Libraries have a lot of unique users who come to use the library for a myriad of different reasons. Trying to cater to all of these types often dilute the marketing efforts that libraries engage in by trying to encompass all possible users. However, there are users who engage heavily with library programs and use the library more than average users often taking advantage of many areas of library services, whether it be class offerings, special collections or free Wi-Fi. These heavy users are power users and they are key to advancing library marketing in a definite direction.
Does your library know who its power users are? Do you know what they want and need from your library? One key aspect no matter what business you are in, is finding out who uses your services most. Targeting your market strategies to these core “brand evangelists” will be the number one reason your libraries will remain viable to their user community. How do libraries create “great” experiences that make people want to rave about them?
Libraries by nature strive to be everything to everyone, it is the very basis of their nature. However, the typical public library user base is too differentiated to effectively market to the needs of all its users. Analyzing library power users and getting into the reasons why these people use the library and how their experience can be enhanced is extremely important.
Gathering information on users is a sensitive issue that libraries have to deal with very carefully. Statistical dashboards give insight into user tendencies but don’t allow for targeted marketing to core groups. Unique wireless device visits might be up this year but what do you know about the person who use the wireless? Getting into the mind of library users is needed to understand the needs of the users. When were you last asked in a library, “How can I help you today?” My library has no idea of what I would like them to be because they have never asked.
Maybe users could benefit from specific class offerings or strategic partnerships with other businesses. My library has a steady relationship with our local SCORE chapter that holds classes every week on a different subject. There are experts amongst their patrons but they are unable to tap into that because of privacy concerns. My library should be able to tell that nearly every single time I go through the checkout station my books are baking or cooking related. There should be some way for them to inquire about my interest in a particular subject matter.
Possibly as a professional in a field I might be interested in leading a class at the library. By partnering with other businesses in the community it would allow added exposure for the business and bring in more patronage to the library. If I own a catering business and was able to use space in the library to hold a class it would provide my business advertising and exposure through the libraries media channels and I could use materials found in the library to showcase offerings that might not otherwise get utilized or known about. Written by Ian Richardson