How to consult to libraries
What exactly do info pros do that consult to libraries?
Today’s info pros that consult to library services are specialists in strategic marketing for libraries.
We asked Jennifer Burke, President, Intellicraft Research, for some tips on how to mix marketing and information skills to consult to library services.
“I consider my library consulting to be a lot like the classic reference interview – lots of listening, learning to ask good questions, more listening, and helping libraries identify better, more strategic ways to communicate their strengths.”
- Like all organizations these days libraries need to do in-depth market research to understand their multiple audiences.
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing message that works for moms of toddlers, graphic novel loving teens, small business owners, or crafting retirees. Use the data and analytics tools built in to the platforms you’re already using to gather useful info about your audience (e.g. Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics or Jetpack for WordPress, or a third-party tool like Audiense).
- Think strategy before tactics.
It’s easy to get caught up in promoting an author event, the teen makerspace, or the next holiday-themed book display. But are those efforts integrated or are they one-offs? Do they advance the library’s marketing goals for the quarter or the year? Create an editorial calendar to help you plan out all marketing content. You save more time in the long run by doing upfront planning and tying your efforts together.
- When was the last time the library did a visual identity audit?
- A brand is more than a logo, but you probably spent a lot of time, effort, and money on getting that logo designed – is the logo being used correctly?
- Is there a unified graphical representation of the library?
- Do internal and external signs match (or are employees forced to whip out emergency ‘signs’ via PowerPoint and paper)?
- Are your social platform identities aligned, do you have consistency in the graphics you share on social media? Do your emails match? What about letterhead, annual reports, PPT templates, postcards, brochures, flyers, and more?
- If you don’t have experienced graphic designers on the library staff, have you identified who to turn to for help?
- When you have a sound, well-thought out marketing plan, do you have the tools to implement it?
So much of marketing these days is about finding the right tools, at the right budget, to save a library’s valuable staff time (because so many librarians doing marketing are doing it in conjunction with the rest of their regular library duties).
It’s crucial to know in which areas you can do fine with a free or ‘freemium’ tool vs. when you really need to step up to a paid or premium version.
Jennifer Burke, Intellicraft Research (@theinfohound) is a Strategic Marketing Consultant to Libraries, Nonprofits and Info Pros. As a former advertising/marketing executive who later got her MLS and spent 5 yrs. of doctoral research on digital libraries, she’s capable of speaking, and translating, both “marketing-ese” and “library lingo”. As a consultant, speaker, and trainer, she helps libraries and info pros to become more strategic storytellers, to put strategy first, and avoid marketing headaches. She writes a column on marketing tools and tips for InfoToday’s Marketing Library Services newsletter, gives regular webinars exploring behind the scenes of marketing tech, and is president of the Board for the non-profit Library Marketing Conference Group.
For more tips download the AIIP free guide on Getting Started as an Independent Information Professional.