Three Very Un-Library

I don’t know about you, but my library is full steam ahead with plans for summer reading. This is going to make me sound insane, but I love this time of year. There’s a certain adrenaline rush that comes from the push to get things done before the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE LIBRARY YEAR kicks off.

No pressure.

But this summer, let’s go beyond bookmarks, posters, fliers, and signs. Let’s think like the big brands–within the confines of our limited budgets–and find new ways to get our message in front of new audiences. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with bookmarks, posters, fliers and signs… I just think we can do more, and better.

We start with a clear connection to your overall library goals for summer reading. Is your library searching for increased registrations? More participation? More people completing all the levels? More adult participation? Write down the big, main goal of your summer program and stick it up on the wall where everyone in your marketing department can see it and internalize it for the next few months. This is your North Star!

Then, work these un-library strategies into your marketing plan for better results.

  1. Do targeted email marketing messaging. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Library cardholders want messages from you. Seriously. They might hate email marketing from other companies but research has shown they love messages from their library and they want more of them. NO OTHER BUSINESS gets that kind of feedback. So let’s take advantage of it. If your summer goal is to increase the number of readers and the amount of materials they read, then keep suggesting things for them to read! We’ve had great success with this at my library. Once a month, we send targeted messages about new items in our collection. For people who like our digital offerings, we send a message touting our new eBooks and eAudiobooks. For parents, we send an email with the three best new kids books. For print lovers, we pick the latest and best print books from our new arrivals feed and give these cardholders first crack at putting them on hold.  We promote our new issues of downloadable magazines and the latest and hottest music from our Freegal and Hoopla services. All of these emails include direct catalog links to allow the receiver to place a hold in a matter of clicks. I usually choose three new titles to highlight. Build a template inside whatever email service you use and fill in the blanks every month. It doesn’t take much time and it is very effective–we’ve seen open and click-thru rates above industry averages for these types of messages. Your cardholders are hungry to consume your collection-feed the beast!
  2. Find an influencer and partner with them to co-market summer reading. Good options include celebrity bloggers, popular on-air personalities, or a local restaurant with a fanatic following. You could also partner with your city’s sports team, orchestra, or zoo.  The trick is to find someone whose core values align with your library. Offer them publicity and exposure to your cardholders in return for various mentions of your summer reading program on their blog, website, or location. It costs you nothing and exposes a whole new audience to the library. Bloggers will be particularly willing if you offer to write guests posts. Most bloggers are looking for ways to fill their editorial calendar and will appreciate contributions!
  3. Buy social media ads. Our Library has had a lot of success with Facebook ads. They’re easy to set up and monitor and the feedback on analytics is awesome.  Plus they end up boosting the organic reach of your other Facebook posts. They’re easy to target to a specific audience. I admit we haven’t had much luck at my library with ads on other social media platforms, but you should buy ads wherever your audience hangs out. Most of us look at social media as a free way to advertise… and for the most part it is. But if you really want to go the extra mile, you have to put a little money behind your posts.  It’s less expensive than billboards and radio ads, and more effective, in my opinion, because you can reach exactly the audience you want! I think it’s worth a try.

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