I woke up this morning with a tingle of anticipation akin to what I’d feel on Christmas morning. My library system is opening two new library buildings this week. We opened a third building last month and renovated another historic location last year.
This marks the end of a monumental project for our library involving an unimaginable amount of sweat, tears, mud, planning, scheming, logistics, and money. It’s been a test of endurance for everyone involved and I am SO PROUD of our system.
You can learn more about our construction projects here. As always, there were marketing lessons to be learned from the process.
1. Arm yourself with data before tackling a new project or idea–the more data, the better. What is it that your customers want? What do your customers do when they are interacting with your services? What do they do when they are not even thinking about the library? You need to know everything there is to know about your cardholders, not just their ages, email addresses, and circulation tendencies. If you are hoping to engage them with remarkable, valuable content that drives them to action, you’ll need to know everything about them. Seek out data in whatever way possible: surveys, one-on-one interaction, and third-party data collection.
2. Plan as much as you can. Build your content marketing strategy with a clear goal. This should be your vision. Keep it constantly in focus as you move through your year, always working on that goal. For every tactic you work with, ask the question, “Is this contributing to the realization of my goal?” If not, cut it out.
3. Be flexible about change. Halfway through your year, you may realize that the ideas you implemented for reaching your content marketing goals are simply not working. You’re not married to them. It’s totally fine to change tactics, as it would be natural to drive around a boulder in the middle of the desert on your way to the watering hole. Whatever you have to do to reach your goal, do it. If one of your staff members comes up with a brilliant idea for content marketing and it means you have to drop something else out of the schedule to make it work, do it.
4. Mud is okay. Construction is dirty. So is content marketing. There are many drafts to work through, a lot of stops and starts, and sometimes it feels like you’ll never get that piece of content published. You will. Have faith. You can always sweep up the mess later. The mess leads to something beautiful. Embrace the dirt.
5. Admire the shiny new building when it opens… then work to make it even better. Once you’ve released your piece of content, pat yourself on the back–then work to make it better. Refine the keywords. Check the tags. See if you can re-purpose it for other channels and audiences. Watch how the audience responds and use that data to make new editorial decisions for your content.
Has your library been building new branches or renovating existing buildings? What have you learned from the process? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.
June 23, 2015 at 7:10 am
Do you have any advice on retaining patrons? Avoding losing them to other libraries, Amazon, or the local bookstore?
June 23, 2015 at 9:29 am
This is the subject of a future post! But the short answer is that we have to start surveying our cardholders-new and existing-at least once a year, if not more, to find out what services they are using and what services they need. Then we need to make sure that they know those services exist and provide them with an easy way to access them. We need to build a top-notch customer experience. It’s a job that requires more than the marketing department-the whole library system needs to get behind the idea. More in a future post!
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