A couple of weeks ago I attended my first CILIP Branch and Groups (BNG) event on behalf of CILIP West Midlands branch. The events are held throughout the year by Kathy Ennis and Lindsay Rees-Jones from CILIP Membership Support Unit. This event was titled “Marketing: getting your message out”; many of the delegates were responsible for marketing within their branch/group.

It was my second visit to CILIP HQ, although I still needed my Google Maps app to navigate London and find my way from Euston station! There were around 15 delegates, and it was good to have the opportunity to discuss activities within their branches and groups as well as in their day jobs, which represented a wide range of sectors and roles.

After a quick drink and opportunity to network, we moved upstairs for a brief introduction to the day from Kathy and Lindsay. The day began with a keynote speaker, Elizabeth Elford, who currently works at the British Library. She presented an overview of marketing essentials and shared some innovative marketing campaigns, and is happy for her presentation to be shared – I will update this post when I get a copy. UPDATE: Elizabeth’s presentation is now available online.

Elizabeth presented us with a useful acronym when planning marketing activities – RSVP (Relationship, Strategy, Value, Professional). The main points to bear in mind are to get key people on board in developing the marketing strategy to focus marketing efforts to specific audiences, use powerful, simple messages, and give a professional edge by using designers, writers and photographers where possible. She also recommended Robin Williams’ The Non-Designers Design Book when budget or time doesn’t allow for this!

We then had the opportunity to work in small groups to think about the branches and groups we represented and what our main marketing message is. This was a really useful exercise – a lot of ideas emerged through talking to others and it helped refine our marketing strategies.

Elizabeth also discussed online social marketing and shared some examples of successful online marketing campaigns such as Obama’s presidential campaign which utilised social media, combining marketing, PR, branding, customer service and the web. She discussed the benefits and risks of online social marketing, and demonstrated how library services and related organisations are currently utilising social media.

The presentation sparked discussion on marketing methods and we moved on to share our experiences, both good and bad. It was a really interesting discussion and was evident that there is no right way to market something – it depends on what you are marketing and who to.

We broke for lunch along with the opportunity to network and discuss the day so far, and then it was time for some practical work. The afternoon activity involved us working in groups to market an event such as those held by CILIP branches and groups. After choosing our key markets, we needed to decide on a main message, key points to convey, and which methods to use to achieve this. We were given magazines and carrier bags to inspire us, and it was great to do some creative work! The activity reinforced the importance of group brainstorming to develop marketing strategy, messages and methods.

Throughout the day Lindsay and Kathy were actively involved and shared some great ideas as well as keeping us informed of CILIP developments and the support available to branches and groups, including some of the features of the new website. It was an excellent day – a great opportunity to share experiences, meet other CILIP activists and learn about how to support the work of your branch or group.

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