Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bringing in non-users: A report from WLA

As you may remember, I recently got back from a trip to Green Bay, WI to speak at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference. It was awesome to be back in the Midwest, and in true Midwesterner form, everyone was extremely gracious and welcoming to me - thanks, WLA!

I thought you might like to see the PowerPoint presentation I gave in my session called, "Taking the 'Non' Out of Non-User: Increase Your Library's Reach with Creative Marketing Strategies."

I'm sure some of this will make no sense out of context, but you can always drop me a note if you have questions. I would like to make a couple of points based on some of the questions from the attendees (which I'm quoting liberally here):

Q: What if you have no money to draw in non-users?
A: None of the ideas I talked about in the presentation involve a lot of money unless you're thinking about designing new services for completely new patron bases (doing that can take a lot of staff time and resources). The key things I can advise people is to talk to as many people as you possibly can all the time by viewing all of your contacts as means of learning something new, and make the most of the contacts you do have. For example, you could form partnerships with other public or private entities who can help offset costs. There tends to be a lot of goodwill out there for libraries - use it!

It's all about building relationships, and that doesn't always involve money. If you're very concerned about cost, branch out slowly. Start looking for patron needs that are related to needs you're currently filling, and then fill those needs in a slightly different way by only modifying current offerings rather than overhauling them.

Q: What's the 'big idea' for libraries?
A: I talked a bit about how important it is to approach potential new users with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for what you represent (your library's 'big idea'). It may sound cliche but it's absolutely true: If you don't care about what you're doing, no one else will. Someone then asked me what I thought the 'big idea' for libraries is. I then proceeded, in a very bad-marketing-like way, to ramble on about libraries as creativity labs, to which my colleague responded, "I was hoping for a slogan!". I told him I had nothin'. After thinking about it for a while, I did come up with some possibilities:

  • Your ideas. Your library.
  • Build ideas @ Your library
  • Creativity counts @ Your library
  • Your library: Where good ideas grow
  • Try something new. Visit your library. [Especially good for non-users, eh?]
  • Try-on-for-size; Realize; Harmonize; Patronize your library.
  • Libraries are built with ideas. Find yours here.
Ok, so these are just some starting points, but don't you hate it when you think of things long after the situation where they'd be useful has passed?! I guess what I'm saying is that I think libraries' big idea is ideas. Unfortunately, nobody in the group had other thoughts on what our 'big idea' is. So, I ask you, daring readers: What IS the big idea and do you have a slogan to add?

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