How in the world does this concept apply to you and your job? At its very core – this is a simple concept. We all need to make our library as successful as it can possibly be. We can do this in a variety of ways, but making sure that people actually know about the services that we offer is critical. Some of our best marketing might be through word of mouth or happenstance, but there are many ways in which we can think critically about how we approach this topic.
Of course, we are very lucky at SAPL to have our very own Marketing team to carry a large part of the burden, but there is still a great deal of marketing work that falls to other library staff members. This lesson will help you prepare for those times and hopefully teach you a few new tricks along the way!
Let me ask you this…
- Do you often create flyers or displays for patrons?
- Have you had to make a presentation to a group about library services?
- Have you wanted to increase your marketing efforts so that they are more effective?
- Do you want better attendance at your programs?
- What do you really know about your community’s needs?
- Do you want to help your branch or department really feel success?
I hope you answered “yes” to at least the last question, if not a few more. Let’s preface by saying that marketing is a huge subject and we couldn’t possibly begin to cover it all. In this lesson we have two main objectives:
- Creating and implementing marketing strategies and;
- Creating attractive and effective marketing.
So let’s get started!
Part One: Creating and Implementing Marketing Strategies
What do you know about the community that you are serving? Most communities are diverse, but recognizing what the large percentage of your community is made up of may also help you determine their needs, wants and desires. It can also help you formulate a plan on how best to serve them.
The Business Decisions database is a very useful and simple tool that lets you look at the demographics of your community.
Once you log in to the Business Decisions database, you might even find a report template for your library already created. For the sake of this lesson though, let’s start from scratch.
Select “new project” and give it name. Use the “Point on the Map” option and then put in your library’s address. There several ways to customize from this point on – but the first one is your service radius. It defaults to 1, 2 and 3 mile radius – play around with this to see what different results you get. Most library reports are commonly run with 1, 3 and 5 radiuses.
Select Save and Choose Reports – now you can select all of the reports you want run on this address. There is a lot of variety in the reports and many useful statistics to be found. The Demographic and Income Comparison report is an exceptionally worthwhile report to run. Go ahead and pick a few that seem interesting to you and then select the option to run the reports.
That’s it! There’s more you can do with Business Decisions besides running these reports though.
For example, I can search the zip code of the Igo Library and then look at their recreational spending. Look at all of these crazy people PAYING for their books! And if the people in the Igo area have spent nearly $300,000 on Digital Book Readers – maybe we should make sure they know about the Library’s digital offerings or that we have classes that help people learn to use their eReader.
A Few Other Ideas…
Show off your results! Take lots of pictures from your events and use your branch’s small picture frame or larger digital display to show off the fun everyone had. The more people see the enjoyment others are having, the more likely they are to join in.
Don’t forget that you can talk with the Marketing department to get some more ideas about what you could be doing to increase your effectiveness.
Reach out to local HOAs. Most have newsletters or information they post to their community members. Get in touch with the local apartment complexes and ask to put a library brochure in their welcome packet. Think about how you can market to different groups and what they might want to know the library offers. And carefully examine what groups are near your library – and then think about who is using your library. What groups are you not seeing? How can you reach out to them? Do you offer something that they want to come for?
Take some time to really think this over. The more focused you are in your efforts, the more likely your marketing will be received well.