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4 Ways to Shift Your Library Marketing Into High Gear

Marketing isn’t magic, but it is a skill. Learn how deliberate and consistent marketing can help you reach new patrons and grow your community.

4 Ways to Shift Your Library Marketing Into High Gear

Libraries offer resources to help people solve pressing problems and achieve aspirations. And, in most cases, they offer this stuff for free. How can you beat that?

But in many communities, potential patrons don’t know what their library offers. And even some longstanding patrons might not know all the ways the library can meet their needs. Why not? Simply put, the library’s marketing efforts are stuck in low gear. 

Marketing isn’t magic, but it is a skill that should be deliberately and consistently applied. While it helps to have a background in marketing, many libraries don’t have the luxury of hiring a marketer, so staff have to pick these skills up on the job. If that sounds like you, read on to learn how a few simple ideas can make your library marketing efforts more effective. 

Simple, Effective Marketing Strategies

1. Segment your audience

Most librarians think of the library as a place that serves everyone. And it does. But you can’t craft a relevant message for “everyone”. 

Think about the people you most want to reach. Who are they? Families? New immigrants? Small-business owners? Retirees? List your target audiences and customize the message to each group. Take time to figure out what matters to them so you’ll know what message resonates. Most small-business owners won’t be interested in early literacy. But they will care about how you can help them connect with customers, understand regulations, and build their networks. 

People are surrounded by customized advertisements and messages all the time. A general library marketing campaign won’t catch their attention. But, segmenting your audience and speaking their language will help you connect with the communities you want to reach. 

2. Make a plan

Identify the places (both real and virtual) where you can connect with your target audiences. Then, identify five ways you can put a message in front of them. In physical spaces, you could display fliers, signs, or posters. You might also send a staff person to visit or schedule an extra series of bookmobile stops. In virtual spaces, you could create a series of posts, invest in ads, or include new elements on your website.

Create a timeline for crafting and delivering your message, and list the outcomes you hope to see, like increased circulation or more families at storytime. Defining outcomes at the start will help you measure whether marketing efforts are successful.

3. Tell a story

Data can be a useful marketing tool. But it doesn’t always resonate as a stand-alone message. How many patrons sincerely care about the number of items you circulate or programs you offer? Data is great, and you should collect it, but it’s more powerful when you match it with stories. 

As you craft each message, make sure it tells a story the target audience can relate to. Stories don’t require a lot of words. They can be a single picture or a phrase. But they should always create emotional connections and stir peoples’ imaginations. Most importantly, a story shows your target audience how they’ll benefit from engaging with the library. For example, tell new entrepreneurs how the library supported other small businesses as they got off the ground. Better yet, get other business owners to talk about how the library helped them.

4. Measure what’s working

You’ll want to measure responses to each of your marketing messages. For virtual messages, there are often immediate ways to track responses—like clicks, impressions, reactions, and shares. For physical media, you may have to resort to old-fashioned surveys and ask people how they heard about the event or resources you’re promoting.

But whether you go high-tech or old-school, don’t neglect this step. Measuring is critical so you can refine your efforts over time. When you see what’s working, you can build on those successes. And when you know where marketing has fallen short, you can develop new strategies. 

Shift Your Marketing Into High Gear

Smart marketers don’t magically produce great results. They measure what’s working, learn from their mistakes, and find what works. You can improve your skills, even if you aren’t a professional marketer. 

At Niche Academy, our professional development tutorials can help you develop, enhance, or refine your marketing skills. Tutorials like Community Mapping for Public Libraries, Library Partnerships 101, and How to Create an E-Newsletter can help you quickly and effectively discover and reach out to new patrons. 

Set up a free trial today to get a sneak peek at some of our learning content and see how you can shift your marketing efforts into high gear today! 

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