Market Your Libary

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Librarians always strive to do more with less but now the stakes are higher than ever. Today’s patrons — especially digital natives — default to open Web resources like Google and Wikipedia for research. Many are not aware of the range of resources and services that your library has to offer.

To remedy this situation, you can develop targeted, high-impact,low-cost marketing campaigns to help direct them to the resources and discovery tools you have made available to them. You don’t have to be an expert to develop strategies that will engage and motivate your customers—your patrons—to use your products (content) and services (technology). A good campaign will include several methods to reach and engage the patrons in your library: on your Web site, on your walls where they work, and in print. Now is the time to create a marketing campaign.

Where To Begin

The first thing to do is understand your audience and their experiences with your library. You can decode the user experience at your library by interviewing your patrons, then use this information to help develop a plan for marketing your library to your patrons. Use this information to identify user patterns. You might ask them questions like these:

  • Why do they use your library?
  • What triggers their usage?
  • What needs remain to be filled?
  • Once they discover something, do they use it again?
  • Do they tell others about it?

What are the Most Critical User Groups for the Success of Your Library?

Create personas for each group:

  • How do your user support capabilities stack up versus their expectations?
  • How can you build a better capability to reach each group?
  • What are the key messages for each group?

Set Objectives that can be Measured

It is best to set goals for each type of user—how can you help them meet their needs?—, and measure progress. This can be as simple as using a registration process to capture e-mail addresses you then can follow up with e-mails, alerts, RSS feeds, etc.

Count heads and opt-ins. Or use promotions to drive response to a Web site destination. Then use Google Analytics or other free software to track and understand traffic and how you might follow up on it…

Use your Toolbox

Push your message for short term intro by using publicity to get the word out - radio, print doesn’t have to be expensive. Use public service annoucements and local media. Write articles and share them with the media.

Advertising too doesn’t have to be expensive. Piggyback on existing institutional publications, maybe do some trades.

Ads on your Web pages, events, reminders: mouse pads, pens, buttons, etc.

Pull patrons closer to further inform and engage using your Web site, blogs, newsletters/RSS feeds/Alerts, on-site promotion using fliers, posders, etc.; and provide how-to guides, demos, etc.

Signs, calendars, posters, table tents, social networking (go where they are: Facebook, Twitter)

Marketing can help cut costs: use input to dtermine which services are most valuable

Make Your Web Site Work for All It's Worth

Tell your patrons what you have and how it can help them. Help patrons easily identify search boxes, links, and other discovery features. Make them prominent on the home page. Place small advertisements on your Web pages to increase their visibility. Reinforce their visibility with print and other materials on your tables and walls. You then can enhance patron confidence with training using Web-based tutorials and videos.