Conveying the value of the library to the board of trustees, administrators, or other stakeholders is an essential component of library marketing. In addition, allied departments, staff members, and volunteers also need buy-in. This requires internal marketing.
Watch my narrated slide show at Vimeo (on the right).
In this section, we'll explore marketing within the library organization.
Each of the following questions will be addressed on this page. For quick access, click on the question of interest.
- What role do staff play in marketing?
- What communications and experiences will increase internal buy-in?
- How can the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) be applied to internal audiences?
A positive, supportive atmosphere is essential in a library. Staff members need to feel like their work is appreciated.
Marketing can lead to increased traffic and more work for staff members. It's important that they view this as an exciting adventure rather than an additional burden. Encourage staff members to take ownership of the promotions and reward their good work. Fisher and Pride (2006, 88-89) suggest the five tips for smooth implementation of a marketing plan:
- Have a clear chain of command.
- Keep people updated.
- Keep communication flowing among all those implementing the plan.
- Be flexible and responsive.
- Evaluate and update regularly.
It's also important that staff have the training they need to support new initiatives. If a promotion focuses on a particular database or new reference service, staff members need to be confident that they can support these endeavors. Professional development activities, support for practice time, and encouragement are necessary for an effective program.
Library staff play both a formal and information role in marketing. Valerie Aggerbeck found that it's important to share positive feedback (2012, 12).
"One technique is to share some of the positive feedback you receive on your work with your colleagues, especially those in leadership positions. You will often find opportunities to do so, especially if you are looking for them. So collect positive feedback to share. When you get a thank-you note that mentions specifically how well you served a user, keep a copy of it. Then, if your library writes an annual report, you can include sample comments as evidence of the library's impact. If you are asked to write a self-evaluation, you can include some of those comments as well.
You can also look for opportunities to praise your library colleagues or to promote their unique skills and talents to library users and others outside the library. Building buzz for other library staff benefits the library as a whole."
The photo above from the Christchurch Library shows a staff member showing people around the library during their grand opening.
It's important that staff members feel at part of the marketing process.
- Use staff meetings to keep them informed and ask for feedback.
- Post publicity materials in the work room where everyone can see what's happening.
- Talk with staff members directly affected by particular campaigns.
- Send e-mail communications providing a "heads-up" when campaigns begin.
- Provide demonstrations, preview videos, and share survey results to keep staff "in the loop".
Dowd, Evangeliste, and Siberman (2010, 130-132) suggestion the following questions to assess the library's level of need for internal marketing.
- Do employees know the shared values, mission, and goals that the organization embraces?
- Does your organization feel as though no one knows what he or she is doing?
- Do the people in your organization wish your library's promotional materials had a more cohesive look?
- When you launch your marketing plan, do you have the staff and resources to back up what you are promising?
Staff members, administrators, and library stakeholders need to be kept informed about trends in librarianship, current marketing activities, and evidence supporting library practices. Although internal memos and annual reports are important tools, think about approaches that provide on-going internal support.
Create a web page that reviews key library documents and evidence-based research supporting library programs. This page will provide ready access for meetings with administrators or board members. Stakeholders need quick access to information for grant-writing, community meetings, and other activities.
Create RSS feeds with access to new documents, articles, and other professional materials. This can be easily generated from your LibGuides page or a content management system. Another option is to set up an internal blog that generates an RSS feed. Provide easy-to-follow directions for accessing this information.
Use focused email lists and listservs for specific internal audiences. Use this sparingly. Otherwise, the messages are likely to be ignored.
Aggerbeck, Valerie R. (July 2012). Marketing through the Ordinary and the Extraordinary. AALL Spectrum, 9-11.
Barber, Peggy & Wallace, Linda (2010). Building a Buzz: Libraries & Word-of-Mouth Marketing. ALA Editions.
Dempsey, Kathy (2009). The Accidental Library Marketer. Information Today: Medford, New Jersey.
Dowd, Nancy, Evangeliste, Mary, & Silberman, Jonathan (2010). Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Over-worked Librarian. ALA Editions.
Fisher, Patricia & Pride, Marseille M. (2006). Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive. ALA Editions.
Mathews, Brian (2009). Marketing Today’s Academic Library. ALA Editions.
Weingand, Darlene (1999). Present success – and designing a preferred future. Marketing/Planning Library and Information Services. Libraries Unlimited, 57-80.