Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

More than once, I’ve sat down at my computer to turn out a clever, groundbreaking, truly engaging library promotion… and ended up staring at a blank wall.

There are days, or weeks, or months (or let’s be honest, years… like 2020) when work in a library will run you ragged. As much as you’d like to create the most inspiring and noteworthy marketing piece for your library, you are just Too. Dang. Tired.

When I worked in a library, the exhaustion usually hit me after summer reading ended. With fall and winter looming, I felt my inspiration seeping away as quickly as the leaves fell from the trees.

If this happens to you, there are some things you can do to get your creativity back. If you need a little inspiration, look no further than your community.

The easiest and most effective library promotions are the ones that solve your cardholders’ big problems. If you have no idea what your community wants and needs from your library, here are three easy ways to figure that out and find the inspiration for your next effective promotion!

“Stalk” your library users.

There are three places you can go to learn more about your community.

Inside the building

If your library is currently open, take a walk around the library or visit the branches. This is your spy moment! Take off your badge and pretend to browse. Or sit at a table in a corner with your laptop.

Observe the way the cardholders browse the shelves, interact with staff, work the self-checkout machines, and use the public computers. Answer these questions.

  • Do they look for a map?
  • Are they drawn to a particular book display?
  • Do they linger over the new books, or do they dash in for their holds and dash out?
  • Do you notice all customers follow a particular path through your branch or are drawn to a particular place within the branch?
  • If your library has a drive-thru, is it busy? What kinds of customers use the drive-thru?

Watch how your community behaves inside the building to get an idea of what customers love and what problems they encounter during their interactions with your library. Both of those discoveries can be the basis for your next library promotion.

On your website

Take a close look at your library website’s analytics to find out who is visiting and what they’re doing.

Google Analytics is the best place to get a sense of how your community is interacting with your library’s website. If you don’t have access to your library’s Google Analytics, make an appointment to meet with whoever does have access. Talk with that person about their work. Then, share your goals for the library promotions you create. It’s your chance to form a collaboration that can lead to a more effective library website.

When you get a chance to see the data, ask these five questions:

  • Which landing pages are the most popular?
  • Which pages get zero traffic?
  • Has website traffic to certain pages changed over time or remained relatively the same?
  • How long did people stay on our website?
  • How does the bounce rate compare on your landing pages?

If you notice that people are interested in a certain section of your website, you may want to create promotions that support that. Likewise, if you realize that cardholders are missing some key places on your website, you may want to create promotions to entice people to visit those pages!

And if you notice that people are visiting a certain webpage but bouncing right off, you may want to think about improving the customer experience on that page.

On social media

Social listening is an insightful way to get promotional inspiration. It’s kind of like eavesdropping. It’s the purposeful search for conversations about your library on social media platforms.

Social listening will give you a clearer picture of how people feel about your library. You may be able to spot problems before they happen. And you will certainly spot promotional opportunities which you can amplify to connect to more users.

For full details about how to actively use social listening for promotional inspiration, read this post.

Check your statistics.  

Your library likely makes circulation and programming stats available on your internal website. These pieces of data can inspire you to find ways to help make their interaction with the library more worthwhile.

If you make it a regular part of your job to check your library statistics, you will find promotional inspiration. You’ll notice when there is a dip in the use of a service. When it happens, you’ll want to consider shifting some of your promotional focus to re-educate your community about that service.

If you work for a system with more than one location, you may notice trends in visits and circulation between the locations. Library staff at branches with lower visits and circulation can reach out to those with higher visits and circulation to see if you can steal some of their successful promotional ideas!

Talk to your coworkers.

You might find inspiration simply by “interviewing” your fellow staffers. Some key questions you can ask include:

  • What are your customers struggling with?
  • What are you struggling with?
  • What part of their job brings them joy?

You may uncover a great story that centers on your community member or cardholder as a hero. You can use that as a piece of content marketing to promote your library on every platform.

You might also learn that there is a customer problem that you can help to solve with your promotions. Answering a commonly asked cardholder question is an easy and effective way to promote your library.

You May Also Want to Read These Posts

The Quest for Perfection May Spoil Your Library Promotions! How To Walk the Line During the Revision Process and Still Create Authentic Messages

Behind the Scenes of The Library Marketing Show: Anyone Can Create Library Videos!

Angela’s Latest Book Review

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris


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