Are you marketing your library to your community effectively? Why not? Nancy Dowd, Project Lead, EBSCO Publishing; and Janie Hermann, Public Programming Librarian, Princeton Public Library addressed an overflow audience and said that there are no more excuses for not doing so!
What does your library mean to your community? What do people in your community think you are doing? Are we getting all our knowledge out to the community? In these difficult economic times, no library can afford not to prove its value. We are not only educating our audience but are persuading them to use our services. We are expected to market our libraries. Nancy discussed the steps to be undertaken in a marketing campaign:
The first thing to know is the needs of the community and who they are. Think in terms of market segments. Create conversations through social media, and listen to what your community wants. You can use that knowledge to develop your programs and services (the old way was to develop the services first, and then we wondered why people would not uses them). And don’t forget to go back over the program, evaluate it, and make necessary changes.
Jamie has developed many innovative marketing campaigns at the Princeton Public Library and makes heavy use of social media. She noted that there is a large segment of the population that is difficult to reach and may not know very much about the library and its services. For example, some Python programmers needed a place to meet and form a user group, so she offered them a room in the library, thus exposing many of the attendees to the library for the first time.
It is important to keep your focus local and connect with the community. Jamie joined the Princeton LinkedIn group and was able to connect with many local business people who did not use the library. She provided meeting space for a speed networking group, spoke at it, and marketed the library. She also has embedded herself in Facebook groups for participatory marketing. It is important to connect and be authentic, but still maintain the brand. She has put a collection of photos of flyers for past events on a Flickr account, and it has proven to be very popular. The Library as an Incubator Project has good suggestions for marketing children’s programs.
Electronic newsletters are still relevant as communication vehicles. They have proven to be the library’s biggest marketing tool and have a wide readership in the community.
There are no more excuses–reach out and engage!