Thursday, August 31, 2006

Improving PR

MarketingSherpa posted a brief article/interview with the VP of Communications for Stonyfield Farms, Cathleen Toomey. Toomey shares her experiences in landing a job at Stonyfield as well as two tips for getting your PR work to be appreciated by upper management.

Speaking of PR, the famed Publicity Hound Joan Stewart has a free PR tutorial, 89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Release that takes the form of an e-mail per day for 89 consecutive days (via LibTalk blog). I signed up for the tutorial but, admittedly, I've had trouble keeping up with the one-per-day regimen, though the ones I've been able to read are practical and succinct.

If 89 PR tips isn't enough for you, I found a new-to-me marketing site called Go-To-Market Strategies that offers a free newsletter called The Resource. What's nice is that the tips contained in The Resource are available online arranged by subject. The categories listed include PR and also Marketing Planning, Branding, Marketing Communications, Promotions and Lead Generation, Product/Services Launch, and Sales Planning and Management.

Enjoy, PR enthusiasts!

Categories: resource_roundup | tips_to_try | train_yourself

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Marketing frenzy at ASU

Check out Steven Cohen's report of ASU Libraries' marketing efforts to kick off the new academic year! The intrepid librarians at ASU set up an information tent where they provided directional assistance and water for thirsty students. (By the way, campus event organizers tell me that water is a very popular give-away item. It seems to have worked for ASU-they gave out over 2,100 bottles in 2 days!). You can catch the action on Flicker. ASU Libraries also released its selection of podcasts.

Update: I noticed that one of the podcasts offered is a 3-part series entitled, Matching Innovations to Environment by Joan Frye Williams. The description states, "Joan explains how librarians can improve their chances of success by implementing the innovations that best match their particular type of library environment. She demonstrates [sic] and why innovation is seldom easy, and even best practices aren’t "one size fits all."' I'm looking forward to listening to these because I believe that good marketing planning considers trends and new technologies in the context of an organization's goals, strengths and weaknesses. New isn't always better when it doesn't serve the target market and the organization.

Categories: new_news | real_life

Monday, August 28, 2006

Marketing goes mobile

Marketers don't waste much time in figuring out how to utilize new technologies to promote their wares to consumers. The International Herald Tribune has a terrific article that summarizes the headway advertisers are making into the world of mobile communications. The article states that, worldwide, there are twice as many cell phones as PC's, and that opt-in, SMS-based campaigns have met some success among niche markets in Europe.

Should libraries be thinking about delivering their services via mobile devices? You betchya! In fact, some librarians are already dipping their toes into these promising waters.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, there is of course a marketing organization focused on this emerging aspect of marketing - the Mobile Marketing Association. I was pleased to find that the MMA site offers a fairly rich set of information and resources for non-members, including articles and statistics.

Categories: neat_trends | new_news | promising_promotions | technology_tools

More on the 2007 ACRL Best Practices in Marketing Academic and Research Libraries @your library Award

My thanks to Mark Sanders, Reference Librarian and Outreach Coordinator at Joyner Library at East Carolina University for sharing more details about the 2007 ACRL Best Practices in Marketing Academic and Research Libraries @your library Award. Mark would like to encourage quality applicants to apply, and I'm happy to continue to help get the word out about this great opportunity for you cutting-edge librarian-marketers out there. Here, Mark shares some more details about the award:

"ACRL, through funds provided by Springer, will once again award academic libraries that have demonstrated an outstanding best practices marketing program. The three award categories include community college, college, and university. Each winning library will receive a plaque and $2,000 award to be presented at the 13th ACRL National Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29 - April 1, 2007.

In 2005, a $2,000 award was presented to American University for first place, and a $1,000 award was presented to Illinois State University for second place. The American University Library marketing plan was carried out through an intelligent, focused, and creative marketing plan, as well as exemplary use of partnerships with campus units and tools developed by professional organizations, including the ACRL Toolkit for Academic and Research Libraries. Illinois State University made use of a good survey instrument to identify marketing challenges, coupled with a combination of good planning and broad-based involvement, and the graceful application of "“@ your library" themes. Both institutions demonstrated strategies and practices that can be adapted at other academic libraries to effectively market their resources and services to the campus community.

More information about the 2007 award criteria, portfolio submission instructions, and past award winners' marketing plans and supplemental materials can be found at

Thanks, Mark, and best of luck to those of you who apply!

Categories: new_news | real_life

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Scripts 'n' such

Most service interactions involve some kind of script. And I'm not talking about the written down kind that actors and telemarketers use. I'm talking about the ideas we all have about how a service experience should go. For example, when I go into a clothing store, I expect someone to greet me, ask me how I'm doing and if there's anything they can help me with. When I'm ready to pay for my items, I wander over to the sales counter where the salesperson will usually say something to the effect of "Did you find everything you were looking for?" and I'll tell them yes or no. They'll ring up my order, I'll give them some form of payment, and they'll probably inform me of a promotion or credit card offer, bag my things, and I'm on my merry way. The script doesn't always unfold exactly like this, but it's a pretty good estimation of a retail shopping experience.

But lately I've noticed that salespeople can really mess up this script. Sometimes the changes are good, but other times they're very unwelcome! The two most notable examples from my recent experiences happen to come from two different fast food restaurants. At one Wendy's I frequent, I've noticed that they seem to have no regard for scripts lately. I place my order, pay for it, get my food and...that's it. No "thank you" or "have a nice day" or anything to indicate that the transaction is complete. This has happened a couple of times in a row now and it always leaves me feel like something is missing or not quite right (probably the lack of manners). This is a complete contrast to what goes on at a neighboring Chick-Fil-A. Every employee answers my requests with the phrase, "my pleasure." Example:
Me: "Can I have some extra sauce with that?"
Nice Chick-Fil-A Employee: "Sure!"
Me: "Thank you!"
Nice Chick-Fil-A Employee: "My pleasure!"

I love this! In fact, this small gesture is one of the ways in which Chick-Fil-A's service stands out from all the rest and it's one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think about eating there. To top it off, the employees seem to mean it and don't display a bit of sarcasm. Furthermore, almost every employee says it every time. That one aspect of service delivery says a LOT to me about the company and its regard for its customers. The very polite employees so impressed me that I made it a point to tell the manager about how impressed I am.

Scripts aren't necessarily spoken dialogue, but service providers should be aware of what people's service expectations are and how they can meet and shape them. Chick-Fil-A management probably thought that customers will expect employees to respond to "thank you's" with "you're welcome's." They decided to pleasantly upset the status quo by inserting "my pleasure's." The result is a script that reinforces the brand image and improves customer satisfaction (well, at least mine!). The only possible downside here is that now I expect the revised script and if I don't get it, I'm bound to feel a bit let down. The Wendy's in question, however, trashed the script and left customers (ok, this customer) feeling unsatisfied and awkward. In the library setting, patrons have all sorts of scripts for how using the library should work. We can pleasantly surprise them by inserting some unexpected elements into those scripts, or we can disappoint them by not fulfilling expectations. I try to do the former in small ways such as following up on research consultations. Patrons may expect that they come in, get research help, leave, and that's the end of it. But by following up, I add a new element into the script that hopefully improves their views of library services.

Does anyone have an example of a company that altered a script for the better? Let me know!

Update: While not about scripts exactly, Seth's Blog has a nice post on customers' expectations and what you can do about them (embrace them, change them, or defy them).

Categories: usable_theories

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Explaining the complex with simple copy has an interesting article called Six Ways to Turn Techno-babble Into Commanding Copy. While the article is concerned with how to write clear, convincing copy about technical devices, these tips are certainly applicable to our library services and offerings. Specifically, the author points out how to describe the benefits of a product or service in a way that is understandable to non-experts. I particularly like the tips about "painting a picture of the opportunity" and "show it [the product or service] in action." Complex services require promotions that speak to the patron on an emotional as well as intellectual level within the context of familiar experiences, as the author describes.

This point leads me to a thought I have been considering for quite some time: Technology offers incredible breakthrough opportunities for the design, delivery, promotion and overall marketing of library services. However, that same technology can make those services more abstract and unfamiliar to patrons. A blog, for example, is really just a journal, but the addition of the technology and specialized terminology transform that journal into something further removed from people's frame of reference, which can be off-putting. The mingling of technology with library services and marketing is nothing new, but the more technology based our services become, the more important the human aspects of marketing become. To be effective in a techie world, marketers have to reach ever more specific audiences with customized messages, services and delivery systems; they must communicate clearly with patrons in cluttered virtual and physical environments; they need to become educators regarding the technologies they use or make available. Doing all of these things relies on more than just marketing know-how - it relies on a fundamental understanding of people, their motivations, perspectives and needs. I think this is why I enjoy studying Marketing so much, in the same way I enjoyed studying History as an undergraduate. Both disciplines concern people and their behavior, and an understanding of people is what librarian-marketers will need to make technological services meaningful and understandable to patrons.

Categories: must_reads | usable_theories

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Concerning creativity

Does this sound familiar?: You turn on the T.V., computer, or flip open a magazine to find a stunning, creative, attention-getting ad only to find that, moments later, you've forgotten what was being advertised (if you were able to figure it out in the first place!). Can creativity be more foe than friend to your marketing efforts if left unchecked?

Creativity is one of the most important skills librarians can bring to bear on their marketing efforts. However, I often wonder if too much creativity (if there is such a thing) applied to promotions can actually do more harm than good by stealing the show from the core marketing messages. In participating in outreach events, I question whether any student is able to come away with a coherent message given all the "noise" of give-aways, games, and decorations. Here's a working list of points I consider when balancing creativity with promotion objectives:

  • Do the creative elements reinforce the message or compete with it? Outrageous games, stunts and gimmicks can nab patrons' attention, but once you have their attention, what are you going to do with it? Try to make the most of the rare instances when you have someone's undivided attention by communicating your message and listening to patrons' points of view. If the creative elements don't allow that to happen, they may need to be scaled back a bit. Also, do those attention-getters conflict with the messages you want to communicate? It's helpful to step back from creative ideas to determine how well they mesh with promotion goals.
  • How can creative ideas make lasting value for patrons? I like for my creative promotion tactics to have some staying power and be useful to patrons. This summer, for example, I raffled off USB flash drives to students who signed up for our listserv. Students get a prize they can use as they do research and write papers, and they also receive relevant library news well into the future. In an academic setting, I prefer edu-taining events, prizes, etc. that are fun and attention-getting, but that also expose students to aspects of library services.
  • What's the context? In a stroke of luck this summer, I gave away mint Lifesavers at my display table. I didn't know it beforehand, but at this event parents of incoming students were given free cups of coffee, so the mints were a big hit! This happy coincidence reminded me of the importance of knowing as much as possible about the context in which the promotion will take place.
Thinking creatively is how breakthrough marketing opportunities are discovered and how successful marketing initiatives are carried out. Rather than hampering creative energies, it's best to begin a marketing endeavor with an open mind that considers all possibilities, both zany and tame. Then, it's worth evaluating what you want to accomplish and whether or not those creative ideas will get you there. If creative ambitions are overshadowing what you want to communicate, creativity isn't doing you any favors. A good example of creativity that furthers marketing in practice is the Ubiquitous Librarian's description of Georgia Tech's freshmen welcome events. The library's promotion goals were to "showcase the library as a space to hangout, socialize, eat, chill." To do that, they came up with a host of creative, fun social events like speed dating and ninja tag to feature the community-building aspects of the library. We'll have to wait for the other parts of the series of posts to learn about all of the details, but this example shows that creativity and marketing, when done right, can work with instead of against each other.

Categories: real_life | tips_to_try

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sweetening your brand with M&M's

According to news sources, Masterfoods USA will be allowing companies to feature logos or messages on M&M candies. Currently, customers can add their own messages to the candies, but this new service will allow businesses stick their logos on these bite-size treats.

I deemed this newsworthy for two reasons: 1. This service may be attractive to libraries looking for new and different promotion vehicles, although, it'll cost you (there will be a $100 set-up fee and $30 per pound charge for the customized candies). 2. This is yet another example of how customers seek ever-higher degrees of customization and how companies, like Masterfoods USA, are opening up their brands to allow for greater interactions with customers. We are seeing this trend spill over into the library world in our services and products in the form of customizable RSS feeds, alerts, and interfaces to name a few.

If anyone has had experiences with customizing M&M's for library promotion purposes, or has thoughts on this trend toward customization, please feel free to share them here!

Categories: new_news | promising_promotions

Friday, August 18, 2006

Are you sold on personal sales?

I've been on vacation this week, which is why posts here have been few and far between, but I have a lot of pent-up marketing thoughts to share next week so I hope to have more content soon.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the latest addition to the Principles of Marketing Tutorial, Personal Selling. This module covers advantages and disadvantages of personal sales as well as trends in the field.

Personal sales in the library setting is a particular interest of mine, because I often find myself taking on a sales-like role in meetings, at fairs and in classes and presentations. I'm often tailoring persuasive messages to fit the needs of my audiences and convincing them that the library and its resources can be great assets to the specific work they're doing. In fact, the ability to customize messages to the individual patron is one big advantage of personal sales. Here are some situations in which personal sales techniques are appropriate:

  • Unsought products/services: Library services may be unsought because they're new or just not well-known or widely used. Personal sales is a great way to get the word out about these resources.
  • Complicated products/services: Personal sales may be a necessary part of the promotion mix when what you're selling is difficult for patrons to understand. Consider our databases. I doubt it's very clear to most patrons what they are, what they can do, and what benefits they offer. Personal selling gives librarians an opportunity to communicate large amounts of information in a way that makes sense to the individual patron.
  • Building relationships: If you want to build and maintain relationships with patrons, nothing beats a bit of face time.
  • High-risk products/services: This situation my not apply to many library services since our offerings tend to carry no or little direct cost to patrons, but some patrons may harbor anxiety when it comes to asking for help, for example. Personal sales can help to alleviate those fears and persuade patrons to consult with library staff for their information needs.
Sales opportunities are everywhere you look. At the reference desk, for instance, I try to not only address patrons' current needs, but I also try to anticipate their future needs by recommending a service that could help them that they may not be familiar with. I'm certainly not a salesman at heart, but I've found that it's important to make the most of personal interactions with patrons by introducing them to services and possibilities they've never considered before. Even if they don't take advantage of my recommendations, at least they're aware of the breadth of what we can offer in the context of their particular needs, which is a feat that personal selling is well-suited to accomplish.

Categories: tips_to_try | train_yourself

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aggregator additions

Two new-to-me marketing blogs caught my eye in recent days and you may also find them worthy of your aggregator:

Emergence Marketing is written by the president of Corante, Inc. and a marketer who specializes in marketing information technology products. As the authors assert, the blog is about, "Thoughts on marketing, innovation, social networking, new products and the impact of technology on all those thingies." There's fascinating stuff here, and I'm particularly excited about the technology slant on marketing that the blog offers (more on technology and marketing libraries to come!).

The second blog called The Brand Builder Blog was recently named one of the Top 11 Word of Mouth Blogs (as was Emergence Marketing). While the blog appears to be lacking much detail about the authors, the posts are solid (and the cute chihuahua doesn't hurt either! ;-) ).

Categories: resource_roundup

5th IFLA International Marketing Award

Thanks to Dinesh Gupta for informing me of the 5th IFLA International Marketing Award. The purpose of the Award is to recognize the best library marketing project each year. The deadline for applications is November 30, 2006.

In other IFLA news, Dinesh is also organizing a poster session for the IFLA Seoul Conference scheduled for August 22-23. According to Dinesh, the poster entitled, In Search of Marketing Excellence, "is to bring out visibility of the "IFLA INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AWARD". The poster provides a review of the past winners, their impressions. It will also project the Award amongst the IFLA community to attract more qualitative applications for the year 2007. Besides perspective applicants, we are expecting visits of Jury Members, Award Winners, Marketing Advocators, Educators, and others who have interest in marketing LIS.

Through the blog, we invite all interested persons in Management and Marketing to the IFLA Poster Session.

Categories: new_news | real_life

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What's working: Top marketing trends

Mobile marketing, RSS, MySpace, WOM, and out-of-the-ordinary promotion vehicles are just some of the marketing trends shaping marketing today, according to In one neat example of text messaging in action, the article mentions how some restaurants text the daily specials to their customers. Hmm...couldn't we do the same with new titles, services and events?

The danger here is that, while many of these promotion venues look promising today, tomorrow they may be seen as just another form of clutter. For these reasons, it's important, and just downright responsible, to make sure that the messages we put out there are targeted and relevant to the target market.

Categories: neat_trends | promising_promotions

Monday, August 07, 2006

Taking the "non" out of "non-user": Part 4 of 4

Thanks for sticking with me through Part 4 of 4 of this series of posts: Additional Considerations & Final Thoughts! Here, I list an assortment of odds and ends for your consideration.

By now it has probably become apparent that bringing potential patrons into the fold means relinquishing the status quo. Whether you're changing your objectives, your services, your tactics or your target market, the bottom line is that you have to change something to draw in users or else they'd already be regular patrons! Doing so takes an institutional commitment to change and may also require major overhauls of services or facilities as well as additional funds. In fact, a key to turning non-users into users is a future-oriented, progressive approach to planning. We should always keep an eye on trends and events that offer opportunities to reach out to new users, or to reach out to current users in new ways. Changes in technology, the economy, and social life are just some of the factors that can create new and exciting venues for library services.

The pursuit of new customers is a familiar aim of both librarians and marketers, and as such, both the library and business literature offer some guidance on this topic:

The Ansoff Matrix has been a popular tool among business-types in helping them to make decisions about their growth objectives. Turns out, there's more than one way to grow a business (or a library, for that matter). Here's the Matrix as drawn by yours truly:

ansoff matrix

According to the model, you can adopt one of four strategies: market penetration, market development, product development or diversification. If, for example, you want new patrons to use your existing services, then a market development strategy is for you. As we talked about previously, sometimes it takes new products to lure in new patrons, and so a diversification objective would be appropriate. There's a nice tutorial and exercise with this model on that demonstrates how to put this tool to use.

From the library world, take a look at an article from a special librarian perspective by Grace McCarthy called, Getting to Know Your Non-Users. McCarthy offers tips for figuring out why patrons aren't using your library and the advantages and disadvantages of seeking their patronage. Interestingly, she also addresses the importance of managing patrons' expectations which, if unrealistic, can lead to non-use.

Librarians face an important and somewhat unique challenge when it comes to reaching out to potential patrons. In the business world, many marketers may say that not everyone will like your product or service, so it's best to forget about those people and focus on the ones who are most likely to buy what your selling. There's some truth to this. We can't expect that everyone in our communities will make use of our resources. But unlike business-types, we are charged with the sometimes daunting though ultimately rewarding task of making our holdings come alive for every person even if we're not always successful. Sure, we have to manage our resources responsibly and be fairly realistic in our aims, but ultimately we need to keep the big picture of intellectual freedom in sight. This worthwhile challenge presents an opportunity to apply a great deal of creativity and energy in taking the "non" out of "non-user."

Good luck! And, as always, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences!

Categories: tips_to_try | usable_theories

Friday, August 04, 2006

A healthy supplement to your marketing diet

I've been meaning to mention this blog for a while, since assessment goes with marketing like peanut butter goes with jelly - Yum!: Consider adding libraryassessment to your blog reading routine. The contributors are top-notch assessment librarians who share their expertise in academic library service assessment, evaluation and improvement. Here's a bit about the blog: "The definition of academic library assessment used here is very broad. We'’re interested in discussions about any activities that seek to measure the library'’s impact on teaching, learning and research as well as initiatives that seek to identify user needs or gauge user perceptions or satisfaction with the overall goal being the data-based and user-centered continuous improvement of our collections and services." It appears to be fairly new, but very promising, and I'm sure non-academic librarians will find it useful too.

Categories: train_yourself

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Student workers as library ambassadors

My sincere thanks to Lynn Baird of the University of Idaho Library for sharing with me a great article she wrote entitled, Students as Storytellers: Advocacy from the Ranks (PDF). Lynn asserts that with proper training, student workers can be powerful Word-of-Mouth agents among fellow students. These ambassadors can help their peers overcome anxiety and feel more comfortable using the library as well as communicate the value of the library's services.

This idea is very worthwhile because everyone in an organization is a de facto ambassador, so it's important to give people the tools and training to be effective in that role. I believe I mentioned before that our undergraduate advisory committee began spreading the word about the library on their own initiative. They handed out event flyers to their friends and wanted to be included in events such as our library tours. As a result of their interest, service is now a requirement of committee members. Lynn's article reminds me that I need to incorporate training for these students so they are well-equipped to talk about the library with their peers and others in the campus community.

Though not directly related to word-of-mouth but relevant to this topic, I came across this helpful toolkit from ACRL called The Power of Personal Persuasion. I quickly discovered that librarianship involves a great deal of personal sales, and, if you're like me, this isn't a skill that comes naturally. This toolkit is intended to help front-line librarians advance the library's mission, and contains examples of persuasive arguments.

Categories: must_reads | promising_promotions | tips_to_try

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Promoting events the RSVP way

Marketing Genius offers a series of tips on promoting events successfully using an RSVP approach: Repetition, Simplicity, Variety and Packaging. See the posts on RS and VP for the details.

Categories: promising_promotions | tips_to_try