New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

The M Word helps librarians learn about marketing trends and ideas.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Take Action! It's Easy! NLLD / VLLD

If you're in the U.S. and if you care about libraries, then there's something important you need to do:

Take 5 minutes to participate in the virtual version of National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). All it requires is sending an email or tweet, or phoning your representatives between May 1 and May 5.

Sign up here, now. Then you'll get an email prompt when the time comes to act for Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD). 

With funding for the IMLS in jeopardy, this year's NLLD and VLLD are more important than ever. Make sure your representatives hear about how essential libraries are. YOU can make a difference! Sign up now! Participating will feel good.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fight for Funding

American followers: 
Do you know the federal government is trying to cut library funding? 

I got this urgent email today (below) from EveryLibrary, the Political Action Committee that lobbies for libraries. PLEASE:

1. Read it and follow links to learn more, if you want details. 2. Click the link under the orange "Send Them an Email" box.3. Fill in the short form, to automatically send an email to your representative.

The following is an urgent letter from the American Library Association asking you to take action to support the Library Services and Technology Act. This key piece of legislation makes millions of dollars in grants available to libraries. You already signed and shared the petition for IMLS but now we are asking you to take action to support this important piece of legislation.
ALA is reaching out to you for a last minute plea to get more signatures from key legislators on the House “Dear Appropriator” letter supporting LSTA. With just two business days left after today to get House Members’ commitments to sign it, ALA is 24 signers short of last year’s LSTA letter supporters total and this year they fear that they will need to double that total to be effective!

Please click here to send the email to support LSTA

According to ALA’s real-time online tracking tool, many legislators have not signed on. With the window for signatures closing as early as Monday April 3, ALA needs you to reach out again TODAY to legislators who have not yet signed the LSTA Dear Appropriator letter and ask that them to contact staff to Rep. Raul Grijalva ( to add their name to the letter NOW.

Members of the House have only until April 3 to let our champions know that they will sign the separate LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters now circulating, so there’s no time to lose. Use this link today to ask your Member of Congress to sign both the LSTA and IAL letters. Many Members of Congress will only sign such a letter if their constituents ask them to. So it is up to you to help save LSTA and IAL from elimination or significant cuts that could dramatically affect hundreds of libraries and millions of Americans.

YOU can help save millions of dollars in essential funding for all types of libraries by signing and sharing the petition. If you love libraries, be an advocate for them! It's fast, easy, and vital. THANK YOU! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

See Me Talk Marketing in DC

So you've been reading The M Word... Want to see me speaking live? Then come to the Computers in Libraries conference in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, at the end of March. 

I'll be doing two things at CIL this year: 

1. I'm giving a preconference workshop on Monday, March 27, from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. "Want Media Coverage? Add a Press Room to Your Website." Here's the full description.

You can register separately for this workshop even if you're not attending the full 3 days of the CIL conference. 

2. I'm moderating a full-day track, "Upping Our Marketing Game," on Thursday, March 30, which is part of the main conference. Here are the titles of each 45-minute session in my track (descriptions here):

* Marketing Plans for Success!
* Upping Our “Gamification”: Speaking Millennials’ Language
* Your Library Story in Video
* Employing Big Data to Understand & Reach Users
* Target Emails for Better Customer Connections

Here, you can see the full program and register for preconference workshops or for the 3-day event. Conference organizer Information Today, Inc. has extended the Early Bird sign-up deadline through this Friday, March 3. Also, conference discounts on hotel rates are good through March 6. Sign up today! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

AMA Covers Library Marketing

I find it exciting that the American Marketing Association decided to run an article about library marketing. Thank you, AMA! Writer Sarah Steimer did many interviews for this article, and she did a nice job of turning a great deal of information into this balanced, complimentary, interesting piece: 
"Libraries Demonstrate How Data Can Supercharge Low-budget Marketing." It appeared on the AMA's website on Feb. 1. 

Steimer spoke to people from Library Journal, major public libraries, vendors, and also with Nancy Dowd, founder of this blog, and with me, Kathy Dempsey, the current blogger here. It was an honor to be interviewed for this piece, along with lots of great marketing minds. The article is a good overview of library marketing, written for other marketers. Read it and tell us if you agree or disagree with the points everyone made. 

You may also want to share the article with your colleagues, administrators, and funders. Some may need to be convinced of the value of marketing in order to fund it; others may not realize what's possible with the latest data-driven tools. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Enter to Win $10,000! Annual JCD Awards

It's that time of year again! 

The John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards contest offers eight prizes of $10,000 each. JCD is the richest, most prestigious library marketing / PR award in the U.S. 

Entry deadline is March 17, 2017. All the details are on the website. All entries must be done electronically through this form. 

Past winners and more info are on the award's home page. 

You've seen us post about the awards gala year after year. Enter now and you could be honored there in June 2017!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Enter the 2017 PR Xchange Awards

It's that time of year again -- time to send your best PR work in to ALA's Annual PR Xchange competition. 
PR Xchange Awards ceremony, ALA 2016, Orlando

Entering is simple and free, and you could win nationwide recognition for your work and your library. The deadline is March 15. 

"The annual PR Xchange Awards recognize the very best public relations materials produced by libraries in the past year. Entries will be evaluated based on content, originality, and design by a team of experts in public relations, graphic design, communications, and marketing who select the winner(s) in each category.

"These awards are sponsored by the Library Leadership Administration and Management Association's Public Relations and Marketing Section and are overseen by the PR XChange Committee."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Choose a Target Audience First
This guest post from M Word founder Nancy Dowd is a cautionary tale: 

Choosing target audiences and asking what we can do for them has been a learning process for all of us in the library field. Sometimes we create events that we are interested in, but our users are not. 

I remember a number of years ago, when I made the classic marketing faux pas by creating a program without looking for input from the community, and I suffered the consequences: getting lower participation than I had planned. It was the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech (,
 and there was going to be a huge gathering in Washington, D.C. Our team was completely psyched and decided to sponsor a bus trip down to D.C. To make it even more appealing, we priced the day-long trip ridiculously cheaply. We completed the details. We designed a fantastic t-shirt, printed posters, listed the event on calendars, in churches, and landed some spots in the paper. 

Everything was planned perfectly -- except the only people who signed up were staff members. Fortunately, a member of the team was a preacher's granddaughter, and after an awe-inspiring speech from the pulpit and a few individual conversations, they were able to fill the bus for us. The event was a success; everyone had a great time. We had arranged with the local media to call in reports they could use for their articles, and had arranged to have a few members of the community who had been at the original event interviewed. We pulled it off.

But why hadn't we gotten people to sign up originally? Why didn't the community respond the way we thought they would?

First off, we put the event before the audience -- never a good thing to do. We were psyched about the event and wanted to go ourselves, so we figured out a way to make it happen. But that's called a "road trip," not a "library event." The difference is that the former serves an individual's need and the latter serves a community's needs. Great ideas are a good beginning, but they need to fit into a larger picture that begins with the question, "Who am I trying to reach?" Or in marketing terms, "Who is my target audience?"

In the case of the bus trip, the real target audience was our own library team. Of course we didn't say that at the time, but in fact whenever anyone plans something without identifying an audience or asking for input from that group, the target audience is the planning team. This is a classic mistake a lot of people make. In our case it would have been very easy to target some community organizations: historical societies, political groups, the NAACP, churches, etc.

Had we chosen some target audiences, then we would have wanted to meet up with influencers from those groups and find out if this would be something that would benefit them and, if so, what the event should be like. We'd have set up a communication format where people could exchange ideas, keep up-to-date on the planning progress, and volunteer for various steps. We'd talk about how this event could fit into a larger vision of collaboration between the library and the groups. Nowadays this would be done through a few meetings, social networks, conference calls, etc.

This work -- choosing a segment of people, finding out what they want, building a relationship -- is the foundation for your marketing. It's building a program around people's needs and establishing partnerships with the folks who will promote your program for you.

I know this sounds like a lot of work -- maybe too much work for the little time you have in your day. But we have to remember why we are doing things. Sure, we were able to call our event a success because we filled the bus and everyone had a great experience. But if we looked at the bigger picture, we had missed a terrific opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with our community that would have resulted in not only a full bus, but maybe also in more use of the library. 

The good news is that as those relationships are built, the communication process gets easier. So get to know your target audiences! That makes the rest of your marketing tasks more successful. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LMC Conference Registration Extended

Registration for the 2nd annual Library Marketing and Communications Conference is still open for 2 more weeks. There are a few seats left, so don't delay! Registration closes at midnight on Thurs., Nov. 3. The conference is in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 16 & 17. 

Find all the conference details on the website. The list of sessions is here

I'm proud to be chairing the conference again. Last year, #LMCC15 was a sold-out success, and the program for #LMCC16 looks great too. We even have the nationally famous John Haydon keynoting!

So what are you waiting for? Register today! I'll see you there. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Golden Opportunity to Talk About Libraries

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts,
 and new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden at the 14 Sept. swearing-in ceremony.
Captured from LoC's YouTube video.
Yesterday, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress in the U.S. This is wonderful on many levels: 
  • Hayden replaces Dr. James Billington, who was not tech-savvy, not a librarian, and not moving the library into the digital age quickly enough. 
  • Hayden has not only the requisite Master's in Library Science; she actually holds a Ph.D. in it.
  • Hayden has worked at all levels, from a children's librarian, to a director, to public library system CEO, to president of the American Library Association (2003-04).
  • Hayden is the first woman, and first African-American, in the history of the 216-year-old LoC. 
Her appointment (from President Obama) is historic in many ways, and is wonderful news. She wants to digitize more resources so scholars and everyday people will be able to access them online, from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.

This is all great -- but library marketers can make it even more great. Let's discuss this! Talk about it with your family members, your non-librarian-friends, your acquaintances. Share it on all your social sites. Talk about it at the grocery store, in meetings, over a meal. This is a golden opportunity to start conversations about the goodness and value of libraries. 

Hayden with Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton
Easy opener: "Hey, did you hear that a new Librarian of Congress was just sworn in? It's historic in many ways." The other person will ask why, giving you a chance to explain. 
"You might not think this affects you, but Dr. Carla Hayden's appointment will help put tons of U.S. history at your fingertips. Much of it is preserved in the Library of Congress, but it's not online yet. She's determined to digitize more of it, to work with schools and scholars to share it. There's so much fascinating stuff to learn about! Old photos and letters... " 

I gave you some talking points above, and here are links you can share: 

What coverage, posts, and articles have you seen about our new Librarian of Congress? Please share them in the comments! 

As I write this, the morning after she was sworn in, Carla Hayden is trending on Facebook, which is huge. Let's keep the conversation going!

Let's all use this occasion to talk with others about why libraries matter, what they do, how tech-savvy they are, how they've kept up over the years. Tell friend what benefits libraries offer, what they can get for free, how professional librarians give computer classes and job-search training. Shock them with the news that many libraries now loan musical instruments, garden & home tools, toy & games, home-energy meters, and so much more. 

If you're not comfortable striking up conversations with others, read my easy how-to advice here. 

Talk about libraries this week! We need all the good publicity we can get, and we don't get golden opportunities like this very often. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer of 2016 Marketing Awards

The number of library marketing contests has been growing, bit by bit. The ones I'm covering here are three of the biggest. The achievements of this latest crop of winners are high benchmarks that you can compare to your own marketing efforts.

People begin pouring into the PR Xchange
area at soon as it opens at ALA.
(Photos by Kathy Dempsey unless otherwise noted)

PR Xchange Awards     

This year’s PR Xchange Awards Competition for library promotional materials was huge. More than 100 institutions (public, academic, school, state, and special libraries) sent more than 390 entries. A jury of 17 appraised each entry on the quality of its content, along with its format, design, creativity, and originality. The jury consisted of marketing and communications professionals, graphic designers, outreach librarians, and a library marketing consultant (that last one is me!).

There were 27 electronic winners and 32 print winners, since the many categories are broken down by library budget, to make the competition more fair. So the list of winners is too long to share in this post, but you can find it here.

Contest Chairs hand out the PR Xchange award certificates.

This annual contest is run by the Public Relations and Marketing Section (PRMS) of ALA’s LLAMA (Library Leadership and Management Association). The co-chairs, Mark Aaron Polger and Laura Tomcik, arranged for the winning entries to be displayed at the PR Xchange event at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla., on June 26, and PR Xchange committee members presented the award certificates to happy winners there. 

John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Winners

The other large annual contest run by LLAMA's PRMS section is the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award. Thanks to generous sponsorship from EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation, each of the eight winning libraries receives a $10,000 prize and a plaque.

Here are the eight winners:
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library for A Library of Possibilities
  • Chicago Public Library for Summer Learning Challenge 2015: Explore and Soar
  • Houston Public Library for MY Link card campaign
  • New Orleans Public Library for A Library at a Crossroads
  • Northwestern University Library in Illinois for #UndeadTech
  • San Diego County Library for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten
  • Alfred University’s (N.Y.) Scholes Library of Ceramics for Harry Potter’s World
  • Vancouver (B.C., Canada) Public Library for Inspiration Lab launch campaign
All the JCD winners (except Vancouver, who couldn't be there) posed together at the end of the ceremony.

I encourage you to look up their full info here. From there, you can link to a more-detailed winner list, or to a page with winner photos. The recipients accepted their awards at an open reception on June 26 during the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

IFLA’s BibLibre International Marketing Awards

The Management and Marketing (M&M) Section of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, ran its annual marketing contest again, and it drew 71 applications from 26 countries, in 6 languages. The M&M section members bestowed these 13th annual marketing awards at IFLA's World Library and Information Congress in August in Columbus, Ohio. BibLibre (, a French open source software company, generously sponsored the awards this year.

Here are the top three winners:

Part of Vancouver PL's award-winning promotion material
1. Vancouver Public Library: Inspiration Lab Launch Campaign (British Columbia, Canada;
In May 2015, Vancouver Public Library launched an Inspiration Lab—“a hands­on digital media hub with sound studios, video production and editing, analog-­to-­digital conversion, and self­-publishing software.” The launch campaign achieved its marketing objectives by targeting early adopters and media outlets that could extend awareness through their own networks and channels.

2. Xiamen University Libraries: Tuan Time (Xiamen, Fujian Province, China;
As IFLA’s press release explains in English, “Since 2013, each graduate student’s library usage record has been transferred by librarians into a refreshing personalized e­account with painting and music, showing their lists of borrowings, library entries, favorite seats, and so on. The theme of the website is ‘Tuan Time,’ namely, ‘Library Time.’ By combining three Chinese characters into one, the newly coined Chinese character ‘Tuan’ conveys the notion that a library is both a book-­collection shelter and soul­-enriching harbor.” The accounts are permanent, and many students have shared them on microblogs ( and WeChat.

3. Sunshine Coast Libraries: Sunshine Coast Libraries Pop Ups! (Queensland, Australia; ​​
Staff members at this public library system created six pop-up libraries and held six major events across Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Each pop-up had its own slogan that was crafted specifically for that event: Libraries Colour My Life, Libraries Light Me Up, Real Aussies Read, Where’s Wally—at the Library!, Reading—Food for the Mind, and Run to Reading.
 Silvere Mercier and Nancy Gwinn of the M&M Section prepare 
to give out the 2016 IFLA BibLibre International Marketing
Awards in Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Christie Koontz)

This award honors organizations that implement creative, results-­oriented marketing projects or campaigns. Details on the winners and runners-up are here. (See especially the Storify page!)Thanks to BibLibre, the first- and second-place winners received payment for airfare, lodging, and registration to attend the IFLA event in Ohio. The sponsor also provided cash awards of €2,000, €1,000, and €500 (about $2,256, $1,128, and $564) for the top three winners, which must be used to further their marketing efforts.

Studying top-ranked marketing campaigns like these is a great way to learn about best practices and to see what true marketing projects look like—and what they can achieve. Note that Vancouver Public Library took prizes from both JCD and IFLA, so if you only have time to dig into one campaign, make it that one. Take a look, be inspired, and start to plan your 2017 marketing efforts!

To be inclusive, let me remind you of the other main contests:

If you know of other national or international marketing contests that I've missed, please comment to tell me about them. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Let Me Tell You About Merchandising

Digital-screen display at the Library of Congress
Do you wonder what "merchandising" is all about? Do you think it's just for retail stores? Let me set the record straight!

Merchandising isn't just for stores; it's important for all types of libraries too. It can increase your foot traffic and your circulation. It's a great outlet for creative staffers. And it can be really fun!

On August 9, I'll be giving a webinar for the good folks at
As part of their Strategic Library Webinar series, I'll be presenting "Increasing Library Usage Through Strategic Merchandising." 

Learn more about this 1-hour webinar and register here. 

Here's what you'll learn in this fast-paced, super-visual webinar: 
* Why merchandising starts outside of the building 
* The difference between creating displays and doing merchandising 
* Strategies for increasing library usage and circulation  
* Simple, inexpensive, yet effective ways to improve your physical spaces  
* How merchandising, signage, and space design affect the user experience (UX) 

Anyone from around the world is welcome to participate. If you can't attend live on 9 August, you'll be sent a link to the recorded version. So you have no excuses to miss this -- sign up today! I promise it will be both educational and entertaining.

Also, see other archived and upcoming events in the Strategic Library Webinar Series here. Topics range from strategic planning to construction projects to staff competencies. Want to learn the latest? probably has it covered; look over the list.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

New 'Marketer of the Year' Award!

This morning I received very exciting news. Library Ideas, in conjunction with Library Journal, is sponsoring a brand new award: Marketer of the Year!

Library Journal will honor one library staffer or a library team with its first annual Marketer of the Year award in its October 1, 2016, issue. The award, sponsored by Library Ideas, comes with a $2,000 cash prize.
The award recognizes the importance of innovative approaches to marketing of library services, the role of marketing in building library engagement, and the value of quality marketing collateral to help build a vibrant sense of the library and define its relevance in the community. The award places a special emphasis on an individual (or team) working for a library who has instituted or reinvigorated a marketing strategy in the past two years that has:
  • had measurable impact on some aspect of the library’s use,
  • created a new understanding of the community served via market research,
  • improved the prominence of the library in community, and/or
  • driven the marketing around a successful funding initiative that enables the library to reach new audiences or secures deeper sustainability.
Read more details online, and nominate someone by August 1, 2016. I'm so happy to see library marketing getting more recognition and encouragement!  


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

CIVICTechnologies Releases 'Core Customer Intelligence' Report

The report cover show a map
of  customer segmentation.
At the Public Library Association Conference (PLA,, CIVICTechnologies released a new in-depth report called "Core Customer Intelligence: Public Library Reach, Relevance and Resilience." It's all about using one of today's hot tools, "big data." The vendor, which helps librarians use their data to map out where various client segments exist, wanted to obtain information and insights that would help librarians retain these core users and also gain new customers like them, so this is a powerful tool for customer retention and recruitment. 

The report's website explains: "In partnership with the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CIVICTechnologies completed the first big data study in the library world." 

Here's what happened: CIVICTechnologies investigated the "core customers" of 10 large U.S. public library systems. These the customers were most active in borrowing physical materials (books, DVDs, and CDs). Those 10 libraries serve a total of 7.8 million people, and the study analyzed data from 4 million customers and 67.4 million checkouts. So it's a very large sample.

As the website says, "Ultimately, this study raises as many important questions as it answers: How can libraries use the core customer information uncovered in this study to attract new library customers and to increase existing customer use? Will libraries be able to retain these core customers as formats shift from physical to virtual? Who are other groups of library customers that are active and loyal? How will libraries accelerate the adoption and use of this kind of customer data to stay relevant, nimble and valuable to the public?"

Page 2 of the Executive Summary explains the three main findings, which pertain to Reach, Relevance, and Resilience.

If you want to understand how to bring in, then keep, more public library users, download the report for free here so you can digest the big data.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Speakers Needed: Library Marketing and Communications Conference

The conference hotel
The Call for Proposals Is Open
for the

Dallas, TX, Nov 1617, 2016
Crowne Plaza Dallas Near Galleria–Addison

The Planning Committee of the 2016 Library Marketing and Communications Conference (LMCC) is interested in receiving proposals for presentations that showcase the tried and true, the latest trends, and the best practices while providing practical tips and takeaways that can be immediately applied to any library's communication and marketing efforts. We're looking for speakers who have done this work long enough to have experiences and lessons to share.

You should have enough content to fill at least 45 minutes, not counting Q&A. You'll be able to share handouts and slides with attendees electronically.


Submission Deadline: Midnight Eastern Time on May 2 
Notification of Presentation Approval: May 27

Get all the details here.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, these concepts:

1.      Communications campaigns / Media relations
2.      Social media plans / Tips / Analytics
3.      Marketing / Communication plans
4.      User Experience / Customer service
5.      Collaborations / Partnerships
A scene from LMCC 2015
6.      Community engagement projects
7.      Planning and promoting programs
8.      Market research / Surveys / Focus groups
9.      Branding strategies / Projects
10.  Technology / Apps / Websites / Software
11.  Graphic design / Production
12.  Communications / Support / Management of internal staff
13.  Political strategy / Bond issues / Budgets
14.  Effective PR / Messages / Value statements
15.  Promoting electronic resources
16.  Pop-up libraries / Services outside of buildings

For any additional questions, send email with the subject line"LMC Speaker Questions" to: General Questions About Speaking: 
Joan Barnes:  Community Engagement Librarian  University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Questions About the Proposal Form: 
Emily Glimco:  Marketing and Communications Associate  Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library  
Organized by the Library Marketing and Communications Group   
Facilitated by Amigos Library Services  

 FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm the Chair of this event. The first LMCC, held in November 2015, was very well-received. In fact, it sold out! So start planning now for this year's conference. If you don't want to speak, then come to network and learn at this one-of-a-kind show that's focused on just what you need to succeed! ~Kathy Dempsey