Saturday, March 29, 2008

Marketing without Money

[I will revise this post next week!]

The program was organized by ALA Past President Pat Schumann, and had as the main speaker was Kathleen Imhoff, Director of the Lexington KY Public Library.

I sat next to Kathleen at dinner last night, and have known her for years (we serve on an ALA committee)

  1. Neaten Up
    Look around the building. Look at all the signs. Make it a goal to take down 5 signs every day!
  2. Secret Patron
    Get someone who has not been to the Library in a while to come in and look around and share their perspectives with you.
  3. Increase Staff Training
    When staff are at the desk and not waiting on someone, what are they doing? If they are doing “off desk” tasks, they do not look approachable.
  4. Form New Partnerships
    Look for partners in the community, the Chamber of Commerce
  5. ???
  6. Join Community Groups
    This is a great way to get your message to key community leaders. Library Directors and
  7. Partner with PR Firms
    Even in the smallest community, you have someone who has a connection with someone in a public relations firm.
  8. Barter
  9. Grocery Store Line
    Talk to people in the line without identifying yourself as working at the library. It is stealth marketing. Kathleen did not call it this, but it is a way of viral marketing. This would apply to any place where you are waiting in line. Ask your staff to do this.
  10. Change or Revise Image
    Use name tags, use cheap (Oriental Trading Company) beads to hang name tags.


Various members of the audience shared messages. One that caused some chuckles was “Your Library is Free and Easy!”

The message needs to be short and “punchy” there is information on the ALA web site. Pat Schuman shared a Message Worksheet. It needs to speak to the listener, not to us! The message needs to be very clear. Need to have a short message and then have a longer “elevator speech.” (For those not familiar with the elevator speech, it is a brief talk that you would give on a short elevator ride – i.e. no more than 2 minutes.

Low cost marketing opportunities:

For a small amount of money (e.g. bookmarks) consider going to the local bank (if you still have one).

Take a zip lock bag, put the two sided brochure to display or hand out with bookmarks and brochures. They can be used over and over. Or you can buy printed plastic bags for events. More people will take a bag of “stuff” than will a brochure or bookmark.

Combine messages by doing things like printing black and white on one side, and color on the other. Kathleen also had a brochure with tear-off/cut-off bookmarks on the end. For about $0.25, new baby bibs with message: Read to me! Lexington got a health care firm to underwrite the cost of the bibs (and without the logo).

Kathleen talked about her book Library Contests published by Neal-Shuman. Pat Schumann offered a discount to attendees.

Other ideas included chalk art to advertising programs, including having the teen advisory board doing the art. Pharmacy bags or promotions with grocery stories.

We must evaluate any activity. What does success look like? Did that promotion get more people? To find out some of the answers, we may need to ask people.

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