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!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Undercover market research

I was immensely intrigued by one professor’s attempt to get inside the heads of her target market—undergraduates.  An Arizona State University professor went “undercover” for a year by living and taking classes with students.  She did everything from eating in the cafeteria to balancing a full course load to taking residence in the dorms!  The results of her research prompted her to make changes to her classes by linking her assignments to current issues and events while only assigning readings with a specific purpose.

I’ve also found it beneficial to take classes with undergrads, since they’re the group I’m most focused on day-to-day.  I’m frequently reminded of the balancing act they have to perform between school, work and family, which helps me keep perspective.

The same strategy can help you too!  Get out of the library on occasion and try look at the world through your patrons’ eyes.  It’s all too easy to start thinking of the library as the Center of the Universe and loose sight of how our services figure in the flow of patrons’ lives.  You could think of the library as a puzzle piece in the greater jigsaw of everyday life.  How do we know what shape we should take if we don’t know the shape of the other pieces?  Accomplishing that perfect fit relies on knowing how patrons view libraries from their perspectives, not ours.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Full of surprises

We all know that in services, sometimes doing "just enough" just isn't enough. A post from Duct Tape Marketing offers a way to add value to your service transactions: surprises! Are there ways that you can randomly or purposefully add little unexpected extras for your patrons? It could be a small gift or some additional effort that turns content patrons into ecstatic patrons.

Coca-Cola and libraries have something in common?

Stop on over to It's All Good from OCLC staff for some Coke/library marketing inspirations. I love seeing library-types getting creative with ideas from the business world. Way to go OCLC-ers!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Try This Tuesday (on Wednesday)

Wow! You know the hectic pace of the Fall Semester is getting the better of you when you don't know your days of the week anymore! Well, have no fear. Try This Tuesdays will work just as well on Wednesdays too! ;)

So, here's something I will be doing in the near future that may be worthwhile for some of you as well: Gather up all of your recent library publictions (flyers, handouts, brochures, posters, etc.) and lay them out on your desk. Take a look at them collectively. Are there themes that emerge? What do those materials say about your library? Do you find that they send inconsistent messages? If so, you may want to try to clean them up a bit. Pick out fonts, symbols, colors or phrases that best portray the "feel" you want to convey to patrons. Then, try to make sure your future promotional materials put forth a recognizable brand image with those elements in mind. You'll probably want to alter that image a bit depending on your target patrons, but try keeping the overall essence of your image the same so that patrons can pick you out of a crowd. Applying an integrated marketing communications approach may be just the thing to increase your visibility while staying in control of your image.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Make smart services

The latest installment of's Principles of Marketing is now here. The Product Decisions tutorial teaches you how to design smart services for your customers/patrons. While the tutorial seems to focus on tangible products, there are important lessons for services here too. As I see it, here are the biggies:

  • Categories of Consumer Products - Library services fall under one of a number of product categories, the exact one depends on how the patron perceives the service. I'm guessing that for most patrons, library services tend to be unsought. In other words, people don't seek us out until they need to (kind of like insurance). This means that our promotion should aim to pursuade, educate and remind people of what we do. Getting to people at their time and place of need is also important.

  • Components of a product - The basic lesson to learn here is that patrons desire a whole package of benefits from our services. They seek the service itself plus extras like friendly assistance, and they also want some kind of psychological benefit. (For our students here, it may be a sense of relief that they've found enough articles for their papers, for example). Therefore, if we can get a better sense of what patrons really want when they approach us, we can be better prepared to fulfill their needs on these multiple levels.

Often, well-designed services can sell themselves, so investing more in service design from the get-go can save you time and energy on the promotional end later. Plus, no one is fooled by a bad product. Good products will keep patrons coming back for more.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Your blog needs marketing too!

I've had blog marketing on the brain lately since I'm speaking on the topic at the BlogU and Internet Librarian conferences. Well, my favorite marketing guru, Seth Godin, has some terrific thoughts on the idea too, and has put them in an e-book that's available free online called Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web (45p., pdf). A blog can be an important asset for you and your library, but no one will read it if you don't market it. So, when you're spinning your marketing wheels, don't forget that your blog needs marketing too!

September blog project

I'm not sure how I missed this one, but I wish I had noticed it earlier! The September Project, funded by funded by the University of Washington's Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, draws together libraries from around the world to engage in meaningful programming on issues pertaining to 9/11. From the site: "The September Project is a grassroots effort to encourage public events on freedom, democracy, and citizenship in libraries on or around September 11. Libraries around the world are organizing public and campus events, such as: displays about human rights and historical documents; talks and performances about freedom and cultural difference; and film screenings about issues that matter." Well, better late than never! (This will teach me to read through the Chronicle a little more carefully next time!)

The Project hosts a blog and provides promotional resources. Even though it's now after 9/11, you can still plan related events throughout September. I enjoy reading through the blog and events to check out all of the creative programming librarians put together. The Project and the blog in particular are fitting tributes and touching displays of the value of libraries in our democracy and in our communities.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Another acronym to love: OMP

Librarians can't have enough acronyms, and OMP is one more to learn to love. OMP stands for Open Marketing Project. OMP is similar to topics we've discussed before like open source marketing, participatory marketing, and so on. I bring it up again because I'm very excited about the idea and believe that librarians could have lots of success by taking OMP and running with it.

An article from outlines what OMP is and how it can be applied. They give examples of the possibilites such as "Companies involved in event marketing could seek input from an OMP group who could develop an event plan and even execute certain tasks," and "An online content provider could institute an OMP in order to solicit ideas and designs for adding new content categories."

In my work, I'm attempting to apply OMP in a couple of different ways. First, we are establishing and undergraduate advisory committee in which members will be expected to plan and carry out one program every semester. Also, a professor in the School of Business has graciously allowed me to tailor the term project for her undergraduate service marketing class so that students have to devise a new library reference service for undergrads! How great is that?! OMP has so much appeal to me because it helps me to stay in touch with our patrons and their points of view while giving them a stake in the success of the library. I'll let you know the results of our experiments as they evolve.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Whatta cliche!

An entertaining discussion has shaped up on BBC News online about the stereotypes marketers are overly-fond of using. I have a feeling that stereotypes serve as mental shortcuts for marketers who haven't taken the time to find out about their target market, and instead just rely on old standbys.

Here a brief sample of the themes people mentioned from The Modern Rules of Advertising?:

"Children will not eat fruit or vegetables. Ever."
"Both men and women find driving deeply pleasurable, never boring or stressful."
"Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse."

And don't even get me started on common librarian stereotypes!

If you're up for it, take a look at the response from a creative director who defends advertising, making some interesting points along the way. What, for example, does the advertiser say for himself? He talks about "visual economy," stating that advertisers only have seconds to get their messages across, so putting out images that don't require too much interpretation is key. Also, he encourages people to not play the victim, but rather vote with their dollars if they don't like certain ads (something I agree with completely).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Well, are you satisfied?

A recent post from Church of the Customer got me thinking about some of the things I'm studying about buyer behavior. The post suggests that companies should aim to get referrals, rather than "complete customer satisfaction." Turns out, satisfaction is quite a sticky widget. One of the best ways to make sure that you're pleasing your customers is to make sure you are directing the right products/services to the right target market. If patrons' experiences fall short of their expectations (or even if they just meet expectations), you could risk losing them. For these reasons, it helps to know what exactly it is that patrons expect from you so that you can be prepared to "wow" them by going above and beyond. (no surprise) has some great articles for helping you to do this (free registration required for all):

Top 6 Tips to Understanding Customer Evangelism
This article offers 6 pointers for helping you to understand what your customers/patrons want to help you go beyond just satisfying them.

What Do You Expect?
The author describes how people come to form expectations (nice if you want an intro to the psychology of this aspect of behavior).

Experiencing Value
Here you can learn which set of values your service appeals to in order to achieve customer/patron loyalty.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mindshare marketing

c/o ResourceShelf:

An interesting summary of how the National Library Board of Singapore repositioned its libraries and librarians as a "dynamic, forwardlooking, innovative, fun and trendy." Neat to see how they segmented their patrons according to values ("Career-Minded," "Active Info Seeker," etc.) and associated those segments with "Reading Lifestyles." Nice example of repositioning.

Here's the article and abstract:

Title: Gaining Mindshare and Timeshare: Marketing Public Libraries (pdf)

Abstract: "This presentation is an examination of how the National Library Board had successfully gained market share by redefining its market space and remaking the image of libraries and librarians. Libraries were repositioned to gain mindshare and timeshare among Singaporeans, competing against the cinema, TV, video games and other leisure activities, becoming the Third Place after home and work for many."

Try This Tuesday

For this week's suggested Try This, I'm recommending something I just recently started doing. Namely, try keeping a document, notes, or whatever with comments you hear informally from patrons. For instance, I jotted down a comment from a Social Work grad student who told me, "I feel stupid asking you for help because I should know how to do this stuff!", and one from a returning student in an undergrad program who said to me after an instruction session, "Nobody wants to come to these things, but I think it should be a requirement for all freshman. It was very enlightening for me."

I decided to write these insights down because they serve as a reminder to me of what problems students face, and can help me understand how best to appeal to patrons through understanding their points of view. It's very easy to forget what libraries are like from the patron's perspective, but understanding that perspective is key to good marketing.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What types are typical in your library?

An interesting case in point about targeting market segments comes from Best Buy. A article (c/o CMO) outlines how the company profiles its most profitable customers and groups them into 3 categories that are assigned code names: Buzz (the technophile), Barry (the rich professional), and Jill (the soccer mom...why Jill?). Anyway, these customers spell big bucks for Best Buy so they're dedicating a number of their stores to one or more of the types. Jill's, for example, can expect to be escorted into their Best Buy with pink umbrellas on rainy days, listen to their favorite Mariah Carey album on the loudspeakers, and find kid-friendly displays and games. The level of customization here is amazing.

Libraries have no shortage of types either. We have the serious-researcher-types, the must-have-the-lastest-bestseller-types, the I-come-to-the-library-for-socializing-types, and on and on. Wouldn't it be an interesting experiment to uncover some of our frequent user "types" and think through the service implications each brings? Maybe our serious-researcher-types would appreciate rich wood furniture, attractive reading lights, and frequent updates on the latest news in his/her field. Our latest-best-seller-types could be invited in by overstuffed chairs, a coffee bar, book clubs, and the inside scoop on forthcoming titles. To some extent, we do similar studies already, but it might be fun to take a focused look at patrons in terms of "types" and think through our marketing strategies in this light.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

eLearning from ACRL

For those of you academic librarians in the house, there are two upcoming training opportunities with marketing implications that you may want to pursue:

Designing Web Sites for Academic Libraries
Monday, September 19, 2005 | 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern
"Learn about Web standards and essential usability and accesibility concepts for Web design."

Effective Collaboration for Campus-wide Information Literacy: The Blended Librarian’s Perspective on How To Make It Work
September 8-22, 2005 | Live Webcasts: Thursdays, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT
"There is an extensive body of literature on information literacy and the importance of librarian-faculty collaboration in achieving it. The workshop will bring a new perspective on information literacy and collaboration through a conceptual framework the workshop leaders refer to as "Blended Librarianship."

Libraries to the rescue of entrepreneurs

An article from via MSNBC outlines the "free" help available from colleges and universities to those starting up new businesses, including help from libraries. The relationship here is mutually beneficial: entrepreneurs reap the rewards of fresh, innovative ideas bubbling up at universities, while students gain valuable practical experience in working with business owners. Librarians can support these partnerships by extending circulation privileges, research services and other accommodations to entrepreneurs while they are working with the schools of business. Identifying these kinds of marketing opportunities may help librarians make inroads in their local business communities, which could result in dividends down the road.