Thursday, August 24, 2017

Prizeless Prize Wheel: My New Favorite Outreach Tool

A blonde woman in a blue sweater and dress standing
behind a table with a black tablecloth on it. On top of the table are
various pamphlets and other small giveaways. To her right is
an 18-inch, rainbow-colored prize wheel.

Last week my coworker Cynthia and I attended a Health Fair on behalf of our cooperative. It was a "tabling event", as opposed to an outreach event like a class visit. Those who have been following me for awhile probably know how much I've wanted to crack this type of event, how a couple years ago I started seeing the similarities between tabling events and brewfests; and my hard-held belief that, all other things being equal (for instance, we are tabling among other community organizations) we can be the most popular table on the block.

So. Last week: we were.

It was 80 degrees and relentlessly sunny and we didn't have a canopy. Thanks to our publicity coordinator we DO have some cool stuff (post-its, tote bags, screen cleaners) and for the kids we brought leftover SRP pencils (which have been color-changing "mood" pencils the past two years. If you can swing it they are definitely worth every cent of the extra money holy crap), pins with this year's winning artwork for teens, and stickers branded with our 1,000 Books program for the littlest ones (okay I really need to write about that whole thing, and the Ready to Read grant project prior to that, and and and... there's been so much happening!). We had people flocking to our table to see what the fuss was about and laughing with each other and taking pictures and Snapchats.

What really made a difference and drew people to our table was our prize wheel.

up close picture of the prize wheel with various actions.
All actions listed at the last portion of this post.

Here's what I think made it successful:
The wheel was the whole point: we didn't say "spin the wheel to get a prize" and sincerely that hardly ever came up. It was more "you wanna spin the wheel? You look like you wanna spin the wheel." If they were done at the table after that and it was a child, we'd usually be like, "okay! Make sure to take a pencil!" and hold out the two colors of pencils and ask them to choose one (it was so hot, everyone, that the colors were just CHANGED so my spiel was more like, "okay, so you're not going to believe me, but these change colors.") If they were an adult (and yeah we had a ton of adults spinning) we'd be sure to send them off with e-book and cultural pass info and another piece of swag.

There was nothing that could only be won by spinning the wheel, and no one was disappointed because due to luck they ended up with something they didn't want.

The wheel was full of actions: rather than telling you what you've won, the wheel determined whether you "had to" name a nearby library, tell us about a good book you've read/movie or show you've seen, or play air guitar and say "I love my library!", the actions reminiscent of the Simon Says/Tic Tac Toe Mashup game (which might be a good alternative if a prize wheel isn't in your budget right now). People could always spin again if they wanted something different, and could spin multiple times if it wasn't too busy. If they were good with spinning without the librarians watching so we could talk to more people, we basically let them spin until another person expressed interest.

blue section of the wheel that says, "Dance like a robot and
say "I love my library!"

We were ready to play: I've gotta hand it to Cynthia for really embracing a youth-services level of silliness to really take our wheel participation to the next level. We were both out from behind the table, first by necessity so we could read the wheel, but then we started doing the actions with everyone and calling "I love my library!" because that was the part that a lot of people forgot at first. Doing the actions WITH our visitors helped them be less shy about doing them themselves. At one point we had like 10 people from 3 different families gathered around the wheel to see what action they could get and do it all together. And that moment I knew we'd made it.

Want to give this idea a SPIN?
(ugh, sorry, I even felt that in my gut)

Here's the questions and actions I used:
Name a nearby library! (x3)
Name one thing you can get with a library card! (x4)
Tell us a good movie or show you've seen!
Tell us a good book you've read!
Dance like a robot and say "I love my library!"
Make a silly face and say "I love my library!"
Play air guitar and say "I love my library!"
Jump up and down and say "I love my library!"
Pose like a superhero and say "I love my library!"

What are some of your favorite outreach tools?

If you have a prize wheel, what successes have you had?

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