I’m guessing that some of your are asking, what does marketing really have to do with libraries?
Because libraries have been pretty good at following customer interests and demands, it may feel like libraries already have this covered. One place where libraries need to grow is how we articulate our value – consistently – to our public.
Here’s a great example:
Remember during the Clinton campaign of 1992 and the proverbial line, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Here’s how Rochester Public Library demonstrates – through literal dollars and cents – their value to their community. On their web page they have installed a calculator, which totals the cost of “purchases” and instantly demonstrates to the public “astounding” value. Average total was $415 per visit (!) and some people totaled $1000. On a side note, I recently calculated that working at the library for four years has saved me over $5,000 in books and other media. Talk about benefits! I read about 50 books a year (currently John Adams, Hallelujah Junction.) Multiply that times an average of $25/book and – voila! –$5,000.
Library Director Christine Lind Hage goes on to say: “libraries must be more proactive than ever in finding ways to demonstrate their economic value to their communities, boards and municipalities. This is one way to show the actual savings a library can offer to every member of the community.”
All of us are belt-tightening these days. There is nothing wrong in reminding the public, through actual calculations, that libraries are a great value. At our library our customers are currently paying $22 per year per $100,000 of home value. Or, less than the cost of a hardback book. Hitting customers at the sweet spot of value, that’s marketing 101.