I have a theory about the kind of person who becomes a journalist–in particular, the local or national general news reporter without a beat… the one who gets sent to the drug busts and homicides and fires and tornadoes.  They’re a junkie of sorts.  They like the high that can only be found when you’re racing at breakneck speed to get to a scene before your competitor, to get the interview, to get a soundbite pulled and edited and sent back to the station five minutes before a live shot. They do their best thinking when they’re working on the fly and they do their best work on a deadline… a really, really tight deadline. They love that adrenaline rush.

I was just such a junkie. In fact, my addiction to the breaking news high was one of the reasons it took me so long to leave the business. Even after I was worn to the bone, dog-tired and miserable, I stayed in the business because I thought I could not get that high in any other profession for which I was qualified.

Fast forward two years and I’m now a full-fledged library marketer, no looking back. One of the hardest adjustments for me was forcing myself to SLOW. DOWN. I’ve built a reputation in my organization for being quick on my feet and in execution, if necessary but on the whole, things move at a slower pace through the funnel at my organizations–and that’s a good thing. There’s more time to think, be creative, consider a tactic from all angles, and to make sure all the pieces of the customer experience are in place and working properly.

But being a little agile, a little willing to do some marketing on the fly, is also a good thing. I wish more organizations would open themselves to what I call Drop-in Marketing Campaigns–those pushes that come at the last-minute and sent to your audience in a few days–or less! Maybe you’re seizing on an opportunity from a vendor or a partner organization.  Maybe you’ve got a connection to an event in pop culture or maybe you find a piece of user-generated content that’s so fun and engaging that you don’t want to wait to promote it.  If it makes sense and the timing is right, there’s a worth to getting it out there in front of your audience without over thinking it.

You don’t have to be a formal journalist to do this. Anyone can include some flexibility in their marketing schedule. They key lies in purposeful planning. When you’re laying out your regular marketing campaigns, including your email messages, be sure to deliberately leave holes where you might be able to drop in promotions. Keep in mind which promotions have drop-dead dates and which ones could be shuffled and released to the public later, in favor of a more timely, drop-in message. Then… go for it!

At my library, we’ve done this kind of promotion probably a dozen times in the last year. Recently, my library turned around a movie promotion sent to us by a vendor, who offered a free first-run movie streaming on their site on the same day that the movie released into theaters. We got word a week before the movie premiere. The movie wasn’t a dud or a foreign film either… it was a movie with a great cast that I thought might actually be popular with our cardholders. We seized on it, turning out graphics for our website, social media, and an email campaign to let users of our digital services know about the promotion and got it approved. On a normal day, we stream about 25 movies to cardholders. After this promotion, we streamed 244 copies of this first-rate movie alone.  Success!

This kind of plan is easiest when you have administrative agreement ahead of time, so have the talk with your superiors. You won’t have to turn a last-minute campaign around every week but when you do… it will be worth it. I promise.

Have you executed a drop-in promotion? What has worked for you–and what hasn’t? Please share in the comments section!

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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.