Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making the unfun fun: A marketing lesson

This news from Florida Radiology Imaging should give any librarian a boost of inspiration. The creative people at FRI held a brainstorming session in which they devised a way to persuade women to get those pesky but important mammograms done. Their solution? Throw a party! FRI now offers Midnight Mammogram & Manicure sessions where women can invite up to 13 of their friends for an evening of wine, food, pampering, and mammogramming. According to a local news article,

"The idea came about as employees at Florida Radiology Imaging brainstormed for ways to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

"You have heard of women going to Botox parties. Well, we decided this is way more important than that," said Melody Huffman, marketing director for the radiology group. "I have friends myself, moms who work and are so involved with school -- the last thing they do is take care of themselves. But you can always get a girlfriend to go to dinner. So we're trying to make it easy and fun to come out and take care of your health."'
The service, scheduled to run through October, is now booked through November, and then who knows? Their event site even features e-mail invitations, easily allowing women to spread the word.

Ok, librarians. We have our challenge! If a medical facility can make mammograms fun and actually motivate people to want to have them done, then making libraries fun and rewarding to use should be a snap, right? This is another EXCELLENT example of Triumphs in Marketing. Notice that this had little or nothing to do with promotion, and everything to do with rethinking services so that they appeal to women's needs and preferences. Also notice that this program is the result of a brainstorming session. Brainstorming is not fluff - it can have real and significant consequences and is a technique we should make more good use of. Kudos, FRI.

Bringing in non-users: A report from WLA

As you may remember, I recently got back from a trip to Green Bay, WI to speak at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference. It was awesome to be back in the Midwest, and in true Midwesterner form, everyone was extremely gracious and welcoming to me - thanks, WLA!

I thought you might like to see the PowerPoint presentation I gave in my session called, "Taking the 'Non' Out of Non-User: Increase Your Library's Reach with Creative Marketing Strategies."

I'm sure some of this will make no sense out of context, but you can always drop me a note if you have questions. I would like to make a couple of points based on some of the questions from the attendees (which I'm quoting liberally here):

Q: What if you have no money to draw in non-users?
A: None of the ideas I talked about in the presentation involve a lot of money unless you're thinking about designing new services for completely new patron bases (doing that can take a lot of staff time and resources). The key things I can advise people is to talk to as many people as you possibly can all the time by viewing all of your contacts as means of learning something new, and make the most of the contacts you do have. For example, you could form partnerships with other public or private entities who can help offset costs. There tends to be a lot of goodwill out there for libraries - use it!

It's all about building relationships, and that doesn't always involve money. If you're very concerned about cost, branch out slowly. Start looking for patron needs that are related to needs you're currently filling, and then fill those needs in a slightly different way by only modifying current offerings rather than overhauling them.

Q: What's the 'big idea' for libraries?
A: I talked a bit about how important it is to approach potential new users with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for what you represent (your library's 'big idea'). It may sound cliche but it's absolutely true: If you don't care about what you're doing, no one else will. Someone then asked me what I thought the 'big idea' for libraries is. I then proceeded, in a very bad-marketing-like way, to ramble on about libraries as creativity labs, to which my colleague responded, "I was hoping for a slogan!". I told him I had nothin'. After thinking about it for a while, I did come up with some possibilities:

  • Your ideas. Your library.
  • Build ideas @ Your library
  • Creativity counts @ Your library
  • Your library: Where good ideas grow
  • Try something new. Visit your library. [Especially good for non-users, eh?]
  • Try-on-for-size; Realize; Harmonize; Patronize your library.
  • Libraries are built with ideas. Find yours here.
Ok, so these are just some starting points, but don't you hate it when you think of things long after the situation where they'd be useful has passed?! I guess what I'm saying is that I think libraries' big idea is ideas. Unfortunately, nobody in the group had other thoughts on what our 'big idea' is. So, I ask you, daring readers: What IS the big idea and do you have a slogan to add?

Some changes on LM

Here are some changes on the LM blog I thought you might like to know about:

1. Good Marketing Reads - This widget contains some interesting books from my newly-created LibraryThing account. To be honest, I can't claim to have read all of them YET. I ranked the ones I've finished reading and the others are on deck. Lately, most of my reading has been on creativity in preparation for at talk I'm giving in November, so expect to see some titles that will help you tinker with your thinker (wow, the lack of sleep last night must be catching up with me...).

2. Drop Jill a Note - This Meebo widget will allow you to get in touch with me and/or leave me a message (if you leave me a message and want me to get back to you, please include some contact info). This widget replaces my previous one to the Library Marketing Exchange Chat Room. I'll probably still use the chat room in the future, but I found that a number of people would pop into the room, ask a question, and find no one there. That's not very nice so I thought this was better. So far, it's been working out well in that I've received some questions and comments.

Happy reading and thanks as always for dropping by!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wild Wyoming libraries

I was Meebo-ed by an anonymous tipper who asked if I had heard about the Wyoming Libraries Campaign - thanks anon.! I wrote about it last year, but was glad for the reminder to review their new campaign materials. I think the campaign is pretty funny and relevant for the patron base. I also really like the slogan: "bringing the world to Wyoming." Nancy Dowd has some thoughts on the campaign too.

Cultural institutions tackle memory loss

Good morning, campers! It's the wee hours of the morning (at least for me). I'm at RIC ready to fly to Green Bay, WI to give a talk on drawing in new users for the Wisconsin Library Association - how fun! Ever on the lookout for great marketing inspiration, I had to whip up this post after reading a great story in USA Today. An article called, "Alzheimer's program is one from the art" describes how Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art offers special programming to persons with dementia and their caregivers. The program is called Meet Me at MoMA. According to the article, the specially-designed tours have been shown to aid recall and open people up who might otherwise be too nervous to express themselves.

Not only is this program inspirational, it's brilliant marketing. Great marketing serves important needs. In this case, museums are addressing a significant health issue and nurturing people's well-being, while providing caregivers with a well-deserved respite. Wow! This example is sure to be featured in my talk as a creative example of how we librarians could segment our market and fill unmet needs, even in our overcrowded marketplace. What a wonderful way to draw in non-users and benefit the community at the same time.

I hope to blog a bit from the conference and share any marketing-related goodies with you.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Persuasion through education

The "Small Biz" section of BusinessWeek offers an article called, "Education-Based Marketing Sells" and it is definitely worth a read. In my reference desk experiences, I've often witnessed how teaching patrons about a technique or tool they didn't know they were missing can endear them to the library. It's during those so-called teachable moments that librarians can prove to patrons that they have something to offer that's relevant to their specific personal needs. Education is powerful marketing stuff, as the BusinessWeek article author, Christine Comaford-Lynch describes. She says,

"Sales is about building rapport, not breaking it. When you sell or pitch, you're often breaking rapport because the prospect may be skeptical—no one wants to be "sold." When you educate, you are building rapport. Your credibility is increased significantly when you begin meetings with data that is of value to the prospect. Launch all your meetings by teaching your prospect something or by offering data that establishes that you've done your homework." [Emphasis mine.]
[Ok, so this article is laden with overly-businessy terms. Here's a translation that should help:
  • Sales = Service
  • Sell / Pitch = Promote
  • Prospect = Patron/Customer/User/Client/Whatever Term is Popular These Days
  • Meetings = Meetings or Classes or Service Transacations
  • Data = Information]
These are great points that go along with another marketing principle that I strongly believe in: Never underestimate your patrons! I never approach service encounters assuming that patrons are unmotivated to learn something new or potentially challenging because if I do so, they'll easily pick up on my low expectations and become disengaged. If, however, I begin every interaction as a teachable moment, I demonstrate my expectation that they should be actively involved and also that I have confidence they can learn unfamiliar material. Not everyone will be enthusiastic about getting a lesson when they ask a seemingly-straightforward question, but I can always adjust my strategy after testing their reactions.

In fact, most people appreciate it when I point out a helpful advanced search tip or other extra tidbit of information. I suspect that some of this desire for educational opportunities relates to the trend that TrendWatching calls Status Skills. TrendWatching defines Status Skills as:
"In economies that increasingly depend on (and thus value) creative thinking and acting, well-known status symbols tied to owning and consuming goods and services will find worthy competition from 'STATUS SKILLS': those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it."
In short, education is empowering. By empowering our patrons through education, we gain their trust, respect, and repeat use. The question, then, that librarian-marketers should keep in mind as we interact with patrons in classes, presentations, meetings, and on the desk is: What can we teach patrons in this moment that will give them an edge in their projects? In doing so, we give ourselves an edge over the competition too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Need some inspiration?

If your creativity needs a jump start, take a look at Springwise.com, billed as " required brain food for entrepreneurial minds." Springwise, a sister site of TrendWatching, enlists springspotters who scour the worldwide business landscape to unearth the neatest of the neat business-to-consumer (B2C) endeavors. Here's more from the site:

"Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation. Ferociously tracking more than 400 global offline and online business resources, as well as taking to the streets of world cities, digital cameras at hand...So whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, head of a start-up, management consultant, marketing manager, business development director, trend watcher, or anyone else interested in creating or expanding companies, Springwise will instantly inspire you by getting the world’s most promising young ventures right in front of you."

They also offer a free weekly newsletter so you can easily keep up with all of the innovative ideas being put into practice. For librarian-marketers, you can scan their idea database by topics like Education, Non-profit/Social cause, and Marketing & Advertising.

This is quickly becoming my favorite Web site because I always feel recharged after seeing all of the inspiring ways in which businesses are serving customer needs. For example, the latest newsletter contains an article about a moving company that helps senior citizens relocate with a suite of specialized service options. It's a fascinating example of how one could target this booming demographic by adding special touches to existing services.

Monday, October 01, 2007

User-generated libraries

IG TrendCentral reported on a new social networking/media sharing site called Uber.com. Here's what TrendCentral had to say about the online community:

"The sleekly designed, user-friendly site offers innovative functions and features currently unrivaled by other popular social networking sites. Not only can users discover, publish, collect, store, and share all forms of content (e.g. art, photos, videos, blogs, and bookmarks) all in one place, but the site also provides them with capabilities to consolidate, manage and store profiles, pages and media from YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, and Facebook all in one place. In other words, Uber is a virtual library where users can store their digital footprints.

Inspired by community members’ ideas and fueled by their desire to create, express and share, Uber’s unique Visual Index is organically generated through the compilation of user-generated pages. As such, the platform is quickly evolving into a next-generation media publishing company that, by fostering creative collaboration, allows users to emerge as stars."
I've played around on this site a little bit. You can log in with your Facebook account. It's really neat to see people experimenting with photography and other media, and to see the collections people are putting together. I'd love to see libraries allow patrons to do something similar on library sites with library materials. For example, libraries provide the resources and information for patrons to produce their own media, and then provide a forum like Uber.com so that they can share their collections with others in a library-hosted platform. The idea appeals to me because it's a great way to demonstrate how information resources are brought to life, and to showcase patron's creative efforts at the same time. (Not a bad marketing strategy either...).