Reader Mailbox: Newsletter Marketing for Libraries
Did you miss Angela Hursh’s webinar on 4 Simple Ways to Beef Up Your Library Marketing? Never fear — it’s available on-demand for you to watch anytime. Our listeners also asked some great questions during the webinar about how to start integrating content marketing practices into their marketing plans.
As Angela pointed out in her presentation, many of you already have a vehicle for content marketing: your newsletter. Read on to see the advice and examples Angela had for taking newsletter marketing to the next level, and see how you can easily start implementing some of these tips in your library today.
Question: We do a monthly newsletter for our small single-branch library (population 25,000). How would you suggest doing content marketing? We have a staff of 8 with no marketing staff.
I haven’t seen your newsletter and don’t know what it contains now, but I’ll guess that it’s a list of program times and descriptions. In that case, instead of listing all the programs, pick the ones that are likely to be the most engaging — programs that are a point of differentiation for your library — and do more in-depth articles about them, interviewing the speaker or presenters.
Try to do a customer story once a month, profiling someone who uses your branch on a regular basis and who is a super fan (I’m sure you know who they are!). Question-and-answer interviews are easy and practically write themselves. Ask your subject to answer five questions via email, and then compile those into an article. For an example, check out the author profile in my library’s latest issue of Library Links. The cover story of this issue was also written from a question-and-answer interview conducted via email.
Question: Do you have a collection of good interview questions for patrons, authors and/or librarians that you could share?
It really depends on whom I’m interviewing and the story I’m trying to uncover. When I interview authors, I always ask them to tell me about their writing process — when, where and how they write, and I love to ask them about reading reviews of their work.
For customers, I often will ask them to tell me what the library has done to improve their life. I might also ask them to describe their favorite childhood library memory. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Questions like, “How did you feel when …” and “What’s your advice to someone who is …” always elicit great responses. Here is a great post for anyone who is new to interview questions. And I hope you’ll find inspiration in this interview with Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes.
The best thing to do is to look at your library’s strategic plan or goals and then create content that supports the meeting of that goal.
So, for instance, if your library says it wants to promote early childhood literacy, then the content you produce should help parents, educators and caregivers answer the question of how to help little ones learn to read and love books.
Question: How is your newsletter distributed? We keep changing our plan from sending them home with local elementary students and placing them around town to mailing them or stuffing them in our newspaper. How do we know which is best?
Library Links is sent to everyone who is a member of our Friends of the Public Library group as well as to all our Library Foundation donors. In addition, we send a copy to each school, civic organization, and county and city leader. We place free copies in each of our branches and leave copies at the Chamber of Commerce; local art museums and galleries; theaters; nursing homes and senior centers; and children’s museums.