Readers’ Advisory Outside the Box: Marketing Experts Reveal Strategies on Promoting Books and Reading
by Dana Horrocks
(Panelists from Left to Right: Alison Cairns, Lorna Brown, Monique Sherrett and Moderator Heidi Schiller)
The BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group works to “promote and facilitate innovation in readers’ advisory services across BC,” and the first of our two events at the British Columbia Library Conference on May 10th did just that. A panel session, Readers’ Advisory Outside the Box, featured three marketing experts from the publishing and art fields.
The discussion began with Monique Sherrett, founder of Boxcar Marketing, sharing her experiences as former internet marketing manager for Raincoast Books when the Harry Potter series took off in Canada. Monique offered three lessons learned from this time that she felt libraries could use. The first of which was to recognize “little somewheres,” or places where people engage in discussions about books and ideas, such as kids in playgrounds or adults at cocktail parties She advised using these as jumping-off points for campaigns, and suggested using library apps and social media to gain attention of people on the library periphery who would share and promote these campaigns.
The second lesson was to use permission-based marketing strategies, and to offer valuable content in exchange for that permission, in addition marketing and promotional content.
Her final lesson involved seeking partnerships and creating events to connect people to the library’s space, collection and catalogue, and to look toward other successful cultural events such as Raincity Chronicles, Pecha Kucha and Interesting Vancouver for inspiration. (Visit this link to view Monique’s slides on slideshare, and view her blog for her own recap on the panel.)
The next speaker was Lorna Brown, an artist, curator and writer who is interested in the dynamics of public spaces, digital and print production and conversation-based events. Lorna talked about her recent project Digital Natives, a public installation commissioned by the City of Vancouver featuring an electronic billboard that hosted Twitter messages from artists and writers examining social and historic context the first Nations land . Lorna encouragedusing writers and artists to promote themselves and to do a better job of “focusing the eye,” or using art to communicate the library’s broad message.
The final speaker was Alison Cairns, who currently works as an online promotions and marketing freelancer and consultant. Alison shared several case studies from when she worked at Douglas and McIntyre Publishers as their Online Marketing Manager. Some of the strategies she used at D&M included creating backlists of older titles to go with recently released digital items, and creating Youtube videos that told the story of the company, as well as promote new titles. She also mentioned a campaign to promote the publication of John Furlong’s book Patriot Hearts, in which D&M enlisted the support of Vancouver Olympic volunteers to pull off a reading flashmob on the Vancouver Skytrain. The lesson learned here, which connected with points raised by the other panellists, is that there are vibrant communities of fans and readers who would are thrilled to lend their support to the library’s cause, we just need to find them.
Recommended Marketing Resources Suggested by Panelists:
People to follow on Twitter: