MPLA: Library Marketing 101

MPLA Presentation by Innovative Interfaces representative Gene Shimshock. III supports MPLA Leadership Institute.

“He who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well, is not so apt to get the dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers.”

No one is going to plead your case as well as you.

What is marketing?

  • It is not “let’s do a press release”
  • It is not “let’s do a pen or a give-away”
  • It is: “process of creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, partners and society at large
  • Increases awareness of products and services
  • Breaks down barriers for use/purchase
  • Creates an assocation between user and the provider and its products
  • Provides a common core for staff – one goal, one passion

Modern marketing – all aspects of what the organization can do.

Product | price | promotion | positioning

Heirarchy of benefits

  • Service attributes/features (bottom) (color selection)
  • Service Benefits (matches home decor)
  • Target Emotions – (makes you ‘happy’)
  • Target Values (top) – (and I have a beautiful home to have guests in)

Branding and Brand – “branding is a promise you make and your brand comes from the promises you keep.” _ Kristin Zhivago, Zhivago Marketing Parnters, Inc.

Ask your community and users what your brand is – how do they perceive the organization (in their words, not yours) – What do you think of the library?

How do we get beyond the library brand as ‘book’? Yes, we are books…and also. Where would users put books in the Hierarchy? attribute not emotion…

(My thoughts): Theresa would say the Library is relationships. Literacy. Intelligence. Plugged in. (/end my thoughts)

Positioning is a mental space that you can ‘own’ with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient. It’s based on something relevant and important TO YOUR CUSTOMERS (and non-users). Branding is the feeling that you get inside (Apple). Most are just positioning.

Does the customer get it? Does it fill a need of the customer? Big concepts = durable positioning. Be specific and support position with values and attributes.

Example:  You campaign that “We’re the happy library,” but the first time a visitor comes in the door and sees frowning/upset customers — you just lost your campaign and wasted your money.

Positioning Statement:

For [target audience] who wants/needs [key need or dilemma the customer is trying to solve], the [product] is a [product category] that provides [key solution] unlike [main competitive product] that offers [key deficiency that we are trying to exploit], [product name] offers [key point of differentiation].

Apply this to programs, services, products, new features – what is the essential fit you are trying to supply to your users?

Identity and Tags

  • Creative expression of a brand, product, or position is a clear, consistent manner.
  • “Ultimate driving machine” – “Quality is job one.” – “No rules, just right.” – Outback – What does that have to do with restaurants? Emotion, satisfaction
  • Marketing team of 5 at Innovative Interfaces – graphic artist, events person, marketing specialists. consistent look, same colors, same type. (“a bit of shameless self-promotion”)
  • old logo – yelling, cold, boring – when ask customers they say ‘trust’ so upgraded
  • – new logo – soften, same orientation, birds nest concept – ‘help you out of a tangle’ (my thoughts) – pottery barn color theme (smoke and Terra cotta)
  • III – domain name is owned by them, but while customers picked up on it, they choose to promote ‘innovative.’

Process and Tactics

  • Circular and repetitive process – always upgrading and changing
  • Set goals, identify audience, choose delivery, select type…(switched slides on me)
  • Set a Goal > Create Copy/Offer method > Track > Try something different? Go back to Creative Copy/Offer method > Track > Try something different?
  • Ex. simple email message announcing event. see if it works. if it does, go back to it again. If not, try something new, see if that works, rinse, repeat
  • What do you want to accomplish? (Goal)
  • Who do you want to talk to and what is important to them? (Audience/Needs)
  • What do you want to say? (Key Messages)
  • How and where do you want to say it? (Channels)
  • How do you know if you’ve been successful? (Tracking/Measurement)
  • Program example: How do I fill the room?

Segment your users and conduct research:

  • define your distinct target market areas
  • within these defined target markets, look for distinct ways to group customers with similar behavior patterns, communication preferences, demographics, personalities, needs, goals and motivations.
  • Create a short “Market Persona” – short bio of typical customer – how would this person solve their problem if you weren’t there? (More fun than demographics) Example: Tommy Bahama clothing line built on a persona.
  • Set Goals and Objectives
  • Example, “successful passage of new bond issue” “Increase number of alumni active giving” “Increase program attendance”


Creative Brief

  • Background/Overview – big picture? what’s going on that we have to consider?
  • Project Description – single piece or multi-tactic program
  • What is the objective, the purpose of the project? – statement of the effect is intuitive
  • Target Audience – persona, what relationship do we want them to have with the brand?
  • Key Positioning (possible multiple directions)
  • Support Points – features, benefits, outlines
  • Call to Action – details, such as information about the offer if its a direct response ad
  • Brand Character
  • Creative Considerations – constraints, creative directions to consider
  • Mandatories – url, contact info, legal language
  • Deliverables and Timing
    – schedule, initial > creative presentation > copy draft > layout > final proof > deliverable
  • Adjective Tuner tool – find where you are on the continuum:  fun | institutional or contemporary | conservative or busy | clean or bright | subdued or complex | simple – rate Web sites using this scale
  • Methods/Channels – Message > Awareness and/or Direct response > Target Audience
  • Communicating new discovery – “The holy grail was found here in the library” – came out of a 1 page creative brief
  • How do you know you have been successful? – registration, attendance, mentions, follwers, re-tweets, citations, new friends, gate counts, money brought in

Case Study 1 – Edmunton Public Library. Old logo was books. EPL Shared Values Wheel – who we are and what we value – Center/hub is “Passionate about Sharing” – then Ideas champion, Open, Unrivivaled Value, Human – then Fun, innovative, knowledge seeker, etc.

  • Mission: “We Share!” New logo is five color bars, epl Edmonton and “Spread the Word” – extend the five color bars into many looks. Cards – “Chicks dig big brains.” We make geek chic. This card will make you smart. Sticker campaign around city.
  • Staff contest – photos of stickers – Guerilla Marketing – 2000 stickers, 300 photos, 3200 votes. Involve politians when you DON’T need them – like in this marketing campaign. Those colors are part of their brand.


Case Study 2 – Library Journal – AnythinkRangeview County Library Pam Sandlian Smith, Director “instead of trying to get everything perfect. we work to get the big idea right then circle back to work on correcting the details.”

  • 2003 – Adams county library considered worst in the state, but got a levy in 2007 for a new building. Hospitality, Playfulness “Any” – guides and ranglers, not librarians. Employee Manifesto – Wizard – Genius – Explorer. Focus on ‘any’ concept. Doodle logo. Community garden projects, no reference desk, but a ‘back perch’
  • Value calculator included in the Catalog page – What is Anything worth to you?
  • Share your innovations – anythink tank – blog for folks to post about library development Doodle on twitter stream. Play on words to remove jargon.

Parting thoughts

  • branding occurs with each contact |
  • more important the goal, the more important the groundwork and prep
  • give yourself enough time |
  • It’s probably not going to work the first time |
  • Seek professional help |
  • Just do it!



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