Wednesday, October 12, 2005

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  The stamps we used were: discard, withdrawn, overdue, history stacks, and Kornhauser Library.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!

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