Student Learning Objective 7
The student applies advocacy, marketing and communication principles for entrepreneurial leadership.
People can not use what they do not know exists. Developing and implementing plans to reach current and potential patrons is a necessary task of librarianship. Understanding how the library benefits the intended users is key to creating effective plans. Effective marketing goes to the patrons rather than simply prepare for their arrival. Providing high quality coffee through a shop in the lobby is a great tool to attract users, but depending on people happening by or word of mouth to spread the information is not nearly as effective as a spot on the local news about the additional service or an email to everyone who has ever shown an interest in the library. Many people are addicted to social networks on their phones so it would be foolish to ignore that opportunity to inform potential patrons there of the services available in the library. Seeking innovative ways to publicise, provide, and expand services is important to the life of the library and advocating for its importance.
A video advertisement is a common, effective marketing tool. Marketing professionals create very polished, targeted advertisements that effectively alter behavior. Technology now enables even lowly graduate students to make videos and the Public Service Announcement project in LIS 635 is an opportunity to practice that skill. The key to a good marketing video is to have a clear message and make that message memorable. My personal effort on this reinforces the idea of collaboration being the best approach in that I am much better with the technical aspects than the idea aspects of making advertisements.
Another marketing tool is a simple email. Several times over the course of the school year I highlight an article in one of the magazines in our Flipster magazine service with a simple image from the cover and single sentence comment on an article. Usage always spikes in the two weeks after the message for the highlighted magazine as well as other titles. This shows the effectiveness of the emails at driving usage, but it also shows the temporal nature of the effect of this technique. Email works best when used for things with specific times associated with them because the lasting impact of the email itself is limited.
A website is an effective marketing tool as long as it is combined with additional tools to drive traffic to the website. A good website combines useful information in an attractive package that is updated regularly. An advantage of utilizing a website is updating the content of the site changes the message and helps drive traffic to the site. Marketing the site is a way to have a consistent message with variable content. A useful website projects a lasting image of the library and in this age of digital content may be the primary interaction for some patrons. A good website is a requirement rather than an option in the twenty-first century world.
Effective marketing requires understanding the people to whom one is marketing and creative ideas to reach them. Grey Squirrel Coffee operates a kiosk in the Chapel Hill Library not because it enhances the library collection in any manner, but because it enhances the experience of patrons visiting the library. Making the library a more pleasant place is easily the best marketing tool available because people who enjoy something will do that thing again and tell their friends. A welcoming, community atmosphere puts people in a position to receive the services the library has to offer.
Marketing takes on many forms, but underneath it all must be useful services. Providing services that meet the community needs and ensuring the community is aware of them is foundational to the success of any library. Thoughtful collection building with community needs in mind is obviously much easier to market than irrelevant material. As the interview with the executive director of Friends of Black Rock-High Rock showed, people and organizations are always open to help with known and unknown information needs. A library designed to be a vital part of a community will have a good marketing plan as part of its design.