Friday, November 13, 2015

Top Ways to Advertise Library Programs - Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of the Top Ways to Advertise Library Programs! In Part One, we discussed posters and the best places to use them. In Part Two, we talked about media and social media. Very useful! But this week... we get to talk about the FUN stuff.

Why try some unusual advertising ideas? Well, the main reason is that the sillier your idea is, the more likely it will get noticed. Also: I'm a strong believer in the philosophy that, if you have fun with what you do at your library, then others will, too.

Unusual Advertisements

This is where you can really get creative. Here are some ideas I have used in the past; I'd love to see yours, too!
  • Sidewalk signs - I used to have these amazing sidewalk signs! They were plastic, and you'd draw on them with paint pens, which would wash off with window cleaner (but not just water, so they were safe to use in the rain). I had several of them, in both black and white, and I used to be able to get super creative with them. After all, they had to be read by people driving past, who were busy with driving, listening to music, and all the other distractions of daily life. In addition, our movie license did not allow us to use the name of the movie outside the library. What's a girl to do?
If that girl is me, she draws somewhat-recognizable characters from the movies in question, and puts them on the sidewalk. (Did you guess Ghostbusters and Wreck It Ralph? A gold star for you!)
  • Window paintings and bulletin boards - large, colorful, and eye-catching designs are best, and also fun to make. I made this bulletin board for our Moomin Party, and we got tons of attention for it. (Mostly, "what's a Moomin?" but that's totally fine by me - let's get a conversation started and I can sell you on it.) In addition, we discovered that the paint markers we used on the lawn signs (above) could also be used with no ill effects on the painted metal doors of the elevators. WIN! I drew R2D2 for our mini Comic Con (GeekCon), and he got us a lot of attention.

  • Chalk drawings - Pull out the bucket of chalk and get to work on the driveway, parking lot, and sidewalks. We did this a lot with the Geek the Library campaign, and I remember it from when I was in college - clubs would have big arrows and drawings on the sidewalks to let people know about meetings. 
  • Wearable ads for programs (or the library in general) - I can't tell you how many times I had someone ask me what "What do you Geek?" meant, when they read it on my t-shirt. Many libraries will make buttons that patrons (especially teens) will wear to support upcoming or ongoing events and clubs. This also works for lanyards (particularly for college kids) and reusable bags. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see people walking around town with their "I <3 My Library!" tote bag.
  • Wearable ads from programs - Our teen librarian did a program with henna tattoos during the last week of school: "where did you get that?!" turned right into an ad for the library. This also worked for my tween Jewelry Club. "Where did you get that necklace?" "I love your bracelet!" "I made them at the library!"
  • Props and cardboard standees - When we had our first Doctor Who Day, I made a TARDIS out of an old partition, and we borrowed the beautiful David Tennant (sadly, a cardboard version) from a fan of the show. Not only did an amazing number of people walking through the door say, "it's the DOCTOR!," but we had people stop to take their photo with him... and there was a poster he wore around his neck, advertising the party, thus giving them all the information they needed- right in the photo!
Photo credit to Tina McEvoy, Lawrence Library, Pepperell, MA
We also had two (long story) Darth Vader standees. One day when I was feeling particularly daring, I crawled out and put one of them on the balcony that overhung the reading room, where he quietly loomed over our patrons. When people noticed him, they might also notice the "MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU" sign advertising our Star Wars party. 

Side note: I kept Darth in the Children's Room for a while, until one small child turned around to see him right behind her. People don't seem to have an issue with a random Harry Potter hanging around, but a random villain can be scary. Just a heads' up.

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  1. Haha, sorry! Actually, I had no idea, either.
    Moomins are fairy tale creatures who live in "Moominland", and resemble big white hippos. There's a huge cast of characters.
    There is a whole series of books, comic strips, and cartoons by Tove Jansson, which were originally written in Swedish and published in Finland - they're huge in Europe. There's even a Moominland theme park! The idea for the party was at the request of a local British man, and the party was a huge hit, especially with our European immigrant families, where the parents had grown up with the characters.