Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Take a whiff - Marketing's in the air

The latest MarketingProf's newsletter has an article on Scent Branding that's definitely worth a read. Scent branding is, apparently, a discipline of its own (there's even a Scent Marketing Institute!). Author Leigh Duncan explains, "Used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer (or personal) experience in a pleasurable manner. The use of scent branding in consumer purchasing environments has been shown to be influential in driving consumer purchasing as well." She also cautions would be scent-marketers to make some considerations before heaping on the perfume, such as don't depend on scent alone to build your brand.

What I found most fascinating are the organizations putting scents to work. Duncan mentions a company called Scent Air that is a provider of "in-store scent solutions." When I discovered that one of their clients is a museum, I did a little digging on their site to find out more. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis used scents of the rainforest and dinosaur dung (yep, you read that right) in its dinosaur exhibit. Also interesting, Florida Hospital used scents to decrease patients' stress and cancellation rates when they came in for MRI's. They decorated their MRI department with a beach theme, complete with the smells of coconut and ocean.

Do we think about smells when we design our spaces? Would the eye-opening smell of citrus perk up students during late-night study sessions? Would the relaxing smell of lavender make leisure reading more pleasurable for patrons? Scent is not a magic bullet, but it's fun to think about how a subtle waft of fragrance can help reinforce and define spaces while reinforcing and shaping our image.

Update: LISNews mentions an article that describes what libraries can learn from bookstores, including how to use scents.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Genius" branding moves

In case anyone was concerned, I didn't fall off the face of the earth after Midwinter. I'm back and bloggin'. :)

I've been thinking a lot about branding and what it means to have a strong brand. Much of this thinking was prompted by the excerpt from Peter Fisk's book Marketing Genius, called "Finding the big idea that defines you," which I referred to previously as the best piece on branding I've seen. I reviewed Fisk's work more thoroughly and considered how it might relate to libraries, which I'll discuss in this post.

First, let me summarize Fisk's argument about the nature of branding. Fisk contends that powerful brands resonate with customers' aspirations and derive their value from their ability to engage and inspire people. He states, "A great brand is one you want to live your life by, one you trust and hang on to whilst everything around you is changing, one that articulates the type of person you are or want to be, one that enables you to do what you couldn't otherwise achieve." The foundation of these super-brands is what Fisk calls "the big idea." This "big idea" is the thing that the brand helps people achieve. The thing could be a skill or feeling of confidence, for example. As Fisk summarizes, "If brands are about people rather than products, then the big idea around which they are formed is more to do with what it does for people rather than the company." Furthermore, each brand has three components: Rational ("What you do for people"), Comparative ("How do you do it differently?"), and Emotional ("How do people feel about you?"). Once marketers hone in on the big idea that defines the brand and that appeals to people in one or more of these areas, they use every means at their disposal to communicate the idea. These means include everything from language to logos.

This brief synopsis doesn't do the piece justice, but hopefully you get the idea. I think I was so excited by reading this because it strikes a chord with my beliefs about how librarians can reinvigorate the library brand. I believe that libraries are services that provide people the tools and training to grow socially and intellectually. They're vast frontiers ripe for personal exploration. The more we can help people realize their goals, the more successful we become. Generally speaking, libraries' "big idea" could be summed up something like this: "Achieve your best through information and discovery." Of course, under this big theme, each library has its own big idea with roots in its particular community. (To uncover your unique branding big idea, Fisk maps out a Brand Definition strategy).

For too long, the library brand has been linked to stuff instead of people. Patrons are more likely to associate libraries with books, information, and facilities than with community and personal achievement. While there’s nothing wrong with books and information per se, these strong brand associations are limiting, as Fisk points out, "Of course, if you define your brand around your customers, based on a belief or attitude, a benefit or aspiration, rather than it being a descriptor of your existing business or product, then it gives you far more scope and flexibility in the future." Being aligned with objects rather than with aspirations makes our brand static and difficult to adapt to environmental changes, as we're finding.

To those who may argue that these sentiments are nice but a bit too esoteric and impractical, I ask that you think about your favorite brands and consider what it is about them that attracts you. My bet is that the appeal comes from one or more of the sources Fisk mentions, including: reinforcing your self image; helping you become what you hope to be; enabling you to do something, or connecting with others. For libraries to have a great brand, the brand needs to be based on great ideas. The practical decisions we make should stem from those ideas in order for people to care about what it is we can do for them. Without those ideas, we might as well just become information storage units.

To revitalize our brand, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask tough questions. For example, do our communications say, "We want a genuine relationship with you," or "We want to retain formality"? Do our spaces say, "Welcome! Come in and explore your potential," or "If you do come in, you must follow our rules"? How much of our branding efforts originate from a desire to support patrons' ambitions, and how much originate from our desire to showcase ourselves and our stuff? By turning the spotlight on patrons' success, we can in turn build more successful library brands.

I’ll be reading Fisk’s book, Marketing Genius, and I’ll report on other thoughts and findings in upcoming posts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Best branding article...ever

Here it is (from allaboutbranding.com): Marketing Genius: Finding the big idea that defines you by Peter Fisk.

I'll have much more to say about this piece and its relationship to marketing by helping patrons succeed, once I fully digest this meaty read.

A taste of small things to come

[Note to readers: I've been working on this post for a while now. Every time I think I'm close to publishing it, I read a new article about mobile marketing that I should include. It goes to show how hot this topic is. It also goes to show that my aforementioned series on this topic will be pretty lengthy! This post is a preview of the my upcoming mobile marketing series as well as a taste of what's going on in the news.]

Verizon Wireless is opening up by allowing advertisers to push their ads to its customers' mobile phones, according to a NYT article. Reporter Matt Richtel writes, "The interest of advertisers in the medium stems from a theory that ads placed on mobile phones could create a particularly intimate bond with consumers. The gadgets are ubiquitous, personal, and messages could theoretically be tailored to individuals based on demographics like age, gender and location." Mobile phone advertising is a growing business, and like any such business, there is uncertainty. However, I do think librarians need to consider mobile marketing vehicles and their implications for our services and promotions.

In other news, Forrester Research released a report indicating that US consumers are primed to adopt mobile marketing. According to a research news report, " Although 79 percent of consumers find the idea of mobile ads annoying, early efforts at mobile marketing indicate consumer acceptance -- as long as marketers deliver valuable information or content, according to a study by Forrester Research." If you research mobile marketing long enough, you'll find this reoccurring theme: mobile marketing can be effective IF (and only if) marketers respect the personal nature of the medium and avoid spamming unsuspecting customers. After all, mobile phones are not just communication devices. Customers also view them as personal symbols of their individuality, and they understandably get a little upset if they perceive that symbol is being abused by marketers. (In my upcoming series, I'll talk more about people's relationship with their cell phones and mobile devices).

ClickZ summarizes the Mobile Marketing Association's (MMA) annual attitude and usage study on mobile marketing effectiveness (released only to members). The report yielded results somewhat similar to the Forrester report, stating, "Although mobile marketing participation rates may be down, mobile consumers are becoming more educated about the features and functionality of their devices and are engaging more frequently in mobile marketing campaigns. The mobile phone is becoming an essential element in a consumer's everyday life. This increased dependency on the mobile phone is expected to lead to increased utilization." The ClickZ article contains some excellent links to MMA guidelines and and common short codes (I'll explain all this in the series).

Finally, as these trends continue to grow, we'll see many more mobile marketing services providers getting in on the act. And I don't yet know what the impact of Apple's iPhone will be in this arena.

The series I keep mentioning is based on research I conducted for a services marketing course in which I wrote a marketing plan for a proposed new library service. Specifically, I looked at SMS/text messaging and its potential use as a library reference service delivery vehicle, although this technology is also used for promotional purposes by an increasing number of companies. The series will address the following topics (although I may change the number and/or order of these):

  • Mobile marketing & SMS: What it is (the nature of the medium)
  • What the research says
  • Why librarians should care & the competitive landscape
  • Examples and possibilities
  • Libraries: Going mobile
  • Resources, tools, and readings
The reason I'm so determined to explore mobile marketing is that technology is becoming integrated into our physical environment, and I believe we librarians are going to have to discover new ways to succeed in this new reality. Mobile devices offer one promising way to target interested patrons and reach people and their time and place of need. I hope you'll feel free to add your own insights and opinions, and ask questions about mobile marketing as the series unfolds.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stuff worth reading (in brief)

I'm sorry to be so silent for much of this week. It's been a short week full of meetings and getting ready for my trip to Seattle for Midwinter. There's so much juicy marketing reading out there though, that I just have to pass it along, but I will have to do so in list form:

Making relationships work: MarketingProfs outlines Five Ways to Develop a Dialogue with Key 'Influencers'. Influencers are those hubs of product/service information who have a knack for guiding others. The article points out ways in which we can best interact with these important people and build an influencer program. On a similar note, Knowledge @ Wharton reports on study that reveals people are more likely to purchase something if they are "network neighbors" with existing customers (Network-based Marketing: Using Existing Customers to Help Sell to New Ones). Finally, another MarketingProfs article suggests that there's no such thing as a one-size-fits all online community, and that "microcommunities" are much more successful. The article concludes with a handy list of 5 questions people should ask themselves when building these communities.
Update: It's All Good has more to say on social networking.

Open-source soft drinks: Pepsi sent out a press release outlining its revamped marketing strategy that aims to increase interaction with its customers. Here's an excerpt from the release with some examples of what they have in mind: "Examples of the upcoming packaging designs and promotions: In the U.S., the first can, titled "Your Pepsi," will link to a website inviting consumers to help design a Pepsi billboard ad which will run in New York City's Times Square in April. Consumers in the U.S. will also have a chance to design a special paint scheme for NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon's car that will race later this year. In many international markets, designs will link to websites that enable consumers to create music and video that they can share with others. Consumers will also have access to packaging designs by some of the biggest names in sports and music." It'll be interesting to see how this works out and if there might be some inspiration here for those of us in library land.

Book of interest: BlogCritics Magazine reviews the book, Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing by Ron McDaniel. What interests me most about this book is that the author counters the traditional logic that only amazing, out-of-the ordinary products generate buzz. Instead, McDaniel believes that word-of-mouth can be generated by dedicated, front-line staff. If anyone has read it, I'd like to get your take, so please leave a comment.
Update: I've wanted to mention this for a while: Paul at the Idea Sandbox has an outstanding series of posts on being remarkable. The posts highlight books on the topic of differentiation, all of which are going straight to my ever-growing "To Read" list. This topic is one of my absolute favorites in marketing, so I'm excited to dive into these reads.

Marketing on a budget: Once again, MarketingProfs has a great article, this time on the topic of online marketing on a small budget. Some of the examples include using surveys, forums, and e-mail management sites.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Managing the external internally

KnowThis.com added another section to its outstanding Principles of Marketing tutorial: Managing External Forces. The segment outlines some common external variables that can influence your marketing effectiveness, as well as ways to cope with them. Some examples include demographics, economic conditions, and cultural and societal change.

Though libraries can be a refuge, they are never an island. Marketing planning accounts for the internal and external factors that alter how you approach your target market, or even what target market you seek.

(Check out how Seattle libraries are adapting to external changes in their "Libraries for All" campaign (via AL Direct)).

Be it resolved

BusinessWeek.com has an excellent list of marketing New Year's resolutions. #1 ("I will avoid exclamation points") is a tough one for me. The rest are all terrific - worthy of posting to your nearest bulletin board. I might add some others for librarians: I will bring a positive, "libraries rock" mentality to my marketing efforts; I will see the world in terms of opportunities for librarians to apply their services; I will not get discouraged when things don't go according to plan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Neat blog find

About.com highlights a MBOW (Marketing Blog of the Week) called CopyBlogger written by a marketer/writer. Here's and excerpt from the blog description: "Good blogging and good copywriting share many of the same attributes — plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader by using stories, education and a clear demonstration of benefit and value. In an overly-crowded marketplace, good copywriting allows you to catch people’s attention, and smart blogging allows you to capitalize on that attention by building trust, sales and profits." The blog is intended for those who want to beef up their persuasive writing skills for the Web, particularly for blogs. Couldn't we all stand to work out our writing muscles?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Influencing the influential influencers

If you're like me, you're probably excited about the possibilities presented by word-of-mouth marketing, but are less certain about how to identify the influencers who will pass along their positive library experiences. We're not alone. Marketers are trying to answer the same question. I found a few pieces that address this topic that may help:

1. ClickZ mentions a study conducted by Yahoo! and comScore Networks that found that Brand Advocates (WOM spreaders) tend to spend more time online than non-advocates conducting searches and using social media. As the article states, "Researchers believe that as these advocates are investing more time and effort into their own decision making process, they are more compelled to talk about their purchases with others."

2. On Adotas, Jim Calhoun writes about a planning tool called a Viral Marketing Matrix in his piece, "Enter the Viral Marketing Matrix: Exploring the Template to Motivate Your Word-of-Mouth Revolution." The two dimensions of this matrix are Personal Appeal and Social Appeal (high/low). Simply stated, items of high personal appeal are things people want, and those of low personal appeal are unwanted. Similarly, items with high social appeal entail a social benefit; those with low social appeal entail a stigma. By figuring out where your services fall in this matrix, you can determine how to best present your message and what incentives you may need to offer. This approach appealed to me because I think library services can easily be thought of in these terms.

3. DoubleClick Inc., a digital marketing technology and services provider, released survey results in its report, Influencing the Influencers: How Online Advertising and Media Impact Word of Mouth (PDF). The study produced a number of interesting results, including the fact that "Influencers use more of all media, especially digital media. When building a marketing campaign that aims to reach influencers and tap the potential of word of mouth, digital media needs to be a critical part of the plan. Emerging media platforms such as online video, mobile web content, and blogs are also highly concentrated with influencers." Page 9 of the report lists recommended books for leveraging WOM.

Influencers are not necessarily the patrons who use our services the most. By learning about the characteristics of the patrons who influence others, we can better identify and engage them in our marketing efforts.

Top trends

The January 2007 Trend Briefing from Trendwatching.com has been making the rounds on in the blogosphere, but belongs here as well. Take a look at what Trendwatching foresees as the Top 5 Consumer Trends for '07.

In other trendy news, It's All Good reports on the PEW Internet study, "Social Networking Websites and Teens" and adds that OCLC will be publishing a complementary report in the spring. As an increasing number of non-teens are using these sites, I'd also be interested in knowing more about their social networking behavior. The OCLC study appears to have a broader age range (14+ years) than the PEW study (12-17 years).

Friday, January 05, 2007

Another source for marketing news and analysis

Some of you may recall that I was participating in a Marketing Forum on KnowThis.com. The Forum since been replaced in favor a blog run by the site's editor, Dr. Paul Christ. I was extremely pleased that Paul asked me to continue my participation in this new project. The KnowThis.com Marketing Blog is a great source (in my biased opinion) of marketing news and analysis. Paul writes most of the posts and I have the utmost respect for his opinions and wealth of knowledge. I think you'll find some good food-for-thought here with insightful commentary. For my part, I've committed to writing a minimum of 1-2 posts per week as I feel inspired. I'm still getting my feet wet in trying to find a voice with an audience who I don't feel I know as well as you all, but I'm having fun writing about and exploring some of the general marketing stuff I'm interested in. If this is up your alley, I hope you'll check it out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Egads! I've been tagged!

Thank you to Nancy Dowd of The "M" Word for tagging me! So now I have to think of 5 interesting things to share about myself that most people probably don't know. So I guess that means I can skip over the obvious stuff like the fact I'm a library/marketing nerd. :) This is tougher than it sounds, but here goes nothin':

  1. Other than close family/friends/co-workers, not many people know that I got engaged the weekend before Christmas to the World's Best Guy - Merry Christmas to me! I have a feeling I'll be exposed to a lot of new-to-me marketing tactics as I try to plan a wedding, so stay tuned.
  2. In my younger days, I displayed artistic tendencies in the form of drawing. I was pretty good at it too. Today, I don't draw as much but I am eerily proficient at wielding an Etch-A-Sketch. I managed to impress/unnerve a few colleagues with that "skill." (By the way, I highly recommend Etch-A-Sketching for stress-relief).
  3. Another hobby tidbit: I enjoy decorating cakes (and cookies, cupcakes, assorted baked goods). I'm even trained (completed Cake Decorating Level 1!). I'll be putting my decorating abilities to the test when I make a cake for a colleague's wedding in the fall when I'll have to experiment with tiers!
  4. I'm an Ohio State alum and absolutely loved the time I spent in Columbus. We don't have a bad football team either! While none of this is terribly surprising, what is surprising to many is that I actually lived inside the football stadium for 2 years before they took the dorms out to make room for more stands. I remember the sound of feet stomping over my head as people cheered the team on and the icky smell of sticky pop as it drained outside the stadium the day after a game. Honestly, it was great. Ah, memories...Go Bucks!
  5. Pink. I really like the color pink these days. Seems like every article of clothing or accessory I buy is pink or has pink in it. I have no idea why...
Fascinating, no? ;-) Now it's my turn to do the tagging (in no particular order): Teresa Hartman, Ken Varnum, Candi Clevenger, Paul Williams and Johnathan Silberman.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Catching up on all the marketing news that's fit to blog

Today's my first day back after a pleasant, restful holiday. I hope you are all off to a great start in the new year! While I may have taken a break from blogging about marketing, marketing news and articles kept on coming. As I'm trying to dig out from under all of it, I wanted to share some of the gems I uncovered (although, it's a bit of a stretch to say that I'm getting all the marketing news that's fit to blog...):

  • MarketingProfs author Stephan Spencer takes a close look at MySpace and what makes a successful business profile work. In it, Spencer analyzes what good profiles have in common (including this one from the Brooklyn Museum) and interviews one businessman who reveals how he made MySpace work for his jewelry retail enterprise.
  • Another MarketingProfs article turns the spotlight on Second Life and how to win over its residents (free registration may be required for this one).
  • Nancy over at The "M" Word writes about how one library system employed some creative marketing tactics to increase its awareness among residents. The best part is that it sounds like these efforts were true community partnerships!
  • FastCompany profiles a Silicon Valley start up that runs on customer power. This story of one open source business highlights the challenges and rewards of letting the customers call the shots (via KnowThis).
  • The New York Times article, "Online Chat Is a Grapevine That Yields Precious Fruit", Dec. 25, 2006, (registration required), discusses how two pediatricians got their baby skin care business off the ground by including their customers and colleagues in its creation. They also leveraged online message boards and parenting Web sites, all with no marketing budget. (There's a lot to learn about marketing from others involved in professional fields!)
  • The Media Daily News reports on an important WOM fact: most WOM (90%!) is spoken and the Internet is a key to sparking those conversations. Advertising Age also reports on these findings: "Word-of-mouth: The real action is offline," Dec 4, 2006; Vol.77, Iss. 49; pg. 20.
I think I'll leave it here for now. I'll discuss a couple of other interesting pieces about WOM and how to influence people to spread it next.