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How to Unlock Empathy to Make Library Marketing Mean Something

Imagine the worst day you’ve ever had on the job. You probably remember what happened and the emotions you felt as you tried to deal with the situation. What helped you to work through it?

It’s likely you pulled aside a friend, a co-worker, or called your spouse or parent and vented about the day. Maybe you had an adult beverage and cooked your favorite food when you got home. Perhaps you took a bubble bath or went on a walk. Maybe you did all those things! In any case, the talking part–where you shared your day, the way you handled the situation, and your frustrations–is likely the one thing that made you feel significantly better. Talking with someone who sympathizes with you is infinitely more helpful than a bubble bath or a beer.

Margaret Magnarelli of Monster ran us through that mind exercise during this year’s Content Marketing World in her session on empathy in marketing. It’s so simple. But it made me realize that libraries are uniquely positioned to put empathy marketing to work. Magnarelli says by using the psychology of caring, we can amplify our content marketing results. It’s not that we shouldn’t use data to make more informed decisions, according to Magnarelli. But if we don’t combine facts with feelings, we’ll sacrifice relationships.

Research shows empathy in marketing increases engagement. Think about your personal Facebook feed. Every day, you are responding emotionally–with emojis, comments, and shares–to the thoughts, struggles, celebrations, and memories of your family and friends. Marketing with empathy is the same thing. When you respond with emotion to your cardholders, you create a bond that builds trust and loyalty.

Libraries have the resources, staff, and training to put empathy into our marketing–more so than many brands. It’s not a new concept to us. We do it every day, in every interaction with cardholders. You probably never even considered it. I certainly didn’t! Magnarelli says we can transition from day-to-day empathetic interactions to empathy in marketing. It’s really kind of easy. The first step is to listen to our cardholders.

Marketing advice always includes a line about how listening to your customers is important. But most of us are not actually practicing deep listening with our cardholders. Deep listening requires you to shut off the internal voices that start defending your library and your marketing while your cardholder is trying to make a point. Shut off that inner voice that says “Yes, but…” when a cardholder explains a problem they have a problem, concern, or a need. Don’t listen for the things you or your library board or the front-line staff want to hear. Listen with no preconceived notions.

The more you’re exposed to your cardholders’ feelings, the more you can mirror them. When you mirror their feelings, you can create solutions to their problems. Then you can market those solutions. Magnarelli explains it like this: When a good friend listens to your problems, they usually ask you questions about your issues. They don’t try to insert themselves into your conversation. They want to understand your challenges. They validate what you say. “Yes, your boss is a jerk.” “Yes, your co-worker is acting inappropriately.” “Yes, that way of doing things seems very inefficient.” Then the friend will usually suggest a solution. You feel better. The next time you have an issue, you open up to that friend again because you remember they helped you solve the first problem. That’s what we want in marketing–for our cardholders to come back to us because we listen, validate, and solve problems!

Once you’ve listened to your cardholders, you need to validate their concerns. This action builds trust, according to Magnarelli. Be sure to say, “I understand the problem.” Magnarelli says that simple phrase, called the echo effect, is scientifically proven to increase rapport and likability. Magnarelli also suggests using the word “you” in your blog, email, and social media post headlines. Insert sentences that show they understand where the customer is coming from.

Once you know what the problem is, and you’ve validated it, you can take marketing action. Your marketing messages can teach cardholders about solutions to their problems that incorporate your library. You can inspire your cardholders to do good works. You can focus on the positive aspects of your library–not the negative aspects of your competitors.

The problem and the solution don’t have to be something profound or grand. It can be something simple. I have an example of this from a recent email campaign. My library has a personalized reading recommendation service called Book Hookup. Cardholders use a form on the website to tell a librarian what books and genre of reading they like. Then the librarian gives them three personalized reading recommendations. When we send the emails promoting this service, I try to use empathy in my subject lines. To parents I say, “You’ve got a lot to do. Let us pick out your next favorite book.” To teens I say, “Read something YOU want to read for a change. Let us pick something based on your favorite books.”

It sounds silly and basic. But empathy in marketing is effective. To your cardholder, it feels less like promotion and more like help. You can lead your cardholders to a solution. That makes the world a better place. And knowing that you’ve made the lives of your cardholders a little better will make you feel good too. After all, we work in a library because we want to help people and change the world!

Now, I need your help. I want to write a post about self-care for the library marketer. What do you do to make sure you don’t lose your mind when you market your library? Please fill out this form to share your tips for other library marketers. What do you do at work and at home to maintain your sanity? If you don’t wish to share your name or where you work, just say so in the appropriate lines. Thanks!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms!

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Outstanding YouTube Channels Every Library Marketing Insider Must Watch


It’s important to make professional growth a part of your day as a library marketer. How else will you get better at your job? Keeping up-to-date with changes in the marketing industry is difficult. You can read blogs and Tweets and attend webinars. But I find that videos can engage and inspire in ways that the written word or a 60-minute online seminar cannot.

I subscribed to a couple of channels on YouTube where I go to watch videos once a week. These channels help me to stay up-to-date on new technology and give me new ideas to put into practice at my library. Here are the five channels every library marketing insider should subscribe to for marketing inspiration!

Andrew and Pete

Andrew and Pete run a marketing agency and they’re hilarious. Their videos are full of energy, funny moments, and engaging graphics. But it’s the content that really hooked me. Their ideas and tips can be put to work for your library right away. They don’t push expensive software or radical workflow changes. They’re all about real-world results. Their explanations are clear and make complete sense. They’re very customer and results focused. Sign up for their weekly email and get a link to their videos emailed directly to you!

Razorsocial with Ian Cleary

Ian runs a global digital and content marketing company from his home base of Ireland. He’s got a conversational style of speaking. Like Andrew and Pete, Ian has a lot of really good, easy-to-implement tips that you can use at your library. He’s incredibly smart and has the best insights on blog promotion. His video series also includes tips on video marketing to podcasting. He’s got an entire playlist of how-to videos for all kinds of marketing challenges.

Jessica Stansberry

I recently discovered Jessica while looking for a tutorial on how to use Trello. She’s got lots of how-to videos about blogging, Facebook, YouTube, and video marketing. Her videos are fun to watch, beautifully produced, and easy to follow.

HubSpot

I love HubSpot’s free online marketing courses and their YouTube channel is really just a visual extension of their commitment to educating marketers. Their videos are broken down into categories like creativity, brand awareness, and social media. They’re recently uploaded a bunch of material on artificial intelligence and chatbots. I know from some of the library marketing chat boards on LinkedIn and Facebook that many of you are curious about AI and chatbots. I recommend you start here!

Whiteboard Friday from Moz

The main Moz channel is packed with lots of videos about SEO and website links. And you should make time in your week for their Whiteboard Friday videos featuring Rand Fishkin and his team. Their short, concise, and visually appealing. The videos focus mainly on Google and web design, two topics that library marketing needs to take more time to consider. There are also videos in the series on social media.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms! 

Now is the Time: How to Market Your Library During the Trump Presidency

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We take it for granted that people know what libraries do on a daily basis, beyond lending books. I’m here to tell you that your cardholders likely don’t understand all the ways your library contributes to their community. They don’t know that you have meeting space. They don’t know you do outreach work. They don’t know about your literacy initiatives, your job and career readiness programs, and your library’s dedication to the free and open access of information to all people. Now is the time to make sure they understand.

For many of our cardholders, the world is changing drastically under President Trump. They feel less safe and secure. They may be the target of hateful rhetoric in public and private forums. With the proliferation of inaccurate news, they can’t figure out whether they can believe anything they read. In the midst of this chaos, I see an opportunity–and a duty–in this historic moment for libraries.

It’s time for your library to launch a content marketing initiative designed to educate the public about the importance of your institution. And I don’t mean that in the broad sense of the word. We’re going to have to be specific. There are four big points that all libraries need to emphasize to our communities. We can do this together, through stories published on our blogs, eNewsletters, and in our print publications. We must all work together toward re-educating the public about the library’s important role in American society. These are the four big points we need to make in our marketing during Trump’s Presidency.

Make sure your public understands libraries are open and inclusive places where anyone is welcome and all information is shared openly, without judgement. Librarians are proud of their industry’s commitment to free and fair access of information to all. Those of us working inside the library world have always known this was the case but it’s time to emphasize and reaffirm this commitment publicly to our cardholders. Don’t assume they know it. You need to tell your cardholders that your collection is diverse, that your librarian’s are non-judgmental, and that your building is a safe public space shared by everyone, no matter their beliefs.

Emphasize your library’s privacy policy. Many in your community are likely worried about the government’s wide-reaching ability to track and analyze data gathered by looking at social media accounts, emails, and the like.  But unlike many companies, libraries are fiercely protective of their cardholders’ privacy. Now is the time to let your cardholders know that your library is committed to making sure they can use the collection without worrying about whether anyone will be able see what they’re reading, watching, or listening to.

Market your library’s ability to provide factual information in an age of inaccuracy. A Pew Research Center study conducted in the spring of 2016 found that 37 percent of Americans feel that public libraries contribute “a lot” to their ability to discern which information they can trust, a 13-point increase from a survey conducted at a similar point in 2015. My library decided to dedicate the cover story of our upcoming issue of Library Links (releasing on Feb. 6) to explain how our librarians can help the public to fact-check. We listed several databases with remote access and made sure the readers know they can call, chat, or email us anytime or set up an appointment with a librarian who will help them do the research they need. This is a valuable service that isn’t offered anywhere else and we should be sure the public knows about it.

Make sure your public knows that your library’s primary goal has been, and always will be, to promote literacy in your community–and why that is important. This is the most important tenant of our profession. Increased literacy for everyone improves every aspect of community life. Find ways to make sure your cardholders know that this will continue to be a point of emphasis for your institution and why they should care.

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.

Nine Writing Tools That Will Change the Way Your Market Your Library

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The great marketing and writing expert Ann Handley said in a recent session at the Content Marketing World conference, “Writing makes you vulnerable. There is no magic feather in writing. It’s more ephemeral than words but it seems elusive and difficult. Writing is a muscle that you need to exercise every day.”

Boy, isn’t that the truth. Not only do you have to come up with ideas to write about, there are a thousand things to think about when you write–your punctuation, your grammar, your spelling, staying conversational, writing in your brand voice, and really just trying to make any sense whatsoever. Getting past your nerves and cranking out that ugly first draft can seem like a monumental undertaking. There’s nothing more intimating than a blank screen.

I have something to give to you this week. Here are nine writing tools that you had no idea existed. Don’t worry, I didn’t either! I learned about these from Handley and they’ve really changed the way I write in the past few months. I hope they rock your world too.

Pocket: A place to store ideas.

Google Scholar: A special Google search engine with access to research studies on any subject.

Boardreader: Another search engine designed to comb through bulletin boards, press releases, and other obscure pieces of content to find facts and information.

Buzzsumo: Find out what your competitors are writing about and how it performs or find keywords that are performing high to uncover the topic you should write about next.

Ubersuggest.io: Find keywords not available in Google Keyword Planner. Another great place to search for trending topics and get ideas about what to write.

Blog About by Impact: Having a hard time coming up with a title for your blog post or article or coming up with an idea in general? This site has thousands of fill-in-the-blank prompts that can help you to brainstorm your next topic. It’s a great place to visit when you’re suffering from writer’s block.

Ilys.com: This tool is weirdly hypnotic. You tell it how many words you want to write and then it forces you to keep writing. It helps you to muzzle your inner critic and crank out that ugly first draft. It’s hard to explain. Just try it.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor This is a fascinating tool. You copy and paste a bit of text, or type directly into the tool, and then hit enter. It will point out the words that are not commonly used. For fun, I pasted in the following paragraph from earlier in this post: Writing makes you vulnerable. There is no magic feather in writing. It’s more ephemeral than words but it seems elusive and difficult. Writing is a muscle that you need to exercise every day. Plus there are a thousand things to think about when you write–your punctuation, your grammar, your spelling, staying conversation, writing in your brand voice, and really just trying to make any sense whatsoever. Getting past your nerves and cranking out that ugly first draft can seem like a monumental undertaking. There’s nothing more intimating than a blank screen.  And Up-Goer told me the following words were not among the most commonly used: VULNERABLE, MAGIC, FEATHER, EPHEMERAL, ELUSIVE, DIFFICULT, MUSCLE, EXERCISE, PLUS, THOUSAND, PUNCTUATION, GRAMMAR, SPELLING, BRAND, WHATSOEVER, NERVES, CRANKING, UGLY, DRAFT, MONUMENTAL, UNDERTAKING, INTIMATING, BLANK, SCREEN.

Why does this matter? It helps you to write more conversationally. You don’t have to change your text based on every suggestion. But at least it will help you to review the language you are using so you can really make sure your writing is going to make sense to the average reader.

HemingwayAppA really fascinating text editor that gives you suggestions on words to change or cut to make your writing clearer and bolder. This is great if you don’t have a person serving as your editor. It’s not free but it is worth it.

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.

Why Marketing to Teenagers is THE MOST IMPORTANT Job You Have Right Now

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Teenagers are the future of my library and yours. But traditional marketing fails to reach these media-savvy kids. So how do libraries build the foundation for a life-long relationship with this demographic?

Here’s the thing: It’s not all about technology!

Teenagers are not alien beings. I have a teenager and an almost teenager… ages 16 and 12. And they are growing up in a different world but they’re not that much different from the adults I interact with. They are not aliens. They’re just people in progress!

But I do look at my girls and think about how their generation is the future of my library. And then I feel anxious because traditional marketing fails to reach these connected, media-savvy kids. A study recently released by the McCarthy Group that showed teens trust their closest friends the most–and marketers the least! So right off the bat, we’re in trouble.

Building the foundation for a life-long library relationship between libraries and teens is tricky. But I’m not giving up and neither should you! Marketing to teenagers is an important job for our libraries–maybe the most important task we face right now.

Why do teens matter to a library? Duh, they’re the future. Of course, we worry about hooking teens and converting them into lifelong library users. But let’s break that down a bit. Why is it so important that we get teens to use the library and to understand the importance of the library as part of the community?

They are a big segment of our population. More than 12 percent of the people in the United States are between the ages of 10 and 19 years old. That amounts to almost 42 million people… enough people to fill my hometown of Cincinnati 49 times over. We can’t afford to allow a population segment that large to lose interest in the library.

Teens are the gatekeepers to modern trends. They have more information than ever. Style is no longer dictated to teens by TV, movies, and magazines. Teens are deciding trends for themselves. And they’re influencing older generations, passing taste and technology to their parents. They are the driving force behind their family’s technology shift. Why does this matter to libraries? Because a teen who believes their library is an important part of their life will exert an influence over the rest of their family and will affect the library behavior of the entire family.

What are we up against? The internet. I don’t have to tell you that today’s kids are connected. If they want to know something, they Google it. They find directions and order food and clothes online. They watch movies and TV shows online. They research papers online. They live online. A survey from Business Insider found that teens spend an average of 11 hours a day in front of some kind of screen. You can look at that as a constraint or a strength, and your perspective may affect the success of your library marketing efforts. We need to make sure our websites are mobile friendly, that our apps have the best design possible to make it easy for teens to use, and we need to make sure we provide as much content as possible online because that’s where kids are.

They think we’re old-fashioned. I did an unscientific survey of my daughter’s friends, about 15 kids. I asked them which of these words best described their image of the library.  The choices were: reliable, cheerful, trendy, old-fashioned, successful, stodgy, imaginative, and intelligent. The good news is that none of them answered stodgy! But the most frequent answer was old-fashioned. We have an image problem. So part of our approach to marketing to teens is to solve that.

Teens are insanely busy. The American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that teens spend the majority of their day, an average of nine hours, sleeping, seven hours a day in school, two hours of sports or extracurricular activities, two hours watching TV or texting with friends and four hours are split between work, religious activities, eating, grooming, and leisure activities, which includes reading and writing. If you’re having trouble getting teens to attend programs, this is why. It’s got to be really, really good to get them to make time for you in their schedule.

Teens are less loyal to brands and businesses than older generations. They’re not as nostalgic. Teens aren’t just going to use your services because it’s the thing that their parents or grandparents did.

Alright ,so now that you’re completely despondent and you are ready to throw in the towel… let’s figure out how to make this work. We don’t have to give up on teens and, as we mentioned, we don’t want to give up on them! We want them to be a part of the library. So how do we do that?

Next up, I’ll share a total of 13 easy tips that will help you market to teenagers. All of these tips cost little or no money and can be implemented right now in your library! Here’s the first set of tips. 

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.

Give People What They Really Want: Why You Should Market Services

GIVEHave you thought lately about why people sign up for a library card? I had the chance to work a booth at a public celebration where people could sign up for their first library card. I learned so much from interacting with patrons. And the story I heard, over and over again, was how excited these new cardholders were to get their hands on the books and resources that they knew they can check out, for free, from their library.

That’s what we should be promoting.

The most research study of library usage by the Pew Research Institute, published in September 2015, shows that 66 percent of library cardholders use their card to check out items… books, magazines, CDs, and more. Only 17 percent of library cardholders say they use their card to attend programs, classes, or lectures.

I’m not advocating that you stop promoting programs altogether. What I’m advocating is that you choose your program promotions carefully, based on your library’s overall strategic goals, and stop promoting all programs all the time. Intersperse your program marketing with collection based or service based marketing. I have talked before about collection marketing before on this blog and I know I will again! But our library has also had success with service-based marketing. It works because it’s what people really want from their library. Here’s a great example.

We have a great new reading recommendation service at our library called Book Hookup. It provides cardholders with three book recommendations, based on their literary tastes.  We decided this spring, once the service was running smoothly and all processes were in place, to begin to market to our customers. As we worked out the kinks of the service, we put signs in branches and had a few requests trickle in from cardholders who either saw the signs or ran across the service on our website.

For the major marketing play, we initiated a  plan for a multi-tiered approach. We sent targeted email messages to cardholders in specific clusters whom we thought would want to use the service: print book lovers, people who use the full breadth and depth of the library collection, and people who use both eBooks and print books. We sent these three emails over the course of three weeks, at a rate of one per week.

A few weeks after the emails, we started displaying a slide that advocated the use of the Book Hookup service on our digital screens at all branches year-round. We scheduled regular, rotating social media messages encouraging the use of the service. And on occasion, we put a graphic on our homepage reminding our cardholders that this service is available.

What happened? From the targeted email messages ALONE we gathered more than 900 requests for book recommendations. Throughout the following months, requests continue to  trickle in, but spike when we put the service in the forefront of social media or on the homepage.

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This fall, we are planning another set of email messages, aimed at all of our email personas, from eBook users to audiobook lovers to people who haven’t used the library for six months or more. My theory is that I’m more likely to convince one person who hasn’t checked anything out in six months to use a service than to attend a program. And my job is to get them back through the door of library usage so that I can market other things to them. If I can turn a non-user or inactive user into a user, that’s a huge win.

I challenge you to look at your services to find out what your cardholders use. Ask yourself what they might use if they knew their library card would give them access to it. A couple of great services for libraries to market are Consumer Reports, The New York Times, Mango Languages, and Lynda.com. If you have any of these resources, you should be marketing them to your cardholders. That’s the stuff people want!!

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 Big Fat Failure and What I Learned From It

My Big Fat

I have a library marketing routine. Every six months, I go through all the promotions we’ve done and take a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. I adjust my email sending schedule and my promotional plans for the next six months based on the data I’ve gleaned from cardholders who’ve interacted with our messages and promotions.

This time, within about ten minutes of starting this process, I was reminded of what could be considered our library’s biggest promotional failure to date. It was an experiment, so the sting is lessened by the knowledge that we intended for this campaign to be a learning experience.

Yea, Ang, keep telling yourself that.

We have one library in our system with a cardholder cluster distribution that is something of a miracle. This branch is a perfect representative of our entire system as a whole. It makes it an amazing test subject for any promotion.

So our idea was to convince occasional users of that branch–people who only come in every couple of months–to come back to the branch by offering them a free gift in exchange for checking out any item. It was January and snow was swirling and we had these amazing library-branded snow scrapers. Maybe that sounds lame to you but trust me, at outreach events, those babies are flying off the table. In any case, we actually did not identify the free gift in the promotion. Our overall library strategic goal this year was to increase physical visits to the branch, and this promotion fell in line with that strategy.

So we identified the target audience with the help of Orangeboy, Inc., the company that manages our email promotions. Through them, we were able to pinpoint occasional users. We took a two-prong approach. We sent those cardholders a postcard, asking them to come into the branch with the postcard for their free gift. We also sent them a targeted email a week after the postcard, which you can see below.

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We sent the email during a time period identified as successful for library emails in our system–on a Wednesday night at 7 p.m. 735 people got the email and the postcard.

The email’s vanity metrics were pretty good…  51.29% open rate and 5.57% click thru rate. But the overall results–getting people to come in and use the branch–was not exciting. 6.6% of recipients came in to claim a prize. Eight were email recipients. 41 people brought in their postcard.

What did we learn from this? Well, a couple of things may have been at play. Perhaps occasionals don’t use the library often because they can’t get to it physically. Perhaps they just don’t want to enter the building. A digital campaign–driving occasional users to our eBranch in exchange for a gift–may be more effective, although we’d have to work out the logistics of getting a gift to someone who doesn’t want to come into a branch.  Perhaps it was the timing. The weather turned out to be pretty miserable, with record-breaking snowfall in the week after the postcard went out.  The week in which the email was sent was mild. However, if we tried it in the spring or summer, we may have better luck.

And although I generally look at this as a failed promotion, I can say that we convinced 49 people who haven’t used the library in a long time to do so!  Circulation at that branch increased by at least 49 items that month. It just seems like a lot of money and effort for a small result.

Still, we’ll keep experimenting with unique ways to draw our old customers back to our branch. Have you done something similar? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear how your library is working to increase physical visitors.

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.

The Million-Dollar Reason You Need to Market Your Library’s Collection

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$250,000 vs. $8 million.

That’s the spread between the amount my library spends on programming and the amount they spend on collections.

I bet if you checked your library, you’d find a similar story. So why, my dear friends, do library marketers spend the majority of their time and effort promoting programs?

$275,000

Please understand me. I’m not saying that library programming isn’t important or worth promoting. Library programs nourish the soul of our community and offer cultural and educational opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access to them. Most library programs are a valuable and important part of the library’s mission to serve the community. And they deserve to be marketed!

But most library marketing teams spend their energy and resources promoting those programs. And they miss an undeniably important fact about library usage. Library cardholders want the books. They’re checking out books. That’s why they signed up for a library card!

A study by the Pew Research Center published in September 2015 shows 66 percent of library cardholders use their card to borrow books. Only 17 percent attend a library program, class, or lecture. Think about what people say when they sign up a library card. Most are going to tell you they are excited to check stuff out! We take it for granted that people know we have circulation items–books, magazines, music, and more. We need to stop that.

If we want to compete with Amazon and other bookstores, we have to promote our main asset–the collection. People are hungry for information about new stuff in the collection. And every time I talk to someone about the library and I mention that we loan eBooks, eAudiobooks and downloadable music, they look at me like I have two heads. We’re spending a ton of money to build our collection and our customers don’t really know it’s there. When they want a newly released book, who do your cardholders think of first–you or Amazon?

Before I was a library marketer, I worked as a television news producer. That means I put together each night’s newscast, decided which stories were told, in what order, and how they were told. Every year, our news director would bring in a consulting firm whose job it was to help us improve our shows and increase our viewership. I was proud of my work as a journalist. But when I was presented with the feedback from focus groups, it was clear that most viewers were watching my show for the weather. Hearing what was going on in the world was nice, but what they really wanted to know was whether it would rain the next day.

In television news, weather is king. In libraries, the collection is king. Collection marketing is a valuable investment for every library. The best way to market the collection is through targeted emails. In the next few blog posts, I’ll be sharing some secrets for targeted email messaging–things I’ve learned in the 18 months that we’ve done so at my library.

But you can start collections marketing right now through social media–especially Twitter and Pinterest– and by featuring books on the front page of your website.  Create themed book lists–you can enlist your collections development department for help with that task. Talk about new books and popular books in your podcast or on your blog.

For a few minutes every day, spend some time marketing your collection. It will increase circulation and will help reinforce the image of your library as a place of vast resources in the eyes of your cardholders.

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.

Improve Your Writing With Seven Tools

Write Amazing Library (1)

You’ve banished your fear of writing to become a better library marketer. You’ve learned how to unearth amazing content marketing stories about your library. Now, it’s time to get good at the real writing part of the equation. I’ve picked out seven tools to help you. Some are blog posts, some are eBooks and books, some are podcasts. You’ll be able to get through all seven in less than two weeks time and you will emerge inspired and ready to write!

Begin with the Beginner’s Guide to Storytelling from Quicksprout. The whole eBook is full of insightful and inspiring tips for writers, but this chapter really applies to the series we’ve recently covered on the blog. It explains every aspect of brand storytelling and includes exercises to help you structure your story, find your library brand voice, and create a style guide.

Go deeper into technique with Writtent.com’s 15 Storytelling Techniques for an Amazing Brand Story. With more advice for mastering pace, story pattern, and adding visuals through descriptive language, this post is a must-read for anyone who writes content marketing for libraries. It includes great examples of each lesson, including a write-up on the most creative inter-office memo in the history of corporate America. What does that have to do with library content marketing? Just read it. You’ll understand.

Not a fan of writing? Then you’ll appreciate Content Marketing for People Who Hate Writing from Contently. This post is full of great examples of content marketing efforts that involved very little long-form writing. Think about how much information and brand awareness is packed into product packaging. Could your library duplicate that? I think it’s worth thinking about!

Read or listen to the book Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. It’s life-changing. I’m only putting the Amazon link in here to help you to find the book in your library. I guarantee you have it and if you have Overdrive, you’ll have the audiobook version. You MUST read this. It is inspiring. It eliminates fear. Writing is something you can do, and Handley will show you how it’s possible.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling: MY NEW FAVORITE DISCOVERY!  Each element is clickable and explained in detail. They’re based on TV tropes but it’s completely translatable into other storytelling genres, including content marketing. There are also suggestions for putting elements together to make unforgettable stories. Send this one to every member of your team and make a point to read one element each day until you’ve read them all, as an exercise for stretching your creative mind. It’s just plain fun to read and will spawn all kinds of great discussions about popular culture and stories among your staff.

Get help with your editing using Grammarly. It’s not a substitute for a human editor but it’s a great way to give your pieces a first look for spelling and grammar errors, sentence structure problems, run-on sentences, and punctuation issues. You can add words using the personal dictionary function, which is helpful for those quirky instances that may be part of your library style guide. For instance, my library always capitalizes Library so I’m constantly fighting other apps and trying to explain why I’ve got a randomly capitalized word in the middle of a sentence!

Finally, be inspired by smart people and listen to the Longform podcast. Each week, hosts Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff interview a non-fiction writer about their life, their process, and their fears about writing. It’s a fascinating conversation and I love it because Lammer, Linksky, and Ratliff unearth the truth about writing… it’s gritty, raw stages and the hopes and fears of other writers. It will make you feel like a kindred spirit to your brethren toiling to put words onto paper.

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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