Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What's in a service?

Two helpful articles appeared today from MarketingProfs that are specifically aimed at service providers:

  • Four Factors That Distinguish Services Marketing - All librarians should know the fundamental characteristics of services marketing as compared with product marketing. There are important differences and this article lists each and gives some good advice about how to manage them.
  • Marketing Challenge: How to Sell Services - Readers sent in their replies to help one marketer who had trouble adjusting from product sales to service sales. The advice they give is sound for librarians too!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Remember: memories make great marketing

A North Carolina library is celebrating 100 years of serving its community. As part of the celebration, patrons gathered to recount their memories of the library and what it means to them, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. These walks down memory lane were videotaped and "Library Memories" cards were placed throughout the branches so others can share their experiences.

Patrons' stories are among the most compelling marketing messages you can share. Honest, heartfelt experiences from one patron to another are much more effective than library-sponsored promotions alone. You may want to consider making space on your Web page or newsletters for patrons' quotes, comments, and stories about what the library means to make your marketing more compelling.

Avoid a marketing boo-boo - Use a brand-aid!

An ask-the-experts feature in today's USA Today called, Time for Some Brand Aid, has great insights for those of you seeking to develop a strong brand identity (and who isn't'?). The author, lawyer Steven Strauss, gives 4 very good steps toward creating a recognizable brand:

The first step is to understand how you are currently perceived. For this, be sure to check out OCLC's perception survey results.

The second step is to define your unique selling proposition. Libraries offer so much that can't be duplicated in the same way elsewhere, but my sense is that we're not doing the best job of explaining how we're different. It's nowhere near good enough to just try to imitate Google or anyone else as a marketing strategy, but we need to hone in on what makes a library a library and make those our selling points.

Step three, according to Strauss is to figure out what our clients' expectations are. I recently had an interesting conversation with a marketing professor here at VCU about the pros and cons of ServQual (from which the widely-used library survey LibQual is derived). One of the weaknesses of ServQual that concerns marketers is that while it does a good job of highlighting the gaps between expectations and actual service experience, it doesn't weight those expectations so it's difficult to know how important a particular expectation is. Furthermore, it doesn't account for the fact that some expectations are not realistic to begin with. So, I would add that in addition to identifying and meeting patrons' expectations, we may also need to readjust some of those expectations that are unrealistic.

Step four is about making our brand personal so that patrons can identify with actual human beings rather than a large organization. (Right on!)

Strauss makes some other good points that are definitely worth saving and using, so give it a read.

Friday, January 27, 2006


The advice "Keep It Simple Stupid" has served many a marketer well throughout the ages. After reading this article in Fast Company (via Micro Persuasion) back in November about how Google and other tech companies have been thriving by presenting the complex as seriously simple, I decided to give some thought as to whether or not we librarians are really the "simplifiers" of the information world and if this is one of our best strategic marketing advantages. Now that I've seen this concept tossed around on the ACRLog (see Sense and Simplicity via this post about rebranding), I thought it was time I took a stab at my own post about the subject.

Since this cropped up on my radar in November, I've been keeping an eye out for how simplicity manifests itself in the marketplace. On my way home during the holidays, the airport terminal featured an ad from Panasonic (I think) that said something about simplicity with a picture of a baby and the product (ok, I was rushing to catch a flight and I haven't been able to find that ad anywhere since, so if anyone has seen it, please let me know!). More recently, you've probably all seen Citibank's new Citi simplicity Card, which offers, well, simplicity, in credit services. Heck, there's even a book out there called Simplicity Marketing. Needless to say, the idea of simplicity is not new to marketing and it's becoming increasingly compelling as our lives in general get more complex.

But is simplicity what librarianship is all about? Is our job to present the complex world of information searching as something so simple a baby can do it? And, is doing so ultimately a good marketing strategy? I don't think so. In fact, marketing in this way could harm the profession. After all, if we strive to make our services appear Google-esque, we could be obfuscating a big chunk of our competitive advantage - our collections' depth and sophisticated organization. The complexities of our databases and services are what give users control over their searching. I'm not saying that we need to make our offerings overly-complicated and intimidating, but that we need to let patrons' needs guide what shape our marketing takes and they don't all want simple. (It's true!)

When people embark on the hunt for information, there are a lot of factors that dictate how much info they want and how detailed they want it to be (motivation, experience level, etc.). Novices, most of the time, will want simple. And not only that, but because they lack experience and everything that comes with it (vocabularies, mental models and so on), they probably can't process anything too detailed. For example, I'll probably be looking for a new car in the near future, and when I go out looking for information about cars, I won't even look at engine specs and all of that, because, to me, it's incomprehensible. On the other hand, most experts dig the details. They don't shy away from complexities, they dive right into them. And, because they've been around the block, they can actually understand what they're taking in. I think of hardcore Star Trek fans here. You know, the ones who can speak Klingon, discuss the features of hundreds of different phasers and recite episode scripts by heart. No amount of minutiae is too minute for those folks.

Does all of this translate to library services marketing? I think it does. When I first began teaching library instruction to new Honors students, I approached them like most other students new to the library. I didn't want to overwhelm them so I kept things very simple. InfoTrac-esque, if you will. Well, I soon learned that simple doesn't cut it with these kids. They were bored to tears and had a been there, done that attitude. I could sense that they were not impressed with what the library had to offer because they'd seen and mastered it all before and we weren't giving them anything new to sink their teeth into. So, in future classes, I started throwing out all the bells and whistles. I've heard audible "oohs" and "ahhs" when I've shown databases like PubMed where they could use MeSH headings, combine sets and explode terms. They ate it up! They were expert enough to be able to build on the basics and craved more depth from their instruction. For this group, the fact the librarians understood and could help others master the complex was a huge selling point for library services. I learned then and there to never assume that users want simple. They want to achieve a sense of satisfaction and confidence that they can accomplish what they need to do at the level they want to do it. I also suspect that my Honors kids got a bit of an ego boost by getting an inside scoop on how the databases "really" work. (Buyer behavior lit is full of great articles on this kind of thing, by the way).

Complex is not bad when it gets you where you need to go. In fact, the complicated aspects of information searching can actually be attractive to those seeking challenge and greater control. Simple, on the other hand, can be tragically inadequate when we have complex requirements and high expectations. In order to market our services effectively, our approach should be sufficiently layered to accommodate every task from the simple to the complex and should showcase our expertise in both arenas. It's that simple.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

WOMBAT presentations now online for you WOMers

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association recently completed its WOMBAT (Word of Mouth Basic Training) conference and you can now get the presentations free online without registration! [By the way, isn't it nice to know that librarians aren't the only ones who are acronym-happy?!]

I've breezed through some of these and I can tell you that there is plenty to be found here that is relevant to library-types. There are heaps of how-to's and a cache of case studies. Here are just some topics to whet your appetite for WOM goodness:

  • How to Use Online Feedback To Improve Your Marketing
  • How to Motivate Fans, Advocates, and Evangelists
  • How to Create Great Blogs That Get People Talking
  • Word of Mouth 101: Core Strategies and Tactics
  • Measurement 1: Measuring the Impact of Word of Mouth
  • How To Use Amazing Customer Experience and Product Design To Get People Talking
You can get to all the presentations by following the WOMBAT post and using the links to Day One and Day Two agendas. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rebranding an industry - OCLC symposium scoops

The Shifted Librarian blogged about the OCLC Symposium: Extreme Makeover - Rebranding an Industry with highlights from the talks. Very interesting and nice to see librarians taking some cues from the larger marketplace. Also, check out other bloggers' takes on the event. From what I gather, OCLC will also be making the symposium available via podcast for those of us who couldn't be there.

Free market research reports, anyone?

KnowThis.com has free, I repeat free, market research reports and other research material listed on its site. Beginning this month, KnowThis features a new report each week. This week's featured report is A Comparison of Wal-Mart and Target Shoppers. While this one may be off the mark for librarian purposes (albeit very interesting!), it may be a good idea to check in on this listing when it's updated to see if anything relevant to us is featured. As always, you can peruse KnowThis' Market Research, Internet Marketing Research page for useful resources.

Update: The PDF for the Wal-Mart/Target report is linked from the Focus on Market Research Reports page. They just updated the weekly report. Now, there is one up about Hispanic retail shoppers. Very neat!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Going the way of the Dodo

The hubbub in the marketing world is all about the demise of traditional advertising and the rise of more targeted alternatives. Take a gander at the NYT account of the recent Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) conference (WOMMA's WOMBAT blog has some conference scoops too) and this ClickZ article on below-the-line marketing for just some examples of what people are talking about. Librarians are natural connectors and could (and do) excel at using some of these less-traditional methods.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hitting a moving target

The New York Times featured an article yesterday that everyone should read called, A Generation Serves Notice: It's a Moving Target. It's about young 20-somethings who are not only adept at using technology, but who also manage to skillfully elude traditional marketers. The article also describes how technology is changing the social culture of young people and what impact that has on marketing. Very interesting and important since we librarians are serving and will continue to serve patrons with this kind of intimate relationship with technology and all of the social and psychological implications it entails.

Be your own trendspotter

Trendwatching.com's recent newsletter gives you the tips and digital tools you need to spot trends amongst consumers (patrons). The object of the game is not to spy, but to become more keenly aware of patron's perspectives. By building your own Virtual Anthropology shortlist, you can keep your eyes open to what's going on "out there" (you know, outside of library?). Give it a try!

Friday, January 20, 2006

People judge web sites quickly (as if we didn't know)

I'm sure most of us in the library biz know that most people make very quick decisions in judging Web sites, but did you know how quick? Turns out, they spend one-twentieth of a second (according to CNN report of a recent study)! One twentieth! That, says CNN, is less than half the time it takes to blink. The marketing implications of this finding are substantial: How can you prove to patrons in one-twentieth of a second that your web site is a good place to be and worth at least a couple of blinks? Unfortunately, the study didn't come to definitive conclusions on what makes a good site, but clearly aesthetics an important draw for Web surfers.

Where ISN'T Google?

Google is not only a force to be reckoned with in the library world, but it is making huge strides into the advertising world too. I bring this up as an FYI for those of you who are more broadly interested in Google and/or marketing, but the buzz is that Google is getting in the game of not only selling web ads, but now magazine and newspaper, radio and possibly TV ad space (see BusinessWeek for the full scoop). Because Google is such a prominent player in our information landscape, it might be worth keeping an eye on its ventures since they may become important developments for our marketing efforts and for our patrons.

[Update: Here's another example of how Google is making waves in advertising.]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Pushin' and pullin' - getting services to patrons

In the never-ending challenge of getting products and services to the end consumer (in our case, getting services to patrons), marketers rely on two distribution strategies: push and pull.

Pushing products involves persuading other people in your distribution channel to make a product available (no end-customers involved). Example: Widgets Inc. marketers give Retail Store Inc. a portion of profits if it stocks its shelf full of New Widget Thing.

A pull strategy means appealing to consumers directly so that their demand persuades retail outlets carry a product. Example: Customers get coupon for a tube of Revolutionary New Toothpaste and go to Grocery Store Inc. to find it (they'd be pretty disappointed if it weren't there!).

You get the idea. So why should we care?

It may be important to think about whether or not to use a push or pull strategy depending on who you're trying to reach. As an example from here in a university setting, my target group is undergraduates and I spend a lot of time reaching out to them directly. I go to fairs, attend events, and design new services for them. But, after a while of doing this, I started thinking, why do students use our services? Answer: To complete homework assignments (yes, for other things too but this is a biggie). Who gives them these assignments? Answer: Their instructors. Therefore, to get more students to use our services, I should appeal to instructors (middlemen) to create more library research assignments (a push strategy). Make sense? It does to me, which is why I hope to focus more of my efforts on targeting faculty who work closely with undergraduates, but you can also see how this might work in other contexts. In public libraries, the most obvious example I can think of would be appealing to parents to reach their children.

Sometimes, the best way to get to your target patrons is through their middlemen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Don't focus on the customer/patron (?!)

A fascinating article ("Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure" from the Harvard Business Review) was discussed in Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge recently and it is definitely worth a read! The author, Professor Theodore Levitt, [CORRECTION: The authors of the excerpted HBR article are Professor Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall. The authors were inspired by Prof. Levitt's statement, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!", which prompted them to write this article. My apologies for any confusion.] challenges the intuitive assumption marketers make that they should focus on market segments and the consumers that they consist of when devising or revising new products and services. As user-centered librarians, this seems like common sense. Of course, we want to know all about what makes our patrons tick so that we can serve them better. Well, Levitt the authors tell us to refocus our attention from consumers themselves to the jobs they want to get done. In other words, according to Levitt's their logic, we shouldn't be designing services to fit the 18-24 year-old, male, commuter student demographic, but rather to fit what people who walk through our doors and use our stuff want to get done at the library.

The article cites an example of one researcher who studied what "jobs" customers wanted to get done by purchasing milk shakes. He came up with two results: 1. Customers wanted to keep themselves entertained and full on their drive into work and 2. Customers wanted to appease their children. Knowing this, the restaurant could make product changes to accommodate the jobs milk shakes are "hired" to do. For job #1, the restaurant can make getting shakes on the go easier and make the shakes more entertaining by thickening them and adding fruit (if this makes no sense, read the article for a full explanation). Furthermore, making these changes requires that marketers understand the social, functional and emotional dimensions the job is meant to fulfill.

This idea has important implications as we think about marketing libraries. Of course, we do some of this already without necessarily thinking about patrons' needs in terms of "jobs," but we do tend to go along with the traditional marketing techniques of dividing up our target populations into segments instead of jobs sought. If you go along with this idea (and I think it has merit), then it would entail examining what patrons are trying to accomplish by using the library instead of who our patrons are. Hmm...food for thought! Also, Levitt the authors note, that this approach results in broader markets than those defined by product-categories. Just think of all the jobs patrons seek at the library that we can reasonably imagine (socializing, quiet reflection, doing homework, educating children, learning new skills...) and you can see the large number of service implications this approach entails. I'll have to pull the full article and give this some more thought, but if you have ideas to share, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To blog or not to blog, that is the marketing question

With rise of all kinds of social technologies, companies (and libraries, I might add) are trying to figure out how best to take advantage of the opportunities they present. Articles on the topic pour in everyday. Here's some of the more interesting ones I've collected lately:

The Boston Globe online summarizes steps companies like Disney have taken into the wild world of podcasting in its article "Companies Catch on to Podcasts' Marketing Power." In the piece, experts suggest that to be effective, podcasts can't just be press releases. Rather, they need to demonstrate an understanding of the audience and teach them something of value (and it doesn't hurt to be entertaining!).

In destinationCRM.com's article, "A New Marketing Medium," the author describes how companies are using blogs to open up the lines of communication between them and their customers. As the author states, "Companies can use blogging to indirectly fine-tune their marketing messages through social interactions. With other customer communication avenues, companies may be using the wrong language or addressing the wrong audience, but blogging enables faster feedback and a more strategic understanding of where the market is heading." Most interestingly, one expert gives 4 steps for achieving success with blogs. The first 3 are what you might expect (find influencers, listen to people, engage people in dialogue), but the 4th is especially exciting: give people authority - a scary prospect for many companies and libraries too! So, who's doing it right? One expert claims General Motors does because the company listens to customer concerns and explains in detail, from the company's perspective, why problems exist, what's being done to solve them, as well as revealing some inside scoops.

So, is blogging for everybody? Not necessarily, some say. Bad candidates are those who are very limited in what they can say, those who want complete control, and those who must wait a long time for approval to post. The MarketingProfs article does a good job of pointing out many of the considerations potential bloggers should make.

For you librarians who have already taken the blogging plunge, check out this MarketingProfs article about how to keep your content fresh!

Doing a good job of using these kinds of social software can generate new relationships with our patrons and teach us a lot about problems people have and how we can address them!

[Update: There are many libraries out there that are blogging/podcasting. For examples of blogs, check out this list from Blogwithoutalibrary.net. Ohio University and Western Kentucky University Libraries are but a couple of libraries that have ventured into podcasting in the form of library tours!]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kiddin' around

The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) is putting together a Kids! @ your library campaign that will provide promotional items, sample press materials and other resources to get all school-age children into the library. The campaign is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2006, but a Campaign Fact Sheet (PDF) is available now and a KIDS! @ your library program is set for the 2006 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans on Sunday, June 25, 2006, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Check out ALSC's site for more details.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More on Marketing 2.0

As you may recall, I recently blogged about Advertising 2.0 and social networks. Since then, I've stumbled upon an plethora of interesting examples and discussions on this issue that I thought I'd pass along.

WOMBAT has a couple interesting "how-to" articles about word-of-mouth and social technologies. Brand-building Through Converts and Fanatics gives 5 tips for creating fans around brands [libraries], including how to create communities and interaction. The other article, Listening to the Blogosphere, provides another set of 5 tips that allow marketers [librarians] to get a feel for what people think about their products/services. Reference librarian Amanda Etches-Johnson of blogwithoutalibrary.net is exploring this market research opportunity via Google's Blog Search as she describes in her post. Basically, she keeps an ear to the ground by setting up a search for instances of the word "library" in the titles of posts and retrieves them through an RSS feed. Neat!

Aaron Schmidt of walkingpaper.org has taken Marketing 2.0 a step further by attempting to integrate his library into the online social community MySpace. In his post, he describes his library's foray into MySpace and the pros and cons of doing so. VERY interesting stuff! I hope he'll keep us updated on how this initiative goes.

If you still need proof as to whether Marketing 2.0 matters, academic-types may be interested to know that organizers for the HigherEd BlogCon slated for April 2006 are seeking programs on Marketing and related subjects that concern social networks, consumer-generated media and evaluation of blogging and podcasting efforts among other topics 2.0-ish. (Here's the call for presenters, if you'd like to share your marketing know-how).

While I'm not a huge fan of the term "Marketing 2.0," I am a fan of the possibilities these techniques present so I'll be sure to keep an eye on these trends.

Feed me, Seymore!

For those of you who may be wondering, there have been some issues with one of my main feeds. Namely, it doesn't work. I have no idea why Bloglines is having trouble with it, but you may want to subscribe to this feed to get around the problem. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Beyond puppies and babies

An opinion piece in BrandWeek yesterday asks (and answers) the question, "Is advertising too emotional?" The author argues that yes, advertising has gone overboard with inducing feeling but not backing those feelings up with product information that results in sales. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for an ad with puppies (I know I'm not alone here), but I rarely remember what those kinds of ads were for to begin with. One of the reasons advertisers are so keen on emotion is that they hope to use positive emotion as a sort of mental shortcut for consumers. So that when consumers see an adorable puppy, they will think: puppies=good and cute=warm fuzzy feelings=warm fuzzy feelings about product=I will buy the product. This is an oversimplification of a piece of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (shown here) that says there are basically two ways people decide on whether or not they're going to buy a product: 1. Through careful thought and analysis of product benefits and features or 2. By relying on a shortcut (a heuristic) like puppies. When consumers are either unable or unwilling to think too much about whether or not they'll buy a product (when's the last time you carefully weighed the pros and cons of bar soap?), option #2 may be a good bet. But, as the BrandWeek article points out, it may be possible to go too far.

The so-what part: When creating library ads, you may want to think about how motivated or able your patrons are to evaluate your service. Detailed service descriptions may be more palatable to the experienced researcher than the novice. Also, you may want to read over the BrandWeek article, which poses some good points about how to both communicate the value of your service while not boring people to tears.

Monday, January 09, 2006

IFLA deadline fast approaching!

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions seeks applications for its 2006 International Marketing Award. The Award aims to:

  • Reward the best library marketing project worldwide each year
  • Encourage marketing in libraries
  • Give libraries the opportunity to share marketing experiences
The deadline, January 15, 2006 is coming up soon! Details can be found on IFLA's site. Good luck!

Friday, January 06, 2006

The year's best marketing sites

KnowThis.com has unveiled its 2006 picks for best marketing Web sites (KnowThis.com is still at the top of the heap for me). Some sites were on the list last year, but there are lots of newbies and sites that have gotten a heck of a lot better since the previous year. Read 'em, enjoy 'em, and bookmark 'em!

Advertising has a 2.0 version too!

You have probably all heard about the Web 2.0, but advertising has a newer, better version too! Marketers are keenly aware that traditional approaches (TV and radio spots, mailings, banner ads and the like) are not cutting the mustard anymore. Instead, marketers are looking to enter into the vast social networks, on and offline, that are bubbling up thanks to people's almost constant connectivity. What's the Advertising 2.0 approach then? Word-of-mouth. Take a look at this article from ClickZ. It's a brief but very good take on what exactly word-of-mouth means and how it is scalable, remixable, and encourages participation. The author, Dave Evans, asserts that the time has come to take advantage of social networks to get honest marketing messages through the clutter by working with consumers. I agree that librarians should also make their presence known in these social circles to remain relevant. I'd also recommend you read the Evans' previous article on the consideration-cycle marketing, which focuses on post-purchase word-of-mouth and how customers generate their own marketing messages. As Evans states, "Ultimately, it's about reaching consumers through an invited presence in social networks. Marketers must launch great products that offer true value and engage potential customers in genuine conversation at the critical consideration point in the buying cycle. Combine consideration-cycle marketing with your current programs, and collect the dividends of a connected world." I'll be very interested to see how librarians make use of these techniques as advertising evolves.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Marketing is code for customer service

It's a perennial problem of mine that when I mention my interest in marketing to my colleagues, and even non-librarian types, I notice that many of them will cringe a little, roll their eyes slightly, and then nonchalantly shuffle away. Of course, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but I have definitely noticed a hesitancy to embrace the marketing concept, and it's noticeable enough that it makes me wish that there was another less loaded term for what is nothing more than just a strategic, common sense way to address people's needs.

But what, really, is the word "marketing" loaded with? For librarians, I think it might sound too sales-ish, which is a direct affront to our core values of free and equal access to anyone and everyone regardless of their social or economic status. We don't sell things, we provide services after all. Right?...Wrong! OF COURSE we sell things! We sell the idea that information literacy is an important skill to have; we sell our expertise as information providers; we sell our values of privacy and equal access to information; we sell our buildings as community hubs and we sell our collections. We sell all the time, everyday, and we even profit from it. We count our profits in terms of gate counts, circulation, positive word-of-mouth, repeat users and yes, even money in the form donations and special taxes. Moreover, there's nothing wrong with this. You can call "selling" persuading, convincing, or educating, and you can refer to "profits" as higher usage, bigger budgets, or an information-literate public, but it's all the same thing.

Still, this makes some feel a bit icky, so maybe we do need a better word. When I think of marketing, I think of service. Marketing begins and ends and begins again with understanding what patrons need. Then, it involves finding the best way to fill those needs and explaining (advertising or promoting) how we can help. This is serving the public, and it's noble work. It also happens to be marketing, but we can go ahead and call it customer service if that means we can openly talk about it without sacrificing any warm fuzzies. Or, we can embrace marketing for what it is and be proud of it. After all, if people don't understand what we do or why it's beneficial to them, they'll stop coming in our doors. If that happens, libraries, just like any other organization, will be out of business.

Don't get me wrong, I don't intend to dismiss anyone who is critical of some of the really awful marketing practices that go on out there (and there are plenty!), but it doesn't have to be a necessary evil. Marketing can actually be a public good when it focuses on best interests of those we serve, which is really what marketing is all about anyway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The marketing crystal ball says...

What would the new year be without a bevy marketing predictions? No fun! That's what! Fortunately, Forbes.com writers pitched in with their predictions for 2006 with one writer offering forecasts in the areas of advertising and marketing (here). Some of the standouts for librarians are:

  • Marketers as entertainers: Marketers will create movies, videos, concerts, you name it, to grab people's attention. I can believe this one. Just think about all the time we spend trying to plan entertaining programs, tutorials, blogs and podcasts!
  • Marketers will expose their brands in entertaining ways. I blogged about this trend, Tryvertising, a while back. An example of this would be pushing kitchen appliances via a cooking class. There may be potential here for librarians to insert their services in unexpected places!
  • Marketers will take advantage of social networking sites like MySpace.com to engineer word-of-mouth campaigns There's already a huge interest in social software amongst librarian-types. Aaron Schmidt had a nice post about this topic a while back along with some ways librarians can get going with these tools.
Happy New (Marketing) Year!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Marketing library services bibliography

Elsevier has put out a terrific annotated bibliography on the topic of library marketing. Marketing Library Resources: An Annotated Bibliography (2005, 20p., PDF) describes helpful literature on the following topics:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Environmental Scanning
  • Customer Service, Media Relations and Public Relations
  • Outreach and Liaison Efforts
  • Marketing Digital Resources
  • Development and Fundraising
  • Relationship Marketing
  • Evaluation
Good stuff! Many thanks to Steven Bell for passing this along!

Saying one thing but doing another?

All of us who have conducted focus groups and the like know that the information gathered from those sessions can be highly suspect. People are not always consciously aware of why they make some consumption decisions, which makes getting at perceptions and motives tricky business. Also, it's easy for participants to say one thing even though their behavior says something very different. One advertising agency network is taking a stab at addressing these shortcomings using a sociological approach. DDB has recently launched SignBank, a service that collects and processes bits and pieces of cultural change and their meaning in order to tease out trends. According to the New York Times, trained DDB "sign-spotters" get out into their communities and report back trends or "signs" to SignBank that are collected and analyzed. Interesting!

The So What: Librarians too might want to think about ways to gather more information on behavior as opposed to pouring over survey and focus group data alone. Next time you're cruising the stacks, try actively observing what's going on all around in order to pick up on important trends or needs.

Side note: DDB did make some marketing predictions for the coming year, noting that consumers will demand more specialization and, in contrast to other predictions that state consumers will want to call the shots when it comes to products and services, DDB thinks that consumers will seek out guidance and leadership. If these prove true (and I believe they already are to an extent), these trends will mesh perfectly with librarians promoting their expertise and specialized services in the information world!