Greenville County Library System

Greenville County Library System in South Carolina is reaching new audiences with an effective marketing campaign. Called “Your Recipe for Success,” this marketing effort is geared toward women ages 18 to 64, particularly low-income women and heads of household. As a first step, a needs assessment identified this “stubborn market segment”. The Communications Manager at the library, said that too often this target audience included “people who had counted themselves out”- and she was determined to reach them.

Collecting the Data

More data was collected in step two through surveys and a pre-test to understand the audience’s level of skills and knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, the survey asked members of this audience to describe their attitude about managing money. Responses showed a fair amount of anxiety with words such as “dread,” “nervous,” and “indifferent.”

Reaching a Stubborn Audience

The third step was designing a campaign to make the audience feel welcome using relatable terms like ‘dreams,’ ‘success’ and ‘empowerment.’ The library team selected a baking theme and following recipes to create an approachable, non-threatening tone. Whenever possible, they sought to emphasize the human and personal angle of the material. It was important to their demographic that they see themselves as potential participants. With this in mind, the library selected four staff members as images for the marketing campaign.

Sweet Success

The library worked to identify unique opportunities to intersect with the target audience beyond the typical marketing mix- AND to go where they are.

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They distributed 12,000 newsletters into grocery stores, created bus ads, posted on radio websites, television web calendars, and local cable television ads on the lifetime channels, the Food Network, Oxygen and A & E. Collateral print materials used recipe cards instead of bookmarks to continue the theme and instead of a booklist or pathfinder, used images and categories that related to each workshop and presented highlights – a format that was informative without being overwhelming. The end result, when asked how helpful the “Your Recipe for Success” workshop series was to them, 77% responded very helpful.

Lessons Learned

• Know your audience. “We used ongoing surveys to gauge interest and continually refine our marketing messages and to keep interest high. We learned that marketing should be far enough in advance to allow for word-of-mouth.”

• Go where the audience is and make the message positive, attractive and memorable. “We looked for opportunities to intersect with our audience.”

• “We used data to tell our story and reached new audiences with a marketing campaign that brought people into the library and expanded our reach into the community.”

Grants awarded in 2008; 2011


Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.