Like most organisations, libraries are definitely under pressure to deliver services with less resources and limited budgets. While we might day dream about putting rather expensive action plans into motion, the majority of the time, we're forced to find innovative ways to achieve a great deal with very little. This most certainly includes the money spent to get new people through the doors. Marketing your library can become very expensive if we let it which is why we're going to show you a few cost effective strategies to promote your library from the comfort of your own desk.
Firstly, let’s start with what marketing is and why it is important for libraries. Basically marketing is the action of promoting your product and service to your target market – your community. It is a tool used to attract people to your library, to get them through your doors, to get them utilising your services and resources, to get them borrowing books, to get them attending workshops or activities, and to let them know of what they can do or access through your library. It is essentially a way of letting people know about you, and getting them to take an action – come in, go online to your website, engage with you through social media etc.
An example of why marketing is important, think about a low turnout at a program that was run by your library. One may assume the low turnout was a result people being uninterested in this type of program. However, you should also consider if people actually know about the program? Did your marketing reach the right people so they were aware of it? Did you use the right messaging in your marketing to make it seem palatable and of interest to your target market? Did you articulate a clear value proposition (i.e. what can they expect as a result of attending or what value is being delivered to your customer?). Also possible, is that the messaging used in your marketing wasn’t appropriate for the target market you were trying to appeal to. So many organisations underestimate the impact of their marketing activities, and often make false assumptions on the interest of a product or service, when the fault actually lies in how the product or service is being communicated to the person you are trying to attract.
Marketing doesn’t need to be difficult, but it does need to be evidence based – that is, not made on assumptions. Remember – your point of view could be completely different to many of the people you are trying to attract, particularly if they are in a different age group, demographic etc. Wherever possible, one needs to gather data and information to support decision making around marketing activities.
As a starting point, we have collated 3 marketing strategies you should be able to implement relatively easily. These could be executed by you or even a staff member, and should generate you an amazing result. Good Luck!
1. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Making sure you can be found online is so important. You may have heard of the term SEO before, which is basically the process of acquiring website traffic from search engines such as Google. In a nutshell 'SEO' is the strategy you would use to ensure your business information is generated as a search result when someone googles 'Libraries Brisbane'
There are numerous strategies which can be undertaken to boost SEO and having a better general understanding of how it works can certainly help you in the long term. I would suggest you review this beginner's guide to SEO before getting started.
However the first thing you to do is audit your library website. Things you will want to consider initially are:
- Whether the information on your website is detailed and complete.
- Is the information on your site valuable and palatable to your readers?
- Check your landing page, you want to remove any duplicated information and remove any dead links, as these tell Google your site is not operational and reduce your SEO.
- Is your website as mobile optimised and user friendly as it could be? A study conducted jointly by Google and Galaxy in June 2015 discovered that 74%of Australians rely on their phones at least as much as they rely on their desktops, when searching for information, ideas or advice.
- Do you have the right descriptive terms (keywords) in your website text? This might be your location, activity, structure, etc.
Learn more about local SEO here. If budget allows, you may wish to employ an SEO expert to assess and optimise your website. Below is a snapshot of how SEO works.
2. Social Media
There are dozens of social media channels out there but if you're low on resources it’s best to pick one and do it properly. Create an exceptional presence and then use it to boost engagement. Things you will need to consider before setting up a social channel are:
- Who will manage the page ongoing and post content?
- Make sure your posts are consistent, use your logo, colours, etc.
- Who will monitor the page and answer any queries and questions from users?
- Make sure all your location, opening hours and contact information is up to date and accurate.
It’s also a great idea to connect with local businesses through social media such as local television stations, radio, newspapers and businesses.
3. Media Outreach
Sometimes it helps to get the assistance of media and local businesses to help spread the word about your library. Building relationships with local media businesses (newspapers, radio, TV stations and outdoor media) could certainly be advantageous to you.
You could consider writing an opinion piece for your local newspaper perhaps highlighting the library as an expert on certain issues. Interesting topic ideas include adult literacy, childhood development and health information that a library professional could speak about with authority. In essence, if you pitch to news reporters about stories that highlight the impact the library is making on people’s lives, the more likely it is to get featured. People love great narratives and stories, especially positive ones and it’s the medias prerogative to tell that story.
Whilst these are only 3 marketing steps, it's best to focus on a few things and do them really well. You might also consider reaching out to your current library users to volunteer to help you manage some of these tasks.