A recent LinkedIn group discussion asked “Does anyone have examples of sales kits or media kits for their library they could share?” While I hadn’t thought to call it a “sales kit,” we, at Quincy Public Library, recently gathered material in order to highlight the value of library offerings to our elected officials, the media, and other interested community members.
Having a background in sales and marketing, rather than formal training as a librarian, allows me to approach this effort in a different manner: more along the lines of marketing a for-profit company, considering the library to be the company and the brand, and the many library programs and services as products.
The first step in our process was to review library offerings, to make sure we understood the entire scope, and to group together related services for ease of explanation in future discussions.
Next, we reviewed our constituent groups to make sure we understood what they were looking for within the library. We knew that discussions with city council would necessarily center on cost. Other groups were interested in scope of services or individual library programs.
Several documents were created. The first was a PowerPoint presentation, detailing the many programs and services, the scope of community needs the library serves through those programs, the cost to taxpayers, and testimonials from community members who use the library.
Next I created a one-page “Leave Behind” to give to audience members as a reminder of our discussion, as we left the presentation, and one additional document, showing library services that was deployed as a follow-up a few weeks after our initial effort.
I also made a series of testimonial ads (Ad #1, Ad #2, Ad #3, Ad #4) featuring the different library patrons who were shown in the PowerPoint. These ads ran in our local paper during National Library Week and were incorporated in the library’s Facebook page, website, and on digital display boards within the library.
After reviewing the PowerPoint with library staff and boards, Library Director Nancy Dolan made appointments with Quincy’s mayor and our city council members to sit down with them. We invited any interested board member or staff member to also attend these appointments along with us.
The information within the PowerPoint was also made available to local media and serves as the basis for presentations to civic groups or others interested in learning more about the library.
In all the presentations we made, we found that people (including our staff and boards) were surprised that the library offered so much at such a reasonable cost to taxpayers. The presentation also served to bolster the idea that the library was still a vital component of a strong community, despite the rise in e-readers and digital entertainment.
This campaign utilized what I feel are important components in library marketing:
1. Understand the scope of library programs and services.
2. Understand the needs of the community in which you work.
3. Show and tell how library programs and services support or enhance shared community goals.
4. Highlight patron testimonials to put a friendly face on the library. Nothing works better to show community members that their friends and neighbors enjoy using the library.
I believe this campaign served to show people the scope of services Quincy Public Library offers and helped to mitigate what could have been a severe budget cut, impacting library staffing and hours. We continue to work toward the goal of providing our community with evidence of the value of the library.
Efforts such as this work best when they are incorporated into daily and weekly planning and are repeated on an ongoing, regular basis. It takes repeated exposure to information to bring about awareness and understanding.
Ruth Cuthbertson is the Marketing & Events Librarian at the Quincy Public Library.