Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Shuffling" patrons into the library

Cool promotion idea today from the Greensboro Public Library as reported on the Library Stuff blog. Greensboro is giving away an IPod Shuffle to a lucky patron who is the first to check out "the secret book". Better yet, how about pre-loading that Shuffle with library podcasts with info for patrons? Hmm...

Speaking of podcasts, the news today on the marketing blogs is that Apple and Blinkx are making it easier to find podcasts (from MarketingVOX). Blinkx now allows podcasters to sumbit their creations for inclusion in its search index. Hmm again. Could this be a venue for librarians' podcasts?

Perception is everything...well...almost everything

So how many methodologies do you use to determine patron satisfaction? If all you're doing is assessing satisfaction after-the-fact, then you may be missing out on some great opportunities to know your patrons' needs better. Enter: perception research.

An article from CMO Magazine explains that perception research is, "a tool that helps professional services firms understand the forces that drive their clients' needs—and enables them be in the right place at the right time to meet those needs." In a nutshell, perception research can help shed some light on how patrons perceive you and your services.

To do perception research, you can use the same tools you're already using (focus groups, online surveys, etc.). The point is to ask questions that draw out patrons' unmet needs and figure out what their expectations are so that you can better plan for the future, rather than focusing on what's already happened. The article explains three techniques you can use to do this: 1. projective interviewing, 2. laddering, and 3. using hierarchical value maps. These techniques are new to me, so you may want read the CMO article and/or do some digging on your own to figure out how best to put them to use. This kind of research makes lots of sense though - I'm excited to give it a try!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A 5 step program

A article today spells out 5 Steps to Marketing Success. The 5 tips are:
1. Come in under the radar.
2. Know your cusomter.
3. Own your branding.
4. Stay ahead of the competition
5. Make it an experience

Lots of important stuff for librarians to think about here. The two that stand out the most for me are 2. and 4. I'm going to write about this more later, but marketing is not about figuring out how to get people to use your stuff. It's really about figuring out what it is that people want and letting that information guide what you produce. (I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here). Furthermore, I think we can do this in such a way that is mindful of our professional values. In fact, why can't those professional values (of privacy, preservation, access, etc.) serve as our competitive advantages?

Speaking of competitors, the importance of innovation is a biggie. The competitive environment changes fast, and if you're not equipped to keep up with, and better yet, exceed the pace, then your product (or service) is practically DOA.

Need more blogs to read? ;)

Ok, I'm sure the last thing you need is yet ANOTHER blog to add to your aggregator, let alone a list of blogs, but I can't help but pass along MarketingSherpa's 10 Best Blogs for 2005.

If the whole list is too much, here's the condensed version:

Best blogs on the topic of general marketing and advertising

I'll do my best to pass along the most relevent posts for librarians.

Seth Godin also has a blog that relates to his newest book, All Marketers are Liars (5 page excerpt here). The blog's hilarious! His book, by the way, is at the top of my "to read" list, so I'll give you a run-down of "what librarians could learn from this" once I finish it. If any of you have read it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Take this for example for example

A marketing professor recommended a great site to me that offers sample marketing plans from many various kinds of companies. has a browsable list of plans, a searchable Ask the Experts feature, a monthly newsletter, and a web directory.

The current featured marketing plan is from a non-profit called All4Sports and it provides a great example of how these plans are put together.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Outside the Book - W.O.W.!

It's that time of the week again! Here's the (marketing) Word of the Week: viral marketing.

Viral marketing is a "marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message" (from It's a lot like word-of-mouth, but usually with a technological twist.

Ironically, viral marketing has "infected" the marketing news of late. A recent USA Today article explains how companies are eagerly adopting this cheap but effective tool. The article points out one fun example from Long John Silver's who used a two-minute film (at to get people talking.

Despite its name, viral marketing can actually be a healthy addition to your marketing strategy. The trick is to develop a promotion that is so compelling, interesting or entertaining that people can't help but pass it along. Certainly librarians could put this idea to work for them. Campaign Associates has some viral marketing tips for non-profits that include adding a tell your friend about this service/site/tool, etc. button to your web page, or encouraging those on your e-mail lists to pass a message on to 10 other people and so on. Libraries like Lawrence Public Library (KS) have already tried it. Maybe it's time for librarians to spread the word about viral?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Blogs find a place as marketing tools

I discovered a fascinating article this week about using blogs as focus groups. Woah! Wouldn't have thought of that! Well, U.S. Cellular did. Their ad agency found a way to peek in on the blog conversations of their target market, get a sense of their opinions about cell phones and design their ads accordingly. They found that the casual, authentic views of their customers (even if not entirely representative) gave them valuable insights.

Of course, you'd have to be careful here. The demographic characteristics of bloggers (male, under 30, etc.) may mean that your target is not represented in the blogosphere. From the perspective of privacy-conscious librarians, it may seem a little too much like spying, but people are putting this stuff out there for others to read. Not sure if you'd find a lot of library chatter out there, but you may at least get a sense of who your patrons are, their activities, interests, etc. At my school, I check in on our Student Government Association's blog to keep up with our undergrads.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Add these to your ALA rounds

The ACRL Marketing Academic and Research Libraries Committee (MARL) is sponsoring a session called, "Is there Life after LibQUAL? Learn How Strategic Marketing Can Focus and Energize the LibQUAL Experience." It takes place Saturday, June 25th from 10:30 until Noon.

Another interesting program: "Reach Outside the Box: Unique Outreach Progrms." Hear about 3 libraries and their creative outreach to underserved populations. Takes place at McCormick Place N 130, Saturday, June 25, 1:30-3:30pm.

Seen these ads?

Have you seen these ads from OCLC targeted at those who hold the purse strings? If not, have a look-see. They offer customizable PDF posters for both public and academic libraries. The ads have been making the rounds in a few publications.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Librarian seeks author (and vice versa)

From Peter Scott's Library Blog: The Association of American Publishers has released a cool new tool to help librarians and authors connect. See Scott's post for more info. Could be useful as you plan programs @ your library.

Many more marketing materials

Found on Neat New Stuff on the Net: Marketing & PR from the Mid-Hudson Library System. The site includes marketing templates, how-to's, web links and demographic info for librarians. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Go team!

A number of librarians have formed marketing teams/committees/task forces, etc. to organize their marketing efforts. I'm a fan of the cross-functional team approach because, ideally, marketing should involve the entire organization and become a way of doing business. Luke Vilelle, Outreach Librarian at Virginia Tech was kind enough to share his experiences developing his own marketing team.

How he did it: First, Luke and a colleague delved right into drawing up a marketing plan, taking input from library staff during the SWOT analysis. Next, he drew up a charge for the marketing team and assembled members from all library departments including ILL, cataloging, reference and archives. In the future, Luke is looking to include a student and a University Relations staffer (great ideas, making the team not just a library-wide effort, but campus-wide too!).

The value of the team: For Luke, the team has been important in two main respects, 1. as a mechanism for institutionalizing marketing in the library, and 2. as a source of ideas and playground for brainstorming. Each workable idea the group comes up with is followed by an action plan and assessment measures.

For Luke, the team is a vital part of his job: "From my point of view, the marketing team has been an incredible boon to my work. There's no way I could have accomplished on my own what we've been able to do so far as a group." He's used the team on various projects, for example, "We have created action plans for celebrating the 10th anniversary of our College Librarian program, for increasing the use of Ingenta and other alert services, and for publicizing our new catalog. The publicity for the new catalog and our library's upcoming 50th anniversary celebration are our two current major projects."

Contact Luke Vilelle for more information on his group and their projects. Also, how have you used marketing teams? Please share your experiences!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Outside the Book - W.O.W.!

This week's Word of the Week is [drumroll please] differentiation: "Ensuring that products and services have a unique element to allow them to stand out from the rest." (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing). In other words, differentiation is all about how your 4 P's are different from the next guy's 4 P's.

Differentiation is important because honing in on a competitive advantage dramatically increases your chance of success, whether you're implementing a new ILS, developing new reference services, or beefing up your instruction program. So much of the time, and for good reason, we librarians look to adapt what others are already doing. ("Well, Borders is doing it, so maybe we should too.") However, each and every library has strengths and character that are uniquely its own, and those aspects should take center stage, rather than playing up how Library X is doing the same neat thing has Library Y or Business Z. So, adapt away, but be sure to differentiate yourself from the herd too.

Promote a blog, help a librarian

Librarian Blake Carver of the famous LISNews blog is seeking nominations for "Must Read Librarian Oriented Blogs." Give Blake a hand by doing a little promotion of your own and sending him your top pics or leaving a comment on his post.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Way to go Henderson Dist. Public Libraries!

Congratulations to folks at Henderson District Public Libraries who've succeeded in their Guiness World Record bid! Check out the blog post for details. Whatta way to advertise your dedication!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Tapping into the well of student ideas

From the Kept-Up Academic Librarian blog: Companies Tap Students For New Ideas.

Here's yet another example of companies tasking consumers, students in particular, to help create their marketing strategies and the related concerns about exploitation that doing so entails.

There's definitely applicability for libraries here and, when done properly, can be mutually beneficial. Many academic librarians have formed productive marketing collaborations with students in projects such as designing logos, creating services and promoting libraries on campus (for an example, see my post about NCSU's great BIN project, May 3, 2005).

Advocacy Institute web cast

The Advocacy Institute web cast will take place from 9:00am-3:30pm on Friday June 24th. The program costs $10 for on-site ALA attendees and is free for virtual attendees.

Here's the scoop:
"The Advocacy Institute will target the beginning library advocate. Attendees will learn to build a community of support for their libraries, as well as develop strategies for dealing with library issues specific to their communities. Organizers believe that the program will be meaningful to academic, school, public and special librarians."

For more information, see, or e-mail

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A tasty treat for bookworms

I thought I'd share a little nugget from my experiences of late as I've been participating in a freshman orientation program. Throughout the summer, the library and numerous other campus units gather at the Student Commons with information and goodies for incoming freshman who need to take care of pre-fall business. This is our first year as a participant and we had no money for eye-catching display items (which is difficult when competing with campus power houses like the student card office and Transportation & Parking!). We needed to think of a CHEAP way to draw people to our table. Our solution: bookworms. Well, actually gummy worms in ziploc bags with a slip of paper stating, "Attention Bookworms!! Get stuck with research? Ask-a-Librarian for help!" and our web address. So far they seem to work, especially if I say, "help yourself to a bookworm" (parents in particular get a kick out of this). We had other ideas too, like giving out candy lifesavers in keeping with our "librarians are your lifesavers/library survival skills" theme. One note: people seem to prefer the plain worms over the sour ones.

I'm curious to hear about your "tricks" for getting attention at tables. Send 'em in to be included in a post!

Dig up this month's treasure

It's that time of the month again for Chris Olson's newest Marketing Treasures newsletter. In this issue, get to know your slogans from your taglines; learn about RSS and clickthroughs, promotional "card tricks," and upcoming events. Great info, as always.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Talk about promotion!

From the blog: Librarians trying to break Guinness Book’s read aloud record. Why? To promote their new Bookmobile and literacy.

And the winner is...

Thomson Gale/Library Journal announced Monday that the Fayetteville Public Library (FPL) won the 2005 Library of the Year Award. FPL was bestowed the honor in part because of two criteria: "Creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage; and leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries." So, what better place to gather some inspiring marketing ideas?!

Sneak a peek at FPL's list of services (from their homepage) and their newsletters and brochures (pdf's). According to the Library Journal article, "Five Steps to Excellence" (June 15, 2005, p. 32), some of FPL's secrets to success include a vibrant volunteer program, a happy staff, and technological innovations. As far as more specific marketing strategies, FPL writes reviews for local papers and has adopted a retail-like interior complete with browsing tables, and 7 bookclubs!

Congratulations, FPL!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Find your own path

New Pathways to Planning is a planning website created by librarians of the Northeast Kansas Library System. While intended for librarians at small- and medium-sized Kansas libraries, it contains a wealth of information and resources applicable for anyone. Especially relevant for us librarian-marketers is the Internal Library Audit. Here, you'll find lists of questions to ask and outstanding worksheets for you to use while conducting your S.W.O.T. analysis along with how to put S.W.O.T. into action!

While not a new site (last updated in 2003), it was certainly new to me! And the principles explained are timeless. If you'd prefer something similar in print, take a gander at Suzanne Walters' Library Marketing That Works (2004), which also provides handy worksheets, ideas and examples from the library world.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Outside the Book - W.O.W.!

This week's Word of the Week (W.O.W.!) is positioning.

As quoted on, positioning "is the attempt to control the public's perception of a product or service as it relates to competitive products." Basically, positioning is how your customers (patrons) see you as compared with your competitors.

Don't believe positioning is important? Think about McDonald's most recent attempt to reposition itself as health-conscious in light of increasing scrutiny of its menu. The company reintroduced Ronald who now sports athletic gear and a trimmer physique. It has also added a new fresh fruit option to its menu.

Librarians can and do use repositioning too. Think about a common perception of the library as a stuffy, quiet place where patrons are continually sushed by cranky librarians. Now consider the many ways in which librarians combat this image by including coffee bars in libraries, adding group study spaces, participating in innovative outreach projects, etc.

In order to reposition libraries, librarians need make changes to two ingredients of their marketing mix: products (or services) and promotion (communication).

Friday, June 10, 2005

What's your strategy for success?

Ok, so you have a pretty good understanding of your patrons and you think you have some ideas about how to meet their needs. Now you need to put together a marketing strategy that works. A recent article from called Plan Your Marketing Strategy Well has some rules of thumb to consider. Here are some highlights:

Have clear, realistic goals that recognize your mission/vision/values. Think about who exactly you want to reach and with what product or service (Be specific here. How big is your target market? Who are the people in it and where are they?). Keep a close eye on your competition to better know your marketplace and to find niches that you can fill. Be prepared to review and change your strategy regularly.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Back to basics

For those of you who are fairly new to marketing, or if you'd like a refresher, you may want to start where most Marketing students across the country do: with a good textbook. The nearly-universal textbook of choice is called Basic Marketing by William D. Perreault, Jr. and E. Jerome McCarthy (published by Irwin McGraw Hill). The latest is the 15th edition.

It's pretty vocabulary-heavy, as you might expect from an introductory text, but the authors do a good job of giving illustrative examples from "the real world" to drive home concepts. Once you get those concepts down, they are easily translatable to libraries. Sometimes it helps to begin at the beginning. :)

'Cause you should

As librarians, we champion a number of noble causes ranging from literacy to lifelong learning to research to privacy, to name but a few. Marketing these kinds of grand ideas and winning our audience over can be challenging (a lot harder than pushing coffee on a Monday morning!). At the 2005 Conference on Social Enterprise, marketing experts shared their advice on how to run an inexpensive cause marketing campaign.

In an article from the Harvard Business School, marketers from the Conference offered up a number of ideas for non-profits that we could put to use. Some suggestions include:

  • Think big! Come up with a bold goal.

  • Focus your limited resources

  • Look for traditional and non-traditional audiences

  • Don't underestimate word-of-mouth

Don't let big ideas but small budgets discourage you!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Location, location, location

The latest free article available in Marketing Library Services concerns one of our beloved 4 P's: Place. The article outlines strategics for choosing library sites, with a focus on public libraries.

What do patrons want, really?

A new article on may provide the answer. The artice, What Do Your Customers Really, Really Want? provides a step-by-step process for making sure that your marketing strategy is aligned with your customers' needs. Through Discovery, Definition, and Validation, you can figure out what patrons want and how best to get it to them. The key appears to be including patron feedback in all stages service development.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Some Kept-Up Keepers

Steven Bell's The Kept-Up Academic Librarian blog has two posts today of interest to librarian-marketers at colleges and universities:

From Clients To Consumers describes the trend toward consumerism in college education. Students, it seems, are not just in school for the education, but for amenities as well. Makes me think of the trend to market libraries as research places AND social spaces. The consumeristic attitude of our patrons shapes their expectations, expectations that we are constantly trying to meet or beat. (No wonder we look to and Barnes & Noble for ideas!)

The Harvard Brand Is More Powerful Than Ever post is a reminder of the power of a good brand. Despite sky-high tuition costs, relative parity among its peers, and no guarantee of post-graduation jobs, Harvard continues to reel 'em in.

Put a pin in it

Marketing inspiration is found everywhere as one observant marketer found at a trade show in New York. Found on the blog Down to Business, one small but innovative company passed out pins with their company logo and slogan along with a 4-digit number. That number matched only one other pin and the goal of participants was to find their match. As the blogger states in the post:

"The result was fascinating, because a small sub-community formed of people looking for each other's pins, talking to one another, and definitely remembering the name of the sponsoring company -- who was previously a no-name."

Could this be a way for your library to stand out at campus/community events? Might be worth thinking about.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Outside the Book - W.O.W.!

This week begins my first in a series of W.O.W's, or, (Marketing) Words of the Week. The way I see it, it helps to know the lingo so that you can think, and act, in the world of marketing.

So today's W.O.W. is one I've been wanting to talk about for a while, Relationship Marketing: "a practice that encompasses all marketing activities directed toward establishing, developing, and maintaining successful customer relationships." (from CRMToday)

In relationship marketing, the product or service is only part of the equation. Librarians should also seek to form lasting bonds with their patrons that will survive beyond single transactions. Besant and Sharp wrote an article about this very topic called, "Libraries Need Relationship Marketing". One of my favorite books on the topic is by Christian Gronroos called, Service Management and Marketing : A Customer Relationship Management Approach (2000).

Another library marketing blog!

Librarians Donna Feddern and Claire Lev Murata have created a blog chock full of marketing insights on their site called PromoteYourLibrary. It's exciting to see so many creative ideas out there! Stop on by and learn more about their blog.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Online program coming June 16th

Online Programming for All Libraries (OPAL) is offering a session called "One for the Ages: Marketing Libraries to Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation." Here's the program description as posted on their web page:

"Speakers include Barbara Mates, Head, Cleveland Public Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and Sharon Ruda, Director, Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service. Barbara Mates has won several ALA awards for her excellent work in serving the senior population and has written a number of books and articles on the topic. This event is scheduled to last two hours."

Times are 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Central, 8:00 a.m.Mountain, 7:00 a.m. Pacific, and 2:00 p.m. GMT Thursday June 16th.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

See this month's American Libraries magazine

The June/July 2005 issue of American Libraries magazine features articles entitled, "Publicity 101: How to Promote Your Library's Next Event" and "Looking Back, Moving Forward @ Your Library: The Campaign for America's Libraries gears up for another five years." Both are worth a read. The article about the Campaign for America's Libraries mentions some Campaign tools and resources, including an updated Save America's Libraries Campaign Toolkit (pdf) and customizable TV and radio PSA's by George Lopez. See the @ Your Library site for details and other info.

Sandwich with a side of knowledge

Thanks to David Fulton for writing in from the Liverpool Public Library in New York and sharing a fun and innovative marketing and outreach program the library's undertaking!

Here's the scoop, according to David:

"We've been doing a library outreach program at the local Panera Bread. I set up my laptop and, using their wireless network, answer reference questions, them our online databases and how to search the catalog. People can also sign up for library cards and enter a raffle for a totebag full of library stuff; mugs, pens, bookmarks, etc. We're trying to get the library out into the community and show them that we're technically hip. Everyone thinks it's a cool idea but you should see the face of a half-asleep coffee junkie when you ask them if they have a library card."

Way to go! If you'd like more information about this project, check out David's blog at

The wait is over has released parts two and three of its Principles of Marketing Tutorial. Part two is about Marketing Research and part three concerns Consumer Buying Behavior, which attempts to answer the age old question: Why do buyers do what they do?.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

How trendy!

A colleague of mine introduced me to, home of a newsletter that monitors the latest trends in marketing. According to the site:

"Our focus is on consumer insights and behavioural trends, and the hands-on marketing/business opportunities they present."

You can subscribe for free and preview the current issue online. The latest theme is Customer-made, that is marketing done in close cooperation with customers (sound familiar?). The newsletter is chock full of examples from all over the business world - good inspiration for librarians too! Next issue will feature updates on Planned Spontaneity, Sachet Marketing and Curated Consumption.