Super Library Marketing! Great marketing ideas for libraries everywhere.

Focus on the Content, Not the Container

My entire perspective on library marketing changed this week while listening to a 20-minute podcast episode.

Jay Acunzo’s Unthinkable podcast highlights marketers who are changing the way their companies interact with their customers for the better. He’s tired of average content marketing. Each week he finds and interviews a marketer who is doing exceptional work–work that is Unthinkable.

During the episode titled Why You Should Focus More on the Insides of Your Content, the life-altering moment came in one of those interviews. One of Jay’s guests said: Marketers need to focus more on the content and less on the container.

When I market a library service or feature, I start with my promotional calendar. I determine whether an email campaign is appropriate. I decide if I should write an article for Library Links. I ask myself:  Do we need signs? Do we need social media promotion? Do we put something on the website? I schedule everything. And then I write all the pieces. I’m totally focused on the containers–the eblast, the Links article, the website, etc.–first.

Doing it the way Jay suggests means I should figure out what I’m going to say about the promotional item and then decide which containers will deliver that message to my audience in the most effective way. Content Before Container.

But why is this approach the better way to market? When you focus first on the content, you are emphasizing the message. You put your customer first–not your own promotional needs. You’re thinking more about the insides of your message, not the way it will be delivered and that means you are likely to be more creative. You will end up delivering your message to your audience in the way that they need it to be delivered. You’re putting the message and your cardholders first and not putting your library first. And that’s how we differentiate ourselves from the competition.

It sounds so easy. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

Here are some resources for library marketers searching for help with their content marketing.

Content Marketing Institute: My favorite content marketing website. They do free webinars about the practice. Subscribe to CCO magazine–it’s free. Attend Content Marketing World with me! Attend their #CMWorld Twitter chat every Tuesday at noon to interact with top marketing experts and get your questions personally answered. And listen to their podcasts. You’ll understand more about content marketing and how it works.

Plus these blog posts about content marketing:

What the Hell is Content Marketing and Why Should We Do It?

Amazing Content Marketing Stories about Your Library are Right Under Your Nose

How One Library is Using Content Marketing to Capture the Imagination

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.



Video and Libraries Make The Perfect Marketing Marriage

I have some homework for you.

Sometime in the next seven days, I want you to go to the New York Public Library’s Facebook page and watch some of the video marketing they’ve done over the past few months. Specifically, I want you to check out their live book recommendations with Lynn and Gwen (Gwen also co-hosts the NYPL Podcast The Librarian is In which is a MUST LISTEN for library marketers.) About once a month for half an hour, these two librarians from NYPL get on Facebook live and give book recommendations to people who give them information via the comments. It’s genius. And it’s free. And you should be doing this–or something like it–too!

Most library marketers are afraid to try video marketing. (I will be looking at the results of the poll at the beginning of this post to gauge if I’m right about that!) I can understand that fear. But I come from a TV background, so video marketing and live video isn’t as foreign to me as it might be to you. So this post is all about lifting the veil, so to speak. I’ve got a secret for you. Video is not as hard as you think. I hope I can give you the confidence to do video marketing!

Video, whether live or recorded and edited, is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to market your library. But the most important point I want to make is that IT IS NOW NECESSARY TO PRODUCE VIDEO FOR YOUR LIBRARY. There is data to prove that but, rather than list it here, I’ll give you this beautiful infographic with statistics on video marketing for 2017 from Hubspot.

The social media platform with the most power to amplify and engage library users is Facebook. And Facebook is rewarding and boosting posts that include video. If you want to reach more people with whatever message your library is trying to send, you must use video.

But many libraries still think video marketing is only something for large libraries with a huge staff. Let me show you why you can do it, no matter your size or budget.

It’s no longer expensive. In the past, producing video was expensive and difficult.  The “barrier to entry” was high. You needed a ton of heavy and complicated equipment. But that is no longer the case. My library produces videos using our regular DSLR camera, which we also use to take still photos of library events. We have two wired lavalier microphones which we purchased for about $75 each. We have a set of lights donated to us by a former TV news photographer. And we have a Go Pro camera purchased several years ago. But you don’t even need any of this equipment to do your videos. We have also shot video on our iPhones! And that has worked perfectly well. Your library likely has an Adobe Creative Suite license already, which will allow you to edit. You can also use iMovie or a host of other online editing software pieces, many of which are free. Here’s a great list.

You can learn how to shoot and edit online. If you’ve never worked with video before, has a host of video production courses which you can take at your desk for free if your library has a subscription! You can also subscribe to this YouTube channel by Amy Schmittauer. She’s got all kinds of tips about video marketing using all kinds of equipment, including a DSLR camera and smartphones, plus tips on how to set up a background for your video and how to “act” on camera! She’s just fun to watch and really down to Earth.

You have the tools to distribute your videos. You no longer have to send your produced videos to a television station and pay top dollar to have them broadcast. Social media has changed all that. Upload your video to Facebook. Upload your video to YouTube. Upload your video to your website. Then promote it and watch your message get across to new people.

Perfection is no longer required. Honestly, I think this is the biggest reason many libraries are hesitant to get started with video marketing. We all have this idea that the video has to be narrated by the perfect person with the perfect hair in front of the perfect background. That’s old school TV thinking and it’s no longer necessary. In fact, the best videos are the ones that show your authentic self. You don’t have to be scripted. If you’re doing a live video, it’s okay to pause and look something up when someone asks you a question. It’s good to show that you’re human and those human moments make videos more interesting and exciting. So please don’t worry about getting every little hair to lie in place, having the right clothes, or always saying the right thing. You’re talking to real people, even if they are on the other end of a video screen. And they’ll forgive you–and love you–if you aren’t robotic. Everyone loves a librarian and you will find fans just for being you!

To see some of the work my library has done with video, here’s a link to our YouTube channel. Have you seen great instances of video marketing by libraries? Please share with me in the comments so I can check them out!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Three Secrets To Reach a New Audience For Your Library

Tell me something…

I’m about to tell you something you already know.

Those big library events, like Summer Reading, are hard to promote. Every library has at least two of these high-stakes events each year. Libraries spend a significant portion of their budget on the pieces of those big programs. They come with high expectations and goals. They require months of planning. No pressure.

But there are three big things you can do to increase the likelihood your Big Library Event will be successful. To illustrate this, I’m going to focus on Summer Reading, since that’s the biggest program my library–and probably yours– does each year. As I write this, we’re gearing up to really start the full-court press of promotions. So it’s my most current example.

But this short list of life-changing, big-event promotional ideas can work for any large-scale campaign. They’re not hard to implement but they will help you reach a new audience of media and customers. And doing a better job at getting your promotional message to those two demographics could be the difference between success and failure.

  1. Ditch the traditional press release. Instead, write a profile for your blog. If you don’t have a library blog, and you’re forced to send out something to the media on official library letterhead, write a story and not a fact-driven announcement, like this one. I’m basically just asking you to shake up the way you pitch your events to the media. No kitschy headlines. No tables of facts. Turn the focus of your pitch onto your cardholder, not on how fantastic your library is for putting this program together. Interview a librarian. Interview a customer. Get a real quote from one of your sponsors or the event organizer, not one that you’ve made up. Work all of those together into a story instead of a traditional press release. If you want to catch the attention of the news media, you need to be a little different. Bonus: You’ll also be rewarded by Google, which will pick up you keywords in your blog post and start showing the post in search results for anyone looking for those keywords (Google doesn’t catch keywords on PDF or Word document press releases posted to a website.) For more on why a press release isn’t your best choice to communicate with the media–and what to do instead–read this very thorough post by journalist Mike Butcher.
  2. Send a link to your creative media piece or the full story in a document to your media contacts in a personalized email.  I know it takes longer to send an email to each media contact than to send one mass email, but it’s worth it. Think about the person to whom you are sending the email and write a personalized note to them with unique ideas specific to their outlet for how they might cover your event. Make them feel special, and they’re more likely to give you coverage in return. For tips on how to target the media through emails and what to say in your email, read this blog post from Criminally Prolific.
  3. Buy social media ads, particularly on Facebook. Facebook ads are easy to put together and purchase. And they work. Facebook has eased up on the rules about ads. All you really need is a few descriptive lines of text, a beautiful high-res photo, and a solid link back to your website. You can customize messages for different segments of your target audience and you’ll get data back from Facebook about exactly how your ad is doing. I’m a firm believer that social media ads are more effective than newspaper or billboard ads. It’s where your audience is hanging out–and it’s the best place to find non-library customers.  For a whole host of Facebook ad templates, check out this free download from Digital Marketer. For more ideas on how to improve your library’s summer reading program and the promotions of that program, read this post too!    Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Best Conferences for Library Marketers in 2017

Confession: I am a conference geek. Having moved from a profession (journalism) where conferences are considered a waste of time and money to a profession (library marketing) where training and personal growth are core job competencies, I am a huge fan of the conference.

A good conference can be a great opportunity to network with other marketers, both in libraries and in companies. You can learn from each other, commiserate, complain, laugh, and share ideas. The best conferences have a varied agenda, so you have a chance to learn about trends in marketing and changes in other jobs within the library system and the world at large. You’ll come away inspired, energized, and ready to take on the world.

I’ve done a lot of research for the 2017 edition of the Best Conferences for Library Marketers. I looked for conferences featuring speakers I am familiar with, run by organizations I trust, with an agenda of topics that I think will be of interest to my readers, and at a price that’s not prohibitive. Most of these conferences will offer you a discount if you contact them and ask… they all love libraries and they love the idea of library marketers mingling with brands. Just be sure to email early! Dates are based on main conference attendances only. Some conferences have labs or special classes before or after the main conference, which I left out because they add to the price of the ticket.

This list is all based in the U.S. again. I apologize to my international readers but I can’t confidently recommend conferences abroad. Please give me your recommendations for non-U.S. conferences in the comments, won’t you?

Confab Central

June 8-9 in Minneapolis, MN

This two-day conference in June covers a lot of topics that apply to library marketing, including measurement, working in silos(!!), and coaching your staff. Also, actor and literacy advocate Levar Burton is a keynote speaker!! A conference pass is $1400 without a discount.

Marketing track at The American Library Association Conference

June 24-25 in Chicago, IL

So we all love attending the American Library Conference. All the librarians! All the swag! All the free books! Their marketing track is pretty extensive and touches on a range of topics like planning library promotional videos, effectively marketing system-wide programs, and crisis communication. Registration fees for ALA members run from $175-$300 and registration for non-ALA members is $400 if you register by June 16.


August 2-4 in Cleveland, OH

I have a colleague who regularly attends this conference put together by Overdrive and she always comes back with great insight into the digital platform used by many libraries. This year, the conference includes ideas on promoting books on social media, using their reports to gain insights about your users, and a first look at their product road map. Plus there is a marketing exchange! Tickets are affordable at $200.

Content Marketing World

September 6-8 in Cleveland, OH

2017 will mark the fourth year that I’ve attended CM World and I couldn’t recommend it more. It’s huge, with dozens of top-notch speakers and tracks on every subject you can think of. New this year, there are breakout sessions on Friday included in the price of a main pass so you get even more bang for your buck. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I learn at this conference. I swear I mention it in a half of my posts. They usually have an exciting keynote speaker. The 2017 headliner hasn’t been announced yet but last year we heard from Mark Hammill and the year before that was Kevin Spacey. A main conference pass is $1100 until June 2, and they will give you the non-profit discount if you ask, which amounts to about 40 percent off the price.


September 25-28 in Boston, MA

Authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Adam Grant are the headliners at the 2017 Inbound, put together by Hubspot (I love their free online marketing courses.) This event is enormous… they had 19,000 attendees in 2016.There are 250 sessions and literally every marketing thought-leader attends and leads at least one session. Hubspot believes in the mapped customer journey, a concept that some of the most forward-thinking libraries are embracing. I always find it helpful to hear how business marketers are working. An all-access pass is about $1100 until mid-May, but be sure to ask for a discount.

Internet Summit

November 15-16 in Raleigh, NC

A huge lineup of marketing experts headlines this conference (if you go, be sure to see Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, and Neil Patel.) This conference hits all the topics that affect library marketers, including email marketing, design, and user experience. The best part is that an all-access pass is only about $345 if you book now.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference

November 16-17 in Addison, TX

This conference targeted specifically to library marketers is now in its third year and addresses many of the challenges you face in your daily work within the context of a library. I have not attended, but my supervisor has and says it covers a range of topics including social media and PR. If you’re new to the library or marketing world, this is the place to be. Plus there is plenty of time to network with other library marketers who share your unique job! Registration is not yet open for this event, but you can sign up for updates and you’ll be the first to know when tickets are available.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


Warning: Your Library is NOT Ready For Virtual Reality Marketing!

Everywhere I look these days, people are talking about virtual reality and augmented reality marketing. It’s the shiny new toy in the marketing world and people get super excited when they talk about it. It’s cool and hip and, unlike a lot of marketing tactics, it sounds like great fun. Who wouldn’t want to be the first to reap the benefits of this technology as a marketing tool?

VR marketing came up this week in a meeting of non-marketing library professionals in my system. It’s been the subject of nearly a quarter of the tweets I see in my marketing list on Tweetdeck. And I read more than one article a day on the subject without even searching for it. It’s literally the talk of the town.

But I think we all need to take a step back and contain ourselves. VR and AR would be awesome but I’m going to burst your bubble. Your library is not ready to do VR or AR marketing. No library is ready. In fact, I want you to join me on the sidelines and watch for a bit as our for-profit brethren take this shiny new car for a spin a few times. Because that’s the best way to learn something about a new technology without having to put ourselves at risk.

I want to make sure we’re clear about what VR and AR really is. There is a lot of confusion and it can be hard to envision. Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment, one where the user is immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. VR and AR marketing is NOT a live event or scavenger hunt. It specifically involves the use of technology on both the customer and brand side.

Now, I’m sure your head is spinning with many thoughts about how to put this to use in a library marketing application. What if customers could go into a virtual library, browse shelves and items and borrow materials using a computer program without ever having to leave their home? What if we could show our customers how to use services without having to bring them into a branch? What if people could attend our programs in an immersive experience from the comfort of their own homes? A whole world of possibilities and challenges opens up before you like a vast, unexplored universe of library marketing potential.

Here’s the thing. Very few profit-driven companies are ready to implement VR and AR marketing successfully. Some of the big brands you know and love–Coca-Cola, GM, Kraft, Red Bull–companies that are on the forefront of other marketing practices like content marketing, have not yet jumped onto the VR and AR band wagons yet. Why?

It’s expensive. Software and hardware on the customer’s side can run into the thousands of dollars. How many library customers can afford that kind of dough? Development of the VR programs on the brand side run anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000. That’s a lot of money for libraries facing budget cuts.

It’s an uncertainty. No one, not even the greatest thought-leaders in the marketing world, knows yet how to tie it to strategy and how to correctly distribute VR products yet. No one really knows when consumers will be willing to purchase the technology or how long it will take them to adapt to using it.

If the big guns haven’t been able to get their strategy and budget around VR and AR yet, then neither can we. But that’s okay. Let’s take this opportunity to learn more about the practice. I’ve created a little online starter guide for you!

Here is a slideshow explaining how VR and AR marketing work and showing you some of the technology pieces now available.

Here is a great article from Forbes about the six best examples of VR marketing to date.

Here is an interesting take from Content Marketing Institute on how VR could change the marketing landscape.

And I particularly loved this article about the pitfalls of VR marketing as experienced by three well-known brands.

Libraries are notoriously behind the curve for embracing marketing trends. In this case, I think the Library industry is eager, but we lack the budget and the ability. And I feel that in the end, that lag may end up working to our advantage. We have a chance to watch the big guns try, fail, and succeed, and we can learn from their experience. So take this time to study and learn. And let’s meet again in 5-10 years when the library industry will be ready to embrace VR and AR. We’ll do it right.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Why Did People Go Crazy Over This Social Media Post?

Sometimes, luck shines on the hardworking marketer and all the stars align to hand you an unexpected victory.

This happened to my library recently.  One of our branches held a stuffed animal sleepover. I’m guessing someone in your library system has done this before–it’s a pretty popular program.  Kids drop off their stuffed animals at the library branch for an overnight stay and branch staff stage activities for the stuffed animals and take photos so the kid can see their little friends having fun at the library. This particular branch passed all the photos on to our Marketing Department and we put them up in a Flickr album for easy distribution. We posted a link to that album on our Facebook page.

And then the public went nuts. We had a ton of engagement, turning this into one of the most successful social media posts of the year so far, with more than 17,000 in organic reach, more than 1,000 post clicks and 431 likes and shares!

I asked out library’s social media specialist, Adam Baker, to help me dissect the post in hopes that we all can learn something from it.

Tell me about why you decided to go with the format you used–Flickr album link on Facebook? Did you put it on other social media sites?

I’ve found, in general, Flickr links work well for a large amount of photos. Uploading the photos and creating a Flickr album allows me to generate a link I can share across all social platforms. Plus, a Flickr link has built-in metadata that produces an attractive preview on the page. That automatic preview gives the user an experience native to the platform it’s shared on. Users can easily click directly into the Flickr slide show from the preview. It’s just a nice way to keep photos organized, and the fact it’s so user-friendly on the sharing side, makes it a double win.

What kind of response did you predict you would get?

This stuffed animal sleepover event is an annual event at one of our branches. I’ve shared the photos via social media for three years in a row now. They’ve always been relatively successful because it’s something different and interesting. But I never expected the response we got from the Facebook post this year.

Why do you think the post was so popular with our followers?

I come from a TV news background. I remember in journalism school our professors teaching us what makes something newsworthy. I use many of those factors when picking good social media content. One of the reasons something is newsworthy is if it is a novelty. The stuffed animal sleepover definitely falls into that category. It’s original, even a bit unusual. I think that’s the reason these photos always perform well. I think the reason it was such a hit for us this year was due to the fact we had an extra unusual photo featured as the album cover. The stuffed animals are sitting around in a circle. One Facebook fan commented it looked like they were conducting a séance. The user meant it in jest — but it goes to show you it made people do a double take. Anytime you have content that makes people stop mindlessly scrolling through all the noise online and actually click, you’ve got a winner.

How surprised were you at the response?

I was very surprised it did so well. It was our most successful post that month and one of our best posts ever. I am pleasantly surprised that a post we’ve done very similarly for three years paid off in a big way this time around.

Did the response lead you to think about changing the way you format or program future social media posts?

I think it reinforced what I already knew. You have to be a little outside the box to get noticed. It’s a good reminder to experiment and have fun. You never know when that one silly post is going to be a game changer.

The lesson here? You never know what kind of social media post is going to resonate with your audience!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

How to Know When To Say No To More Library Marketing

I have a problem saying “no”.

It’s a common problem for anyone working in a library. Or in marketing. Or in life, if we’re being honest. We are all weirdly programmed to say yes, to take on more, to squeeze as much out of life as we possibly can. Yes, I can bake 100 cookies for my kid’s holiday party tomorrow! Yes, I can write a 1500 word blog in a day! Yes, I can promote that service or event or circulation item in every single channel in every single conceivable way RIGHT NOW.

Stop the madness, ya’ll.

The word “no”, while it may be very small, is liberating.  It’s good for you and for your marketing strategy.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m writing this particular blog post because I came to the realization this week that my marketing schedule is TOO DAMN FULL. We have two press releases and five-six eblasts scheduled per week for the next three months… not to mention graphics on the website, digital screen graphics, social media posts, videos, and so forth. It’s a rare day when my library doesn’t do a big promotion.

Wow, you may be saying to yourself. That’s awesome! You’re rockin’ it, Angela. Well, thank you. Sometimes I think so too. But it’s also tiring. And noisy. And a sure recipe for burnout for you and your staff.

Busyness feels wonderful. We’re doing something! Stuff is happening! Progress is being made! But without spaces for creative thought, it’s a recipe for disaster. Mistakes are going to happen. My writing isn’t what it could or should be. My head is so muddled with all the messages, it’s a wonder I’ll be able to say anything coherent or engaging to my cardholders.

And that’s where we are. We are all burned out… leading into the busiest time of the year: summer reading. And it has to stop. We are going to do a horrible job at promoting summer reading unless I weed out all the noise.

So that’s going to be my job over the next week. I’ve got four rules for weeding the promotions.

If it’s not giving us more than a ten percent bump in circulation, program attendance, or usage, it gets cut.

If we’re promoting a service that is difficult for the cardholder to use, it gets cut.

If the presenter isn’t paid, it gets cut.

If it’s not tied directly to the library’s overall strategy, it gets cut.

Weeding your marketing content periodically to cut anything that falls into these four categories will allow you to do a better job and be more creative with the promotions you have left.  Do this evaluation twice a year to make sure you keep your marketing lean and don’t tax your staff or yourself.

Cleaning out your marketing schedule is kind of like cleaning a closet. We tend to just keep stuffing things in there, in the hopes that it will work for us someday. But eventually, the closet is so packed you can’t fit anything else in there and every time you open the door, everything falls out. You need to cart some stuff off to the dumpster.

Set your own ground rules if you like but weed your promotions before you head into summer reading. It will make you a better marketer by giving you more time to devote the promotions that are left–the ones that really matter.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


Four Ways to Fire Up Your Social Media And Create Super Library Fans!

I see a new trend on social media for libraries and I’m loving it! More libraries are reducing the number of Tweets they send promoting programs and they’re doing more curating and advocating for the library industry. I think that’s great! It adds depth to the character of your library, it helps your cardholders to see that you are more than just an endless horn of promotion, bombarding them with things that don’t relate to them, and it means the promotions you do put on social media get more attention simply because there is less noise. So good job you!

Now it’s time to take the next step. My prediction: libraries will become savvier about using social media to turn their current cardholders into fans. The industry will begin to realize the importance of keeping cardholders active library users and balance that newfound realization with the ongoing campaign to sign up new cardholders. We’ll start creating super customers who will advocate on our behalf. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Here’s how we’ll do it.

Listen to your cardholders. Whoever monitors your social media needs to set aside time to listen to monitor your social media platforms for comments. Respond as soon as you can, even to positive comments. You should also create a database for logging comments, both positive and negative, so you don’t have to rely on your own memory to keep track of the complaints and compliments you receive. You can use that database to create future promotions, highlighting services your cardholders show a love for and addressing concerns with upper management and within your marketing. You’ll also stumble across great customer service stories that you can market in your print publication or on your blog. Listening is critical and I cannot stress the importance of working time into your day, every hour if you can, to do a quick check of your social channels for comments.

Show some extra love to your current cheerleaders. You likely can think of two to three people (maybe more!)  who consistently post their praises of your library system on social media. If you haven’t already, reach out to those brand advocates and offer them something special–a gift bag from your Friends shop, a behind-the-scenes tour of the library, a special collector’s edition library card, etc. They’ll post about that positive exchange and do some marketing for you! Later, you can go back to those cheerleaders and ask for feedback on marketing or library initiatives, or give them a sneak peek of things you’re working on in the future to gauge the reaction of the larger audience to your efforts.

Create an editorial calendar for your social channels. Schedule content to appear on a consistent basis. Remember “Must-See TV”? You can do that with social. People love it… and they’ll eagerly await the appearance of quality content on social when you set up a reliably consistent posting schedule. Create a call to action that’s easy to fulfill and share.

Track, track, track. None of these actions are worth any effort if you don’t track the results. You’ll learn what works–so you can repeat it–and what doesn’t, so you can drop it!  You’ll be amazed at how valuable the data is when you track, and I promise it only takes a few moments. My favorite tracking method is Google Analytics URL builder. Learn how to use it here.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


The Most Effective Library Marketing Tactic Ever: “I Understand”

I listened last week to White House officials explain a recent round of proposed budget cuts by President Trump. Soon after its release, I noticed a backlash on social media by people who believe the decisions in this budget proposal show a lack of empathy on the part of the administration. The message their budget proposal is sending to a group of angry and emotionally charged constituents is that they lack empathy. Maybe they are very empathetic… but they’re not marketing that emotion very well.

Watching the backlash made me worry about the way my library is viewed by the public. We are in the business of serving the under-served. Our industry is driven forward by empathy–by a desire to educate, inspire, and empower people. But, like the President’s staff, we don’t always do a very good job of marketing that emotion.

First, let’s define empathy because it’s often confused with sympathy. Empathy is when you can recognize another person’s emotions and share them. Sympathy doesn’t involve the sharing of emotions—it is simply recognizing what another person is feeling.

Empathy in marketing means you are able to communicate to your customers that you understand and share the emotions they feel. Showing your cardholders that you empathize with them will move them to action. It’s the most nebulous of marketing tactics but also the most effective. If you can get people to understand that you feel the way they feel, that your library is the key to turning their emotions into action, and that their action can lead to change in their community, you will have moved them toward whatever goal you’ve established for your library marketing. People are motivated to action by four main emotions: greed, fear, love, and the chance to grow. Communicating to your cardholders that your library is in tune with them… that you crave, fear, love, and desire the same things they do, will be the difference between meeting your marketing and strategic goals and staying stagnant. People will rally behind an organization that understands them and shares their goals.

I’ll give you an example of this from my library. We know that people in our community are worried about jobs. They want to improve their career prospects and they aren’t many programs in our area aimed at giving people the basic coaching they need to put together a resume, ace an interview, or even to sort through prospective jobs openings to find the right fit for their life and their family. So over the past six months, we’ve partnered with another organization to put on a series of free workshops aimed at improving the job prospects of members of our community. The emotion we’ve used to market that program is hope… a sense of hope for the betterment of our community and a sense of hope for those who thought their chances of getting a better paying, more fulfilling job was pretty hopeless. The workshops are filling up and we’re starting to get media coverage.

Empathy should be infused in every marketing piece we create. That’s because emotions rule consumer behavior… they are the “why” behind the actions we take. Empathy is at the heart of every good novel ever written. The author makes you care about what happens to the characters. Without that, you don’t really want to read the book! Let’s use the same concept in our library marketing.

The best way to market empathy is tell stories about how your library and your staff is impacting the lives of others. Don’t script it. Let the librarians and the customers share in their own words. Share those stories in your newsletters, on your blog, in your press releases, and in videos. Choose small segments of your population, think about the core ideals and values that drive their lives, and connect those ideals to the work of your library. Ask your interviewees questions about how they feel. And let their words inspire other cardholders to action.

For more ways to inspire your cardholders to feel all the feels, read this.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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