My Twitter feed is jammed with advice from marketing experts. My podcast app is loaded with how-to shows and interviews with top professionals who fill my head with ideas about how to engage my audience and drive usage at my library. And most of the time, that insight is valuable and those experts are spot-on right. They’re called experts for a reason.
But sometimes, they’re wrong.
Or maybe “wrong” isn’t exactly the right word to describe it. Rather, sometimes their advice doesn’t apply to my situation or my cardholders. Sometimes their data is interesting but the context doesn’t match the way my cardholders think, feel, or interact with my institution.
And sometimes, they’re just blowing smoke.
So I want to urge you to take a good long pause, to make sure you think through your strategy and keep the good of your customers at the forefront of your actions when your mind is filled with new ideas and innovations passed on by experts in the marketing field.
Sometimes we see the bright, shiny new object on the horizon–the new social media platform or the new personalization software or the new catch phrase and we think, “YES, I GOTTA HAVE ME SOME OF THAT.” And then we wonder why it doesn’t work for our library.
This happens to me every once in a while. I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of blogs about marketing. I follow a lot of really smart marketers on Snapchat. I’m like the little prairie dog of marketing… constantly sticking my head out of the hole to look around for the best new idea for my cardholders.
But I have to remind myself to go back down in my hole and think for a while before I take advice. I have to make sure I ask myself questions before I make any changes to my library marketing. Is this idea right for my audience? Is it doable with my current staff and budget? Is this a fad or is it a trend worth paying attention to? I have to allow myself and my staff the time to experiment, discuss, debate, and consider before we make any new moves.
This is important because library cardholders are vastly different from customers in other industries. Most are passionate advocates for the library. They’re not fickle users. They love library marketing messages targeted to them. They crave information about their library. When we embrace those differences, we really end up helping the library industry to thrive.
Here’s a small example. It might sound strange but I think it makes my point perfectly. Our library has a defined strategy for each social media platform on which we post. For LinkedIn, we look to build a professional network and highlight use and awareness of our business and career resources. We identified that as our strategy on the advice of experts in the marketing field. And we do that… for the most part.
But on LinkedIn, we occasionally vary those strategic posts with testimonials from kids who use the library or shots of our mascot. And guess what? Those fun posts get a higher engagement than some of the strategy-driven posts! That higher engagement brings our LinkedIn account more visibility and drives people to learn more about the library. And, though it’s not the defined idea of our success on LinkedIn, it is success.
Always question expert advice. Think about it in the context of your situation and your marketing goals. Does it fit? Will it benefit my cardholders and my library?
There are smart marketing professionals who are sharing their thoughts and offering inspiration and I’m not suggesting you ignore them. Rather, I want you to ingest what they say, then think, research, and reflect. That includes the advice you get from this blog! Sometimes, my ideas won’t work for you and that’s okay. I won’t take it personally!
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