Nicole Paterson is an award-winning marketer who doesn’t let a lack of resources get in the way of achieving her goals. Nicole has worked as the Manager of Marketing Communications at the Burlington Public Library since early 2009 before which her marketing roles in the non-profit sector included Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services, the Town of Oakville and the YWCA Hamilton.

Nicole’s biggest current challenge and opportunity is the need to rebrand the library, shifting the perception of who they are and what they do. No longer just a ‘book repository’ the Burlington Public Library is focused on ‘21st century literacies’ in all of its aspects.

Having worked in the corporate sector until 2000, Nicole appreciates the less competitive non-profit environment, which lends itself to increased flexibility and collaborative spirit. She herself has successfully led a number of collaborative initiatives that yielded results beyond her own expectations, including founding the Marketing Public Libraries Think Tank: a group set up to connect marketing and communications professionals working for public libraries.

“Initially, we set up the Think Tank to be a place where those of us involved in marketing roles in libraries could get together and share ideas and strategies for rebranding libraries. We use each other as peer resources and get together once a year for networking and professional development,” explains Nicole. “What we have found is that many attendees are librarians who have found themselves assigned to marketing roles, without the training. Now, they come to those of us with a professional marketing background and we serve as mentors. The group has evolved into something much more valuable.”

No stranger to getting more than she bargained for from a great idea, Nicole has put her talent in coming up with innovative ideas to good use for her employer. When a developer approached the Burlington Public Library to pioneer a library app for mobile phones in Canada, the Library jumped on board, leaving Nicole with an unplanned, unbudgeted marketing challenge.

“Despite the fact that launching the app was unexpected, I wanted to make a big splash. I knew it had to be simple but successful. We created promotional cards in the form of iPhones and partnered with local cell phone retailers to distribute them. The cards were distributed during the holiday season, offering as a ‘first free app’ with purchase. We did little other promotion other than a youtube video,” explains Nicole. “The response was incredible, with thousands of users having downloaded the app in six weeks.”

Marketing Magazine recognized Nicole’s innovative campaign at the annual Marcom conference in 2011, winning the Marketing Excellence Award. “The basis of the campaign concept was doing more with less,” says Nicole. “In non-profit and working for a library, that is what we do every day. That’s what I love about working as a marketer in this environment: there are always opportunities to be innovative, create something new and surprising, and make an impact.”

Find Nicole on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Follow the Burlington Public Library on Twitter or Facebook.

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira