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By Raya Kuzyk on April 4, 2013 The audiobook industry continues to grow in near-equal measure in both the library and retail sectors, with the Audio Publishers Association (APA) ballparking sales at an all-time high of $1.2 billion. Ita€™s the golden rule of any successful audio marketing plan: treat audiobooks as you would print. In a bid to bridge their physical and digital collections, staff at Sacramento Public Library (SPL), CA, place a€?Now in eBook Formata€? stickers on the covers of corresponding print titles in the librarya€™s physical collection, a move that SPL electronic resources librarian Amy Calhoun says has improved discovery of their A­ebook holdings. Just as one might create a display showcasing major award-A­winning books, consider encouraging deeper exploration of your audio collection by leveraging the industrya€™s biggest accolade, the Audie Award (2013 winners will be announced on May 30 at the Audies Gala in Manhattan).
As retailers relocate their eggs into the basket of downloadable technologies, where sales rates grow fastest, libraries, committed to serving populations of every age and economic standing, remain the clearinghouse for formats new and old: cassettes, CDs, MP3-CDs, preloaded digital devices like Playaways and A­GoReaders, and downloadable MP3 and WMA content. At LPL, adult audiobooks a€?circ like crazy on their own,a€? says head of public service Jeremy Bolom, requiring no promotional push. Many libraries combine all AV materials into a catchall section for optimal cross-exploration of formats. Whether your collection is large or small and your holdings digital or physical, ensure that patrons know that therea€™s more than just print to your library. To encourage discovery, CCL plans to implement a a€?shelf-talkera€? approach to its physical audiobook collection, spotlighting authors and subject areas that do well with brightly colored Mylar-encased signage.
Consider every surface area as potential placement for advertising, from bookshelf ends to screensavers and desktop wallpaper.
Similarly, to alert their community to their new Recorded Books collection of 3,800 downloadable audios, staff at Ruby M. Social media tools such as YouTube and Twitter can promote audio collections generally and instant access to downloadable fare specifically.
Contact your local radio stationa€”its audience is guaranteed audio-friendlya€”to raise awareness in your community with professionally produced public service announcements (PSAs). Enabling patrons to sample audiobooks can help inform their borrowing decisions, further encouraging exploration and discovery of new narrators and authors. Under copyright lawa€™s fair use clause, libraries and educational institutions can incorporate a reasonable amount of copyrighted audio material onto their websites, blogs, e-newsletters, and the like.
An excellent resource for giving YA audiences a a€?tastea€? of sound offerings is the Audiofile-hosted summer audiobook program Sync, now in its third year. A successful display at Fairport Public Library, NY, one recent summer highlighted titles appropriate for family listening during road trips (summertime is opportune for libraries to advertise their audio collections; marketing can revolve around June, National Audiobook Month). MPL is among several pilot libraries taking part in the National Science Foundationa€“funded Pushing the Limits program, a reading, viewing, and discussion series for rural libraries. Arguably the more options, the bettera€”not just for preferencea€™s sake but for the purposes of outreach as well. Survey any audiobook forum, and youa€™ll find that audio enthusiasts are just as, if not more, drawn to a title based on the reader as on the author. In 2011, as part of an a€?Outspoken Librarya€? initiative, the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC) provided over 40 public libraries statewide with listening kiosks offering a range of downloadable audio content to those with vision, learning, and certain physical challenges.
For certain of its childrena€™s titles, MPL displays audiobook editions alongside the print. Libraries can look to their service and content providers not just for training and troubleshooting materials but for free marketing materials like buttons, posters, and bookmarks. However assisted the message, in the end ita€™s librarians, long the greatest advocates of audiobooks, who are best poised to deliver it. Content Content marketing is a high priority for many organizations, but most are struggling with the strategies, processes, and technologies that can help them succeed. Content Nearly three-quarters (72%) of donors say poor content affects whether they decide donate to a nonprofit organization, according to a recent report from Abila. Content To better relate your product or service to consumers, present them in a way that identifies with those of a particular culture. Content B2B marketers are overwhelmed by content marketing, with their top challenges relating to production. Content Most marketers get very excited about user-generated content (UGC) because it can boost brand awareness and business.
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Advertising Before we can effectively communicate with our customers, we need to get their attention.
Advertising Over the last 100 years, a business culture emerged based on mass production, mass consumption, and mass advertising in print and, especially, on television. Advertising Senior-level marketers don't seem to believe their digital partners are adequately extending their service capabilities in the digital age. Advertising Why is it that so many books, supposedly about marketing and business, seem more focused on self-actualization and personal empowerment? Include them among your staff picks, incorporate mentions of audio availability into your booklists, suggest readersa€™ advisory (RA)a€“style a€?soundalikesa€? to patrons.
The website of Harris County Public Library (HCPL), Houston, TX, for example, features a page inviting patrons to a€?branch out from your usual audiobook selections and try one of these quality guaranteed nominees.a€? Each title links back to the library catalog, and users can also explore previous winners.
Yet even as the market share for downloadables surges, CDs still dominate library and retail channels. In the media section of the Central Library of Monroe County Library System, NY, for example, three different movie formats (VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray) cohabitate with audiobooks on cassette, CD, MP3-CD, and Playaway. Increase the visibility of select physical audio content through front-facing placement, or accent authors or categories through A­signage. Sisson Memorial Library, Pagosa Springs, CO, recently posted an online ad in the Pagosa Daily Post that, in addition to linking to the librarya€™s website, described features of the new service, discussed loan periods, spoke to device compatibility, listed several titles, and advertised a workshop on service A­instruction.
Staff at Mammoth Public Library (MPL), AZ, use the librarya€™s Pinterest page as a portal for highlighting content including digital audio.
Digital media distributor OverDrive offers to its partners PSAs that trumpet the availability of downloadable audiobooks from libraries, while APA, as part of its Get Caught Listening campaign, provides spots featuring the voices of popular authors championing audio formats.
With downloadable audio ita€™s easy enough, as sound clips come courtesy of your content provider, but physical content should be given the same heed.
While most audio publishers feature audio clips on their websites and would be happy to provide them, Books on Tape and AudioGO particularly offer a€?embeda€? options for certain titles, making embedding sound clips as simple as pasting code.
Over a period of 12 weeks, participants are given two free audiobook downloads per week: one YA plus one related classics or required-reading title.

To generate interest in and awareness of its spoken word offerings, staff at John McIntire Public Library (JMPL), Zanesville, OH, have for the past several years hosted an audiobook discussion group four to six times a year.
Each audiobook was partnered with its print companion and promoted a cross-section of genres and reading levels.
MPL director Diana Stirling says that the staff opted to purchase each title in a variety of formats including print, electronic, and audiobook. In some cases, ita€™s less about marketing an audiobook than about knowing which aspects of it to market. Notably, when certain audiobooks are celebrity- or author-read, they can skyrocket in consumer appeal, as with Bill Clintona€™s reading of My Life (Random) and Johnny Deppa€™s narrative contribution to Keith Richardsa€™s Life (Hachette). The measure has noticeably enticed young readersa€”a€?especially those [with] reading difficultiesa€?a€”to check out both versions. Recorded Books offers numerous promotional visuals to help libraries advertise downloadable audiobook offerings through its OneClickdigital platform.
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Now, the media landscape is undergoing an unprecedented technical revolution—and highlighting a critical weakness at the core of marketing communications. Yet with diminished AV budgets, limited title and format availability, and a constant influx of competing downloadable and streaming offerings from the consumer realm, the prospect can be daunting.
Go a step further, and situate media close enough to the circulation desk to encourage impulse browsing. Whenever CCL staff post a list of new fiction and nonfiction audio titles to the librarya€™s Facebook page, the response is near-immediate: a€?We sometimes have hold requests placed remotely within the hour,a€? says CCLa€™s Hensley. Last summer, the service logged 250,000 visitors and tallied some 50,000 free downloads (through OverDrive), an increase of 42 percent over the previous year. In such cases, library circulation could see a real boost simply through the showcasing of the voice behind the story, rather than the a€?read bya€? credits relegated to fine print. Says MPLa€™s Stirling, a€?They seem to like the idea of being able to listen while following along with the book.a€? Indeed, there is much evidence to support the idea that listening to audiobooks can help with reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and more. Those partnering with OverDrive benefit from promotional assistance in the form of hosted web sites, training events, on-site download stations, and even a scheduled visit by an interactive bookA­mobile in which users can sample their librarya€™s digital media collection.
You can apply all the advice and best-practices experts tout, but sometimes those practices do the opposite of what you want: They hurt your PPC conversion rates.
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Glenn Engler, CEO of Digital Influence Group, answers that question in this episode of Marketing Smarts. I invited Laura Fitton, founder of oneforty, to explore the idea of useful marketing in our latest Marketing Smarts podcast.
For libraries wanting to reap the benefits of increased awareness and discovery of their audio holdings, LJ spotlights some best practices in audiobook promotion, discusses some of the challenges inherent to the medium, and proposes new ways of thinking about audio that might even make it a catalyst for moving print.
Meanwhile, staff at Culpeper County Library (CCL), VA, maximize exposure of their CD and MP3-CD holdings, which outcirculate DVDs, through placement alongside new fiction print titles. Or combine YA and adult audio titles so as to create a a€?store within a storea€? concept conducive to crossover browsing. Playaway similarly offers both ready-made and customizable marketing materials to help familiarize users with its technology, as well as useful a€?This Title Is Also Available on Playawaya€? stickers.
Charles, MO, for example, staff email students about the availability of the audiobooks at the library, also placing an ad in the student A­newspaper. Ostensibly Swayzea€™s last words to his fans, the audiobook actually drove sales of the print edition. Many websites of individual audiobook publishers, too, offer free materials touting both their general and individual offerings.
Consider also 2008 Audiobook of the Year The Chopin Manuscript, a collaborative thriller released in 2007 as an Audible exclusive. The recording was so popular among commercial audiences that it went on to be published on CD and MP3-CD (Brilliance), on Playaway, in ebook form (Amazon), and, most recently, in large print (Center Point Pub.).

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