I believe one of the best jobs in a library is the role of the library marketer. I also believe that to be able to have great library marketing, you first need building blocks. This is your marketing plan.
At the Algonquin Area Public Library District (AAPLD), we just completed our 2013 marketing plan that provides a focused and clear strategy that supports the services, programs, and mission of the Library. There are many marketing plans available and there is no “one size fits all” model, but this approach has worked in the past and is especially helpful for the novice or the accidental marketer. I look forward to sharing my results from this plan in a future post.
AAPLD’s marketing plan is built on a simple framework that contains the Library’s marketing mix, marketing strategies, marketing tactics, and evaluation.
A marketing mix is often known as the 4 Ps in marketing: price, product, promotion, and place.
- The price is how the Library receives funds and the value of the products and services it provides.
- The product is the items available for in-Library use, items for check-out and a comprehensive list of all the Library’s services.
- The promotion encompasses the target audiences and the means that will be used to get the Library’s messages across to these audiences.
- The place is the physical and virtual space the Library provides.
What do you hope to achieve for the Library as a marketer? List them as your strategies and the marketing activities that will be implemented. At AAPLD, the plan encompasses all aspects of the Library, and strategies range from community outreach, marketing training and social media.
In fact, this year the Library is focusing a large portion of our marketing efforts on developing a stronger social media presence. We sent the following goal below:
Marketing Strategy: To increase the Library’s visibility in social media.
Marketing Activity #1: Complete Facebook Guidelines for the Library Facebook Page. – Include social media policies, the type of “voice” the Library will have, the type of photos that will be posted, examples of good posts versus bad posts, and how often Facebook will be updated.
Marketing Activity #2: To create a Library Pinterest account and build Library Pinterest Boards relating to Winter Reading, Summer Reading and National Library Week.
One thing to always consider is what specific marketing tactics the library should use to generate interest. AAPLD may create a Pinterest account, but how will we let our patrons know that it exists. Our marketing plan lists the different approaches that support the marketing strategies, such as in-library posters, brochures, bookmarks, press releases, word-of-mouth marketing, and online community calendars
For each marketing strategy, it’s always important to think about your target audience. While a big goal is to increase our social media presence, AAPLD would be hesitant to use social media to reach our senior patrons, since they don’t seem to have a large Facebook or Twitter presence. We would use more traditional routes for that particular demographic.
It is important to routinely examine the strategies created and analyze what is being achieved. Evaluations can aid the Library and to make recommendations and adjustments, accordingly, to the Marketing Plan. Evaluation tools in AAPLD’s marketing plan analyze program attendance and evaluate our Facebook statistics.
Below are some lessons I learned throughout this process:
Schedule time- A marketing plan is not cultivated in one week or even one month. It is important to set a deadline to complete the plan, but it is also important to schedule the time necessary to complete the process. Remember that it should be considered a working, living document and should be updated if things change.
Embrace your library’s strategic plan –It is important to remember how your marketing strategies will assist in reaching the library’s goals.
Be realistic – All marketing strategies and activities should be a challenge, but not a “mission impossible.”
No two libraries are ever alike- Your library is unique – it has its’ own community, patrons, collection, staff, size, programs, and the list can go on. Make sure your marketing plan best fits for your library.
Amy Vracar is the Marketing and Public Relations Associate at the Algonquin Area Public Library District. She can be reached at avracar<at>aapld.org.