Thursday, January 27, 2005

Talk about great segmentation!

I have always been impressed with the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenberg County (PLCMC) for their innovative outreach and marketing strategies. Take a look at their web site for teens. They've done a terrific job of identifying a segment of their patron base and creating a site that "speaks" to this audience. (In the Find a Job section, the subtitle reads, "Even Donald Trump had to start somewhere..."). They created each section with a specific teen need in mind (finding a job, doing homework, connecting with friends) and listed appropriate resources to meet those needs.

Creating services that satisfy real needs is the other part of the marketing equation. At the PLCMC, they are creating a teen advisory council, they have a teen book discussion board, and they offer SAT prep courses, to name a few. One of my favorite services is their Brarydog homework help. Brarydog is a sort of customizable library portal designed to help students complete their assignments. I particularly like that in the description the authors compare library resources to a shopping mall (shopping malls have general stores and specialty stores, like a library has general resources as well as specialized).

Backing up great marketing with even greater service is something to strive for! Also, thinking about the way in which we present ourselves to different segments of our patron base is crucial. Way to go PLCMC!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Using students to market information literacy

According to a 1998 article in Marketing Library Services, librarians at the University of Louisville in Kentucky enlisted the assistance of students in a Communications course to help them market their Information Literacy Program (ILP) to fellow students. Students designed a logo and brochure to advertise this key library program. Librarians described the brochure as "bright and humorous," which suited the purpose of reaching out to their student audience. The brochure's theme was the sense of information overload students feel when they think about the library and doing research.

The idea behind this initiative is that students would know best how to reach other students as they share similar perpectives. Therefore, they are well-suited to design an effective message to "sell" the library's product (the ILP).

Interestingly, in their article, the U of L librarians mentioned the importance of segmenting their intended audience to create an effective marketing campaign, but they did not describe how students did this. This is a tricky, but vital, piece of any marketing campaign. Segmentation is something I often think about in terms of undergraduates. Undergrads could be grouped in any number of ways including by years in school, academic standing, major, on or off-campus, primary language, in or out of state/country, student organization, etc. Possible target groups are almost never-ending. What the challenge is, in my mind, is figuring out how much segmentation is too much and which groupings are the most meaningful. Any thoughts?

Friday, January 14, 2005

READ posters

Viterbo University librarians in La Crosse, WI noted an interesting, and inexpensive way to advertise their library. For about $40, librarians created nine READ posters featuring featuring various campus celebrities According to Kim Olson-Kopp, Outreach and Technology Librarian on ACADEMICPR listserv , the posters receive a lot of attention and interest from faculty, staff and students. They are posted in the library hallway and they are present at library events.

I love the intiative here, and the way this academic library has found
an economical and fun way to advertise. Most of all, I like that the library used "real people" to put a face on the resources available. I'd imagine that the posters would grab attention because they feature professors and staff who are recognizable on campus.

I wonder if, in an academic setting, it might be useful to come up with a different catch phrase than "READ." Maybe something like "RESEARCH" would be better suited to this environment, although, I admit it's not as catchy.