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!