Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Children's Room, 1950.

Last week, I felt like a groundhog venturing out of its hole after a long winter of hibernation. But groundhogs only hibernate for five months, and I’ve been in lockdown for 19 months.

I went to Content Marketing World, a global marketing conference run by the Content Marketing Institute. You’ve heard me talk about it (a lot!) here on the blog before. It’s the conference where I get the most inspiration. I come away with pages and pages of practical tips. And this year was no exception.

I listened to the top experts talk about the ways the pandemic has changed consumer behavior in email, social media, and engagement with brands. I will be bringing you more of those insights, and what they mean for libraries, in the coming weeks.

But I’m eager to share the top seven takeaways with you right now. These big ideas will impact the promotions you do for your library in the coming year.

Lesson #1: Focus only on the data you need.

Jill Grozalsky Roberson, Product Marketing Director, Experience Platform, Sitecore.

Jill says you may hear from many experts that you need to be measuring certain key data points. And there are many things you can learn from data.

But, your library should focus on tracking and measuring the data points that will show you if you are meeting your strategic goals. And Jill gives you permission to ignore the rest.

Lesson #2: Email is a community builder. 

Dennis Shiao, Founder of Attention Retention LLC, and Ashley Guttuso, Director of Marketing for Simple Focus Software.

According to Ashley and Dennis, the purpose of a newsletter is not to promote your events and services. It is to build trust between your library and your community.

I’ll be translating more of their tips in the coming weeks. But for now, here’s a challenge from Ashley and Dennis: Create a newsletter that’s habit-forming, one that your audience gets excited to read whenever you send it.

The first step to doing that is to make your email newsletters opt-in. Ashley and Dennis have data to prove opt-in newsletters are more effective because readers are intentionally choosing to receive your information.

Lesson #3: We have to stop forcing our content on people. Instead, we must work to be invited into their lives. 

Jay Baer, Founder of Convince & Convert

Jay is an amazing author and speaker, and his keynote gave me a lot to think about.

He used the analogy of a castle and a moat to explain why people might be ignoring your promotions. Here’s how it works.

Our audience lives in a castle. Marketers are always trying to take over the castle by putting out lots and lots of promotions.

But the audience has built a moat around their castle to protect themselves from the onslaught of content. The moat is when your community unsubscribes or deletes your emails, or bounces out of your virtual programs, videos, or website after only a few seconds.

In history, armies tried to get around a moat by building a tall ladder and forcing their way into the castle. Anyone who has watched any historical drama knows this never works. The ladder gets pushed off the castle, and the soldiers never make it inside.

Instead, Jay challenged the audience to “get moativated” and get invited inside the castle by being radically relevant. He pointed out that the word “custom” is inside the word “customer.” People want content that is custom-tailored to them!

I’ll dive deeper into this idea and what it means for libraries in this Wednesday’s episode of The Library Marketing Show.

Lesson #4: Make sure your library is active on social media if you plan to do a PR push.

Michelle Garrett, PR Consultant, Garrett Public Relations

Michelle says journalists look at your library’s social media, especially Twitter, when they consider covering your library. So, if you are planning to do a major press push, you want to be active on social media before you send out your press release.

Many libraries have scaled down their posts on certain social media platforms because of a lack of engagement. I still believe that’s a good strategy, especially if your library lacks time and resources.

But, if you are planning something big and you’d like media coverage, Michelle says it’s in your library’s best interest to start posting on those platforms again a few weeks before you contact the media. It will increase your chances of getting covered.

Lesson #5: You can’t be remarkable on more than one social media channel at a time.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder, The Tilt

You may think this piece of advice runs contradictory to lesson #4. But when your library posts on social media with information about an upcoming event or service ahead of a PR push, you’ll be fulfilling a relevant but short-term objective.

Your library’s long-term objective with social media is to build audience engagement and drive people back to your website or catalog. To do that, you must be truly memorable with your social media posts. And to be truly memorable, you need to focus your efforts on one channel, preferably the place where most of your community is engaging.

Start thinking about which social media channel you would use for your library posts if you could only pick one channel. Then, create content that is relevant and remarkable in that channel.

Lesson #6: Constraints breed creativity.

Andrew Davis, Best Selling Author & Keynote Speaker

Andrew said the pandemic was a once-in-a-generation marketing experiment that answered the question: What happens when every business in the world is faced with the same disruptive forces? 

Then he told the amazing story of a sustainable farm that made an incredible pivot during the first days of the pandemic. They ended up making a huge profit, more than they had projected to make before the pandemic.

And all I could think about was the work of libraries in the pandemic. The services you created and unveiled to the public in a matter of days, including curbside pickup, book bundles, phone reference, take and make craft kits, virtual author events, and so much more, were born out of constraints.

YOU proved Andrew’s point.

I want you to recognize the awesomeness of what you did when you were constrained. Now, think about how constraints on your time and budget may lead to new creative ideas in the future.

Lesson #7: Purpose-driven marketing makes people follow, engage, and get behind your brand.

Jacquie Chakirelis, Director of Digital Strategy, Quest Digital Great Lakes Publishing

Jacquie’s talk made me realize that libraries need to highlight our doing purpose-driven work. She points out that consumers know that they have a voice. And that they are using that voice more frequently to make statements in their decisions to engage with brands who have a purpose.

Our mission statement differentiates libraries from our for-profit competitors. This is the core reason why library patrons feel loyal to your library.

Jacquie encourages you to find stories of how your library has taken a stand on issues in your community. Those stories will activate your community to become loyal fans of your library.

You May Also Want to Read These Posts

The Top Four Reasons To Use Content Marketing To Promote Your Library on Every Platform

The Virtual Library Conference is Over and Now the Work Begins! Here’s What to do Once You’ve Closed Your Laptop

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