Marketers are generally in the wings, out of sight, behind the scenes. We get the word out, but then usually don’t have to answer questions about the services, collections or programs we have been charged with promoting. The front line staff at the public service desks takes over for us after our initial publicity push. Internal marketing helps get everyone involved with the process and creates a positive atmosphere. We market for the public, so why not market for the staff?
Employees are the library’s first audience. It gives marketers the chance to test their materials. Do staff members have questions? Does something need more or less information? Is it creating any buzz? Do they want to know why the library is launching this particular service? Marketing to the staff also helps get them onboard with the service. For a new service, not only does staff need to be comfortable using it, they need to be excited about it as well. Staff needs to feel confident that they can support a new service before they can help market it.
Front line staff helping with marketing means they are going above and beyond their regular duties. Internal marketing gives marketers the chance to show staff their work is appreciated. At the Hinsdale Public Library we set the same launch date for two new services, Zinio and Text a Librarian. To try to keep the staff from feeling overwhelmed, we set up a contest and a countdown in the staff lounge to keep the launch fun. A raffle for a free magazine subscription was set up for staff members to enter up to once a day from October 1 through October 31 to get them excited about Zinio, a digital magazine provider. A countdown in the shape of a signal meter was created to remind staff about Text a Librarian. For previous launches, we have set up tablets or laptops in the staff lounge for hands on testing. This gives staff the opportunity to get comfortable with new technologies on their own time.
Marketing is fun, but it’s also work, especially when services need continued marketing. Internal marketing lets the staff learn about new products, play with them, and ask questions well before the public launch. When staff is excited about a product, they are more likely to share that enthusiasm with the public. Talk about full circle marketing!
Molly Coleman is the Marketing & Outreach Manager at Hinsdale Public Library and serves on the ILA Marketing Committee.