Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Making conversation

I found this Harvard Business School book report today on a title called The New Marketing Conversation: Creating and Strengthening Relationships Between Buyers and Sellers, published in 2004. I read the excerpt of this book on Amazon and thought it was pretty relevant, especially in light of my recent post about Harry Potter and story telling.

The premise here is that marketers are going to have to strike up two-way conversations with consumers or risk being shut out or ignored by people tired of being inundated with meaningless advertising "noise." To do this, marketers must speak to people's needs directly and forge long-term relationships. As I've mentioned before, lots of companies are trying to do something like this through "democratic marketing," in which customers themselves participate in carrying out marketing campaigns (there was another good article about this in Business Week the other day).

Personally, I hate ads where marketers try too hard to be your "friend" when you know they couldn't care less about you as a person. However, I tend to look at GOOD marketing as an important service to people. We all have needs, we all want to fill them, and we want to do so with quality, affordable goods and services. To facilitate this, marketers (including librarians) need to know their customers, plain and simple. So, in effect, good marketing means good relationships with people, which is why a marketing mentality is so useful for librarians in carrying out their work.

Without having read the book yet (it's on my list), I think librarians are in a great position to strike "marketing conversations" because we don't have a profit motive and we genuinely DO care about people, which gives us a lot of credibility from the get-go. When we combine our sincerity with services that solve patrons' problems, we have a powerful marketing message to talk about!

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