Marketing: A necessary evil to some of you; an engaging opportunity to others.
(In this second part of a two-part series, we’ll reveal how to get started on a library marketing campaign. In Part 1, we looked at some fun and unique marketing ideas that have been implemented at other libraries.)
But how do you do this stuff at YOUR library?
Ned Potter, an academic librarian and author of The Library Marketing Toolkit, suggests these steps:
1. Figure out where you are and what you want to achieve. Do you want more visitors to the library? Are you looking for more online interaction? Are you trying to stimulate greater use of existing resources? Do you need to boost the library’s reputation? Whatever your goal—and it may be a combination of things—you must define it in terms of measurable results: “We will increase the number of library visitors by 15% within the next year” or “We’ll increase the use of our e-resources by 10%.”
In order to measure progress, you have to know where you began. So once you’ve defined your goals, be sure to record your starting point, such as current circulation and online use, before undertaking your marketing campaign.
2. Research your market. Who are the target audiences for your goal areas? For instance, if you want to increase library visitors, you should assess which segments of the population may be underserved. Do you need to add children’s programming? How about classes in digital literacy for senior citizens? Parents of school-aged kids may need help finding information about college scholarships or estate planning. Maybe you could increase “Gen X” and “Millennial” visitors with better promotion of career resources, personal finance, or even wedding workshops.
3. Define your messages and how to reach your target audience. Direct mail or signage probably isn’t the best way to reach a younger audience, and you’re not likely to find a majority of your senior citizen prospects on Twitter. The success of your campaign depends on whether you’ve tailored your message to your audience and delivered it in a format that will engage them.
Remember that your goal is to change behavior. Just getting social media followers won’t help if they don’t act any differently. The goal is to get them to come to the library more, use more of your resources, or evangelize the library’s services by spreading the word.
Constant measurement is the key:
• Define current benchmarks, such as circulation• Run your campaign• Measure the results• Tweak your message, call to action, or delivery outlets• Run the modified campaign• Measure again• Repeat
So you’ve figured out your goals, defined the status quo, and decided how to communicate with your target audiences. Now what? What if you need to communicate via social media but you don’t know a tweet from a hoot? What if your plan calls for video but you have no idea whether you can afford it or how to do it?
Relax. While a complete tutorial is beyond the scope of this article, there’s a myriad of resources out there to help you.
• Twitter is great place to start because you get quick and helpful feedback—progress you can share with managers. You can also use Storify to collect media from across the web to curate it into the story that you want to tell.
• Ned Potter again comes to the rescue with an excellent blog post full of suggestions and considerations for a video project. He says that the free software bundled with Macs and PCs is adequate for most library video production, or if you are already familiar with Camtasia for screen capture, you can also use it for live-action video. Even the iPhone camera will work!
• The Library Marketing Toolkit blog, a companion site for the book of the same name by—you guessed it—Ned Potter, features case studies and a list of tools and resources. It includes links to stock photo sites, online publishing platforms, video examples, other library blogs, and additional sources for inspiration.
• The Association of Library & Communications Professionals (ALCOP) aims to “create a platform that connects professionals committed to promoting libraries.” They plan to hold a conference in October; details will be forthcoming.
Marketing isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for your library’s continued success, and there’s plenty of help out there.
Let us know, by replying below, about your library marketing efforts and any resources you’d recommend!