“Steal” This Seminar: Marketing Advice That Comes to You

You know the benefits of meeting your marketing colleagues in person at workshops and annual meetings. However, your schedule might not always agree. Many of us are not full-time library marketers, either because we do other jobs or because we are simply part-time employees. This is not to say full-timers enjoy the freedom to take off to another library for the afternoon – “full-time” for a marketer can mean “full of tasks that no one else can/will do and therefore very little time.”

All of this means that getting together with other marketers to share strategies and insights can be difficult. I have discovered a way to steal (excuse me – “appropriate”) great ideas without leaving my desk. Webinars and archived videos are great for the busy marketer looking for the inspiration we get from each other when we meet in person, without having to fill out a mileage report.

We see emails and other notices for webinars all the time, and I know we all wonder the same thing. Will it be worth my time? This is where you can get your in-person attendance at conferences to work double-time for you. When you receive notice of a marketing webinar, always check the name of the presenter. You may already know him or her, or have always wanted to see this person speak. The star of the webinar may even be someone you had a great conversation with over lunch one time.

I recently viewed a webinar featuring Christine Ciglar, the Manager of Public Relations and Outreach at Fox River Valley Public Library District, called Marketing Plans for the Faint of Heart.  Christine’s talk featured information on defining the differences between PR, publicity, marketing, branding, advertising, and advocacy; using your library’s Strategic and Operations Plan; research; defining your target audience; stating your goal; outlining your strategies; and defining how you will evaluate your success.

I knew that Christine is an expert in creating marketing plans, and I also knew that creating one for my library was one of my goals for 2014 (which is flying by, in case you haven’t noticed).  This webinar was hosted and broadcast by the Public Library Association, and is now available on demand (for purchase – so no stealing involved!).

Another chance to sit and my desk and learn from a colleague came via the RAILS marketing email listserv. The Illinois State Library offered videos from its recent “On the Front Lines” conference, including a seminar featuring Ben Bizzle, Director of Technology at the Crowley Ridge Regional Library of the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library in Arkansas. I saw Ben speak about his library’s famous marketing campaign featuring billboards (Remember “Spoiler Alert! Dumbledore dies on page 596?”) at an ALA meeting in Chicago. I was curious to see how his library had followed up on that social-media friendly push.

His ISL program focused on words librarians often don’t like to use (Business, Advertising, Promotion, and ROI) and sought to help library marketers steal (there’s that word again!) ideas that are common in the for-profit world, but in a way that is comfortable for us. If you have seen Ben talk, you know that he is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. You may also know that he always offers multiple examples of how his library advertises and promotes and assesses the return on their investment. I was thrilled to be able to hear him talk again without having to take time away from the office.

One more plus to watching webinars and other video-based presentation is that if the scheduled time does not work with your schedule, you can often go back and view it later on demand.  Speakers also often make their presentations available. These are just a few of the ways that our regional, state, and national organizations try to make it easy for us to learn from each other.

Professional development and training are often on our annual reviews, but are usually the near the bottom of our to-do lists because of time and the multi-faceted nature of our jobs. Taking advantage of training that comes to your desk is one way to step away from the everyday and learn something new without actually having to leave your chair.

Carol Morency manages the marketing and public relations department at Mount Prospect Public Library.

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