My first American Library Association Annual Conference was a whirlwind.
I spent my time in DC searching for my people. You know them–the library staff members who are tasked with promoting their libraries.
It’s a job that you can’t really understand unless you’ve done it. And these five people have done it.
So, I asked them to share their best piece of advice for library promotion. And I got five amazing answers that I wanted to share with you.
Because, no matter where you are, and no matter what size library you work for, these nuggets of wisdom will inspire you. They will cause you to think deeply and intentionally about your work.
And best of all, they will reassure you that other library marketers share your worries, problems, and challenges. You, my friends, are not alone.
Advice from 5 staffers working in library marketing and promotions
George Williams, Media Relations Manager, DC Public Library
“The most important part of marketing is to remember that it is about the customer. Before deciding on a strategy or a tactic, there has to be a very clear understanding of who would be most interested in an author, book, database, product, or service. Think about what it will help a customer do and what would that mean for them.”
“Next, use that information to think through what message would resonate with that person, what is the best way to communicate that message, and when is the best time to share that message. For example, resume help, in a practical sense, helps someone update a document. But the function it serves is to help someone rebrand their career, find a better job, or end the frustration of not being called for an interview.”
“Using that insight can help you figure out a lot of ways to talk about a service that we offer every day, That could change the trajectory of a customer’s life. Building a communications plan from that insight creates a lot of opportunities beyond a flyer that says ‘resume help.'”
“Our goal is always to connect with our customers. Starting from their perspective in planning makes a huge difference.”
April Harder, Editorial Supervisor, Arlington Heights Memorial Library
“In light of the last few years and how difficult it has been for staff to adjust to changes, be flexible. Be willing to change your methods. And then be willing to change them back if things change again. That flexibility in how you are delivering your message and how people want to receive it is key.”
“Make sure everyone on your team is cross-trained and everyone can step in at any moment and help each other out. That support aspect is super important when you’re making changes on the fly and adapting to how you deliver the message based on our changing times.”
Michelle Nogales, Librarian, Hayward Public Library.
“A lot of our library workers in their silos in the library like to produce their own visuals for social media and my one piece of advice that I’m always giving them is a social media image is not a flyer. You don’t need to get all the words on it, you don’t need to get all the information on it, you just need a nice image.”
Mark Aaron Polger, Coordinator of Library Outreach and Associate Professor, College of Staten Island, City University of New York.
“Create a marketing plan to tackle specific library services and resources. Make it scalable and manageable. Set realistic, tangible, quantifiable goals.”
“Conduct market research before planning marketing activities. All your marketing initiatives should be informed by data. Don’t assume or guess what your users want. Conduct market research to identify your segments and learn about your library community.
“When conducting market research, use primary sources to obtain original data about your library community. Supplement with secondary sources like census, survey data from Pew Research, and community survey data.”
“You can’t market to everyone; be selected and specific. Your marketing should target specific segments of your library community. Those segments are identified in your market research.”
Jordan Reynolds, Marketing Coordinator, Saline County Library
“Get involved in your community. Libraries are essential to the community, but too many people assume they are only there to provide books. We all know that is not the reality! From driver’s test assistance and notary services to free Wi-Fi and computer help, libraries provide so many beneficial opportunities for free! By getting involved in the community, not only are you able to get your name and services out there, but you’re showing that your library is a team player.”
“Small businesses and civic organizations around your community can offer volunteers, provide giveaway items, sponsor events, and so much more. Join the chamber(s), put library representatives in civic organizations, and show up in the community and they will show up for you.”
Do you have any advice to share with fellow library marketers? Add your thoughts in the comments section.
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