Super Library Marketing: All kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries.

Three Marketing Lessons Learned at the Jane Austen Festival

I am a fan of Jane Austen. I don’t have to extol the virtues of the Regency-era authoress to you–you work in a library. But I do want to share an experience I had this weekend and the marketing lessons I learned from it.

For the fourth year, my daughter and I attended the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the largest Jane Austen festival in North America and it is amazing for many reasons. The dresses, the food, and the vendors are all amazing and period-authentic. But this year, I found that I was hyper-aware of the marketing aspects of the festival. This is the 9th year for the festival and they are doing everything right, in my opinion. Here are the three big marketing lessons I learned.

Build your fan base over time and don’t discount the wonderful ways they can market for you. They might not be “influencers” in the traditional marketing sense, but your loyal, adamant, and devoted fans are a powerful marketing tool. A group of people who love you and your products will do more free marketing for you than any ad you can ever buy.

The Jane Austen festival boasts thousands of attendees every year and although they do some promotional media on local newspapers, TV, and radio stations, I haven’t ever seen a single ad buy. They don’t need to. The event grew quickly through word-of-mouth. Jane fans tell other Jane fans, in person and online. At the afternoon tea, I spent half an hour giving a new attendee from Indiana the lowdown on what to see, which vendor tents to visit, and where to get a Regency-style outfit for next year. No one paid me! There’s just an excitement that’s contagious and that loyal fans want to share.

The Jane Austen Society of Louisville has a Facebook page with more than 1200 members, including myself. Only about 10 percent of those members belong to the society but everyone who likes the page will share news about the festival with friends across the world. And fans will share recommendations for costumers, tea merchants, and other vendors, providing business even after the three-day festival has ended.

In addition, festival organizers give a place online for fans to talk and post photos and videos after the event. The festival organizers and the smart vendors like and comment on those photos, making festival goers feel valued and special.

Creating an immersive experience leaves a lasting impression. From the moment you step onto the grounds of Locust Grove, you feel like you’ve been transported to Jane’s era. Many attendees dress in authentic Regency wear. People bring picnic baskets and full tea sets and eat on the lawn using authentic place settings and utensils–no plastic sandwich bags or paper napkins here. In a sea of brightly colored frocks, parasols, fichus, and top hats, you can’t help but feel like you’re part of Jane’s world and that leaves a lasting impression.

The festival organizers go out of their way to complete the immersive experience by handing out programs and putting up signs in hand drawn authentic regency font. I know it’s just a font but it sure does a lot to capture the mood! All the vendors set up their wares inside beautiful white tents and many will use signs that say “Bills of Credit Accepted” instead of the more modern credit card signs. It may sound insignificant but it’s those little touches that extend the mood of the festival and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience for all.

Content marketing works. The entire customer journey for the Jane Austen festival only lasts a month. Tickets don’t go on sale until about 45 days before the event. But the society spends the whole of the year prepping Jane fans by posting articles about Jane, talking about Austen spin-off books, sharing photos and videos about Jane Austen and the Regency era, and holding smaller events with the Jane Austen theme. All this Jane talk serves to educate potential festival goers about the era and the author and builds excitement for the main event.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


How to Get Stuff Done: A Guide to Time Management

You are pressed for time. I know it. I have the statistics to prove it.

In a recent post, I asked you to name your biggest hurdle to successful library marketing. I confess I thought the answer would be budget. I was wrong. 44 readers responded and 30 percent of those said they don’t have enough time. Money was the fourth concern on the list, behind staff and experience.

Of course, this makes sense. I am pretty sure if you stopped people on the street, most would tell you they never have enough time to do the things they want or need, personally or professionally.

And yet, we are expected to crank out library promotion after library promotion, increase attendance, increase circulation, and increase donations to our library. And we only have eight hours a day to do it all. It’s exhausting. But there are ways to improve your time management.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a number of people who have mentored me in my journey as a library marketer. Most of these mentors are not marketers! They’re upper management and they’ve been kind enough to share tips for time management, which I have put into practice.

It’s my turn to pass the five most effective tips on to you. This is my secret to making sure my work is completed and my personal life stays in balance. No magic, no gimmicks!

Make a wish list for tomorrow.  Make a list of the things that you wish to get done during the day tomorrow. You should be working on this list throughout the day today. Include every task: meetings, lunches, phone calls, calculations, reports, writing assignments–the whole deal. At the end of today, go through your tomorrow list and highlight 3 things that absolutely must get done.

Each day when you walk into the office, your tomorrow list becomes your today list. Do the highlighted things first. Once you have the “must do” items completed, you are free to move on to the non-highlighted items.

Be protective about your wish-list. If someone emails you with a task and it isn’t absolutely urgent that you complete it right this very instant, put it on tomorrow’s list. Your list should be sacred, as much as possible. Remember, if it’s not life or death, it gets put on the next day’s wish list.

Do not beat yourself up if you don’t finish every task on your list. As long as you complete your highlighted items, any task finished beyond that is icing on the cake. Move uncompleted items to the wish list for the next day. Soon, you’ll be better at estimating exactly how many tasks you can complete in a day.

I also use my Outlook calendar as a list keeper. When I am given a task that can be put off for more than one day, I enter it as a “meeting” in my calendar on a future day, keeping ahead of any deadlines. I also enter recurring tasks in my calendar, so I can be reminded to add those tasks to my wish list when the time to do them arrives. This frees up brain power and leaves me more time to focus on tasks for today, and not worrying that I’ve forgotten to do something important.

Set aside time for email every day. I mean it. Put it on the wish list. Try to keep your email reading and replying to your designated time. Outside of your designated email time, unless something comes in marked “urgent” or is from your boss, save your response for the next day. This will not only save you time–it will give you time to thoughtfully consider every email to make the most professionally and emotionally intelligent response possible. The same rule applies to phone calls. You don’t have to answer just because your phone is ringing. Use your voicemail.

Block out distractions. I’ve handled social media for our library for past four weeks as we wait for a new staff member to join my team, and let me tell you, I have to fight the urge to check Facebook and Twitter every five minutes. I log out of our social media management platform to help me with this because I have no willpower. If you are distracted, as I am, do whatever you have to do to get focus. When I’m editing our print publication, I will go to another floor of our building with my red pen so I can focus on editing without distractions. It’s okay to create physical barriers to your distractions. It will help you complete tasks in the long run.

Learn to say no. If you’re asked to add to your library promotional schedule but the addition does not drive the overall strategy of the library or falls outside the boundaries of your documented marketing strategy, say no. Saying no gives you time to really concentrate on the pieces that will help your library the most. Your work will be better the LESS you do.

Take creative breaks. No one can churn out tasks, one right after the other, all day long. Take short breaks and walk the stacks, or go for a walk around the block. Get away from your desk for five minutes to stretch your legs and gather your thoughts. Creative breaks will give your mind a rest and help you focus when you need to.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Make Your Library Marketing Explode with Success for Very Little Money

Fact: customers hate ads.

Researchers at IPG Mediabrands Media Lab asked 11,000 consumers about their ad-watching habits and published the results earlier this year. 65 percent of respondents told the surveyors they skip online video ads. The most recent survey I can find on static digital ads is from the research firm Lumen, which found only 35 percent of digital ads receive any views at all and only nine percent hold the attention of viewers for more than a second. I couldn’t find solid, current numbers on newspaper ad effectiveness but I did this fascinating study focused solely on people who admit to ignoring newspaper ads. Those respondents told researchers they see too many print ads that are not relevant or interesting to them, and that many ads focus on the needs of the company, not on the needs of the consumer. I didn’t find any reliable data on radio, but there is a reason Pandora and Spotify exist and are doing so well. I couldn’t find any study on billboards that wasn’t conducted by a billboard-sales company but, from my experience, they’re expensive and not very effective.

Yet there are times when your library will need to do some kind of advertising. I get that. I would hate for you to spend big money and get no results. So I want to share the four most effective ways we’ve advertised at my library. They’re all cheap, easy, and effective.

Buy targeted social media advertising. I beat this drum regularly but it’s cheap and effective. Facebook ads are so easy to make, my teenagers can do it. You can create very specific audience targets and watch results in real-time, adjusting the ad as needed. I always put this at the top of my list because it’s really the best way for libraries, or any budget-strapped organization to advertise.

Ask your local TV stations to run your ad for free. My library did this for our summer reading program this year. We created an English and a Spanish version of the same 15 second ad, shot it on an iPhone, and edited it in Adobe Creative Suite. It literally took us a day, and our ad runs at least once a day on a top-rated station. The only thing I had to do in return was add the station’s logo to the list of our summer reading sponsors! I found that all I had to do was ask for the time. Sometimes, you’ll get a yes! Then your biggest problem will be figuring out how to get the ad produced… but that’s a good problem to have!

Be super thoughtful with signage.  My library has permanent signage holders at the entrances, on the second and third floors, and in the elevators. For a long time, these extra sign spaces were not what I would consider to be prime advertising opportunities. Then, one day, I hung out where those signs are located, watching our customers come in and out of the library. I noticed whether they glanced at the signs, and where they went next. I took those observations back to my office and gave careful thought to the messages contained in those signs. For instance, I started using the signs at the library entrances to direct customers to our amazing exhibits, which are in an obscure space on the third floor. Lo and behold, as I watched customers after those signs were installed, they would glance at them and then head for the elevators or ask staff for specific directions to make sure they were headed to the right area or to get more information about the exhibit. Sometimes I stalked around the exhibit space and would approach customers, politely asking them how they found out about the exhibit.

I took the same approach in the elevators. We have three banks, and there are three very different sets of library customers using each bank. I rode up and down for a while, trying to notice who looked at the sign and whether they would comment on it or take action. I try to gear the signs in each bank of elevators to be relevant to the customer. It only took a few hours of my time, but it made a world of difference in how effective those sign spaces are and it changed my mind about whether that space was valuable. The best part? Those signs are free!!

Enlist the help of library staff.  Your staff can also be a huge help when it comes to marketing. When your library unveils a new service, educate your staff about how it works and encourage them to strike up personal conversations with customers. Make buttons that staff can wear that say “Ask me about (insert service name here)” to help get the conversation going and give them talking points to help them feel more comfortable answering questions. Talking to your cardholders is the best way to get a message across. They’ll retain what you say if it’s part of a personal conversation, as opposed to a potentially unwanted advertisement pushed into their face.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

You Don’t Need to Focus on Brand Awareness!

Prepare the pitchforks. I’m about to say something unpopular.

A lot of libraries list brand awareness as one of their strategy and marketing goals. They believe their community doesn’t know the library exists.  In the past, I’ve not objected to this assertion as long as the library marketer had a defined way to measure success and a documented strategy.

I’ve changed my mind. I think libraries should abandon the idea of generalized brand awareness as a marketing goal. In fact, I think it’s kind of lazy to do overall brand awareness campaigns, unless your library has recently changed names, location, or made some other major operational change.

Libraries need to be more focused, more specific, and more concrete. Brand awareness is too broad and it’s too difficult to measure. But more importantly, recent studies show people know the library exists. In a 2016 study by Pew Research Center on public libraries, 77 percent of respondents said they felt their local library offered them the services they need. That means 77 percent of adults know the library is in the community! 48 percent of people have visited the library in person the past year.  And 27 percent have visited the library’s website.

Getting people to understand that your community has a library isn’t the problem. Your problem is more specific. That same Pew study shows 44 percent of adults think libraries should loan eBooks. A University of Maryland study found that 90 percent of libraries have an eBook loaning vendor. That disparity is one example of where your opportunity lies!

The Pew study focused on public libraries but I think most communities understand that libraries exist at schools and universities as well. And I think school and university libraries face the same problem as public libraries–your cardholders are unaware of the specific services you offer.

So here’s what your library, whether you are public, private, university, or school-based, should focus on with more targeted brand marketing.

We’re not phony. In all your marketing messages, emphasize truth and trust. “You can trust us, we mean what we say.” The core mission of all libraries is to deliver truthful information in a way that’s easy to understand. We don’t make false promises. I think it’s time for libraries to start celebrating that core mission!

Market your well-trained staff. Librarians and library staff are constantly in a state of training. This is pretty unique in any industry… only doctors and teachers get more training than librarians. Your cardholders likely don’t realize this. So we should emphasize the excellent skills of our librarians in specific areas. For example, if you have a MakerSpace, you can market it by talking about the training those staff members undergo and how they use that training to help specific customers. Same with your reference and children’s librarians, who are more like teachers than general store support staff. They know their stuff! We should be marketing their extensive subject knowledge and expertise.

Focus on connecting niche audiences and specific collection pieces or services. There are segments of your service population that are not aware that you have job and career readiness resources and who desperately need to be connected to those services. This more focused approach takes work. You have to spend time finding the target audience and figuring out where they are so you can deliver the message to them. You have to figure out ways to make your message resonate with that specific audience, paying attention to language, tone, and delivery. But more-focused marketing gives better results. Don’t limit it to one message. Do it consistently, over time. At my library, we send emails every month to our cardholders letting them know about specific new eBooks and eAudiobooks added to the collection. And we do specific, collection-based marketing for eBooks and eAudiobooks on a consistent basis on our social media platforms. Over time, this has driven circulation of those digital collections. It will work for you too!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

My Library Doesn’t Really Have a Strategy-Now What?

When you go on a trip, you likely have a plan. You decide ahead of time where you’ll stay, and how you’ll move around the place you are visiting. You make arrangements to rent a vehicle or research public transportation. You purchase airline or train tickets and book a hotel. You pick restaurants to sample and decide which tourist attractions you’ll visit. You could just land in a city and let fates carry you where they may, but you risk missing out on seeing or experiencing the best the area has to offer.

A plan, on vacation or in the library, helps you make the most of your time. So I was shocked to learn, in a recent conversation with another library marketing professional, that there are some libraries which run without an overall strategy!

An overall library strategy is important because your marketing strategy needs to support and directly align with your library’s strategy. Otherwise, what the heck are you doing anyway? How do you market anything when you don’t know what your library’s goals are? It’s like going on vacation without a plan.

I confess it’s taken me about two months to compose this post. I’m lucky that my library has a well-defined strategy. I have had to do some serious research and soul-searching to answer this question. I’ve landed on three things you should do if your library is lacking an overall strategy.

Directly ask what your library director or board of directors what they want to accomplish. If you library doesn’t have a defined strategy, it’s imperative that you ask about the goals of the director and the board. Even basic statements like “We want to increase program attendance by 25%” or “We want to make sure every child has a library card” will give you a concrete direction for your marketing strategy. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching senior leadership, or are not allowed to do so, ask your supervisor to step in. Stress the importance of a cohesive plan for moving forward in all areas of your library. This really is the cornerstone of your work, so I am asking you to make one last effort to force your senior leadership to name their goals. If that fails, ask yourself…

What do you want to accomplish? When your leadership won’t give you a concrete direction, I give you permission to create your own. Decide what kind of marketing goals you wish to accomplish in the next year. Some examples of self-made marketing goals are: increased audience engagement on a particular social media channel, increased circulation of digital materials, increased number of holds on new materials, or increased readership of your newsletter. Decide how you will define success and then work relentlessly to achieve them. Document your data. You can use that at the end of the year to approach senior leadership to make the case for an overall library strategy. Ask them to imagine how much more you could accomplish if you knew exactly what they wanted to achieve. Learn more about creating a marketing strategy for your library.

Use content marketing to your advantage. Without an overall library strategy, you can still make considerable marketing progress using content marketing. Turn your newsletter into a quarterly publication filled with customer stories, profiles of library staff members, and author interviews. If you have a blog, schedule similar stories on a consistent schedule. Think of your blog and newsletter as more of a news service and not a program listing or announcement platform. Using the newsroom mentality, you can create lots of content that may surprise and delight your audience, increasing attendance and circulation, without any direction from senior leadership. Learn about how to use content marketing to market your library.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


How to Reach Cardholders Without Emails 

I spoke recently to a fellow library marketer who faced a frustrating problem. His library does not have an email marketing strategy and he believes there are no plans to adopt one. He knows I’m a fan of email marketing. And he was wondering if I had any library marketing ideas that are as effective as emails.

In my opinion, nothing works as well as a great email marketing strategy. But there are four tactics that will give you better results than the traditional poster-flier-press release marketing strategy.  I use these in addition to emails and they are effective.

Market to your social audience. You’ve likely built an audience on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And you’re probably already using organic messages with a strategy. But in place of an email marketing initiative, you can take it a step further in social, particularly on Facebook. For as little as $20, you can create a target audience and promote posts in a specific way. I’m a huge fan of promoted posts because they’re so cheap, they get your message in front of the right audience, and they end up giving your organic posts a boost as well. You can also do a Facebook live! For 15 minutes, offer to answer any question your audience has using the comments function. When questions aren’t coming in, fill the time by talking about your collection, your services, and any big events coming up. When you do a Facebook live, all of your followers get a notification as soon as you start broadcasting. It sounds silly but that notification is really compelling–people will click on your live just to see what you are doing! Do a Facebook live on a consistent basis–at the same time every week–and you’ll build expectation in your audience like must-see TV!

Speak at events in your community. Approach civic and community groups in your area and offer to do a ten minute talk to highlight the services and collection items. Ask schools to let your librarians come in to talk about summer reading or other child-focused events. Demonstrate how to use your digital services, databases, or genealogical archives to groups. Make sure your talks target your audience. Take questions. And create a simple handout for attendees listing your website and recapping the things you’ve discussed.

Write columns in your community newspaper or blog. Many publications will be grateful for the offer of free content and your message will get in front of a new audience. Again, try to target your column to the particular audience or community the publication serves.

Start a podcast. The barrier to entry for podcasting has never been easier. I won’t go through all the steps for actually recording, uploading, and distributing the podcast. Instead, I have bookmarked this great guide that lays out how to do everything.  Once you’ve got all your technical ducks in a row, the easy part starts. Libraries already have a niche subject and audience! I would suggest making your podcast less than 20 minutes long, the average commute time for most people. You can have a host do all the talking, but it’s more interesting if you have guests. Talk about the collection. Talk about upcoming classes and events. Talk about literary news. Interview authors! Podcasts are great marketing tools because they feel personal to the listener–for 20 minutes, you are talking directly into their ear. You have their full attention. You can’t get that with any other marketing tool!

Do you have other ideas for marketing without emails? Leave a message and your Twitter handle in the comments and I’ll post it on Twitter.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.



Focus on the Content, Not the Container

My entire perspective on library marketing changed this week while listening to a 20-minute podcast episode.

Jay Acunzo’s Unthinkable podcast highlights marketers who are changing the way their companies interact with their customers for the better. He’s tired of average content marketing. Each week he finds and interviews a marketer who is doing exceptional work–work that is Unthinkable.

During the episode titled Why You Should Focus More on the Insides of Your Content, the life-altering moment came in one of those interviews. One of Jay’s guests said: Marketers need to focus more on the content and less on the container.

When I market a library service or feature, I start with my promotional calendar. I determine whether an email campaign is appropriate. I decide if I should write an article for Library Links. I ask myself:  Do we need signs? Do we need social media promotion? Do we put something on the website? I schedule everything. And then I write all the pieces. I’m totally focused on the containers–the eblast, the Links article, the website, etc.–first.

Doing it the way Jay suggests means I should figure out what I’m going to say about the promotional item and then decide which containers will deliver that message to my audience in the most effective way. Content Before Container.

But why is this approach the better way to market? When you focus first on the content, you are emphasizing the message. You put your customer first–not your own promotional needs. You’re thinking more about the insides of your message, not the way it will be delivered and that means you are likely to be more creative. You will end up delivering your message to your audience in the way that they need it to be delivered. You’re putting the message and your cardholders first and not putting your library first. And that’s how we differentiate ourselves from the competition.

It sounds so easy. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

Here are some resources for library marketers searching for help with their content marketing.

Content Marketing Institute: My favorite content marketing website. They do free webinars about the practice. Subscribe to CCO magazine–it’s free. Attend Content Marketing World with me! Attend their #CMWorld Twitter chat every Tuesday at noon to interact with top marketing experts and get your questions personally answered. And listen to their podcasts. You’ll understand more about content marketing and how it works.

Plus these blog posts about content marketing:

What the Hell is Content Marketing and Why Should We Do It?

Amazing Content Marketing Stories about Your Library are Right Under Your Nose

How One Library is Using Content Marketing to Capture the Imagination

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.



Video and Libraries Make The Perfect Marketing Marriage

I have some homework for you.

Sometime in the next seven days, I want you to go to the New York Public Library’s Facebook page and watch some of the video marketing they’ve done over the past few months. Specifically, I want you to check out their live book recommendations with Lynn and Gwen (Gwen also co-hosts the NYPL Podcast The Librarian is In which is a MUST LISTEN for library marketers.) About once a month for half an hour, these two librarians from NYPL get on Facebook live and give book recommendations to people who give them information via the comments. It’s genius. And it’s free. And you should be doing this–or something like it–too!

Most library marketers are afraid to try video marketing. (I will be looking at the results of the poll at the beginning of this post to gauge if I’m right about that!) I can understand that fear. But I come from a TV background, so video marketing and live video isn’t as foreign to me as it might be to you. So this post is all about lifting the veil, so to speak. I’ve got a secret for you. Video is not as hard as you think. I hope I can give you the confidence to do video marketing!

Video, whether live or recorded and edited, is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to market your library. But the most important point I want to make is that IT IS NOW NECESSARY TO PRODUCE VIDEO FOR YOUR LIBRARY. There is data to prove that but, rather than list it here, I’ll give you this beautiful infographic with statistics on video marketing for 2017 from Hubspot.

The social media platform with the most power to amplify and engage library users is Facebook. And Facebook is rewarding and boosting posts that include video. If you want to reach more people with whatever message your library is trying to send, you must use video.

But many libraries still think video marketing is only something for large libraries with a huge staff. Let me show you why you can do it, no matter your size or budget.

It’s no longer expensive. In the past, producing video was expensive and difficult.  The “barrier to entry” was high. You needed a ton of heavy and complicated equipment. But that is no longer the case. My library produces videos using our regular DSLR camera, which we also use to take still photos of library events. We have two wired lavalier microphones which we purchased for about $75 each. We have a set of lights donated to us by a former TV news photographer. And we have a Go Pro camera purchased several years ago. But you don’t even need any of this equipment to do your videos. We have also shot video on our iPhones! And that has worked perfectly well. Your library likely has an Adobe Creative Suite license already, which will allow you to edit. You can also use iMovie or a host of other online editing software pieces, many of which are free. Here’s a great list.

You can learn how to shoot and edit online. If you’ve never worked with video before, has a host of video production courses which you can take at your desk for free if your library has a subscription! You can also subscribe to this YouTube channel by Amy Schmittauer. She’s got all kinds of tips about video marketing using all kinds of equipment, including a DSLR camera and smartphones, plus tips on how to set up a background for your video and how to “act” on camera! She’s just fun to watch and really down to Earth.

You have the tools to distribute your videos. You no longer have to send your produced videos to a television station and pay top dollar to have them broadcast. Social media has changed all that. Upload your video to Facebook. Upload your video to YouTube. Upload your video to your website. Then promote it and watch your message get across to new people.

Perfection is no longer required. Honestly, I think this is the biggest reason many libraries are hesitant to get started with video marketing. We all have this idea that the video has to be narrated by the perfect person with the perfect hair in front of the perfect background. That’s old school TV thinking and it’s no longer necessary. In fact, the best videos are the ones that show your authentic self. You don’t have to be scripted. If you’re doing a live video, it’s okay to pause and look something up when someone asks you a question. It’s good to show that you’re human and those human moments make videos more interesting and exciting. So please don’t worry about getting every little hair to lie in place, having the right clothes, or always saying the right thing. You’re talking to real people, even if they are on the other end of a video screen. And they’ll forgive you–and love you–if you aren’t robotic. Everyone loves a librarian and you will find fans just for being you!

To see some of the work my library has done with video, here’s a link to our YouTube channel. Have you seen great instances of video marketing by libraries? Please share with me in the comments so I can check them out!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Three Secrets To Reach a New Audience For Your Library

Tell me something…

I’m about to tell you something you already know.

Those big library events, like Summer Reading, are hard to promote. Every library has at least two of these high-stakes events each year. Libraries spend a significant portion of their budget on the pieces of those big programs. They come with high expectations and goals. They require months of planning. No pressure.

But there are three big things you can do to increase the likelihood your Big Library Event will be successful. To illustrate this, I’m going to focus on Summer Reading, since that’s the biggest program my library–and probably yours– does each year. As I write this, we’re gearing up to really start the full-court press of promotions. So it’s my most current example.

But this short list of life-changing, big-event promotional ideas can work for any large-scale campaign. They’re not hard to implement but they will help you reach a new audience of media and customers. And doing a better job at getting your promotional message to those two demographics could be the difference between success and failure.

  1. Ditch the traditional press release. Instead, write a profile for your blog. If you don’t have a library blog, and you’re forced to send out something to the media on official library letterhead, write a story and not a fact-driven announcement, like this one. I’m basically just asking you to shake up the way you pitch your events to the media. No kitschy headlines. No tables of facts. Turn the focus of your pitch onto your cardholder, not on how fantastic your library is for putting this program together. Interview a librarian. Interview a customer. Get a real quote from one of your sponsors or the event organizer, not one that you’ve made up. Work all of those together into a story instead of a traditional press release. If you want to catch the attention of the news media, you need to be a little different. Bonus: You’ll also be rewarded by Google, which will pick up you keywords in your blog post and start showing the post in search results for anyone looking for those keywords (Google doesn’t catch keywords on PDF or Word document press releases posted to a website.) For more on why a press release isn’t your best choice to communicate with the media–and what to do instead–read this very thorough post by journalist Mike Butcher.
  2. Send a link to your creative media piece or the full story in a document to your media contacts in a personalized email.  I know it takes longer to send an email to each media contact than to send one mass email, but it’s worth it. Think about the person to whom you are sending the email and write a personalized note to them with unique ideas specific to their outlet for how they might cover your event. Make them feel special, and they’re more likely to give you coverage in return. For tips on how to target the media through emails and what to say in your email, read this blog post from Criminally Prolific.
  3. Buy social media ads, particularly on Facebook. Facebook ads are easy to put together and purchase. And they work. Facebook has eased up on the rules about ads. All you really need is a few descriptive lines of text, a beautiful high-res photo, and a solid link back to your website. You can customize messages for different segments of your target audience and you’ll get data back from Facebook about exactly how your ad is doing. I’m a firm believer that social media ads are more effective than newspaper or billboard ads. It’s where your audience is hanging out–and it’s the best place to find non-library customers.  For a whole host of Facebook ad templates, check out this free download from Digital Marketer. For more ideas on how to improve your library’s summer reading program and the promotions of that program, read this post too!    Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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