This is the second part in a series on creating an editorial calendar for your library marketing. Read part one here.
You’ve chosen a tool for your editorial calendar, and everyone on your team is using it. Now the fun part begins! At least, I think it’s the fun part. Deciding what kind of content to promote and how you’ll execute those promotions is arguably the most crucial part of library marketing. Here’s a simple guide to get you through the process.
The Library Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar, Part One: How to Decide What Goes in the Calendar
Step #1: Do everything you can to focus your marketing efforts.
In a perfect world, there are two basic rules for determining your promotions. The first would be: Does this promotion do anything to move our library’s overall strategic goals closer to reality? The second would be: Is this a service or item that cardholders want and need in their lives? Does it provide a tangible value to our cardholders? Anything that falls outside of those two benchmarks is cut. In this perfect scenario, you only promote the things that really matter to your cardholders and to your library’s mission.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. Everyone has to market services, collection items, and projects that have nothing to do with the library’s mission. Library marketers are treated like short order cooks. Promotional requests come in from various coworkers, and we fill them. It’s ineffective and it’s why so much of our marketing fails.
The only thing a library marketing professional can do is to battle back. It may be a slow process. It’ll take time and a lot of persuasion to get the rest of your library system to change its mindset about marketing. But you have to start somewhere!
Your first editorial calendar task is to set parameters for your marketing to the best of your ability. Figure out what you have the power to approve and what you can say “no” to. Then do it.
Change is slow in coming in the library world. This shift toward marketing with a purpose rather than marketing everything under the sun may be met with a lot of push back. I’ve been in my job six years and I’m still working on it. It’s a constant battle. But it’s one worth having because it’s better for my library and better for my cardholders.
Step #2: Choose the tactics that will work best for each promotion. Library marketers have a natural tendency to want to promote everything with every tool in the toolbox. You don’t have to use every tactic available to you. In fact, you don’t really want to! Thoughtfully selecting the method of promotion for each campaign is a smarter use of your time and energy.
For every promotion, I write down a short list of what I know about the promotion. Then I write down my best guess for the kind of library cardholder and non-cardholder who might be interested in the thing I want to promote. Finally, I look at all the tactics at my disposal and decide which ones would be the best for reaching my target audience.
Here’s an example: Earlier this year, my library put a collection of lantern slides on display as part of a specially curated exhibit. These slides were part of our collection. They’d been sitting in a dark storage area for ages.
We do a lot of exhibits at our library, and most feature interesting pieces of our collection. But this one felt special. The librarians who discovered and arranged the slides were psyched. Their managers were psyched. I ran the exhibit idea past some non-library friends to see how they’d react. They used words like “cool”, “unusual”, “interesting,” and “vintage” in describing why they’d want to see the collection.
I decided to promote the exhibit with just four tactics: a press release, posters, wayfaring signage, and social media posts shared with lovers of vintage stuff. I did not promote the exhibit with a slide on the library’s homepage. I did not send an eblast. I did not create digital signage. I did not create a video.
I made these decisions based on my imagined persona of an exhibit guest. They would be a reader of traditional news. They would be someone who like vintage collection items and photos online. They would be someone who might take the time to read printed sign as they walked into the front door of the library.
In the end, the four tactics we chose to use worked well because we spent our time and energy making them really, really good. They fit the target audience. We focused on the content, not the container. We got a ton of press coverage and our social media posts did better than I expected, particularly on Facebook.
Creating four really good pieces of promotion is more effective than creating ten crappy pieces. That’s why choosing the tactics to fit your promotion is important.
Step #3: Leave room in your calendar to remind your cardholders about the services and items they love but might not use daily.
Here’s a good example. My library has a reading recommendation service called Book Hookup. Our cardholders answer three simple questions and they get three reading recommendations back in whatever format they prefer–print, eBooks, or audiobooks. These recommendations are personally selected by a librarian.
I do two campaigns promoting this service every year. I must remind people that it exists because it’s not a service our cardholders use every day. But, those promotions are consistently so successful that, before the promotions begin, we have to assign extra staff to manage the recommendations. That’s because so many people will sign up for personalized reading recommendations through our promotions that we can’t keep up!
Your library has a lot of services that will help people in their everyday lives. Work those into your editorial calendar on a regular basis, even if no one is telling you directly to promote them, particularly if those services are tied to your library’s overall strategy. Your library will thank you.
Step #4: Be flexible. You will want to program blank spaces into your editorial calendar for last-minute promotions. Those holes give you space to make decisions that positively impact your library and your cardholders. And if you don’t end up having anything to fill those holes, they still have a benefit. Space in your calendar will give you and your team time to breathe!
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