Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's nice to share

Sharing is not only a good marketing strategy, it's good blogging practice too! I've been adjusting to using Google Reader as my aggregator of choice and I'm loving it. One nice bonus is that the Reader makes it very easy to share what I'm reading with others. Now on my blog you can see what I'm reading on the sidebar, or you can subscribe to the feed. I'm glad to do this because I often read so much that I want to discuss with all of you but I can't always find the time. This way, at least you know I'm thinking about it! Since I'm still getting used to marking things to share it's a fairly short list now, but it'll grow. The real trick is keeping up with it all! Hope it helps.

(By the way, if you're sharing your cool finds through Google Reader, let Library Stuff know about it).

Spoof this!

Granted, I watch too much T.V., which is why I derive a lot of marketing inspiration from television programs, for better or worse. I happen to be a big fan of the Discovery Channel, and I particularly like the shows Dirty Jobs, It Takes a Thief, MythBusters, and generally anything narrated by Mike Rowe. Last night, I watched a Discovery show consisting entirely of viewer-created videos called You Spoof Discovery (also hosted by mikerowe!). What I liked about this special is that Discovery could poke fun at itself (as the ads state, "Discovery Channel discovered its sense of humor"). The shows are the Discovery's bread-and-butter, but it still allowed viewers a forum for having some fun with them. There's also a message board where viewers can chat about the spoofs. Even the individual fan sites like this Dirty Jobs one, for example, allow viewers to get involved by talking to the host, posting programming ideas, and reacting to episodes through their discussion boards. Discovery leads off the discussion board with this statement:

"Discovery Channel is a huge fan of message boards — it's not only your chance to talk to us and each other, but it's also our chance to communicate with you and to hear your ideas."
This is a good example of open-source marketing in practice. Here, Discovery lets viewers have a say in the product (the shows), facilitates community-building (letting viewers talk to each other in a company-sponsored forum), and builds relationships between viewers and the talent (mikerowe! - Did I mention I was a fan?).

Librarians can learn a thing or two from this example. Our profession is rife with stereotypes and misperceptions. Why not make fun of them and get patrons in on the act? Rather than try to ignore or get huffy about the things in our profession that are irritating, let's engage those nuisances through our patron communities and open discussions.

Update: I wrote a post on the KnowThis.com Marketing Blog today on the topic of social media and marketing that fits with this discussion. I propose some ways in which marketers can interact with customers in these venues. You may also be interested in the free social media PR templates I mention offered by Shift Communcations. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how, when, and why we librarians should use social media marketing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What will it take to get real with marketing?

I've been really thrilled with some of the great commentary on LM of late. This comment from Anonymous in response to a post about metrics really snagged my attention:

"In the business world marketing routinely reports to the CEO because it is deemed very important function. Yet, in the library world marketing is at a low level within the organization, almost an afterthought. Until the library directors of the world recognize, understand, and support a true marketing function, little will happen in the way of change."
I can't say that I disagree with this position. The question that I'd like to raise is, what would it take to get real marketing entrenched in libraries, and what does "real" marketing mean? To me, real marketing is:
  • Pervasive. Marketing should be entrenched in all aspect of library service design and delivery. In other words, marketing is NOT posters and press releases.
  • Iterative. Marketing planning is ongoing and marketing plans must be revisited on a regular basis. Staff at all levels should participated and be involved in marketing activities.
  • Measurable. Marketing is meant to accomplish something. Measurements are needed to determine of those goals were achieved or if a different approach is required.
  • Proactive. Marketing isn't something to fall back on when times are tough. It's a way of doing business that gets libraries from Point A to Point B using strategy and environmental analysis.
My question for you: How will we know when libraries have achieved real marketing, and what does real marketing mean to you?

Update: Shame on me for not mentioning another important characteristic of real marketing: meaningful. Real marketing derives from patron wants and needs and delivers relevant services in a meaningful context. In short, real marketing matters to patrons, not just us.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Learning from marketing in unlikely places

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, so please bear with me and give this idea a chance. One strategy that I strongly advocate is that we should learn about marketing from every source available. Sometimes ideas come from businesses, other times they come from Psychology literature, while other times they come from non-profit organizations. In fact, we can often learn from marketing in unexpected places. Today, I want to discuss what we can learn from church marketing. Now, I'm specifically not getting into any discussion of religion or advocating any one religion or another, but there are some lessons we can glean from what's going on in modern churches.

The marketing of churches crops up in the news all the time, and it's as controversial (if not more so) as in the library world. There's actually a blog devoted to the topic called Church Marketing Sucks. In doing some reading on the site, I found that there are a lot of similarities between church marketing and library marketing:

  • Like libraries, churches are often trying to expand their reach in their communities to draw in non-users.
  • Monetary profit is not the ultimate measure of success for libraries or churches and there is usually no direct cost for services
  • Both libraries and churches are "selling" what is, for some, an unsought product.
Surely, there are more similarities, and plenty of differences, but overall we have enough in common to learn from one another. In fact, take a look at Church Marketing Sucks' definition of marketing and see if it doesn't strike a chord with libraries. I especially like this definition:
"Marketing is the study and practice of better, faster, cheaper and friendlier. "Making things go more smoothly," as I put it to my students. The product or service a company provides is the "what" of its existence. Marketing is the "how."'
Also, under the section "Is Marketing a Dirty Word?," the author argues,
"Likewise, the process of marketing happens no matter what. We can either realize that and make sure our marketing doesn't suck, or we can ignore it and live in ignorance."
"Remember that the goal here isn't to introduce slick and polished business marketing that ruthlessly targets pockets and cashes in on souls. That's marketing that sucks. Lousy clip art and typos are just as bad as glossy photos of people prettier than your congregation. The goal is being authentic and effective."
The blog is well worth taking a look at for the marketing discussions and analysis that takes place. Again, librarians can find marketing inspiration anywhere and everywhere, so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to look at marketing in different lights that enrich our own points-of-view.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Check out the comments!

There have been some thought-provoking comments posted to the blog in the past week or so that I'm not done addressing yet, but the latest came in today from William in response to my post, "Genius" branding moves and it deserves some special attention. William brought up some insightful points and I did my best to respond coherently. I thought you'd like to take a look at the discussion and add your own thoughts. The topic of branding (or re-branding) libraries is an interesting and important one, so I hope you'll weigh in.

Also, if you want a crash course on branding, stop by KnowThis.com's Branding and Brand Management page, which has some excellent links, including a link to one of my favorite branding sites, AllAboutBranding.com.

Request for help answered

Nancy Dowd asked me to help her in library marketing record-breaker:

"Listen we need your help. Over here at the NJ State Library we’re conducting a marketing experiment to see if we can break the record for the most comments posted on a YouTube video. The idea is to have people post their three reasons and then pass the word to five friends. Of course what makes it even better is that it will be a library video that breaks the record! Hope you post and pass the word! Thanks, Nancy"
The 3 reasons are reasons you love the library. Here's the link to the YouTube video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZeQI25n8qPQ. You can read more about the initiative on Nancy's blog.

Ok! You know what to do. Hopefully, there are more than 5 readers out there, and I added my comment, so I've done my part. Good luck, Nancy! :-)

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's here! It's here!

The new collaborative blog project I alluded to last week is now up and running! I'm hopeful it will be a terrific complement to the marketing content on this blog since the topic is design. Designing Better Libraries addresses methods and strategies for developing meaningful user experiences. The opening post sums it up nicely:

"That's what Designing Better Libraries is all about; adapting new ways of thinking and acting that will promote the development and implementation of ideas, strategies and services that will create a better library experience for the users."
You can also learn more about DBL Philosophy here.

I'll be contributing to this blog with colleagues I have loads of respect for, including Steven Bell, Brian Mathews, John Shank, Jeff Trzeciak, and Michael J. Giarlo. For the next week or so, you can expect introductions from all of us, including descriptions of the topic areas we're going to be focusing on.

What does design have to do with marketing?
I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say that marketing isn't all just making posters and putting on events. There's a lot of strategy and research that goes into developing meaningful services and coherent experiences for patrons. Design, as we're talking about it, is a methodology for addressing patron needs. For my part, I'm going to be discussing creativity and innovation (and I'm pretty sure marketing will come up too!). I'm extremely excited to be involved in this project because it gives me a chance to explore these topics and identify techniques that will help librarians come up with unique, differentiated services that precisely target patrons' needs and wants, which is what marketers are always shooting for. Other DBL authors will delve into topics like instructional design, technology, and multimedia, to name some.

I hope you'll find it useful and that you'll share your own thoughts on the DBL blog. Of course, I'll still be blogging away here on LM and tying in what I learn about creativity and innovation in the marketing context as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More on metrics

Many thanks to Judith Siess of Information Bridges International for sharing with me a previous issue of her One-Person Library newsletter on the subject of metrics. The issue called, Statistics and Library Advocacy is a useful one as it addresses not only those statistics we should collect for assessment purposes, but also those numbers we should collect for marketing purposes. Judith advises,

"Statistics can serve a valuable purpose—proving your worth to your parent organization. When presenting your case to management, you must use techniques and terms that they understand: cost-benefit analysis, unit-cost analysis, value added, and the like. Use spreadsheets to illustrate your points. By using statistics and relatively simple calculations you can show that the value of what you do easily meets or exceeds the amount your institution spends on the library (including salary and benefits, the collection, subscriptions, online services, floor space, air conditioning, water/sewer, and telephone). But you must be specific and have the data to back up your case."
Also, Judith suggests (and I agree), that you should back up stats with stories whenever you can. Doing so makes the numbers more meaningful. Ultimately, it's necessary to figure out why you're collecting statistics before you start considering how to go about it. Otherwise, you could get buried in numbers that serve no purpose and don't help your case, whatever it may be.

Judith kindly allowed me to post her articles in full (PDF), so enjoy!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

In case you noticed

In case you noticed, my posting has been a little more sporadic than usual. That's because I'm working on getting a collaborative blog project off the ground that I think you'll really enjoy. It will be a nice complement to the topics presented in this blog. I hope to be able to tell you more about it early next week. 'Til then, you'll just have to wait in suspense. ;-)

Friday, February 02, 2007

A matter of metrics

Earlier this week, a colleague at a school library contacted me asking about marketing metrics - what's out there, how to select them, etc. It occurred to me that this might be a common question among librarians, so I'm throwing out this offer:

E-mail me or add a comment to this post about your marketing assessment challenges and questions. I'll do some digging into your inquiries and see what relevant marketing metrics could be of use to you and how you can employ them.

I'm just getting my feet wet in this area, but I'm very interested about learning more and have some experience, both practical and academic, that I can offer. Hopefully, it'll be useful for you too! If I don't hear from anyone within a week or two, I'll go ahead and start a series of posts featuring different marketing metrics.

Customers and customer service

Sybil of the Quality Service Marketin blog writes about her take on a Maritz white paper called "Delight or Defection: The Pivotal Role of People Inside the Customer Experience" (PDF). In it, Maritz argues that companies need a better way of understanding "people issues" to properly motivate people on the front lines, which in turn increases customer retention and differentiates the service. As the executive summary states,

"By putting "people problems" at the strategic forefront, companies can turn customer experience initiatives from frustrating flops into manageable and scalable programs – programs that, if executed correctly, create a major competitive advantage in today’s less differentiated reality."
Sybil will offer more analysis of this approach in a later post, but give the piece a read in the meantime.

To round out your weekend reading, stop by the MarketingProfs Book Club Group Review. (You can learn more about Group Reviews here and the Book Club here). The book of choice this time around is Citizen Marketers. You can join in on the conversation by signing up, or you can just browse through the discussions on social media and related topics. Either way, it's pretty interesting. I have to admit, I didn't get around to reading the book in time to participate in the Book Club, but I do want to give it a try at least once. The next book will announced mid-February. MarketingProfs is being secretive about the title for now, but promise that it will be about branding and innovation (two of my favorite topics!).