Advertising for Libraries: Who are you talking to and why do they care?


5/8/2016


"Who are you talking to and why do they care?" This is a good question to start with if you are trying to get the attention of an audience and get them to do something. I mocked up some sample ads to demonstrate this point. Most important is the process is how I got to these cute - and I hope effective - ads. I used a series of questions called a creative brief that is used in various forms by ad agencies worldwide.

In this case we are talking to freshmen (and we know what they care about, if you know what I mean). They also care about getting through the agony of their first college research paper, especially if they do not consider themselves research enthusiasts or writing experts (most of them!). It's likely that they will walk into the library in some state of overwhelm. The ad seeks to connect them to a solution at their library.

While our hope may to be to connect them with a particular database, keeping it general helps in two ways: they don't have to learn a product name and they will connect with a librarian to start the conversation. Alternately they can go to the URL (at the bottom of the ad) that could open a chat box or explain how to get to a database(s) for a given purpose.





In short here are the creative brief questions I tried to answer. Who are we talking to and why do they care? What do they believe? What do we want them to believe? What makes us different? What do we want them to do? What's the one thing we want to say to them? What tone do we want to take (provocative, fun in this case)? Many briefs have many different approaches, but these are a few common ones.



Once you have these answers you can make anything from a billboard to a long story based on your single creative brief. If you feel like your piece is going astray, go back to your creative brief and fix it. My post on 
library branding talks about how to apply these principles in another context.

The most important question links your business/service goals with marketing. That is: what are we trying to achieve? In this case we could say that our impetus in general is to encourage contact with librarians (to keep the library surviving) and get some ROI on the investment in databases. Ultimately your business and marketing goals should dovetail, and marketing smartly will give you an edge.

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