Though libraries close their doors at night, their communities need information around the clock. There's usually one problem, though: how do we inform the community that these services exist--especially if they never walk through our doors?
Hi, Facing the Stacks readers! Below is an excerpt from the upcoming book, Millennial Leadership in Libraries, to be published by Hein. The book is intended to provide insights and advice about millennial library leaders to librarians of all generations, and in all kinds of libraries. I was asked to contribute Chapter 19: An Expanding Vision of Librarianship, and I recently received permission to share some of it with you. Previously in the chapter, I demonstrated that recruiting millennial leaders will have outsized impacts on your organization, explored their identifying characteristics, and considered where you might find them in your local community. In this section, I discuss how to pitch them. This section doesn't just apply to recruiting, though--you can use the same tools to inspire public officials, board members, or even current employees. Are you planning to try this strategy in your own library? Let us know in the comments!
So you’ve found your prospects--now you’re wondering what to say to them. What would motivate a professional in another industry to come work at the library instead? In general, you will need to do something familiar in the startup world, but a bit foreign to the library world: pitching. An entrepreneur must always be ready to “pitch” his business to prospective investors, partners, or employees. This might take the form of a 30-second “elevator pitch” or a 10-minute presentation. The goal is always the same: persuade someone to get involved. Whatever the format, the ideal pitch to a prospective employee does three things: it showcases the vision, it recognizes the prospect’s motivations, and it accentuates unique benefits.
Showcase the vision
The best prospective leaders will identify with the vision of the library. Every hiring pitch--whether an in-person meeting or a cold LinkedIn message--must begin with the vision. Simon Sinek writes:
Starting with WHY when hiring dramatically increases your ability to attract those who are passionate for what you believe. Simply hiring people with a solid resume or great work ethic does not guarantee success. The best engineer at Apple, for example, would likely be miserable if he worked at Microsoft … The goal is to hire those who are passionate for your WHY, your purpose, cause, or belief, and who have the attitude that fits your culture.
Stating your vision at the beginning of the pitch will rule out the least qualified candidates immediately; it will filter out those do not find it compelling. Every candidate’s first mental question is why would I work there? The vision should be the beginning of your answer. Likewise, it should also be the first unspoken answer to every employee’s thought: Why do I work here? “Average companies give their people something to work on. In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.” What will these Millennial leaders be working toward? Get them excited and invite them to imagine their role.
Recognize the prospect’s motivations
What leads to satisfaction in the workplace? Surprisingly, most managers cannot answer this important question, even though the answer is relatively well-documented. Can you? In his book Drive, Daniel Pink identifies three key elements in the science of motivation:
- Autonomy--the desire to direct our own lives
- Mastery--the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters
- Purpose--the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
In the hiring pitch, let the candidate know how the position will reflect each aspect of his or her motivations. Looking for purpose? Here’s our vision. Autonomy? Here are the important things that fall exclusively in your domain, the people who report to you, and the decisions you get to make without supervision. Mastery? Here are all of the opportunities you will have to get better at what you do, and all of the resources we have available to help. Write your hiring pitch with these in mind, and you will surge past the herd of companies that frame their positions in duties and responsibilities.
Tony Hsieh, perhaps one of the most successful developers of corporate culture in our time, poses a helpful fourth element in one of his Happiness Frameworks. Beyond autonomy, mastery, and purpose, he adds “connectedness, the number, and depth of your relationships” as a key component of satisfaction both inside and outside the workplace. No position exists in isolation, so intrigue the candidate with their potential colleagues and business associations throughout the community. Recruiters at Google consider this their secret weapon for hiring:
Jonathan used to keep a stack of resumes of the people he had hired in his desk, and when he was trying to close a candidate, he'd hand over the resumes and show the person the team she'd be joining. ... That was a club our smart-creative[s] usually wanted to join.
Remember, A players attract more A players.
Accentuate unique benefits
By now, some readers hoping to recruit for the library will think, “Yes, it’s all well and good to have a nice vision statement and promise all sorts of things, but ultimately, it’s about compensation, right? This is a library. We’re not Google. We can’t offer the same salaries that companies can, and we can’t offer dry cleaning or childcare or 24-hour fitness as an incentive like they can.” That much, I grant you. But while those sorts of incentives can be fun and convenient, they’re a shallow definition of corporate culture. No one is trying to work for Facebook for their free haircuts, and no one is leaving them to work for someone else because they have nicer bikes. Plenty of Millennial leaders, however, leave Facebook to pursue jobs at startups and some are even leaving to join the Federal government. All of those positions assuredly pay worse than the one they leave behind, and none have nap pods in the break room. So what’s going on?
18F has been incredibly successful at recruiting Millennial leaders out of Silicon Valley to come and fix the Federal government’s aging digital infrastructure. So successful, in fact, that they recently had to “pause applications” while they onboard the dozens of top-tier techies they’ve hired already. Next to none of these hires had any prior governmental experience. Here are some of their responses to the question, Why did you join 18F?
“Working in the private sector didn’t satisfy my need for meaningful work.”
~ Gail Swanson
“It sounded like a great opportunity to work alongside really talented people and learn completely new skills”
~ Matt Spencer
“I saw 18F as the best place to magnify my ability to drive positive change in the world.”
~ Bret Mogilefsky
The appeal of 18F is clearly not the pay. Most of the respondents cite purpose; many add elements of mastery or connectedness. Some employees openly acknowledge in their answers that they could be making more elsewhere. After basic needs are met, meaningful role in a meaningful cause trumps compensation. 18F also does an incredible job of accentuating the distinct benefits of working for the government, which are very different from the typical Silicon Valley incentives. The library shares in these benefits: scale, influence and balance.
First, 18F emphasizes the scale of its work. Changes made to the IRS e-filing process, for instance, will affect every citizen--and perhaps every business--in America. Libraries have that same sort of scale within their home communities. Though it doesn’t often happen in practice, a service provided at the library could theoretically help every entrepreneur or every business owner in the community. This ties into the library’s inherent influence in the community as well. If a citizen wants to start an afterschool program, no one pays attention. If the library wants to start an afterschool program, it can command the attention of local government, economic development agencies, school districts, nonprofit organizations, and more in support of its new initiative. Leaders crave both scale and influence. To Millennial leaders interested in “making a difference” in their community, these are highly appealing attributes of work at the library.
We’ve discussed purpose at length, but it may help to contrast it here with the commercial alternative. The library is seeking to improve society. The company is seeking to improve its bottom line. A company may succeed in doing both, but the latter takes priority. While some take this in stride, many Millennial leaders are closet idealists, hoping for their opportunity to change the world. The profit motive also tends to conflict with an employee’s own priorities, especially in raising a family. In many cases, leaders are forced to choose between long hours and advancement on one hand or rich family life and dispensability on the other. Libraries should advertise the work-life balance they offer even at the highest levels of leadership.
Look out for the book, to be published by Hein in Spring 2018!
With each of these free tools for library marketing, libraries can break out of their physical space and meet young patrons in their digital space. Today’s patrons, especially that coveted Millennial demographic, expect their library experience to translate online. Libraries need to look beyond their four walls to the world of boundaryless social media to meet the needs of these young patrons. Whether it’s generating urgency for event attendance, providing an asynchronous forum for book club, or capturing fleeting attention through flash storytelling, these tools present creative opportunities for libraries to reach patrons and build community.
Going Live with Facebook
When a business or individual goes “Live” on Facebook, their video is pushed higher in feeds with notifications dispatched. Libraries can strategically harness this option to generate interest in programming, whether spontaneous or planned. This feature is especially ideal for performances, but the key way to capitalize on Live is by creating urgency. Don’t go Live only during an event; let the feed into your library in the moments before kick off. Libraries can take a page out of Beyoncé’s book by “dropping” content unannounced like the singer released her album Beyoncé to the shock and delight of fans. Consider holding back on marketing an event ahead of time. A Live video could give patrons exclusive access to an event through social media. Younger patrons might not be aware of the library’s events that fit with their schedules, much less that there is programming targeted toward them. Live can help fix this problem by popping up to highlight events designed for these patrons to help convert them into lifelong patrons who understand how the library fits their needs.
Find Your Patron Neighbors on Nextdoor
The social media site Nextdoor takes your neighborhood community online. Nextdoor verifies residency for each user, making sure the online space is for your real neighbors. Users can join the community chatter online, which is shown through a central newsfeed and is sent out in email and text notifications per user preferences. Libraries will want to take advantage of the free marketing opportunities on Nextdoor. Looking to promote your fundraiser? Libraries can create an event that shows up in the calendar and in the feed, adding pictures and contact information to flesh it out. Keeping a close eye on Nextdoor posts can give libraries an opportunity to introduce younger patrons to library services. For example, if someone is looking for a public fax machine, the library can jump in and introduce its fax service. Creative use of the poll feature gives libraries a way to find the needs of younger patrons.
Facebook Groups for Book Clubs
It can be tricky to coordinate a book club time that works for everyone. You could be losing patrons who cannot fit a discussion into their schedules. Creating a Facebook Group for your book club can take the conversation out of the library and into a space that everyone can join. Asynchronous discussion will allow patrons to participate even if they cannot make an agreed upon time. Within a Group, libraries can create polls to get patron input on book selection. Facebook Live can spark a discussion and generate interest for special events. Migrating the group to a Google Hangout for live discussions can give everyone a chance to participate. Creating a Facebook Group for book discussion groups could capture Millennial and new adult patrons by giving them an opportunity to participate when it works for them.
Tell Your Story with Instagram
Libraries are in the story business, from programming to lending out books and materials that each tell a story. Instagram Stories use pictures and video to create a clever and engaging narrative with immediacy; each Story only lasts for 24 hours. Consider these micro-stories as exclusive content for your patron audience. Push your very best content to strategically target Instagram’s 18-29 user base. Highlight new adult-geared programming, such as a Adulting 101 series, Brew and Books nights at the local bar, and Flash Cheap Craft Nights. Other potential stories for libraries could include accelerated compressed time footage of setting up a new library display or space and giving a behind-the-scenes look at the library, such as opening day book drop sorting after a holiday weekend.
These free social media marketing tools can effectively move the library out of a brick and mortar building and into the hands of today’s “born digital” generation. Understanding how to strategically create community outside the library can strengthen a library’s bond with its base, converting views and likes into lifelong patrons.
Two of the most important questions to ask in traditional marketing are these:
What wants or needs do I meet?
Where else are people currently meeting those wants or needs?**
For now, let's answer the first question in the simplest way possible: free books. Libraries offer far more than free books, but we can agree that this is the most common and recognizable use case. Reframing the second question, then, where else are people currently accessing free books?
The most common place could be your local Little Free Library. Something like a birdhouse for books, a Little Free Library is a small wooden enclosure with 1-2 shelves of books inside. Usually, these books are originally stocked by a private individual known as a steward and then maintained in a "take one, leave one" model. Civic organizations such as churches and boy scout troops may also be stewards. For a list of registered LFLs in your area, check this handy map.
Little Free Libraries attract the exact population that you want to bring to the library: those who are both intellectually curious and community-minded. By design, though, they have a limited and sporadic stock of books. Often, a person walks up to the box, quickly browses the shelves, and discovers that nothing suits his or her taste. What better moment could there be to remind that person of the public library? In marketing speak, here is a person in your target audience who has expressed intent to use a product that you offer.
Here are three ways you can market your public library using a Little Free Library:
1) Add your information to the shelf
Most Little Free Libraries are maintained by people who love public libraries. In fact, of the 17 in our area, 2 are maintained by retired librarians. Ask for their permission to include some materials from the public library in their LFL.
2) Donate books from your withdrawn items
You might also recruit the person in charge of withdrawing items from your collection. Ask them to cherry-pick titles to donate to Little Free Libraries and place some specially-designed stickers or bookmarks inside.
Note: a particularly friendly steward might let you put these in all the books within their LFL.
**Notes on measuring effectiveness: give away something small if they bring the bookmark when they sign up for a library card
3) Build your own
Note that the ideas expressed here don't just apply to Little Free Libraries. Coffee shops, churches, and retirement communities also have the same sort of small lending library. If you see success with your LFL campaign, consider extending it to these locations as well. Did you find these recommendations helpful?
Do you have a Little Free Library success story to share? Let us know in the comments!
If you would like to receive monthly tips on library technology, marketing and promotion, sign up for our newsletter.
**The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!
What’s the Koios Summer Search Marketing Giveaway?
It’s summertime, and that means that your community is looking for things to do. Koios helps libraries show up online, and this summer we want to help you get the word out about summer reading, book clubs, concerts, and more. To do that, we’re giving away $2500 in search engine marketing from now until July 4th.
What do I win?
Have you ever wanted to see your great program at the top of search results? Ten libraries will receive a prize pack of Google marketing worth $250: that’s enough to have your program seen by over 2,000 interested residents!
How does it work?
You choose a program or service to promote
Koios creates a Google search campaign for it
Residents see it in relevant search results for 2-4 weeks
You get new library fans for free!
How do I enter?
Enter up to six times between now and July 4th by:
Following Koios on Twitter
Liking Koios on Facebook
Retweeting or sharing our contest announcement
Subscribing to our library marketing newsletter
Drop in at our ALA booth (#4429K -- come impromptu, or book an appointment here)
Attend our ALA session - Sunday, 10:30am CST at our booth (add to calendar)
What are the rules?
To win, you must be affiliated with a public library in the U.S., U.K., or Canada.
Multiple librarians from the same library may enter to increase their chances.
The contest will end on July 5th, 2017.
Winners will be notified personally by Twitter or email, and collectively in a press release.
The prize package must be used to promote library resources to the local community.
The prize package must be used by December 31st, 2017.
The prize package cannot be transferred or sold.
Media and documents created in the course of implementation are the joint property of Koios and the winning library, meaning both Koios and the library may reuse them afterwards without the need for permission from the other party.
Koios may add to or change these rules as necessary in the interest of fairness and fun.
Koios CEO Trey Gordner answered tough questions from Georgetown students last week in a rapid-fire interview. The exchange is part of a partnership between Georgetown University and Eastern Foundry, a collaborative workspace that offers government contractors the insight and resources they need to succeed in the federal market. Questions ranged from product and business strategy to why libraries carry so many romance novels (hint: they're popular). Here's one quote that summarizes the Koios advantage for collection development:
In the latest "Solutions" column of American Libraries Magazine, Koios received a stellar review from Washoe Library. Jennifer Oliver, Public Information Officer, writes that Koios is "an example of how the role of a library can easily be integrated into our daily lives," adding that the digital add-on "complements the standard brick-and-mortar library experience." What did Jennifer think the main benefit of Koios was for users? "Convenience!"
Click here to read the full Koios review.
Are you interested in offering the convenience of Koios to your patrons? Request a demo to see how we can increase your circulation and improve your online experience.
From the interview: “The whole purpose of the library is the idea that you don’t know everything, there are certain things that will make you a better person, and those things should be available to everyone."
"Washoe County Library brings its Collection to Amazon"
How far has KOIOS come in a year? That's the question Carolina Money posed to us recently in a follow-up interview.
Dr. Samantha Hastings is the Director of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of South Carolina. She sees a changing role of library and information scientists: to help people find the knowledge they need to flourish in the digital environment. In her classes, she tries to integrate real world experience in teamwork and product development.
Dr. Hastings has previously worked as a consultant and built full-text and image databases for accountants, dentists, doctors, lawyers and county and state governments. Along the way, she has worked to help public libraries and museums connect to the Internet and share their cultural objects in a digital environment.
George Havranek is the owner of MerrillMount Consulting. He has over 25 years experience developing sales and marketing organizations in a wide range of industries (pharmaceuticals to software). This experience includes performing industry analysis and market segmentation research for SirsiDynix. In addition, he has also worked extensively with private equity groups to conduct due diligence on acquisition targets and restructure the sales and marketing efforts of portfolio companies.
KOIOS CEO Trey Gordner was in Savannah on Friday, competing in the Creative Coast's FastPitch competition. Twenty-two startups went head-to-head, pitching their ideas to the Savannah community and answering questions from seasoned educators and entrepreneurs. We're pleased to announce that KOIOS is the 2015 FastPitch Overall Winner! The prize package includes grant funding, business consulting, and marketing support.
To learn more about the competiton, you can read Business in Savannah's coverage here: http://businessinsavannah.com/bis/2016-03-04/fastpitch-competition-winner-goes-book#
And, as always, don't buy--borrow!
We recently launched our new download page, where you can find versions of the plugin for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Check it out!
The annual USC Proving Ground competition was held on November 17th this year. Eight finalists competed for over $90,000 in prizes. CEO Trey Gordner pitched KOIOS to a panel of expert judges, including successful entrepreneurs and investors, who asked questions in turn about business model and target market. These judges named KOIOS the winner of the Fluor Social Impact Prize, which includes a grant of $17,500 to the business.
To see Trey's remarks on the award, and coverage of the Proving Ground's other contestants, check out the video:
Recently, our CEO sat down with an interviewer from Carolina Money. In it, he gives some advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, and opens up about the future for KOIOS. Here's an excerpt from the conversation:
Q: What are some goals for the future of the company?
A: We want to find 3 libraries this quarter who are willing to run pilots with our software. We'd also like to see steady growth in users here in Columbia. This is the home front, so we're eager to succeed here first!
Q: Now that you have some time under your belt, what advice would you give to yourself, if you could go back to when you were first creating Koios?
A: Hire from day one. The best people for the job will share your excitement for the idea. Sure, they'll want you to figure out how to pay them at some point, but more than that, they want to be "in" as soon as possible.
Also, take chances. Don't just go to conferences--apply to be a speaker. Cold call experts and invite them to lunch. Offer to write a guest blog or be interviewed for a podcast. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to help you.
Want to read the full interview? Head to carolinamoney.org.