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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Frost Davis

Beyond Facebook: Free or Low-cost Marketing for Library Programs

Updated: May 26, 2023

Winter sometimes brings a slump in program attendance. You're probably already doing a great job attracting "regulars" to your programs, but how can you grow your audience beyond your library walls beyond social media?

Here are a few ideas to consider (or reconsider!) for low or no-cost marketing.

Outside Signage

Marquees and other permanent signage can be a boon for libraries, particularly on well-traveled roads. There's a reason political candidates rely on yard signs- they work.

Make your own political-type yard signs using these. I bet your teen advisory board would enjoy helping you

Think beyond birthdays with yard letters! Here's a great reusable set in a variety of colors. Tip: choose a color that contrasts with your likely background rather than your logo colors, etc. Green or blue on green grass? Not eyecatching. Try a "warm" color on a "cool" colored backdrop and vice versa.

Email Signatures

Big event approaching? Want to direct people to your online calendar? Ask your staff to add a simple graphic to their email signatures. P.S. Here's how to add to your signature on Outlook.

Check-Out Messaging

Harness the power of a captive audience with messaging at your check-out stations. Some ideas:

  • Signage taped in unusual spots (patrons often become "blind" to signholders, posters, or flyers in "normal" places) like on the hard surface where they'll place materials or on the receipt printer. Fair warning though- your "unusual spot" might become very usual if you employ it often.

  • Customizing your receipt printer message

  • Bookmarks stuck in by staff (bookmarks- yes, they are still relevant as well as both a. useful and b. tactile in a way that other marketing materials often are not).

  • Notes or bookmarks on holds can also be effective, particularly when check-out is self-service

Don't Forget Your Computer Users

Too often we neglect to invite our computer users to attend programs or use other materials and services. Why not...

  • Customize your screensaver or background with messaging about your program

  • Place signage near the printer

Harness the Power of the Bulletin Board

Bulletin boards can be time-consuming and beloved or hated by staff. Too often, though, bulletin boards are a missed opportunity.

Chances are your patrons don't need a punny version of "Reading is COOL!" messaging but a bulletin board on your Winter Solstice Fest might really catch their eyes.

What are your favorite free marketing tactics for programs?

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