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Transition to Targeted Marketing

Sno-Isle Libraries

Problem Statement

As the library district prepared for a levy election, we saw the need to increase the community’s awareness about essential library services, yet were challenged by limited marketing resources. To increase awareness of library services and value, we needed to change how we approached public relations and marketing.


Our first step was to commission a communications audit, to evaluate our current communication processes and identify more effective ways to communicate with our communities about their libraries.

Two key recommendations came from the audit. First, move away from mass, impersonal communications to personalized, targeted communications and consistent use of key messages across the library district. Second, incorporate a system of evaluating the effectiveness of communication and marketing activities.


We refocused our entire marketing and communications structure to reduce mass communication and concentrated our efforts on reaching targeted audiences with messaging about very specific services. Key messages were delivered through all communication methods and by all staff – face-to-face, print, online, and in public presentations. In addition, we incorporated measurement and evaluation for all marketing activities. Some specific examples of targeted marketing successes:

E-Resource of the Month: To reach potential e-resource customers, we focused our marketing on where those customers are – on our website, at a library computer, or reading the library e-newsletter. Rather than marketing e-resources as a total package, each month we highlight a single database and promote it via web banner ads, through table cards on library PCs, and through the e-newsletter. Since we started this effort last year, on average the month an e-resource is marketed its use increases by approximately 50%. In subsequent months, use measures 20% higher than before the campaign began.

Tools for Tough Times: “Supporting communities during difficult economic times” was an important key message leading up to a November levy election. We reinforced this message by marketing unique library services that reflected this timely community need, including:

  • An online resources package that included job search resources, free activities, and information for entrepreneurs
  • Programs developed and promoted that met economy-driven community needs, and
  • Library materials featured on our web site and our e-newsletter that reflected the free library services and resources that are especially valuable during times of economic stress. 

Library staff at all levels served as “key” messengers, making community presentations, assisting customers one-on-one who were seeking help, and through day-to-day interactions throughout the community. Use of online “Tools for Tough Times” increased by nearly 300%, and the levy election passed with a 54% majority.