Monday, November 19, 2007

Get your creativity on!

I had a blast last week getting my creativity on at NEASIST's program on guerilla innovation in Providence, RI. My gig was to talk about the theoretical/conceptual aspects of creativity, including techniques for enhancing one's innate creativity and the need to adopt creativity as a core professional competency. I had so much fun because NEASIST members are awesome, my fellow co-presenters were terrific, and because this topic (creativity) is very near and dear to me these days. Why, you ask (and even if you didn't)? Creativity is at the heart of every new service or 'a ha' moment in libraries. Ideas begin with creative thought. If we're not thinking creatively all the time, we're missing opportunities and letting problems hang around. Creativity, or ideation, are also accepted components of the marketing process, particularly in new product development. With all of the promotional clutter and competing services we face, unique, compelling ideas keep us competitive. Creativity, unfortunately, doesn't just magically happen. It takes an organizational effort and conscious practice to foster ideas and let the good ones see the light of day. It also takes a strong stomach because creativity is inherently risky as it usually means disrupting the status quo.

So, my talk had a lot of personal and professional significance for me and it allowed me to explore another marketing avenue. You're welcome to view the PowerPoint presentation here:

Since I try not to load my PowerPoints down with text, you probably have no clue what these slides mean, which is why I'm also going to make my script available. Important Note: I use my so-called-script so that I don't forget the major points I want to make but I don't read from it! So, what you'll read is hardly a verbatim account, but it should give you a sense of how the talk went. I don't claim to be the best speaker ever, but I figured if I didn't mention this fact, you'd all be a tad horrified by what you read. :-)


Jessamyn posted a brief account of the program on her blog, and I'll be recounting the major themes from all speakers on the Designing Better Libraries (DBL) blog. I'll also describe how to run a successful brainstorming session on DBL.

Best of luck with all of your creative endeavors!

Update: Here's an attendee's notes on the session.

Update #2: I posted my notes from the talk on DBL. I'll also feature creativity practices on DBL to help you generate lots of ideas!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Using library books as direct marketing vehicles - huh?!

This article from the UK's Guardian entitled, "Libraries to be 'new channel' for direct marketing" describes how some libraries have agreed to allow advertisements to be placed next to the due date slips in the books they circulate. To clarify, these ads don't come from the libraries themselves, but from private businesses. Here's what a director at the direct marketing company had to say about this tactic:

'"The inserts are put in the book at the first page as you're handed the book to check it out," he explained. "They're going to be inserted right next to the panel with the return date on it, which means that everyone will look at them at least once."

"We're looking at somewhere between 500,000 and 300,000 a month at the moment," he said, adding that if 300,000 slots were sold a month the participating libraries could hope to see income of around £10,000."

There are hopes to take this idea nationwide, though not everyone is happy with it, as noted in the article.

I'm not a fan of this approach at all, and I'm a marketing enthusiast! The proponents suggest that this kind of advertising promises big revenues, which may be true, but at what cost? One of our most substantial assets, in my opinion, is our brand - a brand that is based on more than books. Our brand also represents trustworthiness and unbiased information services, which these external ads undermine. No matter how much we need additional funds, we should never relinquish our competitive advantages for short-term gains, particularly when doing so could damage those advantages in the long-term.

This direct marketing approach hasn't reached the U.S. yet, but it's not a stretch to say that it could do so in the future. We've already had similar debates over corporate sponsorships and 3rd party entities like coffee shops occupying our buildings. But this crosses a line, in my opinion. I'm interested to know how this might strike you UK readers out there.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Twitter time?

Marketing Profs set the stage for a debate over the marketing merits of microblogging, available in podcast form: MarketingProfs Podcast: Is Twitter a Valuable Tool, or Waste of Time?

Disclaimer: I haven't listened to the podcasts yet, but will try to later today and add any 2 cents I may have. However, I would argue that we have a responsibility to seriously play with all of these Web 2.0 tools, whether or not we choose to implement them for library marketing purposes.