Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The relationship's the thing

Hello, readers! I'm glad to be back blogging with you, though vacation was quite nice...

I wrote up a post for KnowThis that I wanted to discuss here to add a librarian perspective. The post is about what we're really selling to customers as we promote our services to them. There's the obvious stuff like resources, information literacy, and so on, as well as benefits like "write better papers" and "make informed decisions." But I think we provide patrons with more than that. As librarian-marketers invite patrons to co-create their services with them (a modern marketing phenomenon), and as patrons take it upon themselves to define the library brand and promote the library through word-of-mouth, they actually become a part of services we provide. Therefore, when we "sell" library services to patrons we're actually selling a part of our patrons' creativity, ambitions, and accomplishments. In effect, we're selling a relationship. Why not highlight how both patrons and libraries benefit from that relationship and showcase our relationship-building skills as a selling point for our libraries?

Need some examples? A recent one that comes to mind occurred as I was doing some freshmen orientation outreach earlier this week. I overheard one girl say that the library is her favorite part of campus. I immediately approached her and asked if she would be interested in joining my undergraduate advisory group, which is in need of some freshmen representation. She eagerly applied. From a marketing standpoint, I was glad I was able to offer an enthusiastic patron a relationship that allowed her to increase her involvement with our services, thereby keeping her engaged. The selling point, in my mind, is the fact that I have a relationship, in this case a formal one, in place to attract users.

Other ways to highlight relationships with patrons are to keep the promotional focus on the customers themselves and how you allow for interaction/involvement with them. At least, that's how I'm seeing things today. Am I striking a chord? Or just singing to my own tune? :-)


Candice said...


Could you tell me more about your undergraduate advisory council? We have a Library Committee that has 2 students on it but it's pretty inactive.

Jill said...

Hey, Candice. I'd love to but it might be easiest to arrange a time for a phone call since there's a lot to tell. E-mail me if you want set something up: jsstover@vcu.edu.