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Super Library Marketing: Practical Tips and Ideas for Library Promotion

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Seven Big Revelations I Had About Library Collection Marketing and How You Can Avoid Making the Same Mistakes

Photo Courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Four weeks ago, I started my new job.

In my previous role at a major metropolitan system serving a population of nearly a million people, I thought I knew people who were wild about books. But these folks at my new company love books on a whole new level.

I have learned so much in my first month. And I’ve come to realize that, as much as I loved collection marketing, I was making mistakes. In fact, I did a lot of things wrong.🤷

Because promoting the collection should be the core of any library’s marketing efforts, I want to make sure I pass on what I’ve learned.

Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Promoting Books

What I did wrong: I recommended books.
What you should do instead: Suggest books.

It sounds like semantics, but there is a real difference between recommending and suggesting books to potential readers.

Readers advisory consultant Becky Spratford of RA for All points out that library anxiety is a real thing. People come into your building or log onto your website to find a book they love. But they have a certain amount of anxiety. They feel like they absolutely must read a book that is recommended to them by a library staff worker. If they don’t finish it, they worry that we will judge them.

So, let your library users know that your book recommendations are just suggestions. No one will judge them for not reading the titles you suggest. And let your customers know it’s okay to return books unread!

What I did wrong: I used plot to promote books.
What you should do instead: Use story elements to promote books.

Most readers advisory experts rely on something called the Vocabulary of Story Appeals to make books suggestions. This is a way of describing the book without talking about the plot.

When picking their next book, readers don’t look for a certain plot line. They are looking for factors that appeal to them, including pacing, characters, tone, style, and the story line. Story line, I have learned, is different from plot in that it focuses on the WAY the story is told, as opposed to what happens in the story. Mind blown.

Library marketers can learn about story elements by requesting a free copy of The Secret Language of Books. I got my copy at the 2019 Library Marketing and Communications Conference. It expanded my vocabulary and gave me new words to use when marketing my library’s collection.

It’s so much more interesting to describe a book in terms of story elements. It intrigues readers and may lead them to place holds on books they would otherwise ignore.

What I did wrong: Promoting only new books.
What you should do instead: Promote new books AND offer a readalike available right now on the shelf to help soften the hold wait.

At my library job, I stopped promoting older books because the data told me that new books were the ones that got the most circulation from my targeted email marketing.

My change in philosophy doesn’t mean that the data was wrong. But there was a piece I was missing.

Sometimes, the most popular books are also the ones with the longest hold list. Most library lovers are, in my experience, okay with waiting awhile for a book they really want to read.

In the meantime, library marketers can do a better job of suggesting a currently available readalikes to our readers. This helps to create satisfaction for our readers. It also can expand their worldview. It keeps them engaged with the library while they wait for the new title. And, it helps our circulation numbers!

What I did wrong: Thinking I really didn’t have the skills to suggest books.
What you should do instead: Everyone in your library can suggest books. And I mean everyone!

I had a real hang-up with suggesting books to others. I can’t tell you how many times I said the words, “I’m not a real librarian but…”

But what I’ve come to learn is that I am a book expert because I love reading! I don’t have a degree, but I do read… a lot.

I also read about books a lot. I listen to podcasts about books. I talk to other book lovers. I have resources at my disposal that I can use like NoveList and Goodreads.

You don’t have to have a degree to be passionate about books or connect with another reader.

What I did wrong: Limiting the book genres I suggest to what I have know or read.
What you should do instead: Use resources to make recommendations from genres you’re not familiar with.

Consciously push yourself to suggest books outside your own comfort zone. It’s better for you, for your friends, your fellow readers, and for the world in general, when we broaden our horizons to suggest books outside our comfort zone. We should strive for equity, diversity, and inclusion in all areas of our lives—and that includes our reading materials.

What I did wrong: Putting more weight on New York Times bestsllers list for book suggestions.
What you should do instead: Promote books on the USA Today best seller list and on Amazon.

By using more than just one list of bestsellers, I could have gotten a better idea about what was truly a best seller. Lists from USA Today and Amazon include books from every age, genre, and publishing house.

Don’t discount sales of a book. If a book is making money, it’s popular. And your community is full of people who can’t afford to buy those books. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to read those books. We need to let them know they have access.

What I did wrong: Not asking my readers often enough what kind of books they like.
What you should do instead: Ask your readers about the books they love!

Survey your patrons. And do it regularly, because their tastes change. Your population changes. You don’t even have to do this using a formal survey. Just ask on social media. People love to talk about what they’re reading or what they want to read!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. For more help with your library marketing, email me at ahursh@ebsco.com.

The Library Marketing Live Show Episode 5: Ideas for Marketing Your Library’s Collection

Watch it now

Can you answer this super short survey about the live show? I need some feedback, please!

Things We Talked About

Collection marketing! Tracy from Wright Memorial Public Library asked to talk about marketing the collection. I do this at my library mainly through email and social media. I have a strong relationship with my friends in the Materials and Acquisition Selection department and I talked about that and why it’s important to not take it for granted that your cardholders know that the library has new materials.

Learn More

How to Pick Books and More for Collection Marketing

The Story of the Yeti: Why You Should Make Friends with Collection Developers

Stay in Touch

You still have time to register to attend the free webinar on digital promotions happening tomorrow, Thursday, July 25! You’ll find the link to that plus two conferences where I’ll be speaking on the events page.

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

We’ll chat on Instagram on Tuesday at noon EST for about 15 minutes. My handle is @Webmastergirl so follow me to see the show live!

You Don’t Have to Choose Between Print and Digital Books: How to Promote Your Collection to Patrons Who Use BOTH Formats

Image courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

Dear readers: I have a poll for you to take this week. Thanks in advance!

How many times have you been asked the question: which do you prefer most, print or digital books?

For me, the answer is… yes. Both.

I am not unusual. The Pew Research Center questions Americans about their reading habits and preferred book format every year. The survey for 2021 shows there are plenty of readers just like me who read both print and digital formats. Here are the topline numbers:

  • 75 percent of adults in the United States read a book in some format over the last year.
  • 33 percent say they read both print books and eBooks.
  • Nine percent say they only read eBooks or audiobooks.

And, although libraries don’t sell titles, book sales provide more evidence of our readers’ format preference.

  • Sales of print books increased in 2021 by about 9 percent.
  • eBook sales decreased, but that was to be expected after skyrocketing during the 2020 pandemic.
  • Audiobook sales continue to rise, up six percent in 2021 over the previous year.

The bottom line is that readers love to read. When they’re searching for a title, many readers want to get their hands on it in whatever format it’s available, as quickly as they can.

Who are these cross-format readers?

One email company I know has a name for people who read both digital and print books. They call them “transitionals”. But I think that’s not an entirely accurate way to describe cross-format readers.

First, most people are not transitioning from one format to the next. They are using both.

Secondly, that term lends an air of credibility to the notion that your print and digital collection are two separate things that need to be marketed in two separate ways. But they are not.

The collection is the collection, no matter what format our community members use. And the reasons they read both digital and print formats are opportunities for our marketing.

How to promote to cross-format readers

Remember, if your community is checking out books in all formats, circulation numbers will increase for your library. And you’ll be fostering a deeper level of engagement for these readers.

They’ll become dependent on your library for their reading material. And they’re more likely to volunteer, donate, and advocate for your library.

Cross-promote readalikes using context clues during in-person interactions.

Most people who visit your physical library branch are there to check out print. But you can cross-promote readalikes in digital formats to these readers.

To do this, look at your current print circulation statistics. Identify the three genres or topics of physical books most often checked out by your patrons. Next, create a bookmark or a quarter sheet flyer with three readalike suggestions for each of these topics. Specifically suggest your readalikes in a digital format.

Or, instead of suggesting three specific titles on your print piece, create a booklist of readalikes in digital format on your website. Your readalike bookmark or flyer should include a shortened URL link that leads to your online booklist.

When you see someone checking out print materials that might match your digital readalikes, hand them your digital readalike bookmark or flyer. Or slip the bookmark or flyer into holds.

You can also cross-promote print readalikes to your digital readers. Most digital format vendors will let you download the email addresses for your eBook and audiobook users.

Pull those lists and then send an email to those digital users promoting readalike titles, both new and backlist, in print formats.

Remember if you live in the US, you are not breaking any laws by emailing patrons, even if they don’t opt-in to an email. In fact, they expect you to market to them.

If they don’t want to receive emails from your library, they will opt-out. The overwhelming majority will appreciate your reading suggestions.

Libraries outside of the U.S. can add a section to their library news email to promote their digital and print collection. Use a link that allows your readers to check out your book suggestions in whatever format they prefer.

Make sure you track holds and checkouts of the titles you promote in your emails. That will give you data to help you make decisions about what to promote next. It will also be proof of the effectiveness of your work.

In my experience, one collection-based email a month can drive a circulation increase on average from 125 percent to 375 percent!

Include a digital option for your physical library book displays.

A patron who visits your library and sees your display may want to read those books in digital format. You can serve that patron by including a small sign or a bookmark with a QR code that allows readers to check out those same books in digital formats.

Offer titles in the format with a shorter wait list.

A few weeks ago, a staffer at my library was helping me search for a book I’d been wanting to read. She mentioned the holds list for the title was shorter for the audiobook version than for the print or eBook versions.

I honestly appreciated that! It’s a simple thing, but it’s good customer service. It gets books into the hands of your patrons more quickly and drives circulation.

Promote the benefits of each format.

In library marketing, we often focus on the title itself. But the format is a promotional opportunity too.

People find it easier to retain information when they read print. Readers also talk about the tangible experience of a print book: the feel and smell of it.

This is an opportunity for you to create experience-based marketing. Talk about the physical and emotional experiences readers have when they read print materials.

Likewise, you can talk about the benefits of digital formats in your promotions. eBooks let readers adjust font and background color for accessibility. They take up less physical space and they’re automatically returned at the end of a loan period. And audiobooks allow readers to get lost in a book while doing something else like exercising or cleaning.

Incorporate these features into your collection promotion. Your marketing will resonate with readers who feel comfortable jumping between formats.


Further Reading

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Marketing Your Library to Senior Citizens: How to Circumvent Stereotypes and Authentically Connect With Older Patrons

 

Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

A few weeks ago, I learned that, as a 50-year-old, I can technically join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

I have NO INTENTION of retiring for many, many more years (maybe never?!). But in learning about my newfound status, I start to think about how libraries market to senior citizens.

More than 54 million adults ages 65 and older live in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That accounts for about 16.5 percent of the nation’s total population. And seniors are expected to outnumber children in the United States by 2035.

Goals focused on seniors require marketing target to seniors

Depending on your library’s overall goals, it may be critical for your organization to focus on attracting and retaining a larger percentage of your community’s older residents.

For example, the Queens Library’s strategic plan specifically says, “The borough is growing older, with its elderly population projected to increase by more than 30% by 2040.” The plan then lists among its goals, a provision for providing a more robust large print collection, as well as a goal to connect the older residents intentionally and strategically with library services.

Today’s senior citizen is not your stereotypical grandma

If your mental picture of an older person is frail, technologically challenged, and dependent on others, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Older patrons are Interested in keeping healthy so they can stay independent at home. And they’re active on social media. More than 70 percent have a Facebook account, and more than 40 percent are on Instagram. And The Guardian recently published statistics that show the number of older people on TikTok is growing significantly.

Particularly during the pandemic, seniors learned to embrace technology. They readily engage with video chats and content on mobile devices. In fact, three out of every four seniors say they depend on technology to help them manage their lives and to stay in touch with family and friends.

More than half of older adults still work at least part-time. They’re more likely to volunteer their time. And the poverty rate is high among this group. 10.5 percent of white Americans over age 65 live in poverty and rates are three times higher for Hispanic and Black Americans.

Getting to know your older patrons

Of course, the older patrons in your service area may have different wants and needs. You’ll need to do is your own market research. A strategic survey targeted at this age group will help your library get concrete data on the makeup and needs of your older population.

You can also consult data provided by the US Census Bureau to build an accurate picture of your older patrons. Finally, conduct focus groups in partnership with senior community centers. You’ll have the chance to get direct feedback on the ways your library can connect with, and serve, your older residents.

Based on what you learn, you should develop a marketing persona to specifically address segments of your older population. And you may find you need more than one persona to capture the essence of your older patrons.

For example, you may find that you have three key groups of older residents: those approaching retirement, those who are retired and active, and those who require assistance from caregivers. These three groups will all have distinct library service needs. They’ll respond differently to your library promotions.

Highlight the things they value

Older folks love to bargain hunt and save money. This is where price comparison and other promotions that highlight the savings provided by a library card can be advantageous for your library.

For example, if you check out kitchen tools in your library of things, a “try before you buy” message drives home the value of the library. Your marketing piece should include the price of one or two kitchen tools, purchased new, to help your older patrons see they can potentially save money by trying the gadgets out first.

Seniors are looking for advanced tech help. Surveys show that people ages 50 and older want to learn how to manage smart-home technology, stream entertainment from sites like Hulu or Netflix, and video chat with friends and family. Programs at your library should address this need.

Focus on communicating the mission, vision, and values of your library. Seniors are more likely to vote and more likely to believe in investments in institutions.

Have a plan to target your older population with value-oriented messages. Build empathy through storytelling and show how your library provides value. You will be rewarded with the support of your older population.

In-person outreach is critical to targeting your older population. This demographic values personal, face-to-face interaction. Partner with faith-based organizations, meals on wheels, senior clubs, and community centers to distribute promotional material and get a chance for those in-person opportunities with your older community members.

Include testimonials and storytelling as part of your marketing strategy aimed at seniors. Older patrons aren’t influenced by sweeping claims or generalizations. They value personal experience, especially from people they can relate to.

More tips to create effective marketing targeted at seniors

Older people love print marketing materials. Seniors grew up receiving advertisements and physical catalogs in the mail. Print is familiar and even nostalgic to this group. They prefer something tangible they can hold in their hands.

Make digital communications accessible and mobile responsive. The Marketing Rule of 7 applies to this demographic. And they do love to sign up for email newsletters and visit websites. So make sure your digital marketing material is accessible to meet the various physical needs of this age group. Use as little text as possible, surrounded by white space and generous margins. Make fonts on your website, emails, and in print material 16 pt. or larger. Increase the size of your website and email buttons for messages aimed at this demographic.

Facebook posts are especially effective for targeting seniors. Regular readers know I’m not a fan of Facebook for marketing. The exception is this. Senior patrons are still heavy users of Facebook. I would recommend experimenting with a focused Facebook strategy aimed exclusively at connecting with your older population.

Examples of great library marketing aimed at seniors

Montgomery County Public Libraries

Milwaukee Public Libraries

Has your library created marketing targeted at older community members? Add your examples in the comments!


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Valuable and Timely Advice for Marketing from 5 of the Top Minds in Library Promotion

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

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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My Library Promotions Are Successful but… How Do I Know What’s ACTUALLY Working? Three Easy Ways To Tell so You Can Replicate Library Marketing Success!

Watch the Video Now

The Library Marketing​​​​​​​​ Show, Episode 147

In this episode, we’ll answer a question from a viewer. They wanted to know how to tell which of their promotions are working. It’s sometimes tricky work trying to figure out where people are learning about your library’s services and collection. I’ll share three strategies to help you figure out what is working… and what isn’t!

Kudos in this episode go to the Baytown Library. Watch the video to find out why they’re being recognized.

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for a future episode? Want to nominate someone for kudos? Let me know in the comments. And subscribe to this series to get a new video tip for libraries each week.

Thanks for watching!


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The 4 Essential Podcasts To Add to Your Playlist To Improve Your Library Marketing and Promotions

Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

In my day job, I create and teach professional development courses about library marketing. In a recent class, I asked the learners whether they wanted to learn about podcasts as promotional tools. The answer was loud and clear: “YES!”

Many of these library staffers were fans of podcasts. They understand the power of this medium.

Podcasts are fun, informative, and engaging. Listeners get valuable information and insight delivered in a way that feels intimate.

They’re also incredibly convenient. They show up on your phone when and wherever you want to listen to them–while exercising, while grocery shopping, while driving, while doing chores, and while crunching marketing data for your monthly reports. If you go on vacation, you don’t miss anything.

In my quest for lifelong learning and inspiration, I’ve found a bunch of shows that are really awesome–funny, fun, thoughtful, and well-produced. I subscribe to more than 20 podcasts, and I love them all. (If you want my full playlist, it’s at the bottom of this article).

The following four podcasts are essential for anyone who works in library promotion and who wants to do it well. Listening to these four shows will improve your work, inspire you, and help you feel more connected with the world.

I’ve got a blog post coming soon full of valuable advice from libraries with podcasts! Want to be a part of that post? Let me know by completing this short form.


Podcast Recommendation #1: That’s How it All Began from Andrew Davis

This is a series from one of my favorite experts. And, no surprise, it’s packed with incredible, intriguing stories.

In each episode, Andrew Davis focuses on a famous entrepreneur or business owner… except you don’t know who the famous person is until the very end of the episode.

By listening to this show, I’ve learned new techniques for storytelling and suspense. I’m also inspired by the stories. These are people who have found ways to overcome incredible hurdles. And because Andrew Davis is a marketing expert, his stories usually include a turning point, where his subject makes a marketing or promotional decision that changes their life.

Each episode is just 15 minutes or less. It’s the perfect show to listen to on the way to work.

Podcast Recommendation #2: Duct Tape Marketing from John Jantsch

This show was one of the first podcasts created. John Jantsch has been interviewing marketing experts, authors, and business owners about a vast range of topics including leadership since 2005.

I’ve learned a lot of practical marketing tips from this podcast. But this show is also a great example of how to turn an audio experience into an opportunity to drive more traffic to your website.

Each episode has its own website landing page, which includes a show description that’s packed with searchable keywords. John Jantsch shares his key takeaway, the questions he asked the guests, and a full transcript of the show. He also makes it easy to either listen to the show on the landing page or subscribe on a variety of platforms. And at the bottom of the page, he includes a further call to action to watch more podcasts, download a free resource, or sign up for a newsletter.

Each episode is between 20 and 30 minutes long. It’s another perfect show for your commute.

Podcast Recommendation #3: Death, Sex, and Money from WYNC Studios

This show, first released in 2014, is one of my staples. It’s hosted by Anna Sale, and it features stories of celebrities and regular folks talking about the most fundamental of human topics: death, sex, and money.

I’ve learned two big lessons from listening to this podcast. The first is how to interview. Anna Sale is an exemplary listener. That skill naturally allows her to ask deeply thoughtful follow-up questions. I can always tell that she is fully in the moment and present with her interview subjects.

The second lesson is how to offer additional support and resources. For many of her episodes, Sale and her team have created “starter kits.” They include playlists of songs, curated by listeners, to deal with tough subjects or get through challenging times. There are also starter kits for new listeners, featuring the best or most popular episodes, arranged by subject.

Most episodes range in length from 30 to 45 minutes. I usually save them for chore time on weekends. During the pandemic, this show made me feel more connected with the outside world.

Podcast Recommendation #4: This American Life from WBEZ Chicago

Hosted by the incomparable Ira Glass, a staple of NPR, This American Life meshes journalism and storytelling in a seamless and captivating format. It’s a masterclass in storytelling.

From listening to this podcast, I’ve learned how to find extraordinary stories in ordinary settings. Ira Glass and his team often use a technique called “story of self” to introduce a topic. They relate how or why they become interested in this subject. And that, in turn, makes it relatable to their audience.

Like Death, Sex, and Money, I’ve also learned lessons about interviewing from this show. In particular, the team is not afraid of silence when they are interviewing their subjects. They give their interviewees time to think and the audience time to reflect.

This show is a long-form podcast, with episodes lasting around an hour. I listen to this podcast on my walks and the stories are so intriguing and told so expertly that I am always surprised at how fast the time goes.

The rest of my podcast playlist

Armchair Expert

Conviction

Lovett or Leave It

The Librarian is In

Offline

Pod Save America

Professional Book Nerds

Reply All

Smartless

Sounds Like a Cult

This Old Marketing

Unhappy Hour

Unthinkable

You and Me Both

If you have a great podcast suggestion, please let me know in the comments.


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The 9 Best Conferences in 2022 for Anyone Looking To Learn More About Library Promotions and Marketing [ARTICLE]

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County https://digital.cincinnatilibrary.org/digital/collection/p16998coll12?fbclid=IwAR3gV2a2TMW2DFTLlsU0shgVGKzEFtzSJBYpqyAircAHN3eh6wvoE-siipw

What topics do you want to see covered at conferences this year?

For me, the Public Library Association conference marked the official return of in-person conferences for the library world.

This sounds silly but the chance to see library staffers face-to-face was extraordinary. I really did not realize how incredible in-person events were until the pandemic. And my experience at PLA made me realize it was time to compile my annual list of conferences for my readers.

I used three main factors to determine which conferences were included in this list.

  • The conference must have a robust selection of sessions specifically centered around marketing and promotions. That means there are some conferences on this list that are not specifically designed for libraries. Marketing is essential to library service and should be part of every library conference.
  • The conference must offer high value for the cost.
  • The conference must get positive reviews from past attendees.

I know that there will be readers who do not yet feel comfortable attending an in-person event, even masked and vaccinated. And not every staffer has the budget or time to travel for an in-person conference. That’s why I’ve tried to include conferences that offer an in-person and virtual option. (One silver lining from the pandemic is that conference organizers realized the continued benefit of online sessions.)

I’m also including a few state conferences on my list for the first time. If you are hesitant about traveling far in a pandemic, a smaller in-person state conference is a great option.

However, most state conferences have not yet posted their programs. That’s why I’ve included a link to an incredible website at the bottom of this post. It lists all kinds of library conferences, including many state events, as well as library conferences in other parts of the world for my international readers.

Finally, I noted the current COVID protocols for each event.

The Best Conferences for Library Promotions and Marketing

Texas Library Association Conference
In-person event, April 25-28 in Fort Worth, TX
Price:
$485 for TLA members, $750 for non-members.
This conference features a huge lineup of sessions across a wide range of library topics. There are ten sessions in the marketing track alone, mostly led by staff doing real-world library work. If you’re not a Texas librarian, you’ll still get a ton of value from attending this conference. Attendees must be vaccinated or bring a negative COVID test to the event to be admitted. Masks are not required.

Connecticut Library Association Conference
In-person event, May 3-4 in Hartford, CT
Price:
$260 for CLA members, $290 for non-members.
This conference lineup includes lots of sessions on a variety of informative library topics, including some marketing-specific sessions on advocacy and promotions. The price is affordable as well. Masks are required for all attendees.

Digital Summit Series
In-person events between May-December 2022 in 17 U.S. cities as well as two virtual conference options
Price: $395 for in-person events, and $325 for the virtual conferences.
Libraries can learn a lot from brands about how to create engaging experiences in the digital space. This conference covers content, social media, email, SEO, analytics, and strategy. And an expanded roster of cities for 2022 means most of you won’t have to travel far to attend if you choose the in-person conference experience. According to their website, their COVID protocols vary by location. Overall, they do not currently require attendees to be vaccinated or wear masks.

Digital Marketing Conference Series
In-person and virtual events between May-December 2022 across the U.S. and around the world
Price:
Varies by location. In general, you’ll pay $597 for an all-access pass but there are early bird discounts of $200-$300. Dates and discounts also vary by location.
This series includes sessions on customer engagement, social media marketing, video marketing, web analytics, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, geo-targeting, and much more. Each event has its own website and agenda so be sure to pick the one you want to attend before buying a pass. In addition, each conference has in-person and virtual options. In-person attendees must be vaccinated but are not required to wear a mask.

Inbound
In-person and virtual conference, September 6-9 in Boston, MA
Price: $69-$99 for the virtual conference pass, $799-$1099 for the in-person pass.
Inbound bills itself as “the community that delivers.” The conference, put on by HubSpot, is an “immersive, three-day experience.” The agenda and speaker lineup are not yet listed on their website, but I have friends in library marketing who have attended in the past and found this conference to be valuable. The price is certainly within budget for most libraries. They currently will not require masks or vaccinations to attend in person.

Content Marketing World
In-person and virtual conference, September 13-16, 2022 in Cleveland, OH
Price: Virtual pass is $649, in-person main conference pass is $1299 (prices end June 24). Special note: If you email the organizers (cmi_registration@informa.com) and ask for the nonprofit discount, you can get a percentage off the Main Conference ticket. That brings the price into an affordable range. It’s worth the money to attend. The networking is incredible, the speakers are inspiring, and I always come home with a head full of ideas. You’ll learn how to create great content on all platforms. Right now, their COVID protocols do not include vaccinations or mandatory mask-wearing. They do offer a refund until July 29.

Nonprofit Storytelling Conference
In-person conference, October 27-29, 2022 in San Antonio, TX
Price: $795 for in-person or $695 for lifetime access to sessions on video if you’re not comfortable attending in-person. These prices go up by $400 after July 15. You can also apply for a scholarship.
This year’s program is divided into three themes: raise money today, get it done, and need to know. This conference is essential if you are responsible for fundraising or advocacy for your library. It covers lots of promotional topics including storytelling, email, newsletters, and strategy. They do not have any COVID protocols currently listed on their website.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference
In-person conference, November 2-3, 2022 in Indianapolis, IN
Price: not yet available
If you do anything in library promotions or marketing, and you have to pick one conference to attend this year, make it this one. This is an amazing opportunity to learn so much about marketing, communication, public relations, social media, and outreach in academic, public, and special libraries. The sessions explore issues that are important for this niche of library work. The conference includes time for attendees to network and discuss mutual challenges. Registration opens later this year. Sign up for their mailing list on the website to get more information. Join their Facebook group to start networking right now. COVID protocols are not yet available.

Guru Conference
Virtual conference, November 2-3, 2022
Price: free
I’m adding this to my list this year because it’s free and it’s all about email, my favorite subject! The program is not yet set but when you register, you’ll get a chance to suggest topics. I think it’s a great option for libraries, especially if you want to take your email tactics to the next level.

For more library conferences across the US and abroad, visit Information Today.


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Library Conferences Need More Marketing Sessions! 5 PLA Attendees Explain Why a Focus on Promotions is Critical Right Now [ARTICLE]

Photo courtesy the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

I’ve spent days trying to land on the right words to describe the amazing week I’ve just had.

I attended my first Public Library Association conference this past week in Portland, Oregon. It was glorious, wonderful, exhilarating, inspiring, transformative… and about 100 other adjectives.

Honestly, I felt like a kid attending her first week at a new school.

The sessions at PLA were mainly focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion practices. We also heard from experts about fighting censorship and first amendment challenges.

These are incredibly important and urgent problems facing the library industry. But there was a huge piece of the puzzle missing from the session offerings at PLA, and other library conferences I’m planning to attend this year.

Marketing and promotion are a critical part of all the work we do to be inclusive and to protect intellectual freedom. We need more library conference sessions that provide tips and inspiration for library promotion.

Megan Bratton, Marketing and PR manager for Natrona County Library, agrees. “It would be more valuable than most people realize,” she told me in between sessions at PLA. “Libraries do so much across so many spectrums and for so many demographics. It touches literally everyone in the community.”

We must make sure people know that our spaces, programs, and collections are open to all. We must share the message that we support EDI practices in our hiring process, collection development, and creation of services.

And to protect our libraries in the fight against censorship, we must do promotions to clearly explain the policies we put in place to ensure intellectual freedom is secure.

Marketing is an essential part of this work. It’s the job of everyone working at the library. And every library conference needs a marketing track.

The new friends I made a PLA agree with me. They shared a list of marketing struggles they’re facing that could be addressed through promotional-based sessions at library conferences.

Amy Cantley, assistant branch manager at Seminole County Public Library says she struggles to get information about her library’s services to people outside of her building’s wall. “We do social media promotion,” she explained. “However, we don’t do any outside promotion beyond that. So, unless you’re on our website on our social media channels you’re not hearing about it.”

Lisa Plath of Collierville Burch Library says her library does a great job of marketing her collection to current cardholders. So, this year, she’s focusing on expanding her library’s message.

Lisa says she is working on “… getting the word out to people who don’t use the library so that they know all the good we have to offer. The people who do use the library, knowing what we offer besides the books they come in to check out.”

Megan Maurer of Scenic Regional Library faces a similar challenge. She struggles with “… promoting things that people traditionally think about the library, but we don’t necessarily do a good job of reminding people we have. We don’t promote our collections or our databases.”

Katie Rothley of Northville District Library has seen the effectiveness of good storytelling in the for-profit marketing sector. She wants to replicate that for her library.

“I really want to tell a story about each service, but I want it to be a story of the person (who)… was able to solve the problem by using a library resource,” Katie said. “Connecting with people with stories is the most effective way to spread awareness and increase empathy and prove effectiveness so I want to figure out a concise formula so I can do that. I want to connect with people emotionally and feel empowered in their own life.”

As for Megan of Natrona County Library, she says she would like to see more library conference sessions on creating messages and convincing everyone on her library staff to share them. “Everyone in your organization should be sharing the same story,” she observed. “Libraries are very narrative-driven, and everyone needs to be speaking the same language. But people don’t understand the value of marketing until the marketing doesn’t do something they want it to… like their program doesn’t get enough attendees.”

There is a demand for answers to these big marketing hurdles libraries are facing today. Library conferences need to add more sessions focused on promotion to their agenda. A marketing track should be part of every library conference.

Marketing courses are typically not included in most library degree programs. Library staff needs help with marketing. It’s critical to our industry’s strength and survival.

So, I hope library conference organizers will take note and actively seek out more promotional-based sessions to add to their agendas. There are a lot of libraries of all sizes and shapes doing great promotions. I’d love to see more of these folks sharing their advice and stories at library conferences.

Do you agree? What is your favorite library conference? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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The Divide and Conquer Method of Library Marketing: How to Realistically Reach Your Library Promotional Goals Without Losing Your Ever-Loving Mind [ARTICLE]

Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

Have you been in the grocery store cereal aisle lately?

Recently I had a craving for yogurt topped with cereal as a snack. So, I went to the store with the simple plan of buying a box of cereal.

Did you know the average grocery store carries nearly 300 types of cereal? The cereal in my store takes up the length of an ENTIRE AISLE.

Holy Cheerios, Batman.

There is such a thing as too many choices.

When you’re faced with a wide range of selections, you can end up feeling paralyzed and unable to decide. Or, worse yet, you make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one because there were too many factors to take into consideration.

I sometimes feel the same way about working in library marketing.

Many of us have too much work to do. We have multiple goals we are trying to reach. And all that work makes it impossible to do anything well. It’s no wonder our promotions fail. We need to focus on focusing.

Now that’s you’ve created a promotional strategy and you’ve set up a promotional calendar, you may be tempted to try a whole bunch of new promotional ideas all at once.

But for true library promotional success, you’ll need to pace yourself. You want to be deliberate, intentional, and thoughtful about the library promotions you put out into the world.

Easier said than done, right?

So how do you create your promotions, track the results, and not lose your mind?

By using something I like to call “the divide and conquer approach.

I’ve put together a three-step process to help you manage your workflow. This simple plan will help make sure your time is spent wisely. It will ensure you have the time to create your promotions and check the results so you can ensure that you’re reaching your promotional goals.

This method will make your marketing goals feel more manageable to you. You won’t get overwhelmed. And you’ll be able to spend time creating and tracking promotions to make sure the work you’re doing is effective.

Tackle one goal at a time.

People often sing the praises of multitasking, but any time management expert will tell you it kills productivity and leads to burnout.

Instead, you’ll want to prioritize your library marketing goals. Decide which is the most important by asking yourself one simple question:  Which goal will have the most positive impact on your library? That’s the one you should focus on.

This laser focus will actually allow you to reach ALL of your library promotional goals faster. When you focus fully on one goal, you can learn valuable lessons about your community and how they respond to your promotions on your available channels. And those lessons will make it easier for you to reach your future goals.

As you work towards your goal, you’ll learn along the way which work, which don’t, and how to carry them out effectively. You can use this valuable knowledge for future goals.

Create an action plan with list of tasks you need to complete to reach your goal.

In this step, you’ll very specifically lay out what needs to be done to reach your goal. This will make the final goal seem less overwhelming. It will also help you to gauge how much time you need to set aside each day to work on your promotions.

Let’s say that your priority goal is to increase the number of people who come to visit a physical library space. Your initial task list might look something like this.

  • Create a weekly email to promote a service that’s only available inside a library branch.
  • Create one Instagram and Facebook story per week to highlight a service that’s only available inside a library branch.
  • Create two social media posts per week on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote one in-person event.
  • Create a video that shows people coming into a library branch, focused on the physical space as a place of community and social interaction.

Now that you have your initial list of tasks, you can divide each task further into two or three smaller action items.

For example, your initial task of creating two social media posts per week on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote one in-person event can be accomplished by making a smaller action item list like this:

  • Choose events (consult with programming department)
  • Write post text
  • Create images
  • Schedule posts

Set a firm timeline for reaching your overall goal. Assign deadlines for each item on the task lists.

For our example, we may decide that we are going to work for the next two months on increasing in-person visits to the library.

Now, we can take our lists of tasks and set deadlines for when each of these tasks needs to be completed and released out into the world. Those deadlines will help you reach your target efficiently by assigning a timeframe—a start and end date—to every step in the process.

This “divide and conquer” approach gives you and your co-workers a chance to merge this new way of thinking and the new workload into your schedule without stress. It will make it easier to measure results.


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