The always brilliant Ned Potter wrote up a wonderful little primer on library marketing entitled “Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…” In his post, he emphasizes marketing the service, dropping the ‘how this works’ explanation, and promote the intersection of what the patron values with what the library values. Or, in other words, to use Pepsi as an example: Pepsi tells you that it refreshes, not that it is made with high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients; there is no Pepsi ad that walks you through how it is made; and Pepsi and its customers are both enjoy sugary caffeinated drinks and work to promote that relationship.
In writing up his three marketing tips, I took it as inspiration to write up my own three things to share. As the title of this blog post suggests, the instructions from a shampoo bottle are the perfect way to explain my meaning.
When you think of lather, I’m talking about marketing coverage. You are trying to get the shampoo in contact with your entire head of hair, not just parts of it. Publicity is not just limited to locations within the library; think about the entire community that the library serves. Local businesses to hang flyers, radio stations to record public service announcements, bulletin boards around the school and in housing or student centers, student or local newspapers to run your press releases or advertising, or the work lunch room if your library is at a hospital or law firm. All of these places are in the community that you serve, accessible by your patrons, and all possible spots for your publicity materials.
When you think of rinse, I mean it as looking to clean up your marketing messages. Your initial marketing material and pitches can be made more precise, more contextual, and more compact. For myself, I find that the little sales pitch I give for a program or service grows shorter over time as I eliminate extraneous words and phrases and get it down to a just-the-facts speech that can be said in under a minute. I edit and re-edit press releases every other month to change up the appeal and to sharpen the prose. It’s a matter of constant re-evaluation of what the library is saying, how it is saying it, and how the message can be refined.
When you think of repeat, I’m speaking of marketing as a repetition game. It’s about telling the same pitch to different people throughout the day, posting your posters or flyers everywhere you can think about it, and driving home the message you want to send whether it is “Sign up for our crafting class!”, “Did you know we offer one-on-one research consultations?”, or “We have a library club!”. If you’ve said it one hundred times, then say it a thousand more times. If you’ve thought you slathered the community with flyers already, check again for more spots to post. For every time you repeat something, it creates a new opportunity to inform someone of whatever it is what you want to educate them. You can’t simply hope that by telling one person that they will tell ten others; tell those ten other people yourself to ensure that they got the message.
Marketing tends to reward the amount of work you put into it. If you just fire off a press release and post a flyer in one spot at the library, then you are probably going to get the attendance or service use that reflects your effort. You have to invest time in reaching people; it will pay out in dividends of program attendance, service use, and an overall higher door count. It’s up to you to make the effort, no matter what kind of library you are in, what size it happens to be, or where it is situated in the community. It takes effort, but it is well worth it.
Just like good hair.