Messages and Tactics

This section will help you:

  • Develop promotional approaches that will encourage targeted users to behave in the desired way
  • Create persuasive key messages
  • Decide the best communication tactic to use.

The essential action is to create key messages targeted at a specific group of users, encouraging them to change their behaviour or attitudes. Recall your objective from the Marketing Strategy section to remind yourself what you want to promote and why.

Avoid using general messages which lack personal appeal and will not relate to any target group.

Remember: one message does not fit all.

Develop Effective Persuasive Messages

Now you have identified a target group the next step is to develop persuasive messages to use in your various promotions.

Make sure your key messages are:

  • simple, short and straightforward
  • aimed at addressing a need of the target group
  • easily understood by the target group
  • culturally appropriate
  • consistent with the objective/s of your marketing strategy
  • include a call to action such as, “Ask us about eResources and how you can use them from home.”

Develop persuasive messages based on your understanding of the information needs of your target group/s. Avoid emphasising functionality, size or branding of eResources. Focus on the target group’s needs or interests.

Show how eResources can meet those needs/interests with concrete examples:

  • Don’t describe an eResource as “having thousands of authoritative journals on medical topics”. A better description would be, “trusted information at all levels on health issues that you or your family might face”
  • Don’t say “full-text articles from hundreds of history journals”. Use: “great for history assignments on wars, disasters, civil rights and other topics where you have to do some solid research”.
  • Don’t say: “a database of thousands of international and Australian newspapers”. Be more specific and say “full access to the Sydney Morning Herald”.
  • Avoid the list approach of “115,000 recommended titles, more than 62,500 plot summaries”. Emphasise the personal gain such as “find a new author to read”, or “this will make it easier to find quality articles for your HSC Legal Studies”.
  • Keep in mind the likely degree of confidence with the eResources and technology for each target group. Some may need messages that present eResources as accessible and non-intimidating. Remember to emphasise the benefit not the how.
  • Once the key message is drafted ask other staff to critique, rework and refine it. Others might come up with a new “angle”, a better tone and they will probably spot an error!
  • Review the accuracy and implied promises of your messages. If using an eResource is more complex than you describe or the content doesn’t equate with your (over)hyped description then you may set up users for disappointment.

Determine How to Deliver and Where to Distribute

Once you have a key message developed to reach your target group it’s time to think about the how and where of delivering and distributing the key message.

Consider the following questions with the target group in mind:

  • What areas of the library or website are likely to be of interest to them? (new books? teens? magazines? new resources?...)
  • What is the form of message they are most likely to respond to (example-based? descriptive? splashy and zany? short and business like? Story-based?)
  • What type of communication do they prefer (face-to face? flyers or bookmarks? electronic newsletters? posters? email?)

If you’re not sure of the answers to the above questions or if you want to reach a group who isn’t using the library, then get in contact with people from the target group. Have a chat with them to find out more about what they know and what they think they know.

You may of course decide on more than one communication tactic for any one target group but make sure the key message is consistent. Ideas for placement include:

  • Book/magazine stacks – put up shelf ticklers, small posters or postcards advising of eResources that relate to that specific topic or area (e.g. health, science, art…”for more/current articles on…ask about our…”)
  • QR codes - use a QR code on a shelf tickler. For example, a QR code that takes people to a medical eResource could be placed on a shelf tickler located amongst the medical books in the library
  • Use screen savers on library computers, OPACs and self-check machines to promote eResources. Change the content on a regular basis to promote different eResources.
  • Research/subject guides (print and/or website) - describe the eResources within the context of other information sources on a topic, conveying their comparative benefits (currency, scope, immediacy etc.)
  • Bookmarks - present an example of a need met on the front and how to access the eResource on the reverse.
  • Staff picks for an eResource for a specific interest - a personal touch suggesting that “if you’re into/need… then try…”
  • Intranet/website page - work up short examples of known successful use of eResources and rotate them in a prominent spot e.g. eResources useful for homework on the teen web page, genealogy eResources on the family history web page
  • Workshops/demonstrations/training - present the value of eResources through example. Label them whatever is most likely to appeal to the target group.
  • Link in with promotional weeks and promote a related eResource at the same time. During Family History Week, run training/information sessions on Trove, around National Tree Day promote an environmental eResource.
  • Newsletters - regularly insert pieces about new or relevant eResources in library newsletters or bulletins.  The most effective strategy is to tie them in with topical issues, curriculum needs, or local events.
  • Local media - newspapers, community newsletters, commercial and community radio. Media releases with an attractive, eye-catching photo stand out. Radio is useful for straight-forward announcements but avoid too much complex detail.
  • Social media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter. If you want feedback from your target groups then social media will help with that interaction. Be prepared for negative feedback though and don’t ignore it.  

Note: get your sequence right!

First, think of convincing reasons about why people should use eResources. The ‘why’ message should be relevant to your target group and demonstrate the quality of eResources content.

Then, come up with a strategy of showing them how to use eResources. Think about your target group carefully and tailor your strategy to fit their needs, abilities, and confidence levels.

Don’t mix it up with too many in-depth explanations of how to develop search strategies (except implicitly in examples) or you’ll risk losing converts. Make sure the ‘why’ is accepted first.

Stories as Tactic

Another powerful way to convey an idea of relevance is to use stories. Use the marketing personas outlined above and create a series of small ‘stories’ that describe the successful use of an eResource to meet a specific need. Ask staff to recall actual examples of successful eResource use.  Once a scenario has been described it can be “repurposed” for different media or contexts. Here are two public library examples which could be used in a brochure, newsletter or a training session.

Is it the dog?

Amanda, 36, part-time accountant and mother of Jake aged 7.

Amanda has noted that Jake’s asthma had become much worse over recent months. A friend had suggested it could be related to the Golden Setter they got for his birthday last summer. She checked it out on the web and sure enough there were lots of health and pet sites indicating this could be a factor but it was all pretty vague and contradictory. Amanda felt she needed information that presented real research on the issue. She talked it over with a friend who offered to search the library’s health eResource. This turned up current research and informed opinion in popular medical journals that confirmed there was evidence of dogs affecting children’s asthma, but also ways to minimise it. Armed with a couple of key articles Amanda’s off to discuss the matter with her doctor.

Are they as good as they say?

Russell, 41, mechanic, is keen to reduce his carbon footprint.

Russell’s partner has suggested the first thing he should do to reduce his carbon footprint is to trade in his beloved but aging Holden for a hybrid car. Russell is unsure – are hybrids as good for the environment as people claim? A bit of searching on the web suggests a range of opinions but it seems just that – opinion. He asked for some research stuff on the issue at his local library and the librarian put him onto one of the huge online journal collections they now provide access to. Using eResources he discovered automotive engineering magazines and found something a lot more solid on which to base his decision.

Here are shortened versions which could be used in guides, flyers, reports or web pages:

Is it the dog?

Amanda has noted that son Jake’s asthma had become much worse over recent months. We helped her search the library’s health eResources and we found current research and informed medical opinion that confirmed there was evidence their dog may be affecting the asthma. Armed with a couple of key articles she’s off to discuss it with her doctor.

Are they as good as they say?

Russell is keen to reduce his carbon footprint and is thinking about trading in his beloved but aging Holden for a hybrid car. He’s not sure if hybrids are as good for the environment as some claim. An Internet search only confused him more. We put him onto one of our online journal collections where he could search automotive engineering magazines. He’s now got something a lot more solid on which to base his decision.

A teaser version to use on bookmarks, posters or web sites.

Amanda found current, trustworthy information about her sons’ asthma using ... Try it.

Russell found independent, well researched reports on the pros and cons of buying a hybrid car in ….... Check it out.