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

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