Adventist Book Center retail stores began in the late 1800s as Tract and Missionary Societies. They later became known as Adventist Book and Bible Houses, and eventually rebranded as Adventist Book Centers (Wheeler, 2020). Pacific Press Publishing Association, the official printing and publishing house for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, owned most of the stores. The stores sell Pacific Press books, as well as Bibles, other Christian literature, health and cookbooks, and vegetarian food products, especially meat substitutes.
The Idaho Adventist Book Center was originally located inside the Idaho regional headquarters building (a.k.a. Idaho Conference office) for the Seventh-day Adventist Church near Boise, Idaho. There was a smaller branch store inside the Pacific Press Publishing Association office building in nearby Nampa, Idaho.
In 2013, Pacific Press closed its retail division and sold all of its stores. Many regional offices took over ownership of their local branches. However, the Idaho Conference office decided not to buy its store. At that time, the Press annexed some extra office space into its store, allowing room for the vegetarian food products from the conference location to transfer over.
The Adventist Book Center retail stores were once one of the few places people could buy vegetarian meat substitute products and vegetarian/vegan health and cookbooks. Many people still visit for this reason. Another unique feature is the collection of sectarian, denomination-specific books and magazines (much like a Catholic bookstore would feature products specific to that church).
Adventist Book Center stores also carry Bibles and non-sectarian Christian books and literature, plus a great deal of health and vegetarian/plant-based recipe books of general interest to the public. Because many non-denominational Christian book stores have closed in recent years, there are fewer available to brick-and-mortar shoppers.
Most current customers are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are traditional, conservative, religious, and family-oriented. Many are health-conscious and vegetarian. The majority are Boomers and early Gen-X.
The Idaho Adventist Book Center (IABC) is located inside the Pacific Press Publishing Association building just off Interstate 84 in Nampa, Idaho. It is owned and operated by the Press.
The IABC joins other Christian voices in proclaiming Christ’s love. However, unlike other Christian booksellers, IABC features an emphasis on healthy, plant-based eating, which helps keep the body strong and the mind clear to focus on spiritual things.
Yet with the recent explosion of well-made meat substitutes, including Impossible™ and Beyond™, the classic canned varieties are no longer as popular. In addition, many large chain stores, such as Winco, Costco, and Amazon, now carry some of the same products (Loma Linda, Worthington, Morningstar Farms, and so on). Because they buy at much greater volume, their prices are frequently lower than Adventist Book Centers are able to offer.
Aside from the vegetarian food options, younger generations are less tied to reading sectarian theological books, so there are fewer shoppers in the local stores looking for Adventist books. Instead, they are browsing faith-based content at Walmart, Amazon, and other online resources, such as blogs.
Currently, the Idaho Adventist Book Center promotes itself via a MailChimp email list and via direct mail to current customers. Its web presence is a little complicated. Pacific Press operates the website AdventistBookCenter.com. Orders placed through this site are directed to whichever store serves the territory of the person who ordered.
As a result, the Idaho store has a nice website through which customers can order, get store hours and contact info, etc., though the website actually serves a couple of dozen stores. However, the site does not allow the stores to sell products that are location-specific, such as vegetarian foods.
The Idaho ABC has a Facebook page, but it is rarely updated (occasional sale announcements, shares, COVID updates, etc.).
The Idaho Adventist Book Center store branding is consistent with AdventistBookCenter.com. It uses the AdventistBookCenter.com logo in correspondence. It does not have a location-specific logo or branding, and that is preferred. (Some other Adventist Book Center retail stores rebranded after being sold, which creates both opportunities to reach new clientele and confusion for existing clientele.)
For complicated tax reasons, the Idaho Adventist Book Center cannot have exterior signage. As a result, it must rely on multimedia marketing strategies. The primary problem at the foundation of all the others is a lack of digital marketing skills and strategy by store employees. No one on staff has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop and implement a plan. The email list is underused and not promoted. The social media posts are infrequent and haphazard with little engagement. The store does not use video at all except as occasional reposts of corporate content.
With a simple digital marketing content calendar in place, store employees will be able to create engaging and valuable content that inspires, informs, and engages customers and potential customers. Regular posts on Facebook and Instagram featuring fresh content and relevant hashtags will increase awareness for the store within the community (brand awareness), refresh the relationship with existing customers (drive sales), and even provide opportunities to engage (receive customer feedback). The IABC Facebook page currently has 99 likes and 104 followers; there is no Instagram page at this time. By implementing these strategies, analytics for each of these platforms should show a 500 percent increase in subscribers and engagement over six months.
- Facebook: 5 posts per week (Monday–Thursday mornings, Saturday)
- Instagram: 7 posts per week (daily)
- Email: 1 per week (Sunday, 5 p.m.)
Weekly marketing emails with value-added content (such as a monthly recipe, devotional reading, story, or children’s game) and coupons will draw new and existing subscribers into the store. IABC should promote this email list with postcards at the register (including QR codes to the signup page) and signup options on the Facebook page, corporate directory listing, and inside direct mail pieces.
To generate awareness in the community for the store’s selection of Bibles, Christian books, and vegetarian/vegan books and food products, I recommend that IABC also buy spots on the local Christian radio station (KTSY-FM) at $10 per slot (six slots per day, six days per week, one week per month). This is a $360 monthly cost. The station is owned and operated by the Idaho regional headquarters of the SDA Church. KTSY is one of the top stations in the market and reaches thousands daily.
The radio spots can include a call-to-action, such as “Never been in our store? Come in this week and say you heard about us on KTSY for 10% off” to help measure effectiveness.
Idaho Adventist Book Center
To drive social rankings/placement and increase engagement, the store must focus on video content. The store manager, Dave Gatton, will record a short weekly Manager Memo video for social media, giving customers details about new products and sale items and inviting them into the store. In addition to social media, the video can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded in the weekly promotional emails.
Video drives engagement, pleases the social networks’ algorithms, and puts a relatable face with an otherwise impersonal business.