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Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Outreach- Remember to ask those two questions

Take a look at this video from Google. You know I'm crazy about the outreach job they did at the ALA Conference but this video really caps it all off.

We are preparing for an outreach event this weekend and I was thinking about how often groups jump ahead and forget their marketing basics. The first place we begin is to ask ourselves those two favorite questions:

1. Who is our target audience- who will be attending?
2. Why are we there- what do we want the people we meet to know, learn or experience?

From there we ask ourselves what is the best way to get that message across? When we were at the NJLA Conference we were looking to help educate librarians about what the New Jersey State Library does. So we created a huge Jeopardy Board with categories representing each bureau and threw in a few fun categories. The game was a perfect for librarians and the questions gave both direct answers and opened up the opportunity to talk more about our services.

We are working with NJLA at an event we this weekend. Since its a balloon festival, it will be packed with families so we are creating a table that has a few activities for younger children, teens, parents and grandparents - we'll have a large map of New Jersey that the younger kids can can put small dots indicating where they live and a free raffle with a huge basket filled with incredible goodies that will appeal to teens and younger kids. For parents we adapted very appealing brochures for three groups of readers that include pictures of the books (thanks to Princeton Public Library) to help parents suggest books to their children. For grandparents we are providing information about large print books and services offered by the Library for the Blind and Handicapped.

The next step we do is to type up the talking points (simple messages that those working the booth can say to convey the messages we are communicating) and distribute to those attending the event.

We have pretty much omitted most small give-a-ways in lieu of gift baskets. If they are done right they can attract more people to the table and allows us to gather email addresses so we can follow up with customers after the event. This meets resistance with many people because they are so use to having those pencils to attract people to the table.

I'll talk more about setting up and working the table in a future posts. Meanwhile why not share some of your favorite outreach events with us? What worked, what didn't? Humorous stories... Either post them here or email me If you have pictures we can post them as well.

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