In order to develop, support and sustain effective outreach and communication strategies, it’s critical that your efforts carefully target specific audiences. When initiating an outreach program, there’s a tendency to cast a wide net in hopes of capturing the largest quantity of users. The result? Diluted efforts resulting in haphazard, ineffective activities because they are simply too broad in their appeal or programming. Resist the universal urge to “be all things to all people” and instead keep your focus on intentional, messages that not only map to your library/institutional goals but seek to build community with your users and ultimately, solve their library-related challenges. Success there delivers the strongest results as your primary market become “ambassadors” or influencers that can engage secondary markets.
Though ACRL members have a common denominator of providing services in an academic environment, looking beyond that, can show considerable differences amongst particular user groups. For example, location; student/staff/faculty demographics; budgets and funding; academic programs, degrees and specialty areas and more can impact your outreach and communication strategies. When reviewing recommended strategies, take those factors into consideration and how they might influence your particular messaging. The more targeted your message, the more likely it is to engage your users.
You’ve identified your products and/or services that you want to promote. It is now time to turn your thinking to your audience. For example, the ACRL Libraries Transform Survey asked, “Who are specific users groups you want to reach and what are their needs in addition to broader categories such as faculty, staff, students or community?” Undergraduate students were the highest response at 36.51%. Consider how you can break that significant audience down into smaller customer segments for personalized communications.
Before you begin developing specific strategies and messages, it’s important to determine the product and /or services you’re selling. And while of course, you’re not truly “selling” a product per se, you do need to create messages to engage and move people to take action. Surprisingly, this can be even more difficult than convincing someone to open their wallet.