Monday, January 30, 2006

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.

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