Big programs call for big marketing. Here's how one library promoted a huge series for older adults.
When Palos Verdes Library District was charged with creating a large-scale, grant-funded program series for older adults, we knew we would have to be at the top of our marketing game. After all, big programs call for big marketing.
As much as we love fliers and posters, we knew that this time, they weren't going to meet our marketing needs. Your marketing plan really needs to match the size and amount of programming you’re doing, and it needs to be tailored to the audience you're trying to reach.
Here are some things we did to promote Boomers and Beyond — and some things we learned in the process.
Don't underestimate design
As part of our LSTA Pitch an Idea grant budget, we allocated money to hire a local graphic designer to create pamphlet, logo and banner designs. Could we have handled the design ourselves? Sure, we’re Canva masters, but for something this big and with a tight timeline we didn't want to waste time squabbling about font colors when we could leave those details to a pro.
We anticipated Boomers and Beyond would become part of our year-round adult services programming for years to come, so we wanted a logo that would sustainably encapsulate the purpose and feeling behind the initiative. We ended up with a logo design that is shaped like a tree, with two hands in place of the trunk and a blue heart shape amidst a group of green leaves. We liked how the design emphasized growth, nature and health.
We were lucky to have grant funding, but what if hiring a designer isn't in your budget? As we mentioned, Canva is a great free tool for making fun fliers, posters, social media graphics and more. We use it almost every day. For free stock photos, check out sites such as Vecteezy, Pixabay and Unsplash, as well as Wikipedia public domain images. And don’t forget you can search for free-to-use images by selecting different “Usage Rights” from Google Images’ settings.
PVLD is fortunate to have a Graphics Committee that takes care of regular program fliers, web graphics, posters, etc., and does an amazing job. Once we had the brochure and logo design, our committee was able to use that look to create fliers, posters, and web and social media graphics to match. Bring in colleagues who have an eye for design to help you out!
If you are working with partners for your programs, as we were, definitely draw on those connections for your promotion as well. In last month’s blog post we mentioned how we piggybacked off our partners' existing mailing lists to spread the word about our programs. This was a part of our strategy to reach people on the Peninsula who don’t already frequent the library, aren’t signed up for our newsletters, or may prefer snail mail.
When we ordered our brochures from the printer, we made sure to calculate how many copies our partners wanted to have available at their locations so they would have ample supply. We also created a postcard and mailed them using our partners’ mailing lists (which we did not keep), and that increased our reach. Say it with us: “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
Do your homework
Another part of our strategy to increase reach was to put up vinyl banners at heavily trafficked intersections around the PV Peninsula. This was the first time we, personally, had put up city signage, and it was a learning experience.
A word of advice: check with your local city for information about banner requirements before getting a banner made. We found out that all the lettering had to be dark forest green (who knew?) and each city had slightly different font and size requirements and scheduling requirements for banner installation and removal. (Luckily PVLD also has a fantastic facilities team that took care of installation and removal.)
High-tech is not always best
It’s easy to get caught up in making sure your content is on social media, all over your website and on fliers in-house, but know your audience and how they gather information. When planning programs for the older adult set, don’t forget the newspaper! We knew a majority of our patrons regularly read the local papers to find out what’s going on in the community, so we built that into our plan.
We were able to afford newspaper ads through the grant, but as a free alternative, send an announcement to the calendar listings at your local paper. We did both paid ads and calendar listings and found them to be quite successful.
After our programs, we asked participants to fill out a paper survey to tell us how they liked the program, if what they learned would impact their behavior, and importantly, how they learned about the event. The majority of respondents told us that they learned about our programs through library fliers or signs. (Unfortunately, we didn't break out that category to ask specifically about our brochures or vinyl banners — more lessons learned).
The second biggest point of contact was our library website, but we also heard from quite a few people who heard about programs from one or more of our partners, a newspaper (print or online) or word of mouth.
Next month, we’re covering the good, the bad and the jackhammers going off when it’s time for yoga! No matter how prepared you think you are, that nagging feeling you forgot something is usually right ... and it’s OK. We survived, and you will too.