address was on the sticker who knows what may have happened.

  16. prlinkbiz Reply

    “How is it tragedy of the commons? No one is really doing this…yet.”
    BS – people have been doing this for years- specifically network marketers. You first flaw is in calling potential customers, clients, propsepct “prey”- you will fail in business like that. The most cost effective way to grow a business is by word of mouth – by treating your customers with value and doing it better than everyone else- it’s not rocket science.

  17. Noah Kagan Reply


    I call customers prey for added effect. Actually I think customers are pointless and stupid. Better? Jk. I love them and there money.

    Word of mouth is great. So let’s pretend I have something for car enthusiast. I tell whom? I go where?

    Bottomline: People need awareness and then tools to spread the word.

  18. Jason Reply


    Advertising is about communicating with your customer. If you want “Word of Mouth”, you have to do something for the people to talk about. You don’t have to name cities everytime you want to spread word of mouth advertising. Sometimes it takes other, smaller pushes to get the word out.

    By the way PR, if it is so easy, why didn’t I see your name on the Forbes 400 this year? It seems to me it can be quite difficult to get potential customers to check you out. That is whay 9 out of 10 businesses fail in the first year.

  19. prlinkbiz Reply

    That is not why so many businesses fail. I have a three books that you budding entrepreneurs may want to check out: The Art of the Start- specifically the creating a community section- The Art of Selling to the Affluent, and Your Marketing Sucks. I have built (and sold) several businesses. And while I may not be on the Forbes list, I’m probably a few businesses ahead of you (and financially free to boot). Most cost effective ways to build and grow your brand or business: network and foster community.

  20. Jason Reply

    That is great you are so successful. I am not arguing your fact about treating customers right. Of course you have to do that. All I am saying that it takes a little more. You have to get your name out there somehow.

    I do not agree with Noah’s idea this time. I have already stated that, but I know the avenue he is trying to take, and I do agree with that.

    Good luck to you. A little advice though. Be careful with Real Estate…especially in AZ…ouch!!

  21. prlinkbiz Reply

    LOL Speculators everywhere are hurting- real investors, like the crew I run with are doing amazing! This is the time to get into real estate-

    I agree about getting yourself out there as a start up. However, advertising really only works when people know who you are. If you can get embraced by a community ( a car enthusiast one if thats what you need), be embraced by one loyal client who will tell everyone about you, or perhaps be noticed by a celebrity- those are all powerful ways to get your name out there. I have personally experienced all three – a strong mission and goodwill will take you far.

  22. Jason Reply

    Oh I miss understood you. I thought you were going to buy a house, and then try to fix it up, and then sell it again. I think they call it Flipping the house. The have have TV shows about that on multiple channels. When they start having TV shows about stuff, you know the fad is about to bust…haha.

    Thank goodness you are investing. Are you holding it for five years and letting appreciate, and then upgrade? Or are you holding it for 10 years? Warren Buffett always says you should invest for the long run, and anytihng you would not hold for 30 years is called gambling.

    Since you are investing, you will not hav eto deal with this decling market this year. Higher interest rates and the amount of buyers declining thank goodness you are not flipping.

    I remember watching CNBC back in 1999 and got a good laugh. It was at the height of the internet bubble and they were intervieiwng this guy about “investing” in the tech market and he said he was investing because themarket was not going to go down. If you invest in tech, you don’t lose your money.

    What goes up, must come down..if it has been inflated.

  23. prlinkbiz Reply

    Well actually I have several friends who are still successfully flipping! A couple are pros- they know exactly how to get the amazing deals, exactly what to do and get in there and trun them fast, with back up plans in place (money to hold, rent, etc). A couple are new (our professional poker playing friend is hooked now- bought one, and now has two more under contract.)

    Now, the RE market is like being able to go in and buy at huge discounts- you can really clean up. My personal goal is to really dig into pre-foreclosures- people need help right now- there are deals everywhere. You make your money when you buy.If you run your numbers right, can move quickly and have exit plans (money to hold and rent) in place- it is time to buy. I don’t plan to hold many of these houses longer than two years. My plan is to keep my money moving and roll it into multi family and that will fund my filthy rich retirement (lol).

    (Sorry to take this off track! lol)

  24. Ben Reply

    Instead of just a ‘normal’ flyer or bookmark marketing the business, maybe insert a coupon that says “Purchase this book/magazine and receive X% off”

  25. Darrin Reply

    I’ve found cards and fliers that people have inserted into books in the bookstore. I find it obnoxious and tend to not only throw them away, but I refuse to ever do business with anyone who does that. I dare say the store, the author and the publisher would have a problem with it as well.