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4 Steps to Develop an Effective Marketing Campaign for Your Library
Libraries are centers of knowledge that serve corporations, specialized research disciplines, organizations, and members of the public. However, the information age has affected the attitude of many towards libraries and their value. Many people believe all they need is the internet.
Some libraries are attracting fewer users to their physical space, although not necessarily less use. In fact, usage in some sectors is increasing. Nonetheless, Softlink believes that marketing your library’s resources and services reinforces their value and the personalized “experiences” on offer. It’s what makes them unique.
1. What is the USP of Your Library in the Information Age?
You already know libraries (or knowledge centers) are essential.
Whether a business is marketing a soft drink or you are marketing your library, the first question is the same. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? If every variety of soft drink has a USP so too does your library, for example:
Libraries are cost-effective – Once a person has gained entry, there are generally no further costs. Every resource on the premises is at their disposal, free of charge.
Libraries contain more specialized knowledge – For professionals like doctors and lawyers, libraries are indispensable. A dedicated legal or medical library includes a vast amount of information not freely available online due to privacy rules.
The value of human interaction – Librarians are familiar with their library space, its resources, and the services available. Researching and managing knowledge is your forte. You can locate what resources your users need, quickly and efficiently, in whatever format.
2. Who is your target audience?
Identifying the differentiators for your library enables you to define your target audience. For a public library, understanding their local demographics is crucial. In the case of specialized corporate, legal, or medical libraries, the general user base is already defined to some extent.
Internal and external research will clarify your target market. Do this by seeking information from relevant stakeholders, for example:
Your staff members – Have they identified anything that the library is lacking? What potential users would benefit by their services?
Your users – Why do they use the library? What do they like about it? Do they feel that any resources or services are lacking?
Prospective/non-users – Why don’t they use the library and available services? Where do they source the information they need? What would they like to see provided by the library and the staff?
Running analytical reports against your data will provide the additional information you need. This includes:
- Your users’ profiles – department, role, teams, and responsibilities.
- The most used resources or services in the current environment.
- Resources less used – this will give you further scope for stakeholder discussions.
- Peak usage times.
- Percentage of frequent users and information requests.
- Percentage of those who rarely use the library, if at all – discussions with these potential stakeholders can provide valuable information.
Collating all the relevant data will provide you with how to best:
- Enhance existing services.
- Implement further services.
- Manage resources and materials to fit your users’ needs.
You now know your target market, what they want, don’t want, who they are, and what you can potentially implement or change. This helps to set specific and achievable goals, for example:
- Increase the number of visitors or contacts to the library by 10% within six months.
- Reach at least 1000 doctors in the building within six months through pre-defined communication channels.
Setting goals not only helps with determining how you market your library and services to your users. It also enables you to track whether the marketing strategy you develop is working.
4. Tools to Market Your Library and Services
There are many ways to market your library and services. How you develop and deliver the marketing “campaign” for your library is dependent on the technological tools you have available.
You can research and acquire third party products if your library system does not offer any features that can be used to do so.
If you have an integrated library system (ILS) like Liberty, you already have an easy to use and cost-effective tool available. Its highly customizable homepage with information panels can be used to effectively market:
- Your services – always highlight how you can be contacted.
- User surveys and feedback requests.
- Catalogue access and search tips.
- Self-help options.
- Customized Subject Lists.
Other tools include:
- An easily downloadable mobile app to provide access to the library’s resources and services anywhere via mobile devices.
- Deliver automated notifications such as new items based on users’ interests, items on loan or reserve.
Your library is a commodity, just like any other. The end game is to increase usage and build a belief in the value of your library to users. Following the steps provided will help you to design an effective marketing “campaign” for your library.
After all, people didn’t just decide a particular soft drink was a necessity of life on their own. Effective marketing convinces them that it is. Marketing can inspire the same about libraries and librarians with less potentially adverse outcomes, and less cost!
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