Why bother advertising? #44: 2013
●Egyptians used papyrus to make flyers and wall posters and billboards were found in the ruins of Pompeii
●In the 18th century, advertisements started to appear in English newspapers. The Pears Soap Company, created the first advertising slogan
●By the 1940’s radio public service advertising began to appear and were quickly embraced by the corporate and not for profit worlds
●In the 1950’s television advertising fractured a single program sponsors like Hallmark Hall of Fame but to become more profitable, TV executives began selling smaller blocks of advertising time to numerous advertisers
Library land has on occasion viewed advertising as unnecessary, perhaps frivolous, definitely too expensive and in some sectors “dirty” and” undignified”. As if we are the only organization on the face of the earth that doesn’t need to reach out and touch our customers. Promoting the library and its resources is fundamental to our very survival. Gone are the days when we could be an island unto ourselves and let folks simply come to us. We need to reach out and meet our customers where they are; at the market, on the rink, at church, in school or simply next door to: compete in an information saturated society; keep the library “front of mind” when folks are looking for answers, something to read or somewhere to go when you need help; and attract new customers.
“But, Kitty what about libraries in small communities? Everyone knows everyone, we don’t need to advertise, do we?”
The way a small library (serving a community of fewer than 100,000) reaches out maybe slightly different, but it is still fundamental to their very survival. In a small community it may not be a public service announcement on the TV or rotating ads on the website but it may be:
● an information table and iPad at the market answering consumer questions
● empowering every library board member to “talk library”. There is nothing more motivating than a personal testimony like…“Gayle, the library is offering a ‘how to prepare your kids for high school’ evening next week. Do you want to come with me?”
● hockey books in the penalty box
● a holiday recipe and library hours in the church bulletin
● annually visiting all grade 1,3,5 and 7 classes making sure students have library cards and teaching then something new that will help them in their studies
Selling the library product is part of the board, CEO and all the staffs’ responsibility. It’s not a frill or “other duty as assigned.” It is fundamental, no matter the size of the community.
Kitty Pope #44 November 2013