Super Library Marketing: Practical Tips and Ideas for Library Promotion

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Your Summer Reading Challenge: How Your Library Can Use Big Events To Gather Compelling Content for Promotions During the Rest of the Year

Group of women at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, circa 1947. Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

“The only way we can differentiate ourselves is in how we communicate.”

I heard this quote at a conference six years ago and it’s never left me. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember that it changed the entire way I thought about library marketing.

We do a lot of push promotions in the library world. We try to inform our communities about what our library has to offer. We tell them why they should support the library.

Honestly, we do a lot of talking at people. And we end up sounding like every other advertiser.

When is the last time you asked yourself: how can I differentiate my library from the crowd of competitors?

Content marketing is a good place to start. It is, according to Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi, “a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience–ultimately, to drive profitable consumer action.”

But what does that mean for a library?

It means we can’t rely on disruptive marketing to capture the attention of our cardholders. If we want to attract and retain people who will use the library and support the library and convince others of the value of the library, we have to be more strategic.

Think about how you go about interacting with signs, ads, and social media. Do you give every message your full attention… or half of your attention… or even a glance?

Unless something is seriously compelling, you filter it out. So do our cardholders.

Content marketing sticks with your audience because it’s not an ad. It doesn’t push.

It is stories about your library, your staff, or your community. Your cardholders will remember these kinds of promotions because stories make us feel emotions. And emotions are memorable.

Summer Reading, or any large library event or initiative, is the best time to be purposeful about using content marketing to promote your library. It’s also the best time to gather stories for promotion later in the year.

Here’s what I want you to do.

  • Gather stories about how cardholders are using the library. How is your library improving their lives? How is your library helping people get back on their feet or back to normal in this phase of the pandemic? Ask your library workers to be on the lookout for great story ideas.
  • Gather stories about your staff–who are they? What do they like to do in their spare time? What do they love about interacting with cardholders? How their approach to work changed during the pandemic?
  • Gather information about your cardholders. Survey your users or use social listening to create a list of the problems they are facing. Ask your cardholders specific questions like “Tell us about a time when your library helped you find some information you thought you’d never be able to uncover.” Or “Tell us your favorite library memory from your childhood.”
  • Set up a form on your website and solicit cardholder stories on social media, in your email, and printed newsletters. That list will be the basis for further content marketing your library can create down the road that answers those problems.

And then, tell those stories using the platforms you have available. Write them up for your blog. Create social media posts. Add them to your newsletters. Start a landing page on your website. Make videos.

There are three key pieces to look for in a good content marketing library story.

Emotion. The joy of finding a book, the fear of not getting a job, the frustration of another night of homework without any help… these are all emotions felt by our library’s customers. Other people can relate to these experiences and empathize.

A good emotional story activates many portions of the brain, including sensory, memory, and empathy sectors. The more active the brain is while reading, the more likely it is that the listener/reader will remember the story.

Emotion is the most important criteria of a good story. If it makes you feel something, it’s worth pursuing.

Conflict and a resolution. A good story includes some conflict, whether minor or major, and a problem or situation that is resolved.  Without conflict, a story is flat and unmemorable.

Look for stories with a beginning, middle, and end including a story arc that leads to a resolution.

Simplicity. A story that’s direct, with less adjectives and more heartfelt and straightforward language is more likely to be remembered by the listener than a complex story with a long, winding narrative and lots of details and unnecessary description.

When writing content for marketing purposes, draw a straight line from beginning, middle, and end. Keep the story moving forward with clear language.

Content marketing gives you a chance to tell your library’s story without making a direct pitch. It increases brand awareness and affinity and improves your library’s image. And stories are fun to tell!

We cannot rely on this old disruptive marketing policy to be the driving force behind our library marketing efforts anymore. We’re better than that.

We work with stories every day. Let’s start telling them.

Do you use content marketing in your library promotions? Do you have some great stories that you’ve gathered about your library and cardholders? Do you have questions about storytelling and how it works for libraries? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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Library Blogs are the Best! How to Use Your Website to Amplify Your Library Marketing Message on Your Own Terms

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

One of the hardest and most rewarding things I ever did while working for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was to start a blog. It took me five years to get it off the ground. I wrote about that experience in this blog post.

I worked hard to get a library blog because I knew it would be a transformative and powerful communication asset.

A blog allows your library to tell your own story, create brand awareness, and promote your library to your own audience for free, without having to deal with the rules of someone else’s platform.

If your library has a blog, you will want to make sure you are doing everything in your power to grow your audience. In this post, I want to share the best practices I’ve learned from years of blogging.

Before you post

Create an editorial calendar for your library promotions that includes your blog post ideas. I wrote a two-part guide to help you through this step.

A calendar will let you see all the promotions your library is doing in one glance. It will help you schedule posts that amplify your other marketing messages.

You can use your calendar to formulate due dates and publication dates for blog posts. You can also plan the promotion of your library blog posts on other channels, like your email newsletters and social media platforms.

The three main genres of library blog posts

The best blogs are a mix of these three types of blog posts.

Promotional posts: Most library blog posts are promotional. They focus on telling readers about an event, service, or collection item available at the library.

Promotional posts tend to be shorter. They also need to be frequently updated as services and collection items change.

Example: Jacksonville Public Library uses their blog to help their community find information on their website without having to create special landing pages for events and services.

Opinion posts: These posts demonstrate what the library stands for. They center on questions people have about libraries but are afraid to ask. Opinion posts also celebrate the strengths of libraries and the opportunities for improvement.

Opinion posts are compelling and allow your library to cement your voice and your position in a way that your readers and cardholders will remember. It’s great when a library takes a stand. People will respect you for it.  

Example: The Stark Library CEO and Executive Director took a clear stand against racism in this recent blog post.

Authoritative posts: These posts demonstrate your library’s expertise in a subject. For instance, a post that highlights your library’s award-winning family history department is an authoritative post.

Example: Check out the My Librarian(s) Favorite Resources series on the Chapman University: Leatherby Libraries blog.

The Ugly First Draft

If you’ve been asked to write a post on your library’s blog, your journey begins with what my favorite marketer Ann Handley calls The Ugly First Draft (UFD).

Your first job is to get all your ideas down in whatever format they escape from your brain. Write your draft without worrying about spelling, grammar, punctuation, or phrasing.

Open a Word document and try to keep typing until you can’t think of anything else to say on a subject. If you are a skilled typist, look away from the screen so you’re not tempted to focus on spelling or grammatical errors.

Revise to create the perfect library blog post

Write short paragraphs, not short posts. It’s a myth that short blog posts will attract more readers. If your blog post is long but compelling, you’ll have no problem holding the attention of your readers. A longer post that is well written and contains keywords will do better in Google search than a shorter post.

However, you should break up your blog post into shorter paragraphs. Short paragraphs are easier to read and understand. They open white space on your blog, which makes your post more inviting.

Writing experts recommend paragraphs of no more than 150 words. I started writing shorter paragraphs about two years ago and saw a big boost in my metrics.

Be deliberate with your keywords. In the blog text, you need to include keywords for search.

You’ll notice I use the phrase “library marketing” and “library promotion” frequently in this blog. That’s because people searching for help with library marketing use those two phrases most often. Try It does an amazing job of helping you to narrow your target phrase.

Put your keyword phrase in title, header, and body of blog post at least two times but more often if it makes sense.

Include images. Images can help you craft your message and tell your story. They also help to break up the text of your blog posts.

Use images to explain concepts or enforce the emotion you are trying to create.

Link to other content from your library. Your blog post can funnel your readers into engaging with your library. If you are talking about a specific service or a part of your library’s collection, include links embedded in your text to help readers find more information.

Make sure your links open in a new tab. There’s nothing more annoying that clicking on an embedded blog post link in the middle of a post and then having to tab backwards to read the rest of a blog post.

Create engagement opportunities for your reader. Use your blog posts to start a conversation with your readers. Ask a question and invite readers to post their answers in the comment.

Your library can also embed a social media post in your blog so readers can post a key point to their social media. This gives your post the potential to reach new readers.

Spend a lot of time on your headline.  A good headline should give your readers a hint at the copy that lies ahead without giving away the whole story. It should trigger an emotional response that includes an irresistible urge to read more.

You can get lots of tips for headline writing in this blog post.  

Incorporate several rounds of edits for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Run your blog posts through an online editor to catch errors. Ask your co-workers to edit your blog as well.

Print your blog post out and read through it, word for word, out loud. Doing this will force your brain to pay attention to the extra attention to what you’ve written. Your brain will often fill in or gloss over errors when you silently read. But if you read your post out loud, those errors become obvious and can be fixed before publication.

Four more tips for library blog success

Use your blog as a networking tool. Ask community leaders to write guest posts. Reach out to school administrators, policy makers, influencers, and other nonprofit organizations. Or use your blog to interview someone.

Once you publish, send a link to the contributors or interviewees. Ask them to share your post with their audience. This will amplify your message and expose your blog to a new audience of readers.

Example: The National Library of Australia interviewed fashion designer Nicky Zimmermann in this blog post that led to lots of media exposure for the library. 

Post consistently. The best way to maintain web traffic to your blog is to make sure people are always waiting for an article to go live.

Decide how many posts you can create a week and which days you’ll post on. Then stick to your schedule.

Promote your blog posts on other platforms. Most of your readers will not just stumble upon your post by accident. You need to make sure they know that your library has published a post.

Promote your posts on your social media platforms, in your emails, and in patron interactions.

Your blog can also be used instead of a press release to pitch a story to a member of the media.

Evaluate your post metrics. Check in once a month and enter your metrics on a spreadsheet so you can track results over time.

Compare views, watch time, and bounce rate for your posts. You can also compare post length.

Your metrics will help you to continue to improve and update your blog based on your audience’s needs and wants.

Does your library have a blog? I’d love to see it! Share a link in the comments!

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Your Library Can Reach Teens With Programming and Marketing! A Look Inside the Lives and Minds of the Elusive Generation Z

There is one question I get every time I work with a library or speak at a conference. Library staff always want to know, “How do we reach teenagers?”

Teenagers are not alien beings. They’re just another target demographic with specific needs, wants, and pain points. And libraries can reach them with intentional promotional tactics. But first, we need to understand who they are, what they like, and what challenges they face.

Generation Z: what do we know about teens right now?

Teens are part of the generational label known as Gen Z. This generation encompasses anyone born between 1997 and 2015.

There are nearly 68 million Americans in Gen Z, according to the Pew Research Center. Teens make up one-fifth of the population in the UK and about 13 percent of the population in Australia. That’s a lot of people! It’s why this work is so important.

Here is some key demographic information to keep in mind as you develop library programming and marketing for this group of users.

  • They are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation.
  • Gen Z are digital natives. They can’t remember a world without smartphones and computers.
  • When it comes to social and political issues, Gen Z mirrors the values and beliefs of Millennials.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a teen in your household, you may be wondering what they like and dislike. Google did a trend study to find out what teens think is cool. Gen Z defines “cool” as something that is unique, interesting, or brings them happiness. Here are the findings that directly relate to libraries.

  • Male teens are more likely to be persuaded that something is cool by their friends, where female teens will determine whether something is cool based on how it makes them feel.
  • The top three social media platforms by usage for male teens are Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. For female teens, the top three social media platforms are Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
  • However, the study also finds Facebook is considered “uncool” by teens. Teens connect with friends on Snapchat but are not consuming content on that platform from brands, including libraries. Instagram appears to be the place where teens both consume and interact with library content.
  • Gen Z loves on-demand entertainment options, like streaming music and video.
  • And here’s the best finding: reading is among the coolest activities for teenagers! It’s almost as popular with teens as video games.

What we learned from marketing to Millennial teens may apply to Gen Z

Whatever you did to market to Millennial teens a decade ago, it worked. The Pew Research Center’s study of millennials shows that they are the most active library users of any generation.

The study draws a connection between that increase in engagement and the changes libraries made to their service model in the last decade. Increased computer access, as well as extra services like meeting spaces, makerspaces, and collaborative workspaces changed the public’s perception of libraries and specifically appealed to young adults.  

The impact of the pandemic on Gen Z

The COVID-19 crisis may have impacted teens more than any other generation. We won’t know the full extent of that impact for years. But there is some research done in 2020 about the pandemic and teens to use as a starting point.

  • A Bank of America report shows the pandemic will impact Gen Z’s financial and professional future in the same way that the Great Recession did for millennials. They’re less likely to be employed, because of the financial crisis brought on by the pandemic. One in four Americans in Gen Z lost their job between February and May of 2020.
  • Because of the pandemic, some teens are more cost-conscious. The State of Gen Z report shows 54 percent of teens are saving more money now than they did before the crisis. 39 percent have opened an online bank account.
  • Before the pandemic, Gen Z was on track to be the most well-educated generation. But the move to remote learning has cost many teens a great deal educationally. Half of high schoolers will lack minimum levels of proficiency to enter college by the time they graduate (up from 40 percent before the pandemic). Many teens have put off applying for college altogether.
  • Social isolation during the pandemic created a mental health crisis for Gen Z. A survey by StuDocu showed about 62 percent of teens reported worsening mental health during the pandemic.

Library programming and service ideas for Gen Z

How can libraries help teens and turn them into lifelong library users? There are some specific programs and services that libraries could create to address the challenges facing Gen Z right now.

  • Your collection is an escape for teens. Your library’s books, streaming music, and movies can help kids deal with the emotional stress of the pandemic and of being a teenager in general! The collection is the gateway to introduce teen library users to other services. It should be regularly marketed to your teen community members.
  • We can minimize the educational losses for teens by offering personalized online tutoring services in a safe, judgement-free environment. Libraries spend a lot of time and energy on early literacy programs. I would argue that right now, we need to devote just as many resources to help Gen Z get back on track educationally as we do teaching little ones basic literacy skills.
  • We should create financial literacy programs for teens that include the basics like budgeting, how to open and manage a bank account, and realistic tips to help them save for post-secondary education.
  • Libraries can specifically target teens with job creation programs. Your staff can help Gen Z community members create their first resume, search for jobs online, and successfully navigate interviews.
  • Libraries should offer unstructured programs that let teens socialize in a safe space, even if it’s online.

The programs and services you provide during this critical time will build the foundation for a life-long library relationship between libraries and teens.

Next week: Specific tips for marketing your library’s collection, services, and programming to teens.

Do you have thoughts on this research? Is your library succeeding in marketing to teens? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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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, Goodreads, and LinkedIn.

How to Reboot AND Optimize Your Library’s YouTube Channel for Marketing Success!

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The Library Marketing Show, Episode 84

In this episode, I’ll answer a question from Jennifer of the Park Ridge Public Library. She asked, “What advice would you give to a library needing to reboot the way they use YouTube? We have a YouTube account but only used it sporadically in the past. How can we effectively use it to promote programs, host book talks, share big library news?”

Kudos in this episode go to the Sierra Madre Public Library for their amazing work on TikTok!

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!

Want To Do a Better Job at Marketing Your Library? Here’s the Secret: Read More Fiction!

I was recently looking through some old photo albums when I came across this gem.

You can see my mother wrote the words “My bookworm” under this photo of me, age 7, reading “The Horse That Had His Picture in the Paper” by Helen Stone. I have always loved fiction.

Of all the people in the world, I am certain I really don’t have to explain to my readers why fiction is amazing. You work in a building stuffed with fiction!

But, if I were to ask you what you’ve read lately that will help improve your work skills, my guess is that you would not name a work of fiction.

Of course, your work will be improved by reading a great business or career-oriented book. I can think of a few inspiring examples, like Ann Handley’s Content Rules, which literally changed my life, or Unmarketing by Scott Stratten. You can get a chance to read books like these and talk about them with other library staffers if you join the Library Marketing Book Club on Facebook. There is a lot of value in reading advice on marketing.

But reading fiction will also make you a better marketer. Here are the six reasons why reading fiction will improve your ability to promote your library.

Fiction is good for your brain. A study by researchers at Emory University, published in the journal Brain Connect, found that reading a novel can increase connectivity in the brain and improve brain function. Lead researcher Gregory Berns concluded, “At a minimum, we can say that reading stories—especially those with strong narrative arcs—reconfigures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us.”

Storytelling requires the work of different areas of your brain in order to help you understand the dialogue, plot, and characters. A work of fiction will train your brain will do a better job of processing complex problems in your library work.

Fiction teaches you to empathize with your community. That same study from Emory University found that reading fiction improved the readers’ ability to view the world from another person’s perspective.

Researchers theorize the act of reading forces the brain to process the emotions and physical actions of the protagonist. That processing leads to a greater compassion.

Activating compassion will cause you to create better service for your community. When you can put yourself in the shoes of your patrons, you are more likely to see their needs and find ways that your library can meet those needs.

Fiction activates your imagination. Reading fiction improved the imagination of the Emory University study subjects. It teaches you to think outside the normal boundaries of your life. It shows you the possibilities that exist when you don’t constrain yourself. It’s also a great way to forget your troubles for a few hours, and we could all use a little of that!

Fiction expands your vocabulary. A novel will expose your brain to a larger variety of words than you might run across in normal conversation or emails. The more your brain is exposed to this increased mass of vocabulary, the more you absorb it and incorporate it into your own work.

That doesn’t mean you have to write in a verbose manner in order to prove how your vocabulary has expanded. Rather, it means you’ll have a greater bank of words in your native vocabulary to choose from when you are trying to convey the perfect sentiment in your marketing pieces.

Fiction teaches you the difference between a great story and a terrible story. When’s the last time you started reading a novel and couldn’t stop? (For me, it was last month.) Now, when’s the last time you started reading a book and had to quit three chapters in because you couldn’t stand it anymore? (Again, this happened to me last month!)

The more fiction you read, the more you understand what a great story looks like. You’ll start to recognize good stories you can use as marketing for your library.

Reading fiction from your own library gives you a sense of your patrons’ experience. In the business world, companies and entrepreneurs are encouraged to go through the buying process for their own products to get a sense of what their customers experience. Library staff should do the same.

Look at the whole experience through the eyes of your community. Is your catalog easy to find on your website? Are there plenty of reading suggestions on your website, in your emails, and social media platforms? Can you find the books you love in the genre you prefer? How long do you have to wait to get your holds? Does your catalog suggest read-a-likes to keep your readers engaged while you wait for your holds? Is the process of checking out a book easy and painless?

Using your own collection can give you valuable insight. Your patrons’ delight and frustrations become your own delight and frustrations. The delights can become promotional tools for you to use in your marketing pieces. And the frustrations will prompt your library to make improvements that will increase circulation.

What are you reading right now? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction books? Why or why not? Share your thoughts about reading and books in the comments section.

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There is NO SUCH THING as Too Many Library Marketing Emails! Why Libraries are the Exception to the Rule.

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In this episode, I respond to the common misconception that a library can send too many emails and annoy their cardholders. Libraries are the exception to the email marketing rule and I’ll explain why that is.

Kudos in this episode go to the Dallas Public Library, who did a branch grand opening in the middle of the pandemic!

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!

How to Convince Your Library Staff That Library Marketing Materials MUST Be Accessible!

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I recently learned that there are some library marketers who face push back when they try to make sure their marketing materials are accessible.

Accessibility is a library mission. One in five people around the globe live with a disability. Libraries will never be truly inclusive until they design services, programs, and marketing with this group in mind. And so, in this episode, I’ll share some strategies to help you make sure this goal becomes a reality at your library.

Kudos in this episode go to the Hutchinson Public Library for their advocacy idea that they deploy during Library Lovers Week.

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!

Five Easy Fixes for the Little Mistakes That Threaten to Sabotage Your Library Marketing!

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, showing a librarian and a boy interacting at the reference desk in the Children's Department circa 1925.

It’s been one year since I started working for NoveList.  

I don’t often talk about my day job here on the blog. But the work I do gives me a unique perspective on library marketing.

I get to meet (virtually, of course) with library staffers from all over the world and spend time talking about marketing. It’s a privilege to learn from the people who are kind enough to share their insights, problems, and dreams with me.

Part of my job includes offering advice to help strengthen the position of libraries. And one thing I’ve noticed is that libraries of all sizes and shapes are making some small but common marketing mistakes. All of these little mistakes are fixable!

What’s the most common mistake you think libraries make in marketing and promotions? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Little mistake #1: Trying to promote everything your library has to offer, all at once and all the time.

Libraries are amazing. They quite literally have a service or collection item that is perfect for every single person in their community. The difficulty libraries face in marketing their breadth and depth of service is centered in matching each community member to the right service or collection item.

In the quest to make that match, many libraries will try to market everything they offer, hoping that the person who needs that item the most will see it. I had a boss who would have called this “an error of enthusiasm.”

Promoting everything you offer all at once waters down your message. It makes your marketing come off as noise to the community you are trying to reach. And it’s less effective.

How to fix it: Focus with precision on your library’s overall strategy.

What goal is your library trying to accomplish right now? Are you hoping to increase your circulation to pre-pandemic numbers? Are you helping to bridge the pandemic educational gap for elementary school students? Are you implementing a step-by-step plan to ensure your library is truly accessible to everyone? Are you undergoing a facilities improvement project?

Your promotions should be centered on whatever your library is trying to accomplish this year. When you focus your marketing with precision on your library’s strategy, your marketing will be more effective. You will avoid spreading your message thin.

Little mistake #2: Sending every email to all your cardholders.

This happens as a result of mistake #1. Sending an email to all your cardholders feels like common sense. When you are hoping to get people to check out an item, use a database, or attend a program, you want as many people as possible to know about it for maximum success.

But imagine if you had the entirety of your library service community all gathered in the same place, like a large stadium. If you stood on a platform to survey the crowd, what would you see?

There would be all kinds of people, from different backgrounds, with different economic statuses, of different ages. And if asked just ten people in that crowd to tell you a little about themselves, you would hear ten different stories from people with ten different wants, needs, and interests.

Your service community is diverse. One email isn’t going to inspire action in all your community members. Think of your emails as magazines – is there a magazine that includes every interest? Even general topic magazines like Better Homes & Gardens have a target audience and covers matters of the home and garden – not political news or sports or celebrity gossip. (My thanks to my boss, Kathy Lussier, for this brilliant analogy).

How to fix it: Target your email marketing.

There are dozens of ways to segment your audience. To help you get started, read this two part series on targeted email marketing: Targeted Email Marketing for a New Era: The Pros and Cons of How Most Libraries Segment Their Audiences and Psychographics Are the Key to Powerful Email Marketing: How to Unlock the Motivations and Aspirations of Your Cardholders.

Little mistake #3: Assuming your community will see your marketing.  

Remember back before the pandemic when we were all exasperated every time we talked with someone about all the services we offer besides books? We were constantly asking ourselves how it was that there were still people in the community who had no idea their library had e-books or homework help or small business resources. We were certainly marketing them! But it kept happening because our community was not always seeing our marketing messages.

Think back again to your community, gathered in the stadium. Each person in that crowd has a different preference for how they consume marketing. Some are signed up for your emails. Some come into the branch and see your posters. Some have never been in a branch before and only interact with your website… and they may have the catalog bookmarked on their computer, so they never even see your homepage promotions!

How to fix it: Target your promotional tactics.

Tactics are the specific methods you use to market your library. They include social media, emails, your website, your catalog, your digital signs, your print promotions, and more.

You don’t need to market each of your library’s overall goals using every tactic. Instead, think about where your target audience is interacting with your library. Then, choose the tactics that your target audience is most likely to see during those interactions.

For example, if you are promoting your new themed storytime, your target audience will be parents, caregivers, and educators. They may interact with your library in emails, on social media, and when they pick holds or use your curbside service.

You can target your promotional tactics specifically to this audience in the places where they are! You’ll want to send them a targeted email message, create social media posts that speak directly to them with wording that focuses on skills their children will learn in the storytime, and slip a flyer or bookmark promoting the storytime into holds or curbside pickups that contain picture books or books about parenting.

Little mistake #4: Letting fear prevent you from implementing a great promotional idea.

The ability to trust your own marketing instincts takes time to nurture. You may be worried that your great promotional ideal will fail. Or you may face difficulty in convincing others that a new promotional idea has merit.

I speak from experience. It took me five years to convince senior staff at my former library to let my department start a blog. It was frustrating. But my good idea did finally see the light of day.

How to fix it: Don’t give up.

Five years is a long time to advocate for a blog. But I did it because I knew it would be good for my library and good for my community.

I’m not advocating insubordination. But, if you truly believe in your idea, don’t give up. Be patiently persistent.

Your supervisors are a target audience, so use what you know about their priorities, motivation, and work beliefs to build your case. Keep gathering data to back up your idea. Recruit like-minded co-workers or peers to advocate for you.

Keep trying. The real winners will be your service community.

Little mistake #5: Thinking you must be an expert to be a good library marketer.

It’s a bonus to have formal training in communications and marketing. It gives you extra confidence. But for many of my readers, the role of promotions was handed to them as part of “other duties as assigned.” It’s hard to do good work when you feel unqualified.

How to fix it: You are already doing it.

If you read this blog or spend any time researching marketing trends, you’re already adding to your expertise. Keep seeking out advice from websites, videos, professional development courses, and conferences. No one understands the importance of lifelong learning better than librarians! 

Remember, the more promotional work you do, the more you will learn about your audience and what works for them. The better you will get at marketing. And the stronger your library will be.

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The Wright Sister by Patty Dann.

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The Absolute MOST Important Step in Library Marketing…Revealed!

Watch Now

The Library Marketing Show, Episode 79

In this episode, I’ll share the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to do in library marketing and why you must make time for this step!

Kudos in this episode go to the Madison Library District for their commitment to marketing on Pinterest.

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!

Feeling Lost and Uninspired by Library Marketing? Here Are Seven Places to Learn and Improve Your Library Promotional Prowess!

Photo courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Learning is essential to the existence of humans.

No, this blog hasn’t suddenly turned into a philosophical self-help website. But I do think it’s important to make learning and research a part of your work schedule.

You need to know the latest research on customer experience. You need to be alerted when social media algorithms change. You need to be inspired by creative, encouraging, thoughtful people who know the struggles, hurdles, and frustrations of marketing.

Boy, have I got a list for you!

I’ve followed a lot of marketers over the years. I’ve read a lot of blogs, subscribed (and then unsubscribed) to a lot of email newsletters. I’ve watched videos and listened to podcasts about marketing, in the never-ending search to find the people who could offer the most help to me and my library marketing friends.

Here are the seven best places for library marketers to get advice!

Ann Handley: Author, Marketer, Chief Content Officer at @marketingprofs. 

Ann is at the top of my list because she’s the definitive expert on writing and creating engaging content.

Read her two books, Content Rules and Everybody Writes. Your library likely has a copy of both.

Next, sign up for her newsletter, Total Annarchy. It’s the gold standard for e-newsletters and one of my favorite pieces of email to receive!

Mark SchaeferMarketing strategist, author, and podcaster.

Mark is a human being. I mean, that’s obvious. But what I’ve always loved about him is that he gives advice like he’s your best friend. He’s not afraid to talk about the hard truths of promotional work.

Back in 2014, he started warning marketers about content overload (sometimes also referred to as content shock). This is the idea that people don’t pay attention to marketing because there is just too much stuff bombarding them from all angles.

This was pretty revolutionary for the time, and as I recall, there were a lot of people who thought Mark was nuts.

But he was right. And that’s why he’s written seven best-selling marketing books, launched a podcast, and is a popular speaker.

Read his latest book, Marketing Rebellion. I also recommend his free Pandemic Playbook. Subscribe to his {grow} blog and his podcast Marketing Companion (co-hosted with another marketing expert, Brooke Sellas).

Jay BaerNY Times best-selling author, marketing consultant, keynote speaker. 

Jay is an expert in the content marketing and social media space.

He has two podcasts that contain tips that relate to libraries. Social Pros focuses on real people doing real work in social media. Talk Triggers shares inspirational case studies about businesses succeeding with word of mouth marketing. 

Library Marketing Book Club

What do Ann Handley, Jay Baer, and Mark Schaefer all have in common? They’ve all been guests at the Library Marketing Book Club on Facebook!

Chris Boivin of the Jacksonville Public Library founded the group in the fall of 2020. We meet once a month to discuss a marketing book and to share tips and strategies for library marketing. Chris is usually able to get the author of the books we discuss to come to our meetings!

Learn more about the book club.

Content Marketing Institute

This is the go-to organization for everything related to content marketing. I came to know of the existence of Ann Handley, Jay Baer, and Mark Schaefer because of this organization.

Sign up for Chief Content Officer magazine (its free) and for their email newsletter. You’ll get the heads-up on upcoming seminars, free webinars, eBooks, and white papers.

Follow their Twitter for great advice and alerts when they post new blog articles. CMI also hosts #CMWorld chat on Tuesdays at noon EST on a host of relevant marketing topics.

Social Media Today

This is my go-to website to check for the latest information on changing social media algorithms, new features, and tips on how to get the best organic reach.

The easiest way to consume their plethora of tips is to sign up for their daily newsletter. They also host #SMTLive chats on Twitter on a variety of social media topics. You can find recaps of their past Twitter chats on their website.

Social Media Examiner

This website makes a good companion for Social Media Today. It provides a deeper dive into social media marketing, with expert advice from some of the leading marketers in the space.

They have a variety of ways for you to receive updates. They post articles and have a robust YouTube channel full of tutorials and shows about social media marketing. They also have two podcasts chock full of information about social media and more expert interviews.

Do you have an expert that should be added to this list? Let me know in the comments!

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