A practical approach to being an “accidental” marketing plan writer

The first ever marketing plan for our library was done by an outside consultant including a lot of unnecessary theory making the plan too long to be anything other than a heap of paper to collect dust. Then 2 years later a brand new staff member was thrown into the job of creating a new marketing plan- feeling overwhelmed and not know what had been accomplished our new plan was simply the old plan with new dates and statistics.

Another 2 years passed with the document collecting dust and then it was time for yet another marketing plan… this time we had a staff member who had still “fallen” into the job but did a lot of research into why it was important to have a marketing plan. This time it clicked- she found that developing a marketing plan is a vital piece of the overall marketing strategy.

Our new plan outlines a two-year time span, the library’s main marketing goals, and is CONCISE. It also has a partnering timeline with a staff member responsible for each activity that will help us achieve the goals!

We took the following steps to write our effective marketing plan.

Our first step was to review the library’s mission and vision statements.  These were current and up-to-date, so we did not change these at the time we revised the marketing plan.

Next, we completed a SWOT analysis.  The SWOT analysis is an effective way to identify your library’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  This helped us to focus on library services and programs where we are strong and where the greatest opportunities were. (This can be as detailed as doing a community wide survey or as basic as taking a staff team to look at the way your serve your community.)

We also did an internal study of the library.  We listed all of our services, programs, etc. and determined who was responsible for each activity.  Then we divided our service area into age category, % of population, amount we spend on them, % of space we dedicate to them in the library, % of staff time spent on them, % of collection dedicated to each age, % of circulation of each age, and % of programming.   We wanted to see if we were dedicating the right amount of money, space, staff time, collection, and programming to each age group.  After completing this, it helped to know where to devote most of our time and money.

Our next step was to determine who we wanted to target.  Our primary market was parents of school age kids.  Our secondary market was teens and tweens.  We then set goals regarding patrons and specific programs and services; goals for the library in general; and advocacy goals.  These were three things we identified as weaknesses or felt needed specific attention.

We then made objectives.  These objectives were specific tasks that we could do to achieve our short-term and long-term goals we had just set.  One factor we considered while forming our objectives is marketing tools and how we would use each one: promotions/events, advertising message, advertising, merchandising/displays, and publicity.

After we determined our goals and made objectives on how we were going to complete them, we developed a marketing timeline.  This listed each objective and we inserted a timeline of when we wanted to complete the task.  We review this list monthly and it helps keep us on task to complete all of our goals.

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