Sunday, December 18, 2005

Happy holidays!

I am off to the great Buckeye State and to my family, and I won't be returning until early January 2006! During that time, I'll either be posting a heck of a lot more or a heck of a lot less. I wish you all the best during the holiday season.

I'll leave you with this terrific article from the University of Michigan's University Record, which features an interview with a professor who explains the rituals and psychology surrounding holiday gift-giving. Marketing and buying decisions are always less about the stuff being consumed and more about how customers feel about and perceive those exchanges. Some holiday food for thought!

Best wishes!

Battle of the brands

Looks like IU and Ball State are squaring off in the branding arena, according to this article. Ball State is touting its Intel ranking as Most Unwired Campus with its Cutting Edge Cool campaign, while IU is celebrating its Newsweek designation as Hottest Big State School. Most interesting in this article is the importance of word choice in the ad campaigns. A Ball State freshman thinks his school is "trying too hard" and explained that if you have to say you're cool, you're probably not, a sentiment shared by another student mentioned in the piece who wasn't crazy about the wording, but enthusiastic about the overall campaign. Hmm... Did Ball State not test this slogan out on its target market?! While I don't know for sure how Ball State developed the slogan, it's a good opportunity for a general reminder: The only cool that matters is what your patrons think is cool, and overlooking their points-of-view is definitely not cool.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hallelujah! More on customer evangelism.

Micro Persuasion had a nice post about what I would agree is a terrific article from U.S. News & World Report by James Pethokoukis on how to create a force of customer evangelists who will sing the praises of your company (library) and spread their enthusiasm to others.

This is an important trend in marketing we need to keep in mind, or, better yet, act on! Promotion via evangelism is a perfect marketing strategy for librarians in particular because it's all about building authentic, two-way relationships with patrons and communicating your vision and passion to them, which I've found most librarians are eager to do anyway. In fact, many companies now have designated "evangelists" in their ranks (!!). One such evangelist who works for TechSmith (software developer responsible for products like Camtasia), says that her job is all about relationships. As the author says, "What does she do for these people to help them keep and spread the faith? She tries to reply to each and every E-mail, forwards problems or complaints to product specialists, invites the customer evangelists to groups beta-testing new products, and, of course, supplies the occasional tchotchke." This is about more than just touting the benefits of the library. Even though every staff member performs a marketing role, wouldn't it be wonderful if every library who had one person devoted to spreading the word like this?

I bet for many of us, we already have a good sense of who are best customer evangelist candidates are, such as frequent users, members of advisory boards, etc. But do we give them the rhetorical, technological and other tools and support to help them pass on their enthusiasm to others?

If you want to learn more about this significant trend, get more info from those who wrote the book on the subject! Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba also created a discussion guide to supplement the book and their blog has a section of Essential Reading to explore.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Marketing to today's undergrads

The Kept-Up Academic Librarian points to 2 absolutely fascinating articles on what drives today's undergraduate market (here and here). It's amazing to me how sophisticated these spenders are, but also how reckless they can be.

The first article from BusinessWeek concerns the MySpace phenomenon and how students use online social networks to connect in the real world. Marketers are trying to get inside these potentially lucrative communities, but doing so requires new and more subtle approaches. Ads that scream "I'm trying to sell you something," won't fly, and instead have to be skillfully woven into the context of the community. Students are very keen on picking up sales pitches, and won't tolerate it.

As natural connectors, information-providers, and community builders, these online worlds would seem to be a logical fit for libraries. To some degree, this is already happening with blogs and the like, but we ought to remain aware of the fact that for our younger patrons, the virtual and real worlds are not all that separate, which should impact our marketing approaches.

The second article is all about undergraduates' conspicuous consumption habits. Students today are spending heaps of cash (well, a lot of credit anyway) on dining out, lattes, and electronics. Some may place the blame on marketers for student's penchant for consumerism, but after reading the article, it's clear that some of this trend comes from students' readily-available cash flow (a.k.a. mom and dad). In fact, lots of marketers out there are concerned with quality of life issues (for in-depth details on Quality-of-Life Marketing, see this article by Dr. Joe Sirgy). Whatever the reasons, students are clearly more savvy and demanding when it comes to consuming products and services, which we see plenty of signs of at our service points. For example, for many undergrads I've worked with, I've noticed that waiting a day or even hours for a book to become available is like waiting for an eternity. Consumption that goes on outside the library certainly impacts what we do and how we do it, as these articles show.

Public library marketing briefs

A few tidbits about how some public libraries (mostly from the Chicago area) are marketing away:

  • School libraries target students' interests: Details how one librarian turned a corner of her school library into a "Coffee House" and snuck in some info literacy too!
  • Meadows library is tailored to city: The importance of understanding the demographics of your patron base is highlighted here.
  • Community Library makes pitch to teen readers: Neat marketing and programming ideas from how one library celebrated Teen Read Week, which included talks from a comic book writer, a video game playoff, and an Open Mic Night.
  • Library strives to be heart of community: This library features a used book store, cafe, gift shop and a conveyor belt/item sorter for returned books. Why? As the library director said, "We're no longer just a place to come and find books...People expect there to be more activity, instruction, education and enrichment."
  • Patrons share library pride: The Des Plaines Public Library is a hopping place, due in no small part to its outstanding collections. One patron even said the library had a better DVD collection than Blockbuster. This library seems to know who its competitors are and are stepping up to them.

Marketers are taking over the world (and you're one of them!)

Did you know that everyone in your library is a marketer (including you)? Well it's true! I was glad to see this article from MarketingProfs that describes how everyone on staff is performing a marketing function of some sort. This is also why internal marketing is so important and should be a part of your strategy. The author's remarks sum it all up: "Weave the work of the marketing department into the daily lives of all employees: Make sure everyone knows core messaging and value propositions; teach everyone to think like a marketer; provide easy mechanisms for people to report market feedback and needs into the marketing department." Exactly!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cool nametag!

Scott Ginsberg wears a nametag 24/7/365 to make him and his self-created brand more approachable. His exploits are detailed in his Hello, my name is BLOG blog. His posts drive at how to be an effective communicator and from what I've read so far, it's fascinating! A summary of his thoughts on what makes a brand approachable is on WOMBAT, an offspring of WOMMA. The name tag idea and the subsequent homemade personal brand intrigues me because as librarians, we don't just "sell" our services, we sell ourselves. Our personalities are just as much a part of our service transactions as our nifty databases and spiffy books. How we present ourselves personally can make a lot of difference in whether or not patrons come back.

On a somewhat related note, WOMBAT is now digestible in podcast form.

Thinking outside the car

Thanks to Steven Bell for his thoughtful comments on my last post. He's dead on about reading outside of the library literature to generate creative ideas. In fact, Steven has an actual "keeping up" philosophy that is immensely useful for recharging your creativity. In his comment, he states, "I think many of the creative ideas simply come from being influenced by something you read or see, and morphing that idea into something new for your environment."

This thought stuck with me and came to mind when I read over a blog post sent to me by my colleague Dan Ream (always on the lookout for the unique and/or unusual!). The post is from a blog run by VCU's very own (and very renowned) AdCenter. The post features a picture of a guy driving around with a Starbucks cup glued to the roof of his car. When people try to warn him that he's driving around with a cup of coffee up there, he smiles, waves and says, "Happy Holidays from Starbucks." Now, if that's not taking something from out there in the environment and morphing it into a new idea, I don't know what is. This driving advertisement just took a regular ol' cup and displayed it in such a way that just its placement drew heaps of attention. Messing around with context and turning the ordinary into the unusual is a terrific marketing tactic and one that I know we can put to good use in libraries.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Creativity is key, the rest is just details

The more I have thought/pondered/obsessed/wondered about marketing, the more I have come to realize just how important creativity is in the marketing process. Think about it: great marketing is contingent upon coming up with breakthrough (a.k.a brand-spanking-new and creative) ways to meet people's needs. That is incredibly tough work considering that most people's important needs are already met, most of the time anyway, and that marketing has been honed to such a science that odds are if you can think if it, it's already been tried.

Which leads me to a post on my favorite blog of all-time: Creating Passionate Users. I had been wanting to write up a post about creativity, and Kathy (author) already did it (and much better than what I could have done)! Kathy wrote an insiteful post, Creativity on speed. The gist of her point is that "When you're trying to make creative breakthroughs, slowing down gives the rational part of your brain all the time it needs to stop an idea before you're barely aware of it. When it comes to building/creating/playing something you didn't even know you were capable of, speed is your friend." This was surprising to me, but a relief as well since I have no problem finding shortages of time to test this out. She also references an interesting article written by a movie sound guy entitled, On Being Creative, which ends with the following 3 tips for being creative:

  • "Learn your craft thoroughly."
  • "Begin each project with few assumptions about the methods you will use. Let the needs of the project, most of which you won't know until after you've gotten your feet wet, determine your approach. [I can vouch for this one!]"
  • "Experiment as early and as often and as inexpensively as possible. Make lots of mistakes when mistakes are cheap." [I'd love to see this encouraged by more organizations!]
This post dovetails with a previous one from Kathy that has to do with adding sliders (basically, a metaphor for finding breakthrough opportunities). She concludes the post with tips for finding new sliders, which essentially help you to think outside the sliders (you'll get it when you read it). Her posts are long, but they're the only long blog posts I actually digest completely because they're just so great.

I'd really like to hear what strategies you use to get your creativity in gear. Any tips or resources you'd recommend? I know you're out there doing creative things, so come on and share what works!

[Update: I found a web site ( that has collected some creativity-enhancing tools and described how and when to use them. Maybe you'll find it useful too.]

[Another update: I just noticed that the current issue of Marketing Treasures has an article devoted to brainstorming techniques.]

Time to perceive how we're perceived

Hurray! I've been waiting for this to be available online for a while and now it is! OCLC's report,Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005), is up and ready for viewing! I've only heard an overview of this report from our University Librarian and haven't read it yet, but now you know what I'll be doing today! This kind of research is absolutely invaluable to us as we try to find the best way to position our services so that they pop up on users' already cluttered radar. Ok, enough of reading this post - go ahead and check out the report. :)

[Update: George Needham, Vice President of Member Services at OCLC, et al. speaks up about this report and the 2003 Environmental Scan on Talking with Talis (MP3, 44 mins.). (Found via AcademicPR listserv).]

Friday, December 09, 2005

Take the Google taste test

Seth Godin pointed out an interesting experiment going on where customers blindly search 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN) and choose which results seem most relevant. Google is ahead in with 42% of votes, but it is interesting to see that Yahoo! (31.18%) and MSN (26.82%) are holding their own. Seth suggests that the reason for this is consumers' perceptions: Consumers buy into the idea that Google is better because it seems better due to things like design, etc. Marketing, and particularly marketing intangible services like libraries, is largely about managing perceptions, a fact that's important to keep in mind as we think about what image we're putting out there for patrons.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Cultural Programming for Libraries" - a PLA preconference

The ALA Public Programs Office announced a PLA National Conference preconference event called, "Cultural Programming for Libraries: Linking Libraries, Communities and Culture." The event will "prepare library staff to conduct high-quality humanities programs for the public, and will take place Tuesday, March 21, 9 am - 5 pm and Wednesday, March 22, 9 am - Noon in Boston. Advance registration for the PLA conference and related discounts will be available through January 11, 2006. To register, visit"

See the PLA preconference brochure (PDF) for more info.

Libraries finding a niche as community builders

Every marketing success story involves people finding a niche that they are uniquely able to fill. In the case of Los Angeles public libraries, that niche is the role of community-builder. A local news article describes how LA libraries have achieved a 70% boom in usage over the past 10 years. Despite seething racial tensions and a destructive arson fire that damaged over a million books, the libraries have experienced a renaissance due to sound market research, creative programming, and a lot of hard work! Librarians initiated more than 180 neighborhood meetings to assess what the community would like to see in their new library buildings and designs. Once built, librarians took to the task of addressing the most pressing of its patrons needs: a sense of community. One way they did this was by initiating "Coffee and Conversation," a library program that invites anyone to stop in and talk about what's hot in the news. Librarians also help new immigrants adjust to life in LA by offering popular citizenship classes and collecting needed foreign language materials. Matching up needs and services is marketing in a nutshell, which is what this article touchingly illustrates.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Better to blog?

Does Your Company Belong in the Blogosphere? is the question asked in the recent Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Articles on the topic of corporate blogging are increasingly common, but this one is especially good. As the author describes, there are three major benefits to company (institutional/library) blogs:

  • Influencing the public "conversation" about your company [library]
  • Enhancing brand visibility and credibility
  • Achieving customer intimacy
The author also gives helpful advice for getting the best use from your blog, all of which are good (have a distinct focus and goal, feature an authentic voice, etc.). One interesting example comes from Sonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt company that hosts various blogs directed at different target audiences including blogs like Baby Babble, Strong Women Daily News, the Bovine Bugle (check out the pics!), and Creating Healthy Kids. This targeted approach is the way for libraries to go, in my opinion, and there are lots of creative ways we could segment our market of users, other than the traditional categories of teens, adults, etc. For example, if your library is in a particularly scenic locale, why not write a blog featuring information resources for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Open source lessons from Amazon & Firefox

If I hadn't been behind in my blogging last week, I would have mentioned this "wow" news from that was picked up by some Church of the Customer posts (here and here). Basically, Amazon is rolling out this wiki feature that allows customers to create and edit product information, which, it's hoped anyway, will be more valuable and robust than the current Reviews. The feature is pretty hard to find, but the COC posts have some screen captures to illustrate what they're up to. More recently, COC talked about another Amazonian innovation: threaded discussions. Gets you thinking about what we could do with the good ol' catalog, doesn't it?

These new developments are some of many marketing maneuvers designed to get patrons in on the act (for regular readers, you already know I'm a fan of this approach). Take Firefox's latest open source marketing campaign that asks avid users to create and submit video testimonials (phase one). The second phase of their campaign will invite students and professionals to send in their ads. Neat!

Monday, December 05, 2005

¿Sabes español?

The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) announced in a press release last week that Hispanic print and television advertising grew a significant 4.7% between 2003 and 2004. Hispanic buying power also reached $686 billion in 2004, according to the release. Whew! Odds are, many libraries are feeling the effects of this population's growing needs. In fact, last week the San Bernardino County Library launched its bilingual iBistro system, which allows patrons to locate and request items in Spanish as well as English (article here).

In order to keep up with the growth of the Hispanic population, it's important to stay current with relevant market research. The AHAA has a fantastic PowerPoint presentation (pdf) available that describes this market's demographics, purchasing behavior, where the group gets its information as well as marketing implications--fascinating!--not to mention, very useful for your own marketing efforts. There is a lot of opportunity for librarians to get in early on serving this growing group of current and future library users!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Basic training for spreading the word

Check out this great new blog from WOMMA called WOMBAT (Word of Mouth Basic Training).

Found on Candi's great LibTalk blog.

Hit the perfect PR pitch

WebProNews had a fairly decent article about achieving positive results with PR for people who are not PR experts. Essentially, the article describes how to move beyond tactics to a PR strategy. "When you adopt the core PR strategy discussed in this article, you are then free to move beyond tactics and pay closer attention to the perceptions and behaviors of your most important external audiences, the very people who could hold your professional success as a manager in their hands." The point is to select the appropriate vehicle for your audience in order to do one of three things: "Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it."

Heaps more marketing news cropped up this week that I'm going to have to get to next week so stay tuned...

Corporate librarian wrap up

In honor of the last day of "corporate librarian week," I was poking around on SLA's Website and found an interesting division that may be useful for marketing purposes. The Advertising and Marketing Division of SLA "is concerned with the collection, retrieval, and dissemination of information devoted to advertising, marketing, and related disciplines, and in the management of libraries and information centers in these areas." To that end, they have a lot of interesting resources on their Webpage including The Branding Resource and Web Resources.

A blog called Data Obsessed written by a librarian working in a consulting firm in New York caught my attention because of its insights into issues particular to corporate librarians' work. While not every post is directly related to corporate libraries specifically, the author does highlight items that can influence marketing planning in those settings. Plus, it's just fun to read a blog from the coporate/special library perpective.

Finally, if you haven't bookmarked Marketing the Corporate Library, you may want to do so. A number of the resources I pointed out this week came from there and it seems handy.

Since every week is corporate librarian week for those of you in business settings, I'll try to keep an eye out for helpful marketing tips just for you and pass them along as I find them. :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Let's get real

To continue our corporate librarian marketing theme, take a peek at this article called Marketing: Realistic Tips from the SLA. The author runs the research and consultancy firm MarketBase (check out the author's recent publications from the firm's site for other goodies). The tips concern ways to make time for marketing, budgeting, and writing a marketing plan. As the author concludes, "Whether you're working on a shoestring budget or with sizeable financial and staff resources, dedication to the marketing process and to creating a marketing plan will make a difference. Those in the know agree that this is an investment for a successful future."

Be sure to look at the references for other helpful sources too like a marketing bibliography and how to write a marketing plan.

This just in from Singapore

The National Library Board, Singapore, has launched two interesting initatives.

The first is a promotional campaign, Drop Everything and Read, that highlights the library's doubling of loan limits (check out the great poster!).

The second is a new book blog called High Browse Online. The blog features book reviews, librarians' picks, readers' contributions and library events. The posts have a nice tone to them and seem to do a good job of personalizing the library.

Thanks to Ivan Chew (a.k.a Rambling Librarian) for making me aware of these terrific efforts!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Get your creativity on!

If you corporate librarians in the crowd need a little creativity boost, read over Creatively Marketing the Corporate Library, an article from MLS. Sure, it's a bit dated by now (published in 2000), but the ideas are not. The authors describe their two major marketing strategies: thinking loose and considering everything as marketing (they're speaking my language!). I particularly like their "low-effort/high-impact" philosophy and the distinct ways in which they present their services to various audiences within the company such as new employees and special interest groups.

Side note: The free article from the current issue of MLS concerns holding a book sale for tsunami relief. You may want to check it out!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cultural institutions and marketing collide!

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising will make its grand debut in Notting Hill, England on Thursday. According to a Financial Times news article, the museum will showcase more than 10,000 artifacts of various brands and products to illustrate how these items have affected our daily lives. The museum's director, Robert Opie, hopes that the collection will evolve into an archive for marketers to study how brands evolve and how companies sell their wares. As the article states, "As well as reflecting the social history of modern Britain, Mr Opie said the museum would illustrate the ever growing sophistication of copywriters and advertising creatives."

Now no one can say that marketing has nothing to do with libraries!

A quick reference for marketing corporate libraries

Marketing: A Challenge for Corporate Librarians does a good job of briefly and succinctly outlining the marketing process. While it comes from a .com (InSite Pro to be exact), the page isn't overly commercial-ish and I found it to be concise and useful resource. Enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2005

In your face! (but in a good way)

Now that I am coming out of my turkey stupor, I'm ready to get-a-postin'!

It occurred to me that my blog has been neglecting an important group of librarian-marketers: corporate librarians (sorry, guys!). Corporate librarians know all about the importance of marketing themselves and their services, especially in this climate of downsizing. So, to remedy this egregious oversight, this week I'm focusing on marketing resources and tips just for librarians in a business setting (but that we can all use!).

To that end, I came across a February article from Information Outlook about getting out of your office and "in the face" of your clients. The author contends that you are your own best marketing tool, so make it a point to drop by people's cubicles, pass along resources of interest to them, and attend your company's events. Brochures, he says, can be tossed away, but people need in-person reminders of who you are and what you can do for them.

Great advice! I was thinking about this topic just today as I was "getting in the face" of some service-learing faculty about library resources. We librarians are all walking library billboards and everything, from how we present ourselves, to our e-mail signatures, to our printed materials tells people what we're all about. Marketing doesn't mean coming up with snazzy one-liners or glossy brochures. Marketing is about connecting with people, which requires giving patrons someone to connect with (yourself!). Just giving patrons a face to associate with your library can be the best advertisement for your services.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The library gets personal

North Carolina State University Libraries will soon allow patrons to sign up for a personalized service that will alert them to new titles and resources of interest, according to a New York Times article. The catch? In order to know what patrons would like based on past choices and preferences, the Libraries will collect and store personal information about their reading habits.

From a marketing standpoint, collecting and analyzing customer histories is a tried and true way to ensure that the right products are being targeted to the right people (for more info, take a look at what database marketing is all about). It's efficient, effective and logical considering the high costs of advertising and promotion and the fact that people are increasingly resistant to mass marketing appeals, but is it worth the privacy risk in the library setting? Your thoughts?

[Thanks to my colleague, Monique Prince, for passing this article my way.]

Monday, November 21, 2005

TeenLinks - An inspirational marketing project

teenlinks logo
The Hennepin County Library of suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota has become a wonderful model for me of how to do marketing and service right. The more I learn about their initiatives and service offerings, the more impressed I am about HCL librarians' creativity and innovation. One project in particular called TeenLinks captured my attention. TeenLinks is a suite of services designed for library patrons ages 12-18. Recently, TeenLinks underwent some renovations and the new version debuted in October 2005. To kick off the new-and-improved TeenLinks, HCL devised some interesting promotions.

The TeenLinks coordinator, Meg Canada, was gracious enough to take the time to describe how TeenLinks developed and how they promoted the revamped service. There's much inspiration to take away from the work of Meg's team! Here's what Meg had to say:

"Promotions for TeenLinks ( following our redesign

TeenLinks offers homework help, book reviews, activities, and Web sites for teens, 12-18 from the Hennepin County Library (HCL), located in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. In existence since 1999, the site appears as a homepage on 105 dedicated TeenLinks workstations throughout the twenty-six libraries. The site receives between 9,000 and 10,000 hits each week.

As the TeenLinks Coordinator, I work with a team of six librarians for site selection and review. Another group of ten librarians (Teen Reads)work on booklists. In addition, Teens Online is a volunteer teen advisory group who work with the TeenLinks Coordinator during the school year. Currently, 14 teens work on their own pages and content for TeenLinks and also advise on all other areas of TeenLinks. New teens apply for these positions each year and represent all geographic areas that HCL serves.

In November 2004, we were ready for a second facelift. Our graphic designer, Web administrator, and the aforementioned groups met to work on the new look and feel for TeenLinks. In October 2005, during Teen Read Month at HCL, the new site was launched. Among the changes to TeenLinks: homepage has more content including new books which change each time the user refreshes the page, photographs of teens, and new weekly features such as the News Flash blog, quick poll, and events. The site's organization has also shifted to organize information into four categories: At Your Library (library information), Do Your Homework (homework help), Read On (reader's advisory), and Teen Topics (selected websites).

To promote the site Web Services received funding from Library Foundation. We consulted our teens and decided to do two promotions to begin in conjunction with Teen Read Month (October). Many libraries have special promotions for Teen Read Week, however at HCL, we celebrate all month.

We purchased 10,000 silicone gel bracelets in Bright Blue(Pantone 801 and #00CCFF) debossed with "Read Me" and "" in Impact (the TeenLinks font). The bracelets were distributed throughout the system to the twenty-six libraries and were quickly snatched up by teens.

buttons on jeansThe second promotion is a series of mini-buttons which have labels from the site. Each month from October 2005 through April 2005 we are sending a new batch of buttons to each branch. The attached graphic shows the text on each. "Ask Me" will be the final button in April (in time for prom). A librarian in jeans posed for the shot and our graphic designer added the buttons with a glow which lead to the text "Free Radioactive Buttons (well, ok they're not radioactive)." The first two rounds of buttons are gone (days after they arrived) and we will continue to send them monthly for the next four months. November's buttons were not sent until the 4th, and teens were already requesting them.

As for long term. I will evaluate our statistics and the quality of participation in the site when the buttons are all gone.

Kudos to Meg and her team for involving patrons in this process and coming up with a fantastic service that appears to be filling the needs of its users! If you haven't explored Hennepin County Library's web site, you may want to do so to unearth other ideas as well. Thanks again to Meg for sharing her experiences and images!

Friday, November 18, 2005

For fun on Friday

As the weekend approaches, I thought I'd pause for a moment of levity and point out a fun tool that my colleague, Dan Ream, brought to my attention: The Advertising Slogan Generator. Just type in any word or your name and click on "Sloganize." A catchy advertising phrase will "magically" appear. If you hit "Sloganize" repeatedly, you'll get a new slogan for the same word. So far, we haven't seen any repeats. Here's some gems generated from typing the word "library": Because Library is Complicated Enough and Only Library has the Answer. Amazing!

[Disclaimer: for entertainment purposes only ;)].

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The competition can be your friend

To piggyback on my post from yesterday, it’s not only important to keep on top of changes in your community, but you also need to keep a sharp eye on the competitive landscape.  An article from yesterday’s WebProNews explains how to do just that by conducting a competitive marketing analysis.  The first step is to figure out exactly who those competitors vying for your patrons’ attention are.  Google comes to mind, of course, but I also think of the physical places where people go to study and socialize.  I know a number of our students hang out at Panera and Starbucks where wireless Internet connections make it easy to get work done (and it doesn’t hurt that they have food!).  It might be helpful to think about what things people come to the library for (quiet study, community, reading and research materials) and then think of who else out there is trying to satisfy the same needs.  Along those same lines, you can also look at those services that are aimed at your same target market (undergraduates, senior citizens, etc.).  The list gets pretty long!  These businesses must be doing something in particular to appeal to our patron base, and you could learn something from their strategies, even if you only learn what not to do.  

The next piece of advice from the article is to shop the competition.  I whole-heartedly agree with this.  Next time you go to a hotel, bookstore, or retail outlet (really any service provider) dissect your experiences to see what makes those businesses tick.  Recently, I filled out a survey for a hotel I stayed at and I was pleasantly surprised that an actual human being read my survey and addressed all of the major points in it.  Needless to say, I’ll be going back.  But more importantly, I learned an important lesson about service and following through with personalized attention.  Even if you don’t shop with direct competitors, you’ll be surprised how many marketing ideas you can generate just by keeping your eyes open.  There’s always a new niche we can fill or innovative approach we can try.  That’s the fun (and challenge) of marketing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

For skeptics out there

If you have colleagues out there who aren't sold on the whole marketing "thing," here's a perfect example from OCLC of why marketing/market research is not just relevant, but downright imperative. Is it time for you to do an environmental scan?

Tool-time for marketers

Lots of marketing tools, tips and training opportunities have been cropping up this week.  Here’s some I’ve stumbled upon:

OPAL is hosting some webinars that look promising for librarian-marketers.  If you work with older adults at your library, you may want to peek in on Library Services for Older Adults: Preview of the White House Conference on Aging.  It takes place on Thursday, November 17, 2005 beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.  If promotion through podcasting is your cup of tea, get in on Podcasting:  An Introduction on Thursday, December 8, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  Added bonus:  they’re free!

Another tool you may find useful comes from Emerald by way of its new Librarian Toolkit, which contains posters, presentations, suggested e-mails and step-by-step guides to name a few items.  [The Toolkit was noted by Chris Olson on the AcademicPR listserv – thanks for sharing!]. has come out with its latest piece of its Principles of Marketing Tutorial:  Distribution Decisions.  While not all of this will be relevant for us, distribution is an absolutely crucial piece of the marketing mix and an important one to be familiar with.  You may want to pay particular attention to the Marketing Issues in Channels segment.  In my unbiased opinion (ha!), I think that RSS is a very attractive distribution channel for us librarians, and it just so happens that has been featuring a lot of articles on this topic including The Full Circle of RSS, Your 7-Step RSS Marketing Plan and What is RSS and Why Should You Care? (free registration required for this one).

Take a minute (please) to read over a recent Church of the Customer blog post called, Corporate evangelism vs. customer evangelism.  The post outlines the differences between these two kinds of evangelism and describes the “customer loyalty ladder.”  I’m excited by the idea of making the most of our patron-evangelists in spreading the word about how great our services are.  The key to accomplishing this, according to the authors:  a welll-defined cause.  Another post from COC refers to a series of posts from BeConnected that give pointers for creating spread-worthy e-mail newsletters – Good stuff!

That’s it for now! Choose your marketing tools wisely! ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Free, on-demand marketing webcasts available

ON24 launched a Integrated Marketing Best Practices Webinar Series offering free webcasts led by marketing experts. The 3 topic areas are:

  • Real Impact: Dove's Real Beauty Campaign

  • Top 5 Trends & Dangers in IT Marketing

  • Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

They each run 60 mins. (audio) and you can listen to them any time you want. For more details about the content, check out the press release. Free registration is required and I'm guessing you may get added to some mailing lists (it's marketing, after all!). I haven't listened to any of these yet but the Strategic Marketing Plan catches my eye. Also, I've heard a lot of talk about the Dove campaign, and it might be nice to see if there are any strategies we can adopt. If I do give these try, I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Take it to the polls!

If you haven't checked out Harris Interactive's web site in while, it's worth the trip. Harris Interactive is one of the country's largest market research firms and conducts fascinating surveys on all kinds of topics.

A recent survey conducted by Harris and the Public Relations Society of America polled business executives, congressional staff and the average consumer to find out their opinions of various marketing methods. Among other things, the survey revealed that only 16% of the general public approves of pop-up ads and 17% approves of text messages. Here's a related press release and you can find complete results on the PRSA web site (although I had trouble viewing them from the computer I'm on now). Hopefully, Harris will post a summary soon along with the other poll summaries from 2005. Check out the 2005 list and you may find other survey results of interest. One in particular you may want to peruse is about consumers' acceptance of new technology.

Survey results like these can be a great help in guiding your marketing decisions!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Your brand, their blog

More and more consumers are distrustful of company sponsored marketing and are taking it upon themselves to own the brand. One area where this is most apparent is in the blogosphere. A New York Times article (via CMO blog) discusses the many brand blogs out there. These bloggers discuss their opinions, angst and elation about their favorite brands, which seems to generate a lot of interest from fellow consumers who tend to trust peers over the company line. Companies, in turn, are looking at brand blogs as continuous focus groups to better understand how users perceive their products. The examples are abundant, but here are some from the article for starters: Starbucks, Disney, and Gatorade.

Brand blogs offer a heck of an opportunity for librarians too! Not only can libraries scan blogs for mentions of libraries to better understand patrons' points of view, but why not turn over a blog to your patrons to generate word-of-mouth? Sure, there's some risk involved here. It means giving up some control and turning over a piece of your brand identity to your users, but the payoffs could be worth it. One library I mentioned in my Internet Librarian presentation is doing just that. Take a look at Roselle Library's Blogger Book Club where anyone interested in children's literature can contribute. Ceding control can make anyone a tad uneasy, but the new marketing reality is that patrons are just as much involved in creating our brand as we are and we're missing an opportunity if we ignore this trend.

If this idea gets your creative juices flowing, you may want to drop in a the blog Micro Persuasion where the author discusses how new technologies are shaping marketing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

D-lightful marketing

Customer service is where the "marketing rubber" meets the road, so to speak. And if you think you're doing it right, you may want to think again. An article from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge found that when they surveyed 362 firms, 80% of them thought they provided "superior" service, but only 8% of customers thought so! The study found that those who got it right followed 3 D's: designing the right offers and experiences, delivering those propositions, and developing their capabilities. The authors make excellent points about customer advocacy, gathering and analyzing feedback and training employees.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Engaging America's youth - an IMLS initiative

The Institute of Musuem and Library Services released details about their Engaging America's Youth initiative. The intiative focuses on children ages 9 to 19 and will "examine what works, share best practices, encourage more effective programming, and build bridges among libraries, museums, and public policy makers." The Institute's web page has the full scoop!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Just read it!

"Just read it" is a slogan that will be gracing the sides of buses in the Boston area. An article from the Boston Herald details the $120,000 promotional campaign that is underway to increase awareness of what the libraries have to offer. Is this a worthwhile venture? As one librarian states in the article, "There's nothing wrong with advertising something that belongs to the people. There are people who don't know about the resource, and it's an amazing, amazing resource - the palace of the people"

Alluring lattes (and more!)

An article about the University of Minnesota's efforts to lure in undergraduates outlines the creative steps librarians have taken to compete for students' interest. Like other university libraries, UM librarians aimed to address the particular needs and preferences of undergrads by adding a coffee bar, comfy chairs and more computers. Most interesting, UM spent 18 months developing an "Undergraduate Virtual Library," chock full helpful resources tailored to undergraduates including an assignment calculator and a Google-esque search interface. Excellent! If anyone knows more details about this project, I'd love to hear about how this developed. Talk about marketing in action!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Much ado about branding

A brief but good article from appeared today called Building a Better Brand. The author discusses steps companies, and service providers in particular, are taking to manage their brands. Importantly for us, one source said, "service companies are most dependent on customer contact experiences to manage their brands, since it's mostly people rather than products driving the consumers' satisfaction. Few things can hurt a brand's word of mouth like a rude hotel desk clerk, a high-pressure stockbroker or a perpetually late airline with unsympathetic flight attendants." Something to think about for us librarians too!

Also, the article references a special report on communicating. I haven't read it over yet myself, but it looks like an incredible resource! For library-types, it includes sections on "Cutting Edge Computer Interfaces," "Coolest Communication Devices of the Future," and "Ten Things you Communicate Unintentionally."

If you got it, flaunt it

An article from outlines ways you can use speaking gigs to connect with your target audience. The first thing to do is track down your target market and then find an audience within that market that might benefit from what you have to say. The article mentions Chambers of Commerce and industry associations as examples. Once you have the opportunity to speak, make it count by offering solutions to real problems, collect contact information, etc. This strikes me as particularly useful advice for business audiences, but may be adapted for others as well. Read over the article for more tips and advice.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Put your money where your value is

A terrific post to what has become one of my favorite blogs outlines how to spend your marketing and ad budget (even if you don't have one). What I like about the author's ideas is that they are not only exceptionally creative and innovative, but people-oriented. Marketing, to a large degree, is about making people happy (satisfying needs). To do this effectively, both users and employees require close attention, as the post illustrates nicely.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Marketing opportunities for librarians

Here are a couple of marketing opportunities that have popped up recently:

  • Submissions for the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award are requested. The Award "honors outstanding library public relations, whether a summer reading program, a year-long centennial celebration, fundraising for a new college library, an awareness campaign or an innovative partnership in the community." Submissions are due December 9, 2005.
  • Registration is open for the ACRL Midwinter Workshop Creating a Marketing Plan for your Academic and Research Library to take place Friday, January 20, 2006, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., San Antonio, Texas. More info here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Try This Tuesday

For this week's "Try This," I'm highlighting a new marketing trend called, appropriately enough, Tryvertising. According to, Tryvertising is, "a new breed of product placement in the real world, integrating your goods and services into daily life in a relevant way, so that consumers can make up their minds based on their experience, not your messages." The idea here is to allow customers to experience your service firsthand in a context that is relevant for them to understand what you have to offer.

Who's doing it? Lots of businesses are Tryvertising such as hotels, bars and restaurants, and even schools are in on it. It remains to be seen if this strategy can work for libraries. Since library services are free and fairly low-risk to begin with, there is probably little need to "try before you buy." However, the idea of delivering these services in contexts relevant to patrons (other than the library) might be worth consideration. For instance, maybe a library kiosk loaded with health resources in major health care provider locations could be effective.

Since we'll be seeing more Tryvertising in our day-to-day life, it's worth knowing about. And, who knows? It might even inspire some creative library marketing ideas!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Money can't buy you (marketing) happiness

The days when big bucks could buy marketing successes are quickly slipping away, or at least so says a couple of business consultants out of Minnesota. In their article, they argue that a good story well-told, creative promotions that spark conversation and value-added services are the "new" ways to reach people. They also note that people are seeking personal connections with companies, not just a series of nameless, faceless interactions. These trends are consistent with what's going on in the marketing world and are worth considering. It doesn't take piles of money, but today's marketing takes effectively relating to people on a personal level.

Friday, October 28, 2005

This week in marketing

My favorite marketing site is at it again! now offers Marketing Stories for the Week. One you may want to check out this week is This is Your Marketing Campaign on Steroids. (Available via RSS)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pitfall prevention

Stop on over to to peruse Nine Major Marketing Mistakes.  For my money, the top 3 hit close to home.  What are the top 3 mistakes, you ask?  They are (drum roll please):  me-too thinking, overly-complicating offerings, and underestimating the role of perception.  Judge for yourself!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Gone for a bit

I'm off to beautiful Monterey, CA tomorrow morning (very, very early) for the Internet Librarian conference. I'll be speaking on Tues. in a session called Marketing the Weblog. I hope I'll see some of you there. Please say hello! I'll continue blogging away when I'm back on Thursday.

Feeds, they are a changin'

It’s now fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing color, and my blog is making a move over to LISNews! I was very excited to be asked to contribute to LISNews’ brand spanking new marketing section (thanks, Blake!). It’s still a work in progress. I’ll be working on getting the design and title worked out in the near future (after I get back from Internet Librarian), but until then things will be in limbo for a bit. I’ve already put up a couple of posts you can check out. I will let you know how to update your feeds and all that stuff once things are settled (I don’t want to lose any of you!).

Now, here’s where I’d like help from all of you wonderful readers. This move is an opportunity to start from scratch in some ways and I’d like to get your ideas. Consider it an exercise in participatory marketing:

  • The name: Should I change the name of the blog? What should it be?
  • Any features or design elements you’d like to see?
  • Anything else?
Please leave a comment and let me know!

Playing catch-up

Time to catch up with a few library marketing news items I’ve been meaning to tell you about!:

  • The October issue of Marketing Treasures is out and a good read!

  • Get to know the lingo – A brief article in the Poughkeepsie Journal (great name!) outlines the deference between marketing, public relations and advertising.

  • Check out how the Montana State Library is reaching out to seniors through a publicity campaign called What’s Your Story.

  • Too much great stuff to mention in this week’s MarketingProfs newsletter.  (You do get their feed, right?)

  • A short article in Myrtle Beach Online lays out the basics of word-of-mouth advertising and “preaching to the choir.”

  • Stop by and take a peek at the September/October issue of Marketing Library Services.  The free article features derby-racing librarians!

Whew!  Marketing news waits for no one!  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Business 2.0 marketing stuff

Business 2.0 has selected a list of marketing sites that appear to be pretty useful. Take a gander!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Speaking of branding

On the topic of branding, the It's all good blog has a couple of, well, good (of course) recent posts (here and here).

What are you all about?

Interesting article featured on Monday about brand identity and how some companies like Coke have muddled their personality with too many confusing brand images.  The author argues that sticking to your positioning strategy for the long haul pays off.  I’d have to agree.  Consumers are overwhelmed with marketing messages, a problem that’s made worse by fuzzy brand identities.  If you can find a brand that captures what you’re about and be persistent with it, people will be more apt to instantly recognize you and your message.  I do think that libraries, like business, have their own personalities.  When I walk into different libraries, I usually find a distinct “feel.”  Portraying that sense through branding could go a long way toward helping our promotion efforts.  Doing so usually starts with finding out where patrons currently position us and then repositioning that image as necessary.

For those of you in my neck of the woods (Maryland, Virginia and D.C.), you may be interested in some related CAPCON courses on the subject taught by Chris Olson (author of Marketing Treasures).  Sessions include Branding 101 and Planning Library Promotion Campaigns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Try This Tuesday

I'm still thinking through this idea for "Try This Tuesday," but I thought I'd throw it out there for those of you who can pick it up and run with it. Why not try experimenting with unique ways to package your existing services to make them easier to shop around? One comment I get over and over from students is "Wow! I didn't know you could do (or have) all this stuff!" Part of this promotional problem has do to with the fact that we have so much "stuff" to offer, and much of it can be complicated to explain. A possible solution is breaking down our offerings into easily digestible chunks based on the needs we serve. In the academic setting, we do this to a small degree. Usually, we don't get much further than grouping our services by majors or rank (undergraduate, faculty, etc.). My impression is that public libraries also rely on demographics, mainly age, to group services (adults, children, teens, etc.). These groupings make sense and often relate to the nature of the information we provide. I'm certain, though, that there are other, possibly better, ways to bundle our service offerings, which don't necessarily entail developing new services. Maybe we have a service package for "Students-on-the-go," where we describe our chat and telephone reference services, a basic general database, instructions on how to get online from off-campus, and our citation management software. We could then shop that package around to off-campus students and other relevant groups. Like I said, it's an idea in progress, but I think it has potential. Give it a try! (That's what Tuesday's are for, after all).

[Update: I forgot to mention that the "digestible chunks" concept was described in the Creating Customer Evangelists webcast I wrote about in Sept., if you want more details.]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Live from Omaha

Here's a story about a library marketing campaign out of Omaha, Nebraska. The director wants to increase the number of people who hold library cards by emphasizing the convenience of using library resources from home and the ability to download materials like audiobooks. What was most neat to see was a local news reporter showing viewers how easy it is to use the library's website and materials (I haven't see that on my local news!). You can view the news clip from the article.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Who you gonna call?

If you're a college student and need information, odds are you're going to turn to a search engine to find what you need. No big surprise for us librarians, but it's a bit surprising (disturbing?) how much they trust what they find. According to a study by Yahoo! Search Marketing (via MarketingVOX), the trustworthiness of a web site is second only to info from family and friends, but not by much. Sixty-five percent said family and friends were the most trustworthy; 63% said that keyword searches were most reliable. (!) What does this mean? For advertisers, it's a good bet they'll continue to plunk more and more money into online ads. For librarians, it means that we have to try harder than ever to market ourselves and our services through our web presence so that students get the best info they can!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Investing in word-of-mouth's piece, "The Best Advertising Money Can Buy," relates some interesting points about word-of-mouth. (I have to admit, I'm a bit biased toward word-of-mouth because I think it makes perfect sense for libraries). In this article, the author discusses some techniques that hadn't occurred to me before. Namely, word-of-mouth is often generated by non-verbal offerings (like, the author notes, playgrounds at McDonald's). Letting your patrons discover your amazing service themselves, rather than telling them it's amazing, is important also.

Time to tinker

The New York Times featured an article this week about the many dramatic changes going on in the advertising world (see "Tinkering With the Recipes for the Media Mix"-registration required). What's going on "out there" is true for us in libraries too. Traditional media and techniques are not the sure things they used to be. Advertisers now need to be more savvy and selective in how they disseminate their information. It seems that target markets are getting smaller and smaller, a fact reflected in the success of highly targeted adverstising such as what Google offers. As librarians, we too should keep an eye on these trends and strive to find new, creative ways to identify and reach markets.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New hispanic marketing trade magazine debuts

Adweek unveiled Marketing y Medios, a new trade magazine for anyone interested in marketing to the Hispanic population.  If many of your patrons fit in this demographic, you may want to read this as part of your regular routine. Here's the scoop on the publication.

UPDATE: Looks like this actually came out in 2004! I read it as 2005. Sorry for the oversight! Still looks like a good resource, even if it's not-so-new. :)

Do you have what it takes?

Here's another brief but important article from yesterday's entitled, "What Makes a Successful Salesperson?". You'll appreciate this one if you've ever had to participate in a fair of any kind, or even worked at a service point. We continually defend/celebrate our libraries in all the work we do.

On a related note, the Alliance Library System and TumbleBooks, Inc. are offering a free online book called, Why Libraries Matter - A Story Long Overdue to all public and elementary school libraries. You can view the animated book online (it's pretty cute!).

Even if you don't think you're a salesperson, odds are you actually are one, at least some of the time, so be prepared to "sell" your library at a moment's notice!

Don't sit on that research!

A good article appeared yesterday from called, "How to Get the Most Out of Research". We librarians are good at collecting data, but this article outlines 7 practical steps for getting some mileage out of it.

Borrowing a bit of brand power

Apparently, library marketing news keeps on coming whether or not I have to take a break from blogging!  There’s a lot to catch up on so I’ll be doing my best.

Recently, I came across an interesting post on a listserv about an academic library raffling off popular Target gift certificates for a program they put on.  I thought it was a neat example of borrowing some brand power from a popular company.  Elizabeth Smigielski of Kornhauser Health Sciences Library at the University of Louisville was kind enough to give me the details of the event that she and her colleague Mary K. Marlatt planned.  Here’s what Elizabeth had to say about their open house and lessons the staff learned:

We did an open house for new students (medical, dental, nursing, public health, graduate).  We expected about 150 people.  We served sandwiches, chips, dessert and drinks.  Food was set up in different stations throughout the library that we wanted people to learn about:  circulation, reference, ILL, history collection, quiet study area.  The theme was pirates; we had a treasure map.

The raffle involved getting a "passport" which was a discarded card catalog card, visiting each station, getting it stamped, and turning it back in.  The stamps we used were: discard, withdrawn, overdue, history stacks, and Kornhauser Library.   Each passport had a label with name and email fill-ins.

We had about 75 people come through and eat, but 39 bothered with the raffle.  

We simply bought a gift certificate from Target using our library credit card.  Target didn't donate it; in fact, they probably don't know we did this.  

Lessons learned:
Distribute the work amongst more staff.

Plan ahead; start preparations earlier.

Better promotion before hand.  People didn't know about it.  Many commented that they already ate lunch and would have visited the library had they known.

Co-promote with Target and try to get a free gift certificate next time.

Make the point that there is free food explicitly clear.  We got too caught up in the piratey things and occluded the core message.  

Make the participation less demanding.  Our clientele didn't want to bother. They don't have time.

Overall, it was a success.  We learned a lot and will do it more efficiently next year.  We do this because we get great feedback from the administration.  They really appreciate what we do for students, probably more than the students do."

Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth!

I know of some libraries that partner with companies like Barnes and Noble, but I think there is a lot of potential here, as the Target example shows.  Let me know of any libraries that have found fruitful partners and I’ll be happy to blog about them!

Know any library marketing movers and shakers?

Marylaine Block is looking for a few good librarian-marketers for Library Journal's Movers and Shakers issue. Please give her a hand and submit someone deserving. Here are the details from Marylaine:

"The editors of Library Journal need your help in identifying the emerging leaders in the library world. Our fifth annual Movers & Shakers supplement will profile 50-plus up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference. From librarians to vendors to others who work in the library field, Movers & Shakers 2006 will celebrate the new professionals who are moving our libraries ahead. Deadline for submissions is November 1, 2005. To nominate someone, please print out the form at and return it to Ann Kim, Library Journal, 360 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010 or fax to 646-746-6734. Movers & Shakers 2006 will be distributed with the March 15 issue of Library Journal.

HINT: Instead of using the pdf form, you can use the copy-and-paste version of it that Jessamyn West constructed and fill it out as an e-mail:
It's at

[Update]: An online form is now available:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday Try This

For this Tuesday's Try This, try reverse engineering marketing campaigns. I do this all of the time with television and print ads, but you could do the same with place, product and price decisions as well. Basically, I play "name that target market" whenever I see an interesting piece of marketing. I try to figure out why marketers chose a certain slogan/imagery/reference/venue, etc. and for whom. Next time you're cruising the grocery aisles, ask yourself questions like Why is that product on that shelf? Why did they choose that shape for that bottle? Why are they playing that music over the speakers? And who are they doing all this for anyway? You'd be amazed at just how carefully constructed your shopping experience is! Sometimes I'm impressed by companies' creativity, and other times I'm just confused! Marketing doesn't just happen, it's a result of hundreds of individual decisions made all along the way that attempt to shape our perceptions of reality. By deconstructing how these experiences are pieced together, we can learn a lot about which decisions work, and which fall short. Not only does this help to make us more sophisticated consumers, but better marketers as well. Reverse engineering takes almost no time to do, but can be very valuable.

By the way, I should be back 'n' bloggin' regularly by Wednesday. Thanks for your patience and for reading!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Revised ALA online Communication Handbook now available

From the press release:

"The online Handbook ( offers tips on how to develop a communications plan so that you can determine goals and objectives for your outreach efforts, identify key audiences, shape your messages, and develop tactics that will help you obtain coverage from media."


Grab bag o' marketing goodies

I'll still be posting a little irregularly for a while, but there's so much great marketing stuff out there that I couldn't resist trying to get a post in.

MarketingProfs provides a very good free newsletter (some of the articles are only for paid subscribers, but not all). Their latest edition did have some good info for librarians. Here are the [free] highlights:

Monday, October 03, 2005

A brief pause

Due to a family emergency, I won't be blogging for a little while. Thanks for understanding. I look forward to posting again soon.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Googlewacking for PR

I thought I was kind of geeky, but I had never heard of the term “googlewhacking” until yesterday.  That’s when the Scottsdale Public Library held its first ever GoogleWhack@Your Library event.  Librarians competed with patrons to see who could outplay each other in this wacky word game.  Organizers used the event as a way to highlight library resources.  100 points go to the librarians for their creativity!  Way to go!

(Here's the article from the Scottsdale Republic)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bustin' out with branding

I stumbled across this incredible resource from Business Week Online today all about Brand Equity (how neat!). If you don’t mind sorting through all the ads (kind of ironic), you can unearth heaps of gems on all things brand. Some pieces I deemed especially noteworthy are Lose the Jargon, Voice Your Brand, Make Your Brand Pop, Creating an Effective Brand and The Myth of Authenticity. Ok, so I was pretty much impressed by everything! Take a sec to look it over!

And, yeah, I still owe you all a nice long post about brand equity, but it's been a rough week for me doing anything quite that ambitious. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Happy advertising week to you!

How time flies! It's already Advertising Week and I didn't get you anything. Oh well. Maybe next year. Although, isn't every week Advertising Week anyway? Enjoy it! ;)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award

The John Cotten Dana Library Public Relations Award is now open for competition.

"The award honors outstanding library public relations programs that support a specific project, goal or activity, or a sustained, ongoing program (e.g. the promotion of a summer reading program, a year-long centennial celebration, fundraising for a new college library, an awareness campaign or an innovative partnership in the community)."

Deadline is December 9, 2005. For details, see ALA's press release.

Try This Tuesday

It’s Try This Tuesday time!  This week’s Try This builds off of last week’s, but this time the focus is on websites.  Try to keep an eye out for websites that you think are particularly well-done (and not necessarily from the library world).  Maybe you like a certain color scheme or design; maybe the writing or organization appeals to you.  You might also want to look out for sites that are directed at your target audience so that you can adopt some ideas.  Bookmark or save them in a “marketing favorites” folder so you can refer to them when you have the opportunity to change your site.

A couple that I like:

  • The New York Public Library (What’s not to like?)

  • Starbucks (Ditto.  Plus, nice organization by using color and graphics.  Does a good job of portraying the “feel” of the brick-and-mortar Starbucks).

You can also find ideas from just a feature or two of a site.  My colleague and I liked Western Kentucky University Libraries' Community Outreach feature and decided to do something similar (it’s not up yet).

You get the idea.  Your web presence is important for many obvious reasons and especially in terms of services marketing.  People look for evidence of service quality in lots of places, including our websites.  If the sites don’t look good, we don’t look good.  For a place to start, try checking in on  They offer a continually updated “Featured Brand Website” link to companies with innovative web ideas.  This time it’s Converse (very wacky, but worth looking at).

Brand U.

Here's an article from the Orlando Sentinel about how colleges are reinventing themselves through branding. Why all the fuss about building brand equity? Brands are among the most influential factors affecting purchasing behavior. (More in a later post...).

Monday, September 26, 2005

Real world and open-source

I write a lot about open-source marketing, but it's not just a nice idea. Businesses are increasingly turning to their customers for fresh concepts. Take this example from about a website called Adcandy. Here, anyone can submit their own catch phrases and slogans with winning choices earning between $50 and $500 - small potatoes in the advertising world. So what motivates consumers to participate? The opportunity to share their thoughts seems to be a reward unto itself.

Comfort comes to libraries

Take a gander at an article from the Ohio News Network that describes how campus libraries are adapting to their new competitive environment and study habits of their students. Nothing very earth-shattering, but there are nice examples of how external factors drive marketing decisions and the ways in which libraries are perceived. Also, notice how one library allowed the students themselves to choose the new furniture.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How many P's in your marketing pod?

The September issue of Marketing Treasures is out and full of good stuff (10 tips for running focus groups, sample marketing plans and strategies, and more).  One article called “What is a Marketing Mix” got me thinking.  In it, Chris suggests there are 5 P’s (The four basics:  Product, Price, Place, Promotion plus Public Relations).  I’ve heard lots of opinions about how many and what kinds of P’s there are (I’ve seen up to 10!).  A number of texts pertaining to services marketing (that’s us!) would say there are 7 P’s.  The additional 3 are:  People, Process and Physical Evidence.  Here are the details in a nutshell:

  • People:  This would be anyone and everyone involved in providing the service.

  • Process:  How the service is carried out.

  • Physical Evidence:  The environment in which the service is delivered; Has an effect on how people perceive the quality of the service experience.

I do find that these 3 P’s are helpful to think about when it comes to services.  For me, the benefit of thinking of marketing in terms of P’s is threefold:  1.  to make sure nothing important has been overlooked, 2.   to have a model with which to evaluate the logic behind the service offering (do all these pieces make sense together and individually?), and 3.  to have a simple way to help understand something complex.

So whatever P’s tickle your fancy, try not to lose sight of what they center around:  your target market.  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Marketing on the cheap

Here’s great article from about getting the most bang for your marketing buck.  In it, the writer describes the considerable success of a trash removal company that utilized simple, cheap but effective marketing tactics that landed them on Oprah , Dr. Phil, and The View!  The major lessons?  Know how you’re different from your competitors and understand the goals of your company [library] in order to allocate marketing dollars accordingly.  Check out the related slide show for 5 Ways of Getting Your Message Out on the Cheap!  We librarians have something waaay more interesting than trash to talk about, so if they can do it, so can we!

Amen to customer evangelists!

As promised, I attended the Creating Customer Evangelists webinar today and found it to be very…inspirational :).  As the speakers explained it, “evangelism” means having a volunteer force of individuals who have a deep connection with the company and who will go to bat for you among their peers and prospects.  They rightly pointed out that customer satisfaction is a far cry from loyalty and that we should aim to reach the 20-25% of our customers who have the potential to become evangelists.  Turns out that what this 20-25% wants most is access to the inner-workings of the organizations they love and to share their enthusiasm for the products/services with others.

The speakers outlined the 6 tenets of creating evangelists, the most important of which is #1:  Customer plus delta, meaning we should gather feedback from patrons on a regular basis to correct problems.  The other tenets about sharing knowledge, building buzz, creating community, making smaller chunks of complex services, and having a cause were helpful also.  I really enjoyed hearing these strategies because I think librarians could excel at this kind of marketing strategy.  We’re already natural information sharers and community builders, and we definitely have a cause! I also like that this is not a generic kind of marketing, but a personal one that values relationships over transactions.

I highly recommend that you review the presentation if you get a chance.  It should be posted tomorrow afternoon at  I’m going to try to read the book Creating Customer Evangelists when I can and pass along what I discover.  I think this is an important route for librarians to explore since there is a growing cynicism toward traditional marketing, especially among young people. Besides, what better way to market than have your fans do it for you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lessons from a former librarian

This news article about a former librarian's bookstore caught my eye because it illustrated some important marketing points. The librarian-turned-bookstore-owner specializes in children's literature. Her expertise in this area, in her opinion, differentiates her service offering from larger competitors like Barnes & Noble. She also carefully manages the shopping experience for customers. She keeps only 1 or 2 of any book in stock so that customers are not ovewhelmed by merchandise, which she likens to a book boutique. Of course, we couldn't (and shouldn't) immitate what she's done (we're not bookstores, after all), but we can see how she has a clear sense of what she has to offer, what her customers want, and how she fits in the competitive landscape - good lessons for us to take away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Try This Tuesday

For this week's "Try This," find one marketing inspiration everyday. (This is actually very easy to do). Here are some that I discovered this week:

  • While staying at a hotel this past weekend, I noticed that the hotel provided a new shampoo from Bath & Body Works. I thought this was a great example of partnering (and I think I'll even start buying the shampoo now that I've had the free sample!).

  • I enjoyed a TV commercial I saw from Cingular Wireless that employed the slogan "More bars in more places." It finally dawned on me what a great ad this was because the bars (or lack of) on cell phones have become symbolic of service quality and this pithy one-liner makes it clear what the benefit is that the company is offering.

  • A Starbucks bottled Frappuccino TV ad caught my eye too. It featured a harried young businesswoman being bombarded with work immediately upon stepping into her office. She takes a sip of her Frappuccino, which the announcer calls, "me time." Really shows Starbucks understands their target market's perspective (at least, I responded well to the ad!).

So, keep your eyes open everyday for one marketing move that inspires you. Oh, and yes, do look out for the bad stuff too (there's plenty of that) so you don't fall into the same trap. Happy hunting!

Getting real with leisure reading

YALSA is pushing leisure reading during Teen Read Week, October 16-22. Check out the ALA press release for Get Real! @ your library for more info and examples of what libraries are doing.

Sex sells in libraries too!

In a bold marketing move, Wisconsin librarians take it all off to generate funds for their institutions. Six librarians put up their own money to produce a sexy calendar called Desperate Librarians, the proceeds of which will go to their respective libraries (with the blessings of their administrators, of course). The scantily-clad posers are partially covered by oversized books. Hmm...well, that's one way to go about creating an image!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Free webcast Thurs. on creating customer evangelists

The Church of the Customer folks put together a Leadership Forum webcast on how to turn customers into evangelists.  The program takes place this Thursday September, 22nd from 9-10am Pacific and 12-1 Eastern and will cover:

1. Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
2. Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
3. Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
4. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
5. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
6. Create a cause: Focus on making the world, or your industry, better

Sounds like this could be promising for library-types.  I don’t know much about the speakers, but they authored the book Creating Customer Evangelists:  How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force and since it’s free, it probably couldn’t hurt to attend.  I think I will and I’ll let you know how it goes.

What do you call a lawyer without a brand?

You might call him just another face in the crowd.  A New York Times article (care of CMO blog) explains how law firms are diving into the branding arena.  The many large mergers occurring with firms today has left many without a clear sense of identity.  Some firms have chosen to call upon professional branders to fashion an image.  This is a nice example of how service industries (and we’re one of them) are adapting to new marketing realities.

Lessons from Blog-U

I was so pleased to take part in the first ever Blog-U yesterday! It was a great success and was fortunate to meet many wonderful colleagues! I know I took home some helpful advice about my own blog from the other speakers who really know their stuff.  I’ve said before what an important tool blogs are for unearthing some breakthrough opportunities to serve your patrons.  If you’d like the details on how to get going, stop by the Blog-U site where speakers’ presentations will be available shortly.  My presentation on marketing blogs is here (.ppt) if you’d like to take a peek!

The next stop is Monterey, CA where I’ll be speaking at the Internet Librarian conference on the same topic but in more depth (session A203).  I hope I’ll see you there!