Selling UP!!

Marketing is not always a favorite part of our jobs.  Whether we lack confidence in our ability to write copy for our programs or find the perfect graphic for a poster or design an effective handout, it can all be slightly fraught. But one thing that we all can do, no matter what our talents, is sell up or personally invite people to our programs.

Lisa of Libraryland has a great post on February 9 detailing her marketing approach to get the word out to people. In it, she talks about the "personal touch" - actually walking up and inviting people to be part of whatever effort you are hoping to engage people in.

It's always a surprise to me when staffers assume "everybody knows" about a youth program. Sure we have handouts; media PR; posters; sometimes flyers to the schools; Facebook and Twitter. But that still doesn't mean people are aware of what we offer. Even frequent library users, with busy lives and multi-tasking minds, miss out on our info stream.

I can't stress the "personal touch" or "personal approach" enough. The staff at service desks and walking the floors are our best sales force.  Sharing information about upcoming programs; inviting participation; talking about initiatives can all help alert families to the fun the library has in store. These conversations in which we invite our families and talk personally to them results in more participation. It's surprising what a difference this makes.

We saw this again and again over the past few months while we were delaying our winter storytime start until we had hired our new librarian colleague (Hi Brooke!). We made sure we had plenty of passive programs planned - the Smart Cookie Club in January and "Book Bundles - Storytimes in a Stack" (learned from Amy at Show Me Librarian blog) in February.
When staff would get questions about when storytime would start, some would reply, "In March".  While all too true, there was more information to be shared. Savvy staff would invite people to be part of our Smart Cookie Club or talk enthusiastically about the upcoming storytime in a stack contained in book bundles. They would chat about the hiring of our new colleague and our excitement. They would explain that we wanted to see them in the interim.

Lately, I've encouraged staffers to engage more with parents who are reading to their preschoolers in the library and ask them if they are part of our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Club. We have been registering many more kids into the program because of this personal invite. The parents are pleasantly surprised and appreciate hearing about this DIY program.

A little up-selling never hurts and always helps. So let's get out there and start those conversations with our customers!

Image: 'Little secrethttp://www.flickr.com/photos/20722444@N00/224674200 Found on flickrcc.net


  1. Oh I agree so much with this post!! I am really trying to encourage my staff to do this as well. I did a Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Storytime in December and we had over 30 kids for a Friday night storytime, which is very unheard of for our branch. But because I talked it up to everyone who came in, in drew in a crowd. I think we should do this with all our programs and collections-we need to let people know what we offer and not just assume they know.

    1. I learned this technique years ago from our two desk clerks. They just were so motivated to include everyone who walked in - wanted to make them feel welcome and involved. They were masterful and I got to see the results everyday. People should just try it-they'll be amazed at the results!