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Word of Mouth Marketing: Northborough Free Library

                     Your Place To Connect

Structural details


Raise awareness among Northborough residents about Library services

Increase use of materials and services among current patrons

Initiate new card applications


Internal stakeholders: Board of Trustees, staff, volunteers, Friends of the Library

Internal stakeholders: Board of Selectmen and Town Administration
External: Customers, with a focus on Northborough residents
External: Parents and caregivers in Northborough
External: K - 12 educators, including teachers and administrators in public and private schools in Northborough


# of new library cards created during the project period

# of website visits during the project period using Google Analytics

# of downloaded electronic resources (eBooks, eAudios or eVideos) during the project period

# of participants at all programs and events sponsored by the Library during the project period

Anecdotal evidence and information using feedback forms detailing “how” customers heard about a particular offering during the project period

NFL WOMM collateral

NFL Info

Northborough Free Library
34 Main Street
Northborough, MA  01532-1942

Jim Hogan

Photo of Northborough Free Library patron, Jim Hogan, taken by Jeanine Vitale of Prism Point Photographyfor use in Library Card Sign-up Month promotion.


Photo of Northborough Free Library patron, Kaitlyn, taken by Jeanine Vitale of Prism Point Photography for use in Library Card Sign-up Month promotion.

unknown patron

Photo of unidentified Northborough Free Library patron taken by Jeanine Vitale of Prism Point Photography for use in Library Card Sign-up Month promotion.

unknown happy kids

Photo of unidentified Northborough Free Library patrons taken by Jeanine Vitale of Prism Point Photography for use in Library Card Sign-up Month promotion.

even more unidentified kids

Photo of unidentified Northborough Free Library patron taken by Jeanine Vitale of Prism Point Photography for use in Library Card Sign-up Month promotion.

Project description

Working with a professional design firm, the Northborough Free Library undertook a full branding and design process shortly before the WOMM project launched. Team Northborough had a new brand, tagline and logo, as well as a new style guide governing communications. Based on prior surveys Team Northborough knew that greater strategy was needed in terms of marketing and communications, particularly with respect to electronic resources and technology services. Team Northborough built off of the work of the branding campaign, incorporating WOMM techniques. The plan was to develop compelling stories about actual patrons to highlight library services, all based on the “Your Place To Connect” theme, targeting various age groups.

Team Northborough encapsulated the stories on posters and ads with a photo of each patron engaged in using the Library. They used the tagline with the word “Connect” in each ad in order to show how each patron connects to something important and meaningful to them and their family by using the Library and taking advantage of a program or service we provide.

"The Northborough Free Library is your place for lifelong learning: The Library has programs and services to meet the needs and desires of all residents throughout their lifetimes, at each important stage of their lives, from birth to elder years and every age in-between. We are a 21st century Library with a welcoming, hometown feel!" Team Northborough

Communications strategies

Posted electronic displays within the Library using our new digital signage located in the Children's Room
Posted eye-catching notices on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to create a buzz
Participated in the Annual AppleFest last September, including an appearance by the Library’s Book Cart Drill Team in the AppleFest Parade; we also had a booth at the festival with information about the Library with craft activities for kids, enlarged photos of some of our Library Champions and giveaways for kids and families
Ordered new parade and table banners for the AppleFest event and other events where the Library would be appearing that included our new logo, sub-brands and tagline on them
Posted programs and events on the outdoor electronic sign sponsored by the Lions Club on Route 20 across the street from the Library
Posted ads about our programs and events on Northborough Cable Access TV (NCTV) using their bulletin board software
Appeared on NCTV programs like Bergeron Briefs, giving us an opportunity to talk about services targeting specific age groups (in this case, elders and caregivers who might be interested in our new memory cafe and our goal of delivering library materials to the homebound)
Created a new Welcome Packet with information about our programs and services for new library cardholders in order to introduce them to the Library
Conducted an annual survey of our patrons to gather feedback about our programs and services, and post the results
Trained our internal stakeholders (Trustees, staff and volunteers) about our WOMM strategies, our positioning statement and our key message so they can help communicate a consistent, clear and compelling message to our patrons

And so, how'd it go?

Team Northborough reached out to a number of Library Champions and created individual profiles that included a photo of them using the Library along with some background information about how they "connected" at the Library. We enlarged some of the photos and displayed them at the Library's Applefest Parade booth last September, which garnered a lot of attention and feedback, as well as in the main lobby, and in our Children's room. We also displayed some of the photos on our digital frame and we included profiles of some of our Library Champions in our monthly newsletter, as well as on Facebook. In addition, we ran a "Love Your Library" Facebook campaign for one month from January 15th - February 15th and we offered four great prizes, one each week as part of a random drawing for each person who 'Liked' our Facebook page or commented on the daily postings we made. We received hundreds of page likes and comments from both regular library users, as well as new patrons. We won rave reviews for the campaign and for our programs and services, particularly our children's programs and our children's staff!

And how will you keep the momentum going?

The original members of Team Northborough will continue to meet and will invite other staff members, Board members, as well as representatives from our Friends of the Library, to help us with future WOMM activities, including a number of community events that the Library will be sponsoring or participating in this coming year as part of our 150th anniversary. We are very fortunate that this milestone will be celebrated starting on April 8, 2018 and that there will be a series of special events culminating in a 150th Anniversary Gala next Spring so that we can continue to engage local residents and raise the profile of the Library in the community.

And can you talk a little about setbacks, adjustments or lessons learned?

While Team Northborough members were very enthusiastic and excited about the WOMM project and about the opportunity to engage with both current and new patrons in new ways using these new communication strategies, many of our staff were not as enthusiastic and engaged in this process. As an example, we asked all staff members to wear large buttons with simple statements like "Ask Me How To Get a Library Card" or questions like "Did You Know Who Kodiac Is?" about one of our "Read to Rover" dogs. A number of staff stopped wearing the buttons after a short time and, even though we talked about the importance of using WOMM to engage our patrons in new ways at each of our monthly staff meetings, other priorities often got in the way and our WOMM strategies were often left up to Team Northborough proper to effectively implement. We learned that it takes continuous reinforcement, especially with staff who are not as interested in branding and marketing, in order to motivate them to help engage our patrons in new ways at our points of service, or elsewhere in the Library, or outside the Library in the community. We also learned how much the Library means to people and we were pleased to hear so many very positive comments about our programs and services. We also found out how we can leverage social networking to engage many of our patrons and to create a "buzz" about a new program or service. The "Love Your Library" Facebook campaign was exceptionally successful at engaging people and creating a "buzz" about the Library for that one-month period. Had we had more time, I am sure we could have engaged traditional media to help spread the word about the Library using the profiles of our Library Champions. We simply did not have enough staff time to devote to aspects of this project as we would have liked; however, we are also excited about the prospects of using the strategies we learned as we begin to celebrate the Library's 150th anniversary this year, with a birthday party on April 8, 2018! Finally, I think we all agree that it was important to create an overall Communications and Marketing Plan that was presented to our Board of Trustees and staff in order to engage them and get them onboard in terms of the importance of a unified strategy. We were very successful in developing a compelling brand and we have made great strides in extending that brand in so many ways over the past year, using both traditional and non-traditional (i.e. WOMM) methods. We will continue to incorporate WOMM into all of our marketing activities going forward, and we are excited to begin to use these methods to engage kids and families, teens, adults and seniors as we develop new programs and services.