Does this sound familiar?: You turn on the T.V., computer, or flip open a magazine to find a stunning, creative, attention-getting ad only to find that, moments later, you've forgotten what was being advertised (if you were able to figure it out in the first place!). Can creativity be more foe than friend to your marketing efforts if left unchecked?
Creativity is one of the most important skills librarians can bring to bear on their marketing efforts. However, I often wonder if too much creativity (if there is such a thing) applied to promotions can actually do more harm than good by stealing the show from the core marketing messages. In participating in outreach events, I question whether any student is able to come away with a coherent message given all the "noise" of give-aways, games, and decorations. Here's a working list of points I consider when balancing creativity with promotion objectives:
- Do the creative elements reinforce the message or compete with it? Outrageous games, stunts and gimmicks can nab patrons' attention, but once you have their attention, what are you going to do with it? Try to make the most of the rare instances when you have someone's undivided attention by communicating your message and listening to patrons' points of view. If the creative elements don't allow that to happen, they may need to be scaled back a bit. Also, do those attention-getters conflict with the messages you want to communicate? It's helpful to step back from creative ideas to determine how well they mesh with promotion goals.
- How can creative ideas make lasting value for patrons? I like for my creative promotion tactics to have some staying power and be useful to patrons. This summer, for example, I raffled off USB flash drives to students who signed up for our listserv. Students get a prize they can use as they do research and write papers, and they also receive relevant library news well into the future. In an academic setting, I prefer edu-taining events, prizes, etc. that are fun and attention-getting, but that also expose students to aspects of library services.
- What's the context? In a stroke of luck this summer, I gave away mint Lifesavers at my display table. I didn't know it beforehand, but at this event parents of incoming students were given free cups of coffee, so the mints were a big hit! This happy coincidence reminded me of the importance of knowing as much as possible about the context in which the promotion will take place.
Categories: real_life | tips_to_try