Saturday, 15 September 2012

Marketing Libraries event

The CILIP Career Development Group North Eastern Division - whose committee I am member of - organised a training event on 5th September 2012 at Durham University Library entitled: 
Marketing Libraries
strategic and creative communications for information professionals
The event was coordinated by Rachel Smith from Durham University, who had asked me to come and help on the day. I was delighted as that meant I would get to hear all the presentations!
Rachel did a very nice Storify of the day, but here is a more detailed recollection to complement it.

For practical reasons, I chose a seat at the table by the door - so I could greet delegates as they came in and tick them off my list. Also at this table were Kerry, librarian at the Scottish National Gallery, Jackie from Northumbria University, Karina from Newcastle University Library and Becky from Newcastle Libraries. (Note the number of people working in Newcastle upon Tyne; this is important for later)

The morning session, "How do you like your eggs in the morning?", was delivered by Kay Grieves, Michelle Halpin and Heather Campbell from the University of Sunderland Library. It was based on Kay's 7 step toolkit for creating strategic marketing plans. Here are the 7 steps:
  • Step 1: Establish where you want to go - your strategic direction and priorities
  • Step 2: Identify your overall service offers
  • Step 3: Identify, segment and describe your customers
  • Step 4: Define a targeted service offer for each customer segment (to meet their identified needs)
  • Step 5: Transform your service offer into benefits for each customer segment
  • Step 6: Translate these benefits into targeted messages or conversations for each segment
  • Step 7: Communicate your key messages through customer conversations
It was a very practical session, interspersed with hands-on activities. First, we were asked to segment our customers - my table segmented customers of a public library. It was complicated as these can be divided into so many categories, that intersect themselves! Age is an obvious one, but also employment/education status or personal life (whether they have a family, live on their own, etc.) For the second activity we looked more closely at one of these segments - we chose students, as they can also be found in museum and university libraries, focusing on non-UK students and why they come to a public library, what they need from it and what challenges they may face. This is when Becky and I realised Karina and her colleagues were sending us customers! Apparently, foreign students often ask for audiobooks to help them improve their English language skills, which the university library doesn't stock - but the public library does. From this came the idea of offering to these students, and to any person arriving to the city from outside of the North-East of England, a "learn Geordie" audiobook to help them adapt to the local dialect! We got very excited by this idea and used it in the next activity when defining a range of service offers for our segment and articulating the benefits of each service to our recently-adopted Newcastle residents. Lastly, we started thinking about a campaign to promote our "borrow an audiobook to learn Geordie" service to our customer segment.
Unfortunately, neither the universities nor Newcastle Libraries would have the resources to actually create this audiobook, but contacts were made to maybe set up a joint university/public libraries social media campaign which would contribute to enhance international students' experience in Newcastle and could involve a "Geordie Word of the Week" on Twitter. I can't wait to see this happen!

During the lunch break we had a quick tour of Durham University's main library and its new East Wing. (picture below)

In the first session of the afternoon, Luke Burton talked to us about social media marketing for libraries. No offence to Luke, but that's the topic I was already most comfortable with, so I am not going to write about it here.

Next was Helen Thornber, who used to work at Durham University Library but is now part of the private company Mariposa Development. Helen made us focus on branding: what does it entail? It is linked to an organisation's image, its shared values - we had to think, with the help of a list of examples, about which brand values are used by our organisations. These values, which represent the organisation, are translated into its visual identity: logo, strapline, but also colours, visual style...
Helen gave us some tips on creativity but also warned us to be aware of what our organisations' branding guidelines are!

Antonio Jimenez-Milian closed the day with his session on marketing for small and specialist libraries, where he used his experience from his days at York Minster Library - and a lot of humour when comparing the library to famous big brands.
Historic libraries are important because they represent knowledge, going from one generation to the other. But how do they communicate this? How do they get the visitor to become a member, to become involved in their preservation and development? Antonio guided us through the journey from the physical visit to the library ("Don't let your visitors leave without any written information! Otherwise they'll easily forget about you"), to the visit to the website, then the library's Facebook page ("Out of four posts, three should be not about your library but about things you want to be associated with. Talk about local things, things your visitors might be interested in"), the subscription to the newsletter and finally (the nirvana): Membership! You have to make being a member attractive to your visitors; you need to give them more than the right to borrow. For big commercial brands' customers that means gifts, exclusivities and discounts; for the library members it can be an invitation to exclusive behind-the-scenes tours or to see a new exhibition before it opens to the general public, and include incentives such as: "renew your membership and get a dedicated bookplate in one of the Library's books"!
Bookplate from CDG NE's Summer visit to York Minster Library - we do feel special!!!

It was a very enjoyable day, and I feel a lot more confident about marketing plans - it is something I had learned about at university but the refresher felt welcome, and the workshop activities made me realise I could actually do it, if needed. I also feel I understand branding better and gained some good tips on using social media on behalf of a library. Finally, being able to hear and see what others in the profession were doing (the stunning marketing campaigns of the University of Sunderland Library or Antonio's tips on making members feel special), talking with people working in different sectors such as academic or museum libraries, generally stealing each other's ideas sharing best practice, making plans to collaborate - all this was fantastic!

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