Originally posted on SydneyPLUS blog 11/14/2014 – 12/03/2014
Following on from my blog post about the many benefits of special library marketing, I want to offer some ways to start thinking about marketing, and also to encourage you to consider developing a formal marketing plan for your library.
Before you start on any marketing activities it is important to have targets that you wish to reach through your marketing plan. In addition, you must know to whom you are marketing. After all, there is no point in directing your marketing initiative at your litigation department, if they are your main or only users. The idea is to attract and convert users who don’t currently see your library’s benefits.In order to tailor your marketing, it is important to know your users. Which departments currently use the library and which services do they use? Are there any services that they don’t use which could benefit them? Are there any departments or specific people that don’t use the library, and do you have products or services that would make their job easier? Knowing your non-users is important, as is identifying underutilized library resources. Once you have this information you are prepared to target your marketing.
Targeting your marketing is preferred over mass marketing to the organization. Why spend extra money on printing leaflets for the whole company when 60% of the employees are using your services, and 40% are not? If you constantly bombard your employees with marketing messages that aren’t relevant to them, they will start to switch off and ignore the important messages that are relevant to them. So plan ahead, and plan carefully.
How should you go about getting the message across and making people aware of library resources? You may be surprised to learn that some of the best marketing strategies are also the simplest. Here are a couple of ideas, but stay tuned for other blog posts in this series in order to give yourself a full marketing tool kit, hopefully without too much expense or effort.
It sounds like a simple idea, but posters are still a very effective marketing tool, even in today’s digital society. Make sure you use simple language as not everyone understands “library-speak.” Make it bright and eye catching and include library contact details along with necessary information about the product. Consider adding a QR code to the poster, linking people to your SydneyPLUS OPAC page specific to the database, book or other resource you’re promoting. Make sure you strategically position your posters. See if you can use departmental notice boards. Put them up in staff rooms or breakout areas. Stick one to the coffee machine! You need to get people’s attention. Even consider putting posters in places that may seem a little crazy. Why not put them in the lifts/elevators?
Send out targeted emails to the groups you are trying to attract with specific products or services. Email subject lines should be interesting and catchy to ensure they get opened. Do not make the email too long; busy people won’t read it. Try to use color and images. Your email should introduce the resource, but more importantly should describe its benefits for users. Again, be sure to use simple language and include library contact details and directions. Include a link to the product if possible or a link to your OPAC where users can access information about the item. Only send the email to the people you are targeting. Departmental email marketing is particularly attractive as it is free and can be used regularly.
Write a monthly or quarterly e-newsletter. Highlight underutilized products, and perhaps put a spotlight on a specific resource. Remember to inform people of the upside to them of using this resource; even suggest specific departments that you think would benefit from using it. Remind people how to access other resources or databases that you have and jog their memories as to how particular products may be relevant. Consider writing case studies where you interview employees and highlight the benefits they derived from your products and services. When other staff can see positive ‘real world’ examples, they may be more interested in leveraging the library themselves. Use nontechnical language – no “library-speak!” Then decide how you are going to publish the newsletter: are you going to email it to all staff? Remember that too many library emails may cause people to hit delete. Are you going to feature it on the staff intranet? Will you print off a few copies and leave them lying around the staffroom? Perhaps try several of these options. Make mention of when the next newsletter will be out so people can look forward to your next installment.
Offer training sessions or workshops on particular products or resources. Hold these at lunch times, so people don’t feel they are too busy to attend. Concentrate on a specific resource for each session, such as your SydneyPLUS OPAC, or an online database. You don’t even have to focus on library resources to start with. Instead, perhaps hold a ‘Google Master class’ to draw people in and prove that your Library staff are information retrieval experts. By demonstrating your expertise, you are likely to make users more comfortable with asking questions, and make them more trusting of your advice and suggestions. By holding events in your library, you introduce people to the environment and make them more at ease with being there. Naturally the first step is getting people through the door, so by leveraging techniques such as targeted emails, strategically located posters and eventually word of mouth you’ll be able to draw more non-users into the library to experience what is available.
The trick to effective marketing is identifying the groups that most need to hear your message and tailoring your message specifically to these people. Once you have identified your targets, try these two methods:
Collections of leaflets, flyers and other important library information can be put together and taken to your HR department (with their agreement of course) for inclusion with the welcome pack given to every new employee. This is the perfect time to get staff members interested in the library since new hires are keen to do well and prove their worth. Additionally, it may be easier to get new staff on board with innovative services and products than to influence staff members who have done things the same way for 30 years and are change resistant. The more new staff members you turn into library users, the faster the word on library benefits will spread throughout the company. As always, be sure to make your info packet accessible and eye-catching – be sure to include library contact details. List the benefits of the products you are advertising and include details on any training courses you are offering. Highlight your SydneyPLUS OPAC web address or even offer a QR code that takes smartphone users directly there.
Speak to department heads for permission to attend regular departmental meetings and get time on the agenda. Let them know you want to demonstrate how the library can save them time and money. You’ll have a captive audience. Be well prepared and spotlight one or two resources that will increase efficiency and productivity. Do not speak for too long or people will switch off. Use audio-visual tools such as PowerPoint slides or a live demo via laptop to keep people’s interest. Take your info packets with you as hand-outs, summarizing other library resources and training sessions. In order to build up trust, prove yourself to be an expert in knowledge management and information retrieval.
Why not create a marketing plan where you can set monthly goals for the coming year? Decide which resources to push, which departments and users to target, and which marketing strategies you are going to use. You may want to start small, but with each activity people will become more aware of your resources, your services, and the benefits of library usage. This in turn will bring more people through your door.
As physical libraries are reduced and resources go digital virtual services increase meaning librarians must creatively reach virtual library users
Technology skills for special librarians include evaluating old formats e.g., audio with focus on care, handling, storage, stable environmental conditions
Skills for special librarians include teaching on tools, helping users find information and what information is available, and conducting presentations.
Special librarians are organizational assets and provide unique competitive advantage; this includes diversity, inclusion, sustainability