Library Committee Handbook

Executive Committee



Strategic Communications and Marketing Committee Report - 2010

 

Memorandum

 

To:       Paul Kaufman

From:  Scott Schwartz, Chair of the Strategic Communications and Marketing Committee

Re:       2008-2010 Summary Report and Recommendations

Date:   September 20, 2010

The initial members of the Library's Strategic Communications and Marketing Committee [SCMC] (Meg (Burger) Edwards, Cindy Ashwill, Lisa Hinchliffe, Katie Newman, and Scott Schwartz) submitted their first report and marketing plan to the Executive Committee in July 2008, and in August of that year the EC approved this plan and the financial resources to implement it (SEE Table 1: SCMC Resource Allocations).  The purpose of this strategic communications plan and resource allocation was to provide greater visibility and understanding of available collections, programs, services, and initiatives to campus patrons as well as those members of our local community, state of Illinois, and nation (SEE Table 2: SCMC 2008-2010 Resource Expenditures). Moreover, this initiative was intended to create a Library-wide culture of marketing, one in which every librarian and staff member could serve as an active advocate and voice not only for his or her individual library unit but also for the entire Library and its educational mission.

The objectives of this strategic marketing plan were 1) to provide greater awareness of and understanding about the Library's collections, programs, services, and initiatives, 2) to develop resources, guidelines, and tools for promoting resources and services offered by Library, and 3) to foster a Library-wide team approach for all marketing and communications efforts within the Library.   The plan's six programmatic strategies to achieve these objectives were 1) develop and promote a broad, three-year "discovery" theme for all marketing efforts within the Library,  2) construct and make available to all personnel a "Library-in-a-Box" tool  to aid in the promotion of Library collections and services during public events, 3) create promotional literature/materials and purchase simple marketing-message giveaways to highlight the Library's collections and services, 4) increase targeted advertising in all media, 5) implement a competitive marketing mini-grant program for all library units, and 6) build an annual marketing recognition award to distinguish individual Library staff and units for the effectiveness and creativity of their marketing initiatives. 

Between August 2008 and August 2010 the committee -- consisting of Scott Schwartz (chair), Becky Smith, Lisa Hinchliffe, Heather Murphy[1], JoAnn Jacoby, David Griffiths, Pat Allen, and Susan Duncan -- made significant progress implementing the six marketing strategies that were identified in the 2008 SCMC plan.  The Library's first "discovery" theme, Uncover and Discover, and its competitive marketing grant initiative utilizing this theme was introduced to faculty and staff in December 2008.  The committee established two mini-grant award cycles each year for this funding and created a simple application and committee review process to expedite the implementation of these Library marketing grants.  Four Library units applied for these mini-marketing grants in December 2008 and in early January 2009 three of the marketing projects were funded:  "Uncover and Discover Local History Through the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection,"  "Fourth Annual C-U Edible Books Festival," and  "ILA Reporter Ad for Mortenson Association Host Visits." 

Since the initiation of the Library's mini-grant program the committee has provided $6,967 to sixteen different marketing initiatives throughout the Library.  In addition past recipients of these mini grants have been asked to serve on later SCMC grant review cycles to help the Committee and applicants build on the marketing lessons learned by these mini-grant recipients.  These initiatives included "Retractable Banner for Sousa Archives-Sponsored Public Events,"  "RBML Unit Brochure,"  "2010 Preservation Emporium Event Publicity," "Marketing the Scholarly Commons," "Stacks Access Bags,"  "2010 American Music Month Newspaper Advertisement," "Marketing Illinois Library Mobile Services," "Discover the Undergraduate Library Visually," "Marketing Global Studies Collections and Services through GIVES Promotions,"  "Marketing Campus Mail Delivery or Hold and Pick Up Services," "Marketing 'I Dig Loredo' at the University Archives exhibit," "Marketing the ACES Library's Agricultural Communications and Documentation Center, " and "Marketing the Sixth Annual C-U Edible Books Festival."  Currently these initiatives have generated 63,732 distinct marketing contacts throughout the local community as well as across the state of Illinois utilizing radio, television, web and social networking technologies, newspaper and journal advertisements, and traditional paper-base brochures, banners and book bags highlighting many of the Library's unique programs and services.  As the remaining funded marketing initiatives complete their planned work this fall and next spring this marketing contact number is expected to significantly grow. 

The SCMC established in the spring of 2009 a special Library financial award of $500 that recognizes a Library unit's or faculty/staff member's marketing effectiveness each year and a criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of these marketing initiatives to enhance the visibility of the Library's collections and program.  This simple evaluative process focused on each initiative's ability to meet its marketing objectives for that specific Library program or service.  The purpose of this evaluation was to determine which funded initiatives had the greatest impact on the marketing of their specific Library program or service to their intended target audience(s) using the "Uncover and Discover" promotional theme.  Based on these evaluations the SCMC awarded the first Annual Library Marketing Award to Sue Searing in July 2009 for her work on the "Fourth Annual C-U Edible Books Festival," and a second award was made in July 2010 to Jenny Emanuel for her work on the "Marketing Illinois Library Mobile Services."  In total, $1,000 in marketing recognition funds have been distributed.

Also beginning in the spring of 2009 the SCMC, working with a subcommittee of the User Education Committee let by Emily Love, began updating the general information about the Library's various programs/services and visual images that were included in the Library's existing "Library-in-a-Box."[2] This work was completed in January 2010 and a set of simple policies was established by the Committee to help guide Library faculty and staff's use of this marketing tool.  Heather Murphy then made the following general announcement on LibNews in February, "University Library faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize Library-in-a-Box for Library events, including presentations and meetings. It may be used for any event which promotes the University Library and any one or more of its units, services, and programs." The total cost to update the "Library-in-a-Box" came to $102.

In March 2009 the SCMC began evaluating the costs associated with the creation of Library marketing giveaways that utilized the "Uncover and Discover" theme, specifically pens and post-it note pads.  In April the Committee placed an order for 4,000 Library pens and in May placed a second order for 1,700 notepads utilizing this marketing message.  Working with Anne Dill of WCIA several hundred of the Library's pens were first used as giveaways for the National Broadcasters Conference that was held at the University in April 2009.  This was the first year this conference was held at the University of Illinois.  In addition the committee gave a brief presentation at the May Library faculty meeting and the pens and post-it notes were given to all who attended this meeting.  Members of the SCMC also visited May and June 2009 Division meetings to discuss further the goals of and answer questions about the Library's mini-marketing grant program, and the pens and note pads were given to staff as marketing examples developed by the SCMC.  In June the Committee placed a second order for 10,000 additional pens.  To date the pens and post-it note pads have been given away at the 2009 Printers Row in Chicago, the 2009 and 2010 Quad Days, the 2009 and 2010 American String Festivals, and the 2009 and 2010 Sweet Corn Festivals.  In addition various Library units have been provided these giveaways for special programs and events that they have sponsored across campus.

Over the past two years half-page advertisements highlighting the Library's programs and services have been included in campus' U-Guide and for the I-Book for the 2010-2011 academic year.  These informational publications and the Library's ads were distributed to 31,000 students, parents, and faculty across the campus (12,000 U-Guide copies and 19,000 I-Book copies).  The cost for these ads came to $1,575.  In addition the SCMC sponsored an all-day marketing workshop on March 31, 2010 with Scott Henderson, Director of Marketing for MediaSauce, to help introduce effective marketing strategies into Library programming and services.  Henderson's presentations included:  "Telling Your Story in the Digital Age,"  "Crafting Your Marketing Message: This Ain't Rocket Science," and "Digital Tactics: Connecting Online to Drive Offline Success."  The total cost for this special educational program came to $2,280.  While this workshop was thoroughly marketed to Library faculty and staff throughout that March, it drew only twelve participants.  Nevertheless the participants' survey responses to Henderson's presentations were quite favorable and nearly everyone came away from the sessions excited by the potential use of online and social networking technologies to market library programs and services.  

Since the SCMC began its work in September 2008 it has learned much about what has and has not worked well for the Committee.  While the work of the chair of the committee has been rewarding over the past two years, this work has been labor intensive and at times has exceeded the reasonable expectations for any faculty member who must balance the responsibilities for managing the broad marketing goals and strategies of the Library with the daily operational needs for providing effective marketing across the Library's many units.  Newer Library faculty and staff have been much more receptive to the marketing goals and objectives of the Committee.  However many of the Library's faculty and staff are not aware, as a general observation, of the basic mechanics and principles of effective marketing, and do not seem to have the time or are willing to spend sufficient time to acquire those skills through in-house Library workshops and training sessions.  However this is a general observation that does not reflect adequately the fact that some Library faculty and staff are fully committed to learning about and applying effective marketing techniques to their specific unit programs and services. 

The Library's mini-marketing grant program has been extremely helpful to those units seeking practical guidance from the Committee and modest financial support from the Library for their individual marketing initiatives.  In many instances the grant program has provided Library faculty and staff the financial incentive to use a variety of different marketing strategies to help more broadly advertise their collections and services to our students, faculty, and local communities. This "grass-roots" (i.e., unit focused) approach also has helped bring a more diverse visibility to the entirety of the Library's unique collections and services.  However, determining a comparative cost-to-benefit analysis for these individualized marketing initiatives has been problematic because each initiative and its audience focus are unique.  Nevertheless the anecdotal evidence provided in each of the funded initiatives' final reports clearly suggests that the intended marketing strategies implemented by each marketing-grant recipient had a positive and significant impact on their programming, collections, or service.

Recommendations

Based on SCMC's experiences over the past two years the following recommendations are offered as suggestions for further development as the Library continues to create a Library-wide culture of marketing in which all library faculty and staff participate. 

  1. The Committee's original charge should remain unchanged, but the primary role of the committee's individual members should be to offer advice and guidance to the Library's Assistant Director of Advancement for Publications and Public Affairs when requested and provide the necessary evaluations of all marketing grant proposals and make funding recommendations for all marketing mini-grants as well as the Library's annual marketing awards.
  2. The Library's Assistant Director of Advancement for Publications and Public Affairs should serve as the chair of the SCMC since this position is responsible for coordinating public affairs and communications initiatives for the Library.
  3. The Library should continue its mini-marketing grant program and annual marketing recognition awards with the clear understanding that these awards are meant solely to serve as seed-funding to initiate the marketing of new collections programs and/or services and not to serve as a sole-resource to market programs/services beyond the initial startup of a marketing strategy.
  4. The Library should set aside no less than $5,000 each year for the marketing of its programs and services following the model established and utilized by the SCMC for the past two years.  At the end of each fiscal year the SCMC chair must provide a written report to Library administration explaining how this funding was used to promote the Library's collections and services, and provide evidence of the effectiveness of these marketing initiatives.
  5. At this time the Library should not consider funding further marketing workshops unless there is significant interest and willingness to participate by Library faculty and staff as a whole.  However, it is strongly recommended that the Library seek out other campus- and community-based educational opportunities whenever possible to enhance Library faculty and staff's marketing knowledge and experience.  

Table 1.  SCMC Resource Allocations

 

Marketing giveaways (customized with theme)

 

$5,000

(13,500 items X $.37 or 5000 items X $1.00)

Resource pool for marketing proposals

 

$5,000

Promotional literature (printing and supplies) and Professional design

 

$5,000

"Library-in-a-Box"

 

$1,000

Advertising

 

$4,000

TOTAL

 

$20,000

 


Table 2.  SCMC 2008-2010 Resource Expenditures

 

Marketing Awards

 

 

    Mary Stuart

 

($500)

    Sue Searing

 

$350

    Susan Schnuer

 

$500

    Adriana Cuervo

 

$500

    Dennis Sears

 

$500

    Jennifer Teper

 

$500

    Karen Hogenboom

 

$500

    Mary Burkee

 

$498

    Adriana Cuervo

 

$500

    Jenny Emanuel

 

$423

    Lori Mestre

 

$500

    Lynne Rudasill

 

$354

    Lynn Wiley

 

$495

    Sue Searing

 

$350

    Ilona Matkovszki

 

$497

    Joyce Wright

 

$500

Sub-total

 

$6,967

Annual Marketing Award

 

 

    Sue Searing

 

$500

    Jenny Emanuel

 

$500

Sub-total

 

$1,000

Marketing Giveaways

 

 

    Pens

 

$1,106

    Note Pads

 

$1,390

    Pens and Note Pads

 

$2,478

Sub-total

 

$4,974

Marketing Workshop

 

 

    Honorarium

 

$2,000

    Housing

 

$110

    Workshop cookies & coffee

 

$170

Sub-total

 

$2,280

Advertisements

 

 

    U-guide

 

$1,000

    I-Book

 

$575

Sub-total

 

$1,575

 

 

 

Library in a Box

 

$102

 

 

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURES

 

$16,898

 

 

 

Remaining Balance as of September 17, 2010

 

 

$3,102

 

 

 


[1] Joyce Wright served on the committee between September and November of 2008 until Heather Murphy joined the Library Advancement Office as the Assistant Director of Advancement for Publications and Public Affairs.

[2] The "Library-in-a-Box" is a portable display board with various detachable graphics, tablecloth, banner, promotional items, and Library-related literature. All of the content provided with this marketing tool fits inside a single wheeled case.