Monday, October 31, 2005

Money can't buy you (marketing) happiness

The days when big bucks could buy marketing successes are quickly slipping away, or at least so says a couple of business consultants out of Minnesota. In their article, they argue that a good story well-told, creative promotions that spark conversation and value-added services are the "new" ways to reach people. They also note that people are seeking personal connections with companies, not just a series of nameless, faceless interactions. These trends are consistent with what's going on in the marketing world and are worth considering. It doesn't take piles of money, but today's marketing takes effectively relating to people on a personal level.

Friday, October 28, 2005

This week in marketing

My favorite marketing site is at it again! now offers Marketing Stories for the Week. One you may want to check out this week is This is Your Marketing Campaign on Steroids. (Available via RSS)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pitfall prevention

Stop on over to to peruse Nine Major Marketing Mistakes.  For my money, the top 3 hit close to home.  What are the top 3 mistakes, you ask?  They are (drum roll please):  me-too thinking, overly-complicating offerings, and underestimating the role of perception.  Judge for yourself!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Gone for a bit

I'm off to beautiful Monterey, CA tomorrow morning (very, very early) for the Internet Librarian conference. I'll be speaking on Tues. in a session called Marketing the Weblog. I hope I'll see some of you there. Please say hello! I'll continue blogging away when I'm back on Thursday.

Feeds, they are a changin'

It’s now fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing color, and my blog is making a move over to LISNews! I was very excited to be asked to contribute to LISNews’ brand spanking new marketing section (thanks, Blake!). It’s still a work in progress. I’ll be working on getting the design and title worked out in the near future (after I get back from Internet Librarian), but until then things will be in limbo for a bit. I’ve already put up a couple of posts you can check out. I will let you know how to update your feeds and all that stuff once things are settled (I don’t want to lose any of you!).

Now, here’s where I’d like help from all of you wonderful readers. This move is an opportunity to start from scratch in some ways and I’d like to get your ideas. Consider it an exercise in participatory marketing:

  • The name: Should I change the name of the blog? What should it be?
  • Any features or design elements you’d like to see?
  • Anything else?
Please leave a comment and let me know!

Playing catch-up

Time to catch up with a few library marketing news items I’ve been meaning to tell you about!:

  • The October issue of Marketing Treasures is out and a good read!

  • Get to know the lingo – A brief article in the Poughkeepsie Journal (great name!) outlines the deference between marketing, public relations and advertising.

  • Check out how the Montana State Library is reaching out to seniors through a publicity campaign called What’s Your Story.

  • Too much great stuff to mention in this week’s MarketingProfs newsletter.  (You do get their feed, right?)

  • A short article in Myrtle Beach Online lays out the basics of word-of-mouth advertising and “preaching to the choir.”

  • Stop by and take a peek at the September/October issue of Marketing Library Services.  The free article features derby-racing librarians!

Whew!  Marketing news waits for no one!  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Business 2.0 marketing stuff

Business 2.0 has selected a list of marketing sites that appear to be pretty useful. Take a gander!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Speaking of branding

On the topic of branding, the It's all good blog has a couple of, well, good (of course) recent posts (here and here).

What are you all about?

Interesting article featured on Monday about brand identity and how some companies like Coke have muddled their personality with too many confusing brand images.  The author argues that sticking to your positioning strategy for the long haul pays off.  I’d have to agree.  Consumers are overwhelmed with marketing messages, a problem that’s made worse by fuzzy brand identities.  If you can find a brand that captures what you’re about and be persistent with it, people will be more apt to instantly recognize you and your message.  I do think that libraries, like business, have their own personalities.  When I walk into different libraries, I usually find a distinct “feel.”  Portraying that sense through branding could go a long way toward helping our promotion efforts.  Doing so usually starts with finding out where patrons currently position us and then repositioning that image as necessary.

For those of you in my neck of the woods (Maryland, Virginia and D.C.), you may be interested in some related CAPCON courses on the subject taught by Chris Olson (author of Marketing Treasures).  Sessions include Branding 101 and Planning Library Promotion Campaigns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Try This Tuesday

I'm still thinking through this idea for "Try This Tuesday," but I thought I'd throw it out there for those of you who can pick it up and run with it. Why not try experimenting with unique ways to package your existing services to make them easier to shop around? One comment I get over and over from students is "Wow! I didn't know you could do (or have) all this stuff!" Part of this promotional problem has do to with the fact that we have so much "stuff" to offer, and much of it can be complicated to explain. A possible solution is breaking down our offerings into easily digestible chunks based on the needs we serve. In the academic setting, we do this to a small degree. Usually, we don't get much further than grouping our services by majors or rank (undergraduate, faculty, etc.). My impression is that public libraries also rely on demographics, mainly age, to group services (adults, children, teens, etc.). These groupings make sense and often relate to the nature of the information we provide. I'm certain, though, that there are other, possibly better, ways to bundle our service offerings, which don't necessarily entail developing new services. Maybe we have a service package for "Students-on-the-go," where we describe our chat and telephone reference services, a basic general database, instructions on how to get online from off-campus, and our citation management software. We could then shop that package around to off-campus students and other relevant groups. Like I said, it's an idea in progress, but I think it has potential. Give it a try! (That's what Tuesday's are for, after all).

[Update: I forgot to mention that the "digestible chunks" concept was described in the Creating Customer Evangelists webcast I wrote about in Sept., if you want more details.]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Live from Omaha

Here's a story about a library marketing campaign out of Omaha, Nebraska. The director wants to increase the number of people who hold library cards by emphasizing the convenience of using library resources from home and the ability to download materials like audiobooks. What was most neat to see was a local news reporter showing viewers how easy it is to use the library's website and materials (I haven't see that on my local news!). You can view the news clip from the article.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Who you gonna call?

If you're a college student and need information, odds are you're going to turn to a search engine to find what you need. No big surprise for us librarians, but it's a bit surprising (disturbing?) how much they trust what they find. According to a study by Yahoo! Search Marketing (via MarketingVOX), the trustworthiness of a web site is second only to info from family and friends, but not by much. Sixty-five percent said family and friends were the most trustworthy; 63% said that keyword searches were most reliable. (!) What does this mean? For advertisers, it's a good bet they'll continue to plunk more and more money into online ads. For librarians, it means that we have to try harder than ever to market ourselves and our services through our web presence so that students get the best info they can!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Investing in word-of-mouth's piece, "The Best Advertising Money Can Buy," relates some interesting points about word-of-mouth. (I have to admit, I'm a bit biased toward word-of-mouth because I think it makes perfect sense for libraries). In this article, the author discusses some techniques that hadn't occurred to me before. Namely, word-of-mouth is often generated by non-verbal offerings (like, the author notes, playgrounds at McDonald's). Letting your patrons discover your amazing service themselves, rather than telling them it's amazing, is important also.

Time to tinker

The New York Times featured an article this week about the many dramatic changes going on in the advertising world (see "Tinkering With the Recipes for the Media Mix"-registration required). What's going on "out there" is true for us in libraries too. Traditional media and techniques are not the sure things they used to be. Advertisers now need to be more savvy and selective in how they disseminate their information. It seems that target markets are getting smaller and smaller, a fact reflected in the success of highly targeted adverstising such as what Google offers. As librarians, we too should keep an eye on these trends and strive to find new, creative ways to identify and reach markets.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New hispanic marketing trade magazine debuts

Adweek unveiled Marketing y Medios, a new trade magazine for anyone interested in marketing to the Hispanic population.  If many of your patrons fit in this demographic, you may want to read this as part of your regular routine. Here's the scoop on the publication.

UPDATE: Looks like this actually came out in 2004! I read it as 2005. Sorry for the oversight! Still looks like a good resource, even if it's not-so-new. :)

Do you have what it takes?

Here's another brief but important article from yesterday's entitled, "What Makes a Successful Salesperson?". You'll appreciate this one if you've ever had to participate in a fair of any kind, or even worked at a service point. We continually defend/celebrate our libraries in all the work we do.

On a related note, the Alliance Library System and TumbleBooks, Inc. are offering a free online book called, Why Libraries Matter - A Story Long Overdue to all public and elementary school libraries. You can view the animated book online (it's pretty cute!).

Even if you don't think you're a salesperson, odds are you actually are one, at least some of the time, so be prepared to "sell" your library at a moment's notice!

Don't sit on that research!

A good article appeared yesterday from called, "How to Get the Most Out of Research". We librarians are good at collecting data, but this article outlines 7 practical steps for getting some mileage out of it.

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!

Know any library marketing movers and shakers?

Marylaine Block is looking for a few good librarian-marketers for Library Journal's Movers and Shakers issue. Please give her a hand and submit someone deserving. Here are the details from Marylaine:

"The editors of Library Journal need your help in identifying the emerging leaders in the library world. Our fifth annual Movers & Shakers supplement will profile 50-plus up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference. From librarians to vendors to others who work in the library field, Movers & Shakers 2006 will celebrate the new professionals who are moving our libraries ahead. Deadline for submissions is November 1, 2005. To nominate someone, please print out the form at and return it to Ann Kim, Library Journal, 360 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010 or fax to 646-746-6734. Movers & Shakers 2006 will be distributed with the March 15 issue of Library Journal.

HINT: Instead of using the pdf form, you can use the copy-and-paste version of it that Jessamyn West constructed and fill it out as an e-mail:
It's at

[Update]: An online form is now available:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday Try This

For this Tuesday's Try This, try reverse engineering marketing campaigns. I do this all of the time with television and print ads, but you could do the same with place, product and price decisions as well. Basically, I play "name that target market" whenever I see an interesting piece of marketing. I try to figure out why marketers chose a certain slogan/imagery/reference/venue, etc. and for whom. Next time you're cruising the grocery aisles, ask yourself questions like Why is that product on that shelf? Why did they choose that shape for that bottle? Why are they playing that music over the speakers? And who are they doing all this for anyway? You'd be amazed at just how carefully constructed your shopping experience is! Sometimes I'm impressed by companies' creativity, and other times I'm just confused! Marketing doesn't just happen, it's a result of hundreds of individual decisions made all along the way that attempt to shape our perceptions of reality. By deconstructing how these experiences are pieced together, we can learn a lot about which decisions work, and which fall short. Not only does this help to make us more sophisticated consumers, but better marketers as well. Reverse engineering takes almost no time to do, but can be very valuable.

By the way, I should be back 'n' bloggin' regularly by Wednesday. Thanks for your patience and for reading!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Revised ALA online Communication Handbook now available

From the press release:

"The online Handbook ( offers tips on how to develop a communications plan so that you can determine goals and objectives for your outreach efforts, identify key audiences, shape your messages, and develop tactics that will help you obtain coverage from media."


Grab bag o' marketing goodies

I'll still be posting a little irregularly for a while, but there's so much great marketing stuff out there that I couldn't resist trying to get a post in.

MarketingProfs provides a very good free newsletter (some of the articles are only for paid subscribers, but not all). Their latest edition did have some good info for librarians. Here are the [free] highlights:

Monday, October 03, 2005

A brief pause

Due to a family emergency, I won't be blogging for a little while. Thanks for understanding. I look forward to posting again soon.