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How to Create Effective Flyers for Your Library (Part 1)

Post by Nancy Dowd
Posted March 03, 2015 in

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While the rest of the world is running away from print advertising, it still remains a core communication channel for most libraries. In many ways, print makes sense because unlike most retailers, libraries have lots of traffic that comes into their buildings; there are customers who still prefer not to use the Internet to receive information; and we have access to places in the community that will allow us to post materials for free. But just because people are walking by your flyers or posters doesn’t mean they are paying attention to them. Effective print advertising requires careful thought and design.

This is part 1 of a series on creating effective flyers and posters. Watch for more posts in the coming weeks!

The 3 Most Important Things You Need to Do Before You Create a Flyer

There are three simple (but important) things to identify before you make your flyer or poster:

  1. WHO are you trying to reach?
  2. WHY will people come?
  3. WHAT do you want your customers to do?

Have these questions been a part of your planning process? If not, consider using them the next time you start planning a program.

Let’s talk about each one:

1. WHO are you trying to reach?

Imagine walking up to a stranger and trying to start a conversation. What goes through your mind? Without thinking about it, you’ll probably notice whether the person is a male or female, how old the person is, and what language is being spoken.

Print materials for your library are trying to speak to strangers as well. For effective communications, ask yourself a few questions so you know how to “speak” to them.

Three basic ways to group audiences are: 

  1. Demographics (age, sex, income, marital status and race)
  2. Affiliation group (small business owners, Manga Club members, book club members, etc.)
  3. Language (is there a specific language, slang or buzzwords they use to communicate with?)

The answers to these questions will help you select the best wording and images for your audience. A great way to get ideas for language and images is to look at magazine and TV ads that appeal to the same audience.

Examples of flyers designed for specific audiences  

2. WHY will people come?

Before you start designing your materials, ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” In other words, what’s the benefit to your customer?

You know your program is going to be fantastic.  Your challenge is to communicate why it’s going to be worth your customer’s time to pull away from their favorite TV program, warm couch and yummy snacks to drive or walk to your library.

Start with the “big picture reasons.” Then ask yourself, “How will my program help my audience achieve that?”  For example, if you are giving a workshop for jobseekers, the benefit isn’t just that they will write a resume, but that they will improve their lives.

The top 10 “big reasons” why people do things:

  1. Feel better about themselves.
  2. Discover something new.
  3. Be part of a group.
  4. Be liked better.
  5. Feel more confident.
  6. Do something faster or easier.
  7. Save money.
  8. Become richer, smarter, more successful.
  9. Help the world to be better.
  10. Get something few others will have.

Remember, “it’s all about them!” Without them, you’ve got nothing. When you know why people would come to your program, you can write descriptions that appeal to your audience.

3. WHAT do you want your customers to do?

One last step before you start writing -- answer, in 5 words or less, what you want your customer to do.  This is the “Call to Action.”

Effective “Call to Action” phrases for libraries:

  • Sign up now
  • Register now
  • Visit us now
  • Go to our website now
  • Try it now
  • Come on over
  • Get your library card

If there is no call to action, there may be no action. Be specific!

This planning process doesn’t have to take a very long time. In time, you’ll get faster. But don’t skip it! Understanding WHO, WHY, and WHAT is essential to your overall success.

COMING NEXT MONTH:  Designing effective flyers: How should your flyer look?


Nancy Dowd is the Product Lead for LibraryAware. Her passion is helping libraries connect to their communities.