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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

People don’t need to know about all the services we provide – they just have to know what’s relevant to them

20 Apr

Reblogged from the Library Marketing Toolkit

Pew Internet have just released their 10 key findings from their Library research:

The slide I’m particularly interested in is number 11, which tells us that:

  • 22% say they know all or most of the services their libraries offer
  • 46% know some of what their libraries offer
  • 31% know not much or nothing at all of what their libraries offer
    .
    .

Initially this makes somewhat depressing reading, statistical proof of what we’ve all known for a long time: the public don’t understand what modern libraries actually DO. The library brand is so synonymous with ‘book’ that there’s little room for the many and varied services we offer, and it really is the services we must emphasize in our marketing, now the content we provide is often readily available by other means. Ambiguity or confusion is the enemy of great marketing – simple messages stick so much better. But inevitably, as we change to accommodate the new needs of our users, and add more and more aspects to the offer we make, it becomes harder to summarize the modern library and easily communicate how we can help people in their lives.

Actually though, the figures aren’t that bad. 22% is a surprisingly high number to know most or all of the services their library offers – I’m not sure I know all the services my library offers and I work there! With an offering as diverse as ours no one needs ALL that we offer, so what matters is not everyone knowing everything, but each group knowing what is relevant for them. Perhaps it’s time to stop worrying about whether people ‘understand’ modern libraries in general, and move on to simply ensuring that the parents know what services we offer for children, the people on the wrong side of the digital divide know we can help them get online and use new technology , the people who hold the purse strings know how important we are to the local community, and so on.

This process is formally referred to as ‘segmentation’ or ‘segmenting the market’ – dividing your users up into groups, basically, and tailoring the message to suit each one. It’s something library marketing types go on about a lot, and perhaps fills non-marketing types with dread… But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. At its simplest level, you’re targeting each group with a slightly different aspect of the same message, making sure they know about one key service relevant to them, and then letting them discover the rest once they’re in through the door.

Going back to Pew’s findings. the 31% who know nothing of the library is much more worrying. But again, the approach needn’t be ‘how do we tell all 31% everything we do in the Library!’ – it can be about dividing that 31% up into existing segments, and targeting them with relevant services. The average person in the street doesn’t need to think ‘I know all about the Library’; they just need to think ‘I want to start looking into the genealogy of my family tree, and I know the Library can help me’, or whatever their need might be.  Segmenting the market is hard to do, but it’s proper marketing – the results can be hugely beneficial.

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A small change in the way these blogs operate

19 Apr
Picture of a spanner

A small adjustment. CC pic by JanneM – click to view on Flickr.

Short version of this post

I will occasionally be reblogging content from the other blog I write, at librarymarketingtoolkit.com, on here.

Longer version

This blog, thewikiman, used to have a lot of content about marketing libraries on it. In fact that’s partly why I got asked to write a book on the subject in the first place. When the book came out and I launched the website to go with it, I started blogging about marketing stuff on there, and in order not duplicate content, I stopped talking about marketing stuff on here.

However, after thinking about it for a while and talking to people who read one or both of the blogs, I’ll now be reblogging relevant content from the Toolkit blog on thewikiman blog. This for a number of reasons:

  • The content I’ll be reblogging is relevant to both audiences
  • I blog far less these days anyway so splitting the posts between blogs makes them even scarcer…
  • I still sometimes hear this wikiman blog referred to on Twitter as ‘one to follow for marketing’ so there’s an expectation that it’ll have some marketing stuff!
  • This blog gets a larger audience than the Toolkit blog, and generally speaking I want as many people to read my posts as possible
    .

So I’m going to start by reblogging the last couple of posts from the Toolkit blog, and then carry on as normal from there. It won’t be that the blogs are identical – there’ll be plenty of stuff on here about library issues generally which doesn’t make it onto the Toolkit blog, and the odd obscure marketing post on the Toolkit blog that doesn’t make it on to here.

I hope that’s okay with everyone! :)

Cheers,

Ned

 

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10 top tips to build momentum in online communities

25 Jun
A motion-blurred spinning top

Flickr CC Image by Creativity103

 

There are more and more communities online – working with people is great, and now it is easy, too. Anyone can create a network, or a movement, or a collaboration. But what works well and what doesn’t?

I was originally going to present on how to build momentum in online communities at Online last year, but I ended up not having time to attend and this has been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I’m going to put this out there and see if there’s any more tips people would like to add.

As a bit of background, I’ve been involved with a few projects that involve online communities in one form or another:  the Library Routes ProjectBuy India a Library, and most relevantly LISNPN, the New Professionals Network. Crucially I’ve also been involved in at least one project which hasn’t worked out, so I’ve had positive and negative experiences from which to put together these tips.

3 to 6 are basically about people, 7 to 9 are about promotion, and the others are general logistics stuff.

1. The first month is crucial, so work like a madman/woman

The word ‘month’ is flexible here, but basically the time around the launch is so, so important to building momentum which can be self-sustaining thereafter. It’s worth delaying the launch of a new network / community / project until you know you (and your team – see below) have time to dedicate to making it work.

2. Stagger new developments

As much as its tempting to launch your new project in its final, ninja-level awesome state, if you can bring in new developments and ideas over the course of the first few months, this really helps keep up momentum. New things re-engage people, and make them more likely to share links to your project via their existing networks.

3. Assemble a team

Working with other people is BRILLIANT. They’ll think of things you haven’t thought of, spot potential you hadn’t considered, and save you from embarassing or costly mistakes you hadn’t forseen. (Or is that just me?) A team of people also means more natural advocates for the project, and more support for the community itself.

4. Empower the members

Trying to control any kind of online space is SO 2005. You’re better off giving power and responsibility to the whole membership, rather than trying to micromanage everything. Once your project launches, accept it is going to have a life of its own and try and encourage that. Empowered members are engaged members – they’re more likely to feel the kind of ownership which gets them more involved.

5. Have a horizontal hierachy

Very closely related to number 4- as much as it is important to have people acting as administrators in an online space, it’s better if people aren’t waiting on you (or whoever is nominally in charge) to make things happen. So allow people to edit the online space, to set up their meet-ups, to contribute resources, etc etc.

6. Utilise champions

Word of Mouth Marketing – it can’t be beat! If the right people talk to the right networks, that’s a far more effective way of spreading the word than doing it all yourself. Find people who love the project, and give them all the information and tools they need to spread the word more widely.

7. Disseminate online – everywhere!

This obvious but there’s a really important underlying point here, which it took me AGES to learn – promotion works best if people find out about something in more than one way, and more than once. It’s very rare that a single event will have a massive effect – so, a single ad in the perfect journal, or a single blog-post guesting on the perfect blog; you’d think they’d cause a massive amount of people to check out your online community, but they won’t. It’s actually people seeing the same thing in a variety of sources they trust and value that makes people actually DO SOMETHING – i.e. click a link and have a look at a post or a website. This is why strategic marketing works so much better than one-off-promotion – what Terry Kendrick would call a ‘series of touches at the right times’ result in positive things happening.

To take a really simplified example – if someone tweets a link to a blog post with a title which doesn’t inspire you, you’ll probably ignore it; but if 4 or 5 other people you respect RT it, you’ll probably think it’s worth checking out anyway, and have a look.

8. Use mailing lists

I’m not a fan of mailing lists and don’t subscribe to any, but a lot of people do and whenever stuff like LISNPN got promoted on JISCmail lis-serves, there was always a huge increase in clicks on the site and people becoming members. I think it’s literally because there’s no gap between finding out about something and seeing it in the flesh – you just click the link and your there. For that reason, it’s good to link to an intersting page!

9. Avoid print, or at least don’t rely on it

I’ve found the opposite of 8 to be true with 9 – articles in printed publications just don’t seem to bring people in. I’m sure it helps in a small way (it continues the series of touches described in number 7) but there’s a massive drop-off in direct action resulting from a print-article, probably because there’s no link to click so the half-interested never think of it again, and the quite interested don’t remember to go back later on when they’re at a computer.

10. No one wants to be first onto the empty dance-floor so you need your ducks in a row before you launch

For LISNPN, we got 50 people as members BEFORE we launched, and made sure the forum was populated with some introductory posts etc. After that, for the first month we had an average of 636 page views a day and 10 people signing up per day – that was sufficient to create self-sustaining momentum thereafter.

People are drawn to stuff which is already happening; they don’t want the responsibility of making it happen themselves…

 

- thewikiman

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Introducing the Library Marketing Toolkit website!

09 May

Months in the planning, the library marketing toolkit website is finally live! It can be found at www.librarymarketingtoolkit.com.

A screengrab of the Library Marketing Toolkit website

It looks like this

What’s on it?

The site is essentially designed to give you lots of practical advice on how to market your library – be that public, academic, special or archive. There are tools and resources, lots of useful links, new case studies which will be added to on an ongoing basis, and there’s info about the Library Marketing Toolkit book and its contributors.

There’s also a blog, which will give tips and aim to highlight the best (and sometimes the worst) marketing from libraries around the world. The first post is Marketing libraries with new technologies: what you need to know, and what to do next and features this presentation, which I gave yesterday at an Academic and Research Libraries Group conference on new technologies in libraries:

(Works best on full-screen mode)

What’s coming up next?

The next post on the site will be a fantastic case study from the Bodleian library at Oxford, about their amazing smartphone app which has had everyone from Stephen Fry downwards swooning over it’s amazingness.

There’s also some additional case study material which I couldn’t fit into the book, and several other brand new case studies including stuff from the UnLibrary in Crouch End, high-level tips on crowd-sourcing from JISC’s Ben Showers, and a brilliant how-to on social monitoring from Andy Burkhardt.

Subscribing etc

I’d love it if you subscribed to the new blog – you can subscribe by clicking here – and there’s a Twitter account too, @libmarketing, which you can follow here. If you want to spread the word about the new website on Twitter (for which I’ll love you forever!) here’s a ready made click-to-tweet link to it.

About The Library Marketing Toolkit book itself

The Library Marketing Toolkit will be published by Facet Publishing this Summer (probably 20th of July in the UK, and slightly later in the US / Canada. Stateside it will be distrubuted and marketed by Neal-Schuman, who’ve just been bought by the ALA). It is aimed at public libraries, special libraries, academic libraries and archives, and is extremely practical in nature – ideas you can apply right away to market your library more succesfully.

The best part is, it has 27 fantastic case studies from really amazing people and libraries from the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Contributors include organisations like the British Library and the National Archive, New York Public Library, University of Cambridge, JISC – and amazing individuals too: see the Contributor’s page of the Toolkit website for details of all of them.

You can order it direct from Facet, or via Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada etc. As mentioned in the previous post, a free chapter is available for download, here (PDF).

We have one advance-copy review so far, a great one from Nancy Dowd, the vertiable QUEEN of marketing libraries!

Ned Potter’s  book will help any library succeed in creating a community that is aware and engaged in its library. He has written an easy to follow tool kit targeted at the specific marketing needs of librarians that is sure to become a favourite resource for anyone involved in marketing a library. There are case studies from libraries around the world that will inspire you no matter whether your library is large or small. You’ll love this book!’ - Nancy Dowd, Author of ALA’s Best Selling Book, Bite-Sized Marketing

- thewikiman

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