Strategy First: Common mistakes in planning library marketing and outreach


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Presentation by Jennifer Burke, President of IntelliCraft Research at the 2013 conference for the Association for Library and Communication Outreach Professionals, held in Philadelphia. Common marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. Good strategic planning, creating targeted personas, building measurable goals = keys to success.

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  • Fair warning – I may say some things that seem controversial or go a bit against what we’re hearing in some other sessions. No disrespect! We’re all here because we have a similar passion – libraries and the information profession. Because I care so much about wanting libraries to succeed, to show people the truth that we in the LIS profession know –> how valuable, and often life-changing, libraries are! And because of changing times, continued economic pressure, competition we need marketing – effective, strategic marketing – more than ever.
  • I’m now an independent information consultant and IntelliCraft Research is my business, that I started when I left academiaIt’s a chance for me to meld my years of varied experience, marketing knowledge, my love of research and do some practical good.I focus on helping small businesses, like marketing and communications agencies get the marketing intelligence (reports, company profiles, industry scans, trends, etc) so they can get up to speed quickly for, a presentation, new client meeting, new business development and pitches.AND .. I’m also working on opportunities to help librarians and info pros become better, strategic-thinking marketers – via training, speeches, consultations and such.As Kathy Dempsey mentions in her book The Accidental Library marketer – I’m one of those rare individuals …
  • Tactics = the fun and flash and action.[I said strategy is the focus of my talk and workshop, and I also said Marketing isn’t tactics – so before we jump to strategy, let’s finish defining ‘marketing’ so we’re on the same page today]Here’s a lengthy, somewhat jargon-filled definition [from Allen Weiss, founder of Mprofs]: Marketing is: analysis of customers, competitors, the organization/company; combining that understanding into overall understanding of what segments exist; deciding on targeting your best (most valuable/most profitable) segments; positioning your products/services and doing what’s necessary to deliver on that positioning. Tactics = how to deliver consistently and coherently on your positioning and promise.
  • Research – pre + post ; and evaluation all through a marketing effort, campaignDon’t always have to do all original research – use the sources you have – ALA, SLA, OCLC, PLA and your specialized research associations often have great data & insights.What do you see going on in your library? - Do you get more visitors from certain departments or buildings? Do the engineers visit in person or only email requests?Which students study in the library most often? Which professors use course reserve most? ETC
  • CircutiousAlso probe/ask about interest beyond ALCOP conference for professional development / CE related to marketing – what have they done, what might they do
  • Ask how often they have updated their research or surveys (or define ‘recent’)? Prompting for #/data in last yearIf have a marketing plan – how frequently is it updated? Quarterly? Annually? How old is it?Related to # goals – how many have been measuring their marketing efforts?
  • As Librarians, information and research is your bread and butter! You already understand that people need all kinds of different information to make decisions. We spend our careers trying to bring people and the information they need for informed choices together. Whether that’s about healthcare decisions, a new literary genre, buying a car, starting a business, writing a legal brief, doing a term paper or finding out about new clinical trials for drugs. Librarians are already pros at information behavior – and THAT is a core part of marketing and marketing strategy. You all already know how to do research. You and your staff understand your communities, constituents and patrons better than anyone. Many (if not most or all) of you already have some data at hand about what’s going on in your libraries and with your programs. You & your staff are creative with your programming. So truly .. You’re already marketers, you’re marketing – whether your staff likes it or not. But ok, maybe we call it something else.What you need is just help avoiding the pitfalls – and knowing that the key to success is starting with, and following, a plan. Strategy.THAT’s what I hope to help you with.
  • Small businesses, bigger businesses and non-profits all tend to make mistakes.But these are the common themes or categories – and where our 10 fall. I’m not going to do a Letterman style Top 10 – because I want to make sure we cover the #1 and other top issues! I want to make sure there’s time for discussion and some group exercises – because this is supposed to be a workshop! And you don’t want to listen to me go into Professor Burke Lecture Mode for 70 minutes!
  • Kotler and other marketing experts argue that analysis and research come first – and they’re right. I’ll show that in a great picture later.But for today, we’re talking about strategy first – mainly to make sure we think strategy before tactics. I’ll do my best to see that research, objectives and more will be covered. Oh, and maybe some on tactics too!BUT .. If we don’t get everything covered in detail because we’re discussing and working on examples – don’t worry! I’m going to make the presentation and additional handouts available afterward, as well as more in-depth material on my website – or feel free to ask me later or email me!
  • "When leaders are unwilling, unable to make choices among competing values, parties, actions = you get bad strategy Good, coherent strategy will push resources (energy, attention, $$)  towards some ends(objectives) and away from othersSome people will probably hate it, fight it b/c it means change and loss for them - but that’s often necessary. And trying to please everyone gets warm, fuzzy fluff - meaningless and inaction ableTemplate planning - popular in academia, school boards, govt, nonprofits - mission/vision/values often means no hurt feelings (also no choice, no strategy);  Diagnosis::define & explain nature of problem/challenge; what aspects truly critical in situation Create Guiding policy : deal with challenge; the approach, overcome obstacles ( often build on strengths advantages, leverage)Develop Set of actions: how carry out policy; (resource allocation- time, people, power, procedures, things, $)Visions, sub objectives , timing, scope, all of that = support bits
  • Mistake of moving too fast – happens when no clear plan/strategy, or ill-defined goals – means ANY tactic seems ok and a ‘just do it’ mentality takes over. NO! You’ll begin to jump at any opportunity, any creative promotional idea, any potential partnership or event. Related is SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome – you get seduced by the latest, greatest, neatest,blingiest tactics, tools, gadgets, networks and tips being shared, alked up and over-hyped. You fear f you don’t get on board with the latest thinganother opportunity won’t come, or people will say you’re ‘behind the times’. Resist! [it’s tough – I speak from experience!]You cannot use all the tools at the same time. [Strategy -> decisions] What happens if you go to the grocery without a list? Hungry, before dinner and no list. You get a shopping cart full of cookies (CLICK PIC). Don’t get a cart full of cookies ! …. Your marketing is the same!
  • An objective needs more than just a mere chance at being accomplished, given existing conditions, resources & competencyHaving 1 clear objective per strategy makes it easier to set goals and to measure them. each strategy, campaign has 1 objectiveAn organization often has multiple Business Objectives – Financial, Staffing, Process related, Customer & service related, as well as Marketing MARKETING objectives = the broad vision of how to achieve something like increased market share, or more onsite visitsGranted – w/ nonprofits like libraries – the upper management, directors’ visions –and org mission – tend to drive most efforts, even targeting and message – but you still have to think about realistic, specific objectives – and then goals – and THEN the rest. Please don’t get caught w/ pie in the sky.
  • Do you recognize any of these?Does your library have any language like this? Another example - "Community involvement and partnering“ - not a strategy – more like a 'blue-sky objective‘ What do you think?Actual library examples – and many of these were actually labeled “goals” – are they goals? Objectives? Or Neither?
  • SMART -> Have magnitude and a target dateExample – Objective = increase market share -> Goal = move market share from 20% to 25% by FY 2014Work backwards – what will be different at end of your marketing actions? How will you see and measure difference?Will you have a closer, two-way relationship w/ best customers? [and how measure that?]Will customers be talking about your products (via X media channels)? [and how measure that?]
  • 2 types of metrics: 1) Ongoing (analytics) – monitor and track activity over time; 2) Campaign-focused metrics – event/campaign measurement w/ clear beginning and ending ptswhat do you want your audience to DO with your content on each channel? Read? Reply? Share? Click? Purchase? Donate? Are you set up to measure your starting point, ongoing and end #s of campaign efforts?Common marketing ‘controls’ or things measured:Market Share - +/-, are you growing while market shrinks or grows;company sales as % of sales in your target marketCustomer retention – sometimes just not losing customers is a good goal! Besides you do your best w/ existing customers [ 80/20 rule] Don’t lose long term customers – > advocatesCustomer satisfaction - and/or a decrease in unhappy customersProduct quality – is it perceived high vs your competition? Higher than it was?Relative service quality vs competitionConversions – leads -> sales
  • So don’t waste time and resources talking to, going after the wrong peopleAKA have a target audience (yes, you may have more than 1 – but each gets own objectives, goals, strategy, execution plan) Historically, libraries have purchased materials, developed programs, built resources and more based on what in their professional opinion they THINK patrons wanted … or in some cases, SHOULD want. But that isn’t really the mindset of most libraries now, is it? Not every customer is right for every business/org/program -- and not every program or message is right for users & patrons. Keep THEIR interests, needs, and wants in mind
  • Target audiences: libraries have many targets and you can’t try to attract all of them at the same time, and especially not with the same message. You already know the basics of this! An academic library Has multiple target audiences -- you need a different message and content to speak to a full time tenured faculty member versus a harried adjunct who’s likely teaching at multiple colleges; a freshman versus a senior versus a graduate studentA public library has a different message for parents of toddlers versus parents of teenagers, senior citizens versus teenagers, funders and donors versus patronsYou already have different resources, sections, programming and maybe even architectural design – you need different objectives, goals, messages and tactics too.
  • Based on real data you have about your best/ideal customers:Then add in a best guess on their personal background or history plus their motivations and concerns
  • Use to build your website (or redesign) by adding pages and content to address specific persona concerns.Create engaging social media posts.Write better converting emails to subscribers, donors and volunteers.
  • Interview your current users and constituents, or those in the community that represent who you are trying to attract (or find available demo data)Find your Targets’ “pain points” – yes, library patrons have them too! This is where your current data, insights and experience really helps.THINK like your users!
  • Instead of the ‘me/we’ talk common still among lots of marketers – you have to talk to THEM – your customers, users – your target. It’s about them. They want to know what’s in it for them? How can libraries offer value in the lives of their users, in the way they go about their lives, the journeys they are on – how can the library help them get there? What outcomes can your resources, services, programs bring about in users’ lives?
  • Other potential examples- same settingIncrease awareness of library YA program among 12-18 yr olds in 2014[What does ‘awareness’ look like? How to measure it? What tactics are likely to increase awareness? Which tactics would likely NOT affect awareness?]What do we know about teens in this age group? [Why Freshmen – Juniors? B/c Seniors too busy prepping college admin and essays and ready to graduate – so focus on lower grades] More specific goals for a YA program - Increase teen attendance 25% at weekly gaming nights; Increase teen attendance at monthly YA Lit book club by 25% (or by 5 teens per Quarter)How will you craft the message? How many different messages? How frequently? Are there other tactics to use? The library website? The library’s blog? How will you measure success beyond circulation #s?
  • Even if you can’t plan the whole year in detail – sketch it out; know what themes, initiatives and goals you’re addressing each quarter. Fill in details at least 1 quarter in advance – bigger items, events, promotions need more lead time. Public Relations and media is ongoing – plan it out – journalists and media have a schedule –even for the ‘news’ – and you need to fit it.What looks spontaneous rarely is – it’s planned to look that way, far in advance! [exception – ‘newsjacking’ and some real-time social media use – BUT even that needs messages planned in advance for a ‘what if’ strategy & scenario]Your FB posts, Tweets, blog posts, your Pins, Instagram photos, the emails you send, the press releases you write – it ALL needs be scheduled. Maybe not down to the day or time – but what efforts go when, what messages to which media, which quarter, which month, which week – YES. Maybe you don’t have the copy written, or photo take, or graphic planned – that’s ok. But know you’ll be doing X, during September and Y in December – it will actually save you time in the long run. And keep you on strategy, on point.
  • Example – PR – press releases – these are easy to ‘mess up’ and not get in the intended response (or no response); public relations can be valuable tool for helping form or improve community opinions about a company or organization, can have people thinking favorably about you – but not action-oriented.You wouldn’t use Twitter, at night to promote certain events – and likely not at all for Senior Citizen events (though Seniors are online in huge #s –but not Twitter); maybe wouldn’t use print paper flyers for teensOther using a tactic for specific event promotion that is better suited for general brand/org awarenessWhen people in marketing say ‘promotion’ – they often mean Sales Promotion – or the promotion of a specific, timed event/contest; But Promotion also is one of classic 4 Ps – and means ALL tactics
  • Big issue for marketers of all stripes. And I’m not the only one calling out to Libraries to adopt this – core component of Ned Potter’s new book “Library Marketing Toolkit” – must talk benefits and not features. Many marketers still push features – think of most car manufactures and their ads – horsepower, how many folding seats, cup holders, MPG) instead of talking benefits (horsepower -> torque = your truck and the boat you’re towing don’t slide back down the steep boat ramp into the lake; better MPG means you save money on gas that you can spend on other things; or better MPG = less gas = smaller carbon footprint and you’re ‘greener’)People say they want to know features – but they buy/make decisions based on outcomes – what they get out using X product or Y service;Functional benefits you can find elsewhere – competition; alternative uses, services – not so w/ emotional
  • What specific, defined action do you want each of your target / target groups to take? At what time? For what effect?But Marketing is about Action – behavior change, opinion change, attitude change – DO SOMETHINGGet attendance up at story hourChange minds about using specialized databases vs. Google for researchCall a local politician about supporting library bonds or increased fundingGo to your library website to check out ebooks vs. buying themGet adults to volunteer at the library for reading to kidsGet freshman to come to a library seminar on plagirism, copyright and proper citations
  • Internet and social media give great new tools to marketers w/ small, limited or non-existent budgets – easier to get attention, reach broader audiences w/out paying for advertising. BUT … not truly “FREE” Biz/org can’t cause WoM about a customer’s experience – your brand/org is often incidental in the incident or experience.Marketing includes efficiencies of scale – but WoM is 1:1 – that doesn’t scalePeople may get the intended message wrong, may be like a long, bad game of ‘telephone’ by time WoM reaches the 3rd, 4th, 5th person removed from the actual experience. WoM IS still critical to a biz/org because people trust other people (yes, even strangers) more than ads and ‘marketing’. Help customer to shine, let them star in their story, don’t try to start instead – you can tag along and hopefully ride a positive wave of WoM, brand advocacyCustomers don’t really wait around for the next new website, blog, store, event or whatnot to come along (unless perhaps it’s an extension of a brand they already like/love).
  • Strategy First: Common mistakes in planning library marketing and outreach

    1. 1. Strategy First Common mistakes in planning your library marketing / outreach -- and how to avoid them Jennifer E. Burke IntelliCraft Research ALCOP 2013 Conference
    2. 2. Before we get started… A little on my background and why I‟m talking marketing with you
    3. 3. I‟m multilingual … I speak: Marketing Sales & Customer Service Library Academic-ese Research Jennif er B urke, MS LIS President, IntelliCraft Research
    4. 4. Marketing Is Not Tactics! Tactics are the „shiny objects‟ of marketing. Good, but practically useless without a plan. Strategy. That‟s the focus here today.
    5. 5. Marketing Cycle Researc h/Eval Impleme nt Segment Services /Product Continuous Cycle It begins and ends with research – situ now & post efforts. Target markets, target messages. What products/services/programs are you offering to fit each segment Different media, tactics, channels for different segments. What are you going to actually do and when? Marketin g Mix
    6. 6. Let‟s do our own research How many had any courses or exposure to marketing in LIS school? How many have taken CE or similar courses in marketing? [not counting ALCOP or attending other conferences]
    7. 7. Let‟s do our own research How many have #-based goals for the library in your marketing plan? Have you been measuring your outreach efforts? How frequently do you update your plan?
    8. 8. You are Marketers And that‟s not an evil word!
    9. 9. Common Mistakes in Marketing Planning And hopefully how to avoid them!
    10. 10. Mistakes Fall in 4 Main Categories There are plenty of mistakes in marketing … and they aren‟t limited to libraries! Strategy Are you saying the right things, to the right people? Is everyone on board with your plans? Numbers You have to have real #s to shoot for, measure against – otherwise it‟s just a nice vision. Execution I never said tactics don‟t matter! They just aren‟t 1st. People A fuzzy strategy can be as bad as no strategy.
    11. 11. 1. Not having a full strategy before getting into tactics 2. No objectives 3. Not having measurable, quantifiable goals, set upfront 4. Metrics are missing 5. No targeting, no personas (AKA trying to do 1-size-fits-all) 6. Too much „me/we‟ talk, instead of all about „them‟ 7. Not having a schedule/calendar 8. „Wrong‟ tactics for wrong purposes 9. Feature dumping 10.No calls to action 10 Common Marketing Mistakes
    12. 12. Strategy A strategy is like a blueprint – solid foundation to build on
    13. 13. Let‟s talk about „bad‟ vs. „good‟ strategy  Not making choices = bad strategy  Template, fill-in-the-blank mission/vision/values = bad strategy  Good strategy = coherent action backed by argument, with an underlying structure Strategy comes first
    14. 14. Other strategy mishaps -  Mistake of moving too fast  “SOS” [Shiny Object Syndrome] No strategic plan, like going to the grocery hungry, before dinner and no list. You get a cart full of cookies! That‟s bad. Strategy comes first
    15. 15. What are you aiming for?  Broader than Goals  Milestones – how you will measure achieving mission/vision  Focus on 1 objective for each strategy + campaign Examples  Increase profit margin, market share, customer satisfaction  Increase onsite visits, media coverage, attendance at events #2 What are objectives?
    16. 16.  “Enrich Educational experience and Intellectual Growth”  “Heighten the value and impact of the Libraries through digital programs and services”  “Young children (5 + under) will have programs and services designed so that they will enter school ready to read, write and listen”  “We will coordinate the information literacy efforts in the University Library and work with the University community to incorporate information literacy in the University curriculum” Objectives/goals? What are these?
    17. 17. Oh dear… Those were labeled „goals‟, or worse, „action steps‟ in real library documents. They‟re not goals. Might be objectives. More likely a nice vision statement.
    18. 18.  Goals can‟t be an afterthought  S M A R T  Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, Time limited Objective = increase market share Goal = move market share from 20 -> 25% by FY 2014 #3 Need measureable goals
    19. 19. Did it work? Did you adjust?  2 types of metrics  Ongoing (analytics)  Campaign-focused  Measurement tied to actions #4 Measure for success
    20. 20. “The customer is always right …. But not necessarily right for you.”
    21. 21.  No 1-size-fits-all approach  Not designing the message to fit the target  Not picking the right media/channel/tactics for target #5 Need a target audience
    22. 22. Targeting and Personas What‟s a persona? An archetype – to flesh out a picture A representation of your ideal customer/patron, donor, volunteer • Demographics • Psychographics and behaviors • Online activities and media preferences • Your best guess (or data if you have it!) on their motivations +/or concerns
    23. 23. Targeting and Personas What‟s a persona used for? Design and Messaging Help you design messages, imagery and services through the eyes of your ideal target. See their perspective and help eliminate your own biases/subjectivity.
    24. 24. Targeting and Personas How do we create personas? Start with the data you DO have! But get beyond demographics! What motivates this person? What are their views? Why are they searching and sharing info? What are her day-to-day worries and aspirations? What behaviors is she trying to change?
    25. 25. Targeting and Personas Because knowing your target is a 25-44 year old woman won‟t help much … Maybe if you know she is a 30-36 yr old single mom, with 2 kids under 10, at least some college education, an income of <$45K, working in a customer service/support staff position, living in an older suburb, struggling to keep up financially, hardly any time to herself, prefers reading fiction, and very focused on getting her kids academic help and support … Now THAT you can work with!
    26. 26.  Customers need to see the value of what you offer in THEIR lives  Little value in talking about resources if users don‟t see & believe in value of those resources to THEM  Where are their pain points?  Everyone has them! Yes, even library visitors and users. #6 What‟s in it for me?
    27. 27. Let‟s work on some Cases A brief example for a Public, Academic & Special library situation – work on objectives, goals, tactics
    28. 28. A CASE EXAMPLE Target - Freshmen - Juniors Objective - Increase teen pleasure reading in school library in 2014 Goal - Increase fiction circulation 25% Initiative - Monthly book club, student advisory council picks books Tactic(s) - In-school flyers, in-library displays, Students create Tumblr acct for books read + share related pics/posts
    29. 29.  One-off promotions, events, initiatives = a mistake  Can‟t be 100% spontaneous in marketing  Every tactic, media effort, promotion needs to be on your calendar #7 Schedule or calendar = a must
    30. 30.  Some tactics just work better for certain audiences  Some tactics are better for broad goals vs more specific  Don‟t confuse „promotion‟ with „marketing #8 „Right‟tactics,„right‟purpose
    31. 31.  No „feature dumping‟  Not about how many databases you have, # journals, or free wi-fi  No „kitchen sink‟ ads, flyers or promotional features  Benefits and outcomes  Emotional benefits are stronger drivers of action vs. functional benefits  What will free wi-fi and 25 specialized medical databases get the patron? #9 Benefits, not features
    32. 32.  Marketing is about driving action  An attitude, opinion or behavior change  Attendance up at story hour, more e-book checkouts by students, increased donations, change opinions about special databases  The CTA isn‟t just about „sales‟  The CTA doesn‟t have to be „pushy‟ #10 The Call to Action is your friend
    33. 33. Additional Myths “Free” Marketing ALL marketing comes with some kind of „cost‟ Time, energy, resources, staffing Word of Mouth Marketing No such thing really as WoM Marketing Why? Because you can‟t control WoM WoM is 1:1 – no efficiencies of scale; and marketing is about those efficiencies But DO encourage WoM and let customers be the „star‟ Build it + they will come You have to remind, inspire, engage, nudge, prompt and often incentivize to get people to take action.
    34. 34. “Libraries are very good at doing things, it feels good to do something … but thinking your way through is hard work … and we’d rather do than think.” -- Terry Kendrick, „guru‟ of library strategic marketing Prove you can THINK and DO!
    35. 35. Want more information? For more marketing info, tips, trends: @theinfohound1