Captain Ahab’s Fine Seafood & Other Library Marketing Tips

I recently attended a Mid-America Library Alliance (MALA) workshop called Marketing at the Point of Contact.  The class was taught by Kasey Riley, who is Communications Manager at the award-winning Johnson County Library and was previously faculty at Avila University.  You may already know her work from JoCo’s new book truck campaign:

Always a sucker for a good Moby Dick joke, I came away from the workshop with a refreshed outlook and focus.  Kasey made several chewy points that are worth pondering — and maybe even debating:

  • Libraries often try to be all things for all people… but can that dilute our message and confuse our patrons about what we can offer them?  Focusing your message (and your overall goals & strategy) can help.
  • “AIDA” is a gold standard of the marketing industry: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.  Patrons probably won’t “act” unless you’ve gotten them past the other 3 phases, first.
  • Use quantifiable goals and objectives to plan your promotional strategy.  If you want 5 more people to join your regular monthly group,  plan a strategy that will help you accomplish that specific goal.
  • “Shoot ’em Straight!” Kasey recommended using simple, positive, more customer-centric language when we communicate with our patrons, such as “Questions?” instead of “Reference,” and “Teen” instead of “YA.”
  • Another simple, positive patron communication: name tags! Aliases can be used if staff safety is a concern.

My biggest takeaway of the morning was Kasey’s multi-faceted approach to moving patrons to action, including:

  • professional & consistent signage
  • a website presence
  • social media posts (e.g. library and personal facebook & twitter pages)
  • blog posts (library and personal blogs)
  • targeted emails
  • word-of-mouth

One trick she uses is to formulate 3 bullet points about the service or event she’s promoting, and then she asks her colleagues, friends, and family to share those 3 bullet points throughout their networks, to create a ripple effect of awareness.  This is so easy to do, and I’ve already started including “please share this with your friends and family” in all of my promotional communications.

Kasey’s workshop inspired me to remain focused in my work goals and planning, and to avoid spreading myself so thin that I can’t adequately promote each special event.  I’m also excited to be developing a “promotions toolkit” for anyone at my library who hosts a special event for adults, to help demystify the process of promoting it.

Library folks: if you ever have the chance to take a workshop with Kasey Riley, I recommend it!


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