What is a Marketing Plan? Do I Really Need a Plan?
The key element of effective marketing is that the "publicity" you get is planned. How do I make this happen? The answer? With a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a document that supports your vision and mission statement through different methods of outreach. Your marketing plan is the vehicle that helps you move toward a predetermined goal primarily because it is a tool that can help increase public support for the library on a continuous basis. The plan includes an outline for the year that supports the execution of your goals. Your marketing plan will include all of your campaigns, branding and programs.
Your plan should also include measurements. You want to be able to grade yourself as to how well you kept to your plan and you want to be able to measure the success of your strategies. A slogan, logo, website, social media and programing are all parts of your plan, but the plan defines the overarching marketing goals that your library has for the year. As with your strategic plan, this is a living document. You may make changes throughout the year and the plan may serve as a template for next year when you will no doubt rewrite and refine this year’s plan based on your results. Obviously, year two is easier since it builds upon what you have already written.
Based on Kathy Dempsey’s “Cycle of True Marketing,” a state-wide public library system marketing cohort has drafted a marketing plan template that any library of any size can model and adapt. The template includes:
- A customizable marketing framework that can be adapted to suit a library’s unique needs and community
- A sample marketing plan, budget, and calendar guides
- Links to resources that expand on the information presented
Lastly, why would you invest the time to create and update a marketing plan? Like your strategic plan, it gives you a clear framework in which to work throughout the year. Sometimes as the year heats up, patrons, staff and board members make suggestions that sound like great ideas and could be implemented right now. If you allow yourself to be diverted and lose sight of your written plan, that abrupt change takes you away from “the plan.” This outlines the importance of having a plan in the first place and staying on track. Keep good ideas in a folder for next year. That way you can work them in to year two’s plan.
Along with staying true to your plan, budget dollars are limited and you want to put your library’s marketing money to the best use. Having a plan and determining the best way to spend marketing money keeps you on target with your budget as well.
When you’re ready to write your plan, SCLS has two important resources that can assist you. The first is Mark Ibach and the second resource is SCLS’s professional library. Here are just a few items you can check out from the professional collection that are available through LINKcat.