Sunday, October 21, 2012

What do you do when your marketing efforts are too good?

When you experience an upsurge in attendance for one of your programs, that’s a good thing right?

Recently at my library we had a story time program that was over capacity. Our typical attendance had been 18 to 20 children and their caregivers. There were 30 plus at this story time. We asked some of the crowd where they had heard of our story time and they said they read about it on a meet-up site. I guessed that the “meet-up” site in question was the online calendar of a local newspaper where we had started posting library programs.

The best thing to do in these cases is to keep in mind your ongoing overarching goal, which is to enhance the appeal of the library. A panicked reaction over 10 or 12 more attendees is not something that enhances the appeal of the library. You want everyone to feel welcome, so instead of panicking, take a few deep breaths, greet everyone with a smile and begin your program with confidence. Then after the program has been successfully concluded, you’ll have the time and space to evaluate how it went and whether or not you wish to adjust your promotional efforts.

When I was in graduate school getting my Library Science degree, I took a marketing class. Not too many students opted for this elective, but I have always been glad I did. It was there that I learned the approach to programming of the 6 P’s: People, Product, Place, Price, Promotion, and Process. There are different definitions of the 6 P’s out there, and not everyone needs to agree on them, but everyone that does programming, whether or not they follow this formal structure, does some form or other of these 6 steps. It’s only natural to think of the people, or audience for the program, the product, which is the program itself, cost considerations, where you’ll be holding the program, and how you’ll get the word out. The last step, “Process,” includes the idea that you will evaluate the program. Was it successful? Did you accomplish everything you wished for the program? Or were there things that you learned that you’d change next time. This crucial step is often the one that’s overlooked when the program is over and it’s time to turn your attention to the next program.

The next time we post to the online calendar, we will be adding a few details to our posting that will clarify the number of attendees, but should we again face an unexpected upsurge in audience numbers, the thing we will do is again, breath deep, smile and do our best to make sure everyone leaves with the thought that the library is a wonderful place to be.