Digital Transformation | Leadership | Strategy | Consulting | Speaking | Training - Adelaide, South Australia
marketing the library

Some thoughts about how to market your library in this day-and-age – the second of two presentations that I delivered to the Public Libraries Western Australia Conference in September 2017.


Here’s the video recording…


Thanks for having me. I’ve really enjoyed my time over here in Western Australia thus far.

I explained to the guys who were here yesterday for my first I’ve previously done some consultancy work with Public Libraries of South Australia to develop a digital strategy for the SA library network, and I’m also the founder of an online bookstore called Boomerang Books.

So I love speaking about books and libraries, and it’s great to be here!


Does anybody know who John Wanamaker was?

So let me tell you story of Mr Wanamaker

He was an American retail merchant at the turn of the 20th century.  His chain of stores ultimately became the Macy’s chain of department stores today.

Who has been to a Macy’s?

Macy’s and other department stores in real trouble in  the US – they’re being smashed to bits by two big behemoths: Walmart and Amazon.


The latter of course is in the process of establishing a massive distribution centre in the outskirts of Melbourne and will commence business here shortly.

The likes of David Jones, Myer, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman are really worried – it’s time review your portfolios!

But back to Mr Wanamaker….

Mr Wanamaker was a pioneer in marketing and he is credited with one of the most cited marketing quotes of all time; one that you most likely have heard before…


It’s probably a quote that you’ve all heard at some stage

And it certainly presents a challenge when we’re asked by our councils to justify our marketing spend and to demonstrate return on investment.

But I reckon that Mr Wanamaker was a bit of whinger.

He made those observations over 100 years when advertising was so much simpler

Back in his day, there were only a couple of marketing channels that were available.  Probably just print and display – how hard could it be?


Imagine what he would think in today’s world…

We have an infinite choice of products and services, accessible to us from all over the globe

There is cut-throat competition in the marketplace, driving prices down – which is great for consumers, but not so good for businesses

There is a saturation of marketing messages – scientific studies show that every person has between 4000-10000 marketing messages directed at them every day

And these messages are transmitted to us via a host of new content ‘channels’, which serves to fragment the audience.

At the same time, our lives have gotten incredibly busy and full – and we’ve become conditioned to filtering out these messages.


It was so much easier for Don Draper at Sterling Cooper in New York in the 1950s.

Any Mad Men fans in the room?

Marketing was all about dressily snappily, womanising, and drinking scotch at 10am in the morning.

That’s what I signed up for when I became a marketer!


But like Mr Wanamaker, Don probably wouldn’t survive in today’s marketing world.

Those who were at my presentation yesterday have already seen this slide – the proliferation of new content channels has made it extremely difficult for us marketers to get our message out.

It used to be that a marketer could stick an ad on Channels 7, 9 and 10, put a couple of ads in the paper, and they would reach 99% of the population.

Today the audience has been diffused across all of these new channels. Most people don’t even watch free to air TV these days.

Social media has also created problems for traditional media – people are more inclined to trust their social media friends than they are to listen to paid advertising

Top right – Pornhub…porn is the second most popular activity on the web after social media….although obviously not among people in this room, right?


Old Marketers had it pretty good.  There were only a few choices for placing their marketing – television, radio, print. The extent of their post-campaign analysis was pretty rudimentary.

‘We advertised last week and sales increased, so it must have worked’

‘The marketing objective was ‘awareness’ and clearly many people are now aware of us’

And you could get away with that, because there were only a few channels.

But traditional media doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.  And I’ve got a concrete example for you…


I have proof that nobody reads the newspaper

I was in Saturday Adelaide Advertiser about 6 weeks ago, with my kids.

Long story – not self promotion, just doing a favour for a friend who needed a subject for an article on Vitamin D deficiency of all things.

Now, the Saturday Advertiser is supposedly the highest circulation newspaper in South Australia

But I was surprised at how few people actually mentioned seeing the article.

Which can mean one of two things:

a)I don’t have any friends

b)Nobody reads the paper

My inclination is to go with the latter.


The New Marketing is different. It’s less art – less Don Draper.  And more science.

Digital advertising – big companies are shifting their budgets away from television, radio and print and they’re putting it all into highly targeted digital advertising – Google Adwords, online display advertising and paid social media advertising

Customer relationship management – best organisations have a single view of each customer, their preferences and history with the organisation, and use that info to tailor their offering to the individual’s specific requirements

Data driven marketing, personalisation and marketing automation – this is where marketing content is distributed automatically based on our knowledge of the customer – think Amazon’s ‘You Might Also Like’ function; think trigger SMS messages from your bank.

Big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence – a growing field that enables predictive insights about the future activity of consumers; in time, this technology will market products to you at precisely the moment in time when you’re looking for that product!

Social media has impacted marketing phenomenally – we’re more inclined to listen to our friends, and we’ve become more sceptical of paid advertising

The growing field of UX, design thinking and agile methodologies that put the customer at the heart of all decision-making in order to improve the user experience

And finally marketing analytics – measuring everything we do, determining what works, what doesn’t, and spending our marketing dollar more wisely to achieve the very best return on investment for our business


These are US figures

TV advertising spend has been fairly static

Digital advertising has grown 71%

Mobile advertising has grown 2200%

Print advertising is down 33%


And when you think about it, the benefits of digital advertising far outweigh traditional media.

It’s far cheaper, it can be targeted specifically at particular demographics, it can be turned on and off at will, and it’s completely measureable. All of the things that traditional advertising is not.


Whether we like it or not, the ‘new’ marketing is digital and that increasingly draws marketing (and librarians seeking to market their libraries) into the orbit of the information technology field.

The challenge for organisations is this:

IT people typically have little idea about customers and their preferences and have no desire to learn.

Marketing people have little idea about technology and information systems and have no desire to learn

And that’s precisely where the sweet spot is for organisations that want to deliver great customer solutions

How many of you guys have had problems with your council’s IT team?


But it’s not about us and our internal battles with IT…the most important stakeholder is, of course, our customer.

The very best marketing uses the WIIFM principle and addresses the customer question – what’s in it for me?


Now not all of these are applicable to libraries, but the

Top 5 things that people want from businesses on social media, according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report:



Product information

Invitations to events

Tips and advice


So, today I’m going to give you a simple framework that you can use to guide your marketing efforts – some of this aligns closely with Alison’s presentation before lunch

I’d recommend that you sit the whole team down and have a brainstorming session about this, and then commit it to paper – it’s a great little team building activity.

The methodology may seem a little obvious, but many organisations have not thought about their marketing in this way and it’s really useful to do so

People – who are you seeking to influence?

Objective – what do you want to them to do?

Strategies – how will you move them towards that objective?

Technologies, tactics, techniques and tools – which will you use to enact the strategies?


We typically start at ‘T’.  We punch out a Facebook post, put an ad in our local newspaper, or do some Adwords advertising

But we don’t really consider the ‘P’, ‘O’, and ‘S’ – the people, the objective and the strategies

Starting at ‘T’ doesn’t really work…


So here’s a simple example…

‘Shit, everybody seems to have a Facebook Page. Let’s drop everything and start a Facebook Page, so that we can keep up with the Joneses’

Now Facebook is littered with Facebook Pages that have a handful of posts and haven’t gone anywhere.

If you use POST, then you’ll settle on the right technologies and tactics to use.


The first thing to consider is PEOPLE – the audience, the guys that you’re trying to influence.

In today’s world, organisations that succeed are those that are customer-centric and put the user at the centre of all decision making.

That’s why we have to think about them first.

Every library’s audience is different – the audience in the City of Perth is going to be distinctly different from the audience in Wanneroo.

So the first step is understand what the people want, and how we want to influence them


What is the objective which each set of people that your library services.

You might have a different objective for each segment of your audience

For teenagers, you might want to alert them to the fact that they can download eBooks for free through the library

For pensioners, you might want to increase their digital literacy so that they have the ability to download eBooks


For each of the groups of people, and for the various objectives, what are the things that you are going to do to move the people towards the objective?

Again, these strategies may be different for each group of people.


And once you’ve considered all of those things, then you can apply technology, tactics and tools to the problem

It might be a blog, a Facebook Page, an email newsletter, a YouTube channel – now that you know what you’re seeking to achieve, you’ll do these things so much better

Or alternatively you might decide that digital tools are not appropriate technology to employ to reach some audiences…you might choose other tactics altogether


It’s useful to consider your digital marketing activity as a hub-and-spoke model. For most organisations the website represents the core digital asset. It’s the place where we drive all of our traffic from the various marketing channels at exist out here on the exterior.

Now, this is a little problematic for libraries, because my understanding is that you often operate multiple websites – a section that is housed in your council’s CMS as well as a catalogue interface. This serves to fragment the customer’s digital experience as well as your search engine rankings, but that’s probably an issue for another presentation at another time…


So now I’m just going to talk about a fictional library ‘Libraria’ – nice name, huh?

The Librarian team has spent some time undertaking a POST analysis.

In addition to their catalogue website as their core digital asset, Libraria has chosen to focus on five technologies to engage with their audience.

Each of these technologies is like a set of gears – each technology complements the other, generating interactions between the various channels, creating momentum and increasing the number of engagements with consumers

Let’s talk about each in turn


Libraria established a blog using WordPress – anybody using WordPress in the audience?

It’s free, easy-to-use blogging software; it can be set up in a matter of minutes

A place for long-form content – articles, book reviews, photo galleries, event information, library news, opinion pieces, video

I’m guessing that you have got some great writers amongst your staff. This is the place where they publish their stuff

Blog contains sign-up forms to capture email addresses for the newsletter

Blog content is automatically cross-posted to the Facebook Page

Blog content is re-purposed for the weekly email newsletter

The blog drives traffic to the library catalogue website


Libraria’s has built a Facebook Page –

Everybody’s on Facebook. Australians are among the biggest users of Facebook in the world. It makes sense to have a presence on Facebook.

The page is used to promote events, to show image galleries and to publish library news

An email subscription form is used to capture email addresses for the weekly email newsletter

Content is cross-posted automatically from the Libraria blog

Colourful graphics are produced using Canva

‘Short form’ content is published to the page using Buffer

Community management is undertaken using Hootsuite


Canva – an Australian company – is a fantastic tool for amateur graphic designers.  Even the most creatively challenged people, like me, can create great graphics with Canva.

Much of it is free. You only pay if you use the stock image library and normally this costs on a dollar or two.

Here’s a Facebook post image that I ripped together last week.

Anybody use Canva?


Once the content has been produced, Libraria uses the Buffer tool to schedule its content.  Buffer allows you create an online content calendar, and post content to any social media channel on a scheduled basis ahead of time.

Anybody use Buffer?


Libraria uses Hootsuite to manage its social media once it has been published, and to interact with its community.

Libraria staff can monitor and respond to comments and questions on all social media sites from a single screen. No need to login to each social media tool separately to interact with customers.

Who uses Hootsuite?


Let’s talk quickly about remarketing…because it’s something that you should consider as part of your marketing mix

I’m guessing that most of you would have noticed this when using the web – it seems like particular brands are following you around the internet…

A colleague talks about a uni lecturer who showed a YouTube video as part of a recent lecture, and right there in the corner of the screen was a banner advertisement for Ashley Madison…so be careful!

A small piece of code called a Facebook Pixel is installed on a website

When you visit that site, the code speaks to Facebook and it adds you to an ‘audience’.  That audience could be segmented by all the various pieces of information that Facebook holds on you – age, gender, location, marital status, interests

When you’re on Facebook later, you are shown advertisements because you belong to a particular audience.


Libraria have installed the ‘Facebook Pixel’ on their catalogue website to enable ‘remarketing’

Created a custom audience of people who have visited their website

Created audiences for various demographics that exist within the geographic boundaries of their council area

Using ‘boosted posts’ and single post ads for specific audiences

Using Lead Generation ads to capture email addresses for the weekly newsletter


Email marketing is still extremely powerful and you should absolutely use it.

It’s cheap and its pervasive – unlike social media which just washes over people, emails in an inbox need to be consciously managed – read or delete – and this achieves a level of cut-through

Libraria use all of their marketing channels to capture email addresses for their email newsletter.

They use Mailchimp to send out their newsletter every week

Mailchimp users?


Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool

It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, so in most cases you should be able to use it for free.


Online event registration and RSVP system

Saves lots of time and effort spent on event management

It’s a free service for free events; small fee per ticket sold for paid events

RSVPs are automatically fed into Mailchimp mailing list

Events are cross-posted on all of our digital channels


So these technologies feed off each other…

The blog captures email addresses for the newsletter and drives traffic to the Facebook Page

The Facebook page captures email addresses for the newsletter and drives traffic to the blog

The email newsletter drives traffic to the blog and the Facebook Page

The Facebook advertising captures email addresses for the newsletter and drives traffic to the blog

Event attendees are fed back into the newsletter mailing list

And that’s how you can really leverage digital tools to build and engage your audience over time


Ladies and gentlemen – that’s all that I have.

Again, thank you for having me and I’d be happy to take any questions.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *