Handling the 9 Sneaky Traps Even Smart Library Marketers Face
Tips on How to Handle the 9 Sneaky, Common Traps Even Smart Library Marketers Will Eventually Face
In my work, the tons of reading I do, my research on marketing, and my own challenges – I’ve discovered some patterns or common problems that nearly every marketer will encounter at some point. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or your experience level, some pitfalls or traps will sneak up on you. They will try to trip up your writing, messaging, branding and all parts of online marketing. I’ve fallen into these traps. I bet many of the super smart librarians and info pros I know have too.
Have you hit any of these sneaky marketing traps or obstacles lately?
If so, use these tips and ask yourself the accompanying questions to break free of the trap and climb over the obstacles to get clear and back on track.
1.) Not giving yourself enough time to think, sound it out, write, review and revise.
A lot of marketers, especially starting out, pressed for time, or working on their own, think that ‘writing copy’ only requires sitting down and banging out some marketing-type words at the keyboard.
You may be able to just sit and type for a personal email, the personal note in an email newsletter, or maybe some blog posts. And if you can do that with no sweat, power to you! Wooo!
But persuasive, drive-an-action, marketing communications nearly always takes more time to craft. It needs research, review and revision. You really can’t skip the editing phase. (I know we are all tempted!) If this working at the last minute and panic-typing is your bad habit [and uh-oh, it’s been mine off + on for years!], you need to work on breaking it. To do that, you need to really know and own your content production process, add more time, and schedule out the blocks you need accordingly.
- When is your deadline? What must this be done?
- Is there any way I can do this more simply – and even get BETTER results?
- Where does this project start and end? What phases does it have? What comes first, second, third?
- How much time do I really need to get this right? How much time do I actually have? Where can I compromise and not lose out?
- When am I going to sit and do this?
2.) Your Rush Has Turned to Slush. Your Mind is in a Bind. You Got No Grind.
Success very rarely comes served on a silver platter, and ‘overnight success’ usually takes years. I.e. Success takes hard work and you gotta hustle. There are going to be times (plenty) you just don’t want to write or create. Well, you gotta suck it up, dig deep, find your creative flow mojo, grab some coffee and good music, and just DO IT in the proverbial words of Nike. Just do the work, even when you don’t feel like it. [and think how great you’ll feel when it’s done!]
Or get yourself a coffee mug like mine to help remind you!
- Do I need a break?
- Am I putting this off? Why? No, really … why?
- What do I need in this moment before I do the work? [music? Coffee? A stretch? Turning on one of those social media blocking apps? Turning off email notifications (I’ve done this!)]
- Can I reschedule this task for another day without negative consequence? [and then you have to do it at that new time]
3.) Not taking your marketing work/yourself seriously.
This can hit the marketing-communications beginners among us the hardest – you aren’t really sure yet that you actually CAN do the work, you don’t trust that KNOW how. So, you don’t feel convinced or “all in”. And you let other people’s personalities and priorities run the show.
- Have I trained the people in my life that I will put them before myself?
- How are my boundaries? Where are my boundaries?
- What needs to shift here?
- What will it take to believe I can do this?
This isn’t just an obstacle in marketing, communications or writing. Sometimes this big baddie hits us in all phases of our work and lives. The power comes in recognizing it when it rears its head, and seeing it for what it is: a desire for control, to look good, to avoid feelings of failure, fear, and not trusting that things are pretty good already and you don’t have to polish everything to gleaming. Really, the universe is ok and the world keeps spinning without you giving it a push. And the best marketing in the world, is marketing that’s out there, being seen and engaged with – not stuck on your hard drive or waiting to be edited one more time. [This is hard work, I know it, because I fight my lifelong perfectionist tendencies every day.]
- What am I really afraid of here?
- What if my standard became ‘good enough’? What can ‘good enough’ look like for me right now?
- What if ‘good enough’ was more successful than perfect? Made more money, brought more visitors, got more likes?
- What if people actually liked, trusted, and connected with me MORE when I’m not totally perfect?[whoah! breakthrough thought!]
5.) Writing before you’re clear in your head WHO you’re writing to/for.
For a lot of us, ‘writer’s block’ happens when we aren’t really clear on what we’re supposed to be writing about, what we are promoting and who are we talking to. Relax, it happens to us all at some point! Break out of this ‘block’ by keeping a ‘cheat sheet’ on a separate piece of paper or file where you keep notes on your target audience for each promotion, your core message, key benefits, and a reminder of the basics you need to talk about. List key dates of events, speakers, ticket prices; write out major benefits of a product, service or program, who it will serve best, what makes it different. Keep a rundown of your ideal user/client profile(s) or persona(s).
- Am I having trouble because I need to think things through more?
- What do I need to get clearer about regarding who I’m talking to right now in this one piece?
6.) Unmade decisions.
It’s tough to write about vague things. You can’t write clearly to an audience that’s no longer on target or relevant. It’s hard to write to an audience that is too broad – how can you say ‘all the things’ to ‘all the people’? [Hint- you can’t. Your target audience is never ‘anyone who _____’; i.e. your audience is NOT ‘anyone in our town who might use the library’ – more on that another time]. It’s tough to write about programs that are sagging, outdated or which you’ve outgrown.
- What do I need to let go of here?
- Am I promoting something that I don’t like? That my audience doesn’t really like?
- Am I holding on to something I’ve outgrown or an idea or concept that’s outdated?
I don’t just mean physically, but this is a common obstacle if you work solo. But it’s also isolating if you are the only one doing communications work in your individual library or in your whole system. You feel no one else ‘gets’ your challenges. Working alone can be a real motivation and inspiration killer. It’s tough to go through a writing and communication process all on your own.
If you aren’t in a group or department with others doing similar tasks, or you’re the only marcomm specialist in your library or your whole library system, you need to seek out an experienced partner, group or friends to help you stay motivated and accountable. Ideal if you can meet physically, but virtual sharing, collaborating and accountability can work wonders too. Get some outside nudges to take your writing and marketing up a notch. [Psssst – want to meet a few hundred other library marketers?! Come to the Library Marketing and Communication Conference! I’m kind of partial to it as one of the founding planners.]
- Do I really want to do this alone? Do I have a choice?
- Would this be easier to talk out with another smart friend/marketer?
- Who do I know who could do this with me?
8.) Not enjoying the process.
Yes, creating, writing, thinking, editing and designing for marketing is work. Sometimes really hard work. But the writing and creating process does not have to be torture. Yes, it can sometimes take hours and be tedious. Some days nothing seems to work and you feel bad, stupid or like you have no good words left. Don’t beat your head on your desk! Take a breath. It doesn’t have to stay like this all the time. It WON’T stay like torture all the time. Practice helps; tools and automation help; bouncing ideas off of peers helps; following your strategy helps; and sometimes just throwing out there what you’ve got and moving on, that helps.
- Do I think it has to be hard to be successful or to count as ‘good’?
- What could I do differently that would make the process more enjoyable?
- What if writing could be FUN? What if writing and creating was relaxing and made me feel more alive and connected?
9.) You’re pushing instead of receiving.
Secret tip – the best ideas aren’t created or made, they aren’t pounded out … they are received. I don’t mean to get too ‘wooooo’ here, because that’s not me. But …
You may be blocking yourself from being open to new, great ideas. You need to take the time, create your own personal creative space ritual (whatever helps you at least temporarily clear out the buzzing of other tasks and projects and worries) and get your mind clear. You have to set aside time to show up ready and eager to create, ready to listen, ready to explore, ready to see new perspectives and no initial judgments over whether your work is ‘good’. Banish those ‘that’s the way it’s been done’ or ‘but I have to do it this way’ thoughts. Start fresh and be open for those ideas to sneak up on you.
- Do I have time for reflection in my day?
- Do I have a ritual or routine that’s comfortable for me to get ready to work and create?
- What refuels me at the end of a day of work? What reawakens my senses?
- What practice could help me tune in and listen to opportunities, ideas, life?
- Am I getting better at receiving ideas? At receiving help or support?
You may have read these and thought ‘Wait, these tips aren’t all about marketing! They’re about life mistakes. Or better productivity!’
Well. . .
Yes. They are.
Communicating in life and being productive as we work IS a part of whether we are going to be successful as marketing communicators. And sometimes even the smartest among us get off track in one area and it affects others. So feel free to apply these tips beyond the marketing and communications work you do in your library or info center.
At the end of the day it’s not just WHAT you write for marketing … it’s your process and your connection to that process of creating. If you are always rushing, hurrying and writing at the last minute, your work and your copy will show that. If you are always trying to ‘get’ something from your audience or push them to do something … that needy, edgy, pushy vibe will always show through. If you always beat yourself up thinking your writing just sucks donkey feet, well .. your marketing is going to reek of that negativity too.
You do NOT suck. You are not allowed to beat yourself up. You’re trying and working on your craft. You’re here reading this aren’t you?! You are perfectly capable of learning new tactics, new processes, new ways to improve your writing, your copy and your marketing. You CAN enjoy the process. You CAN beat the perfection monster. You do it by continuing to learn. Learn one thing every time you work on a piece of copy or marketing project. Make notes of what you learned. Remind yourself later that you kept working and learning.
And don’t forget to come back here to the blog at IntelliCraft to keep learning. Or sign up to receive tips and insights via email.