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Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…

25 Aug

… but which so few do!

 

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  1. Market the service, not the content.
    Telling people about content puts the onus on them think about how they can integrate that content into their lives; many people simply don’t have time to analyse what we’re offering in that way. We should be making it explicit how we can help them so they need no imagination to understand it – and that comes from marketing services. To paraphrase the awesome Sara Batts, Content is, Services do. Doing is more useful to people than being, so when you have a very limited time in which to appeal to people with limited attention span, market to them what you can do.
  2. No one cares about the how!
    Can’t stress this enough: libraries are seemingly process focused, but the the rest of the world is focused on results. When marketing a service we should concentrate on what people aspire to, not the tools which will get them there. A classic example is databases: we say things like “we subscribe to X databases which you can access via the library catalogue” or, even worse, we name them individually. We market the features; what people want to know about is the benefits. Like Mary Ellen Bates says, the way to market databases is to say ‘we provide you with information Google cannot find’.
  3. Market what THEY value, but continue to do what WE value.
    The SLA’s Alignment Project unearthed some fascinating truths about what we as libraries and librarians think are important, and what our patrons and potential patrons think are important. There are marked differences, I’d urge you to read about it for yourselves. (To sum up, users put the emphasis on value-driven attributes, we put it on functional attributes. This is, essentially, points 1 and 2 above, mixed together.) But the key thing is this – it doesn’t mean the stuff we value isn’t important, it just means that it isn’t as valued AS highly by other people. So we continue to DO all the important stuff we value, we just concentrate the marketing on promoting the stuff THEY value.
    .

You don’t need to be a genius to do this stuff, or to have huge marketing budgets, or even loads of time. It’s just a case of reconfiguring our existing efforts to acknowledge some simple rules.

Any that you’d add?

- thewikiman

p.s There is a part two of sorts, for this post, here.

 

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Comments
  • Ned Potter August 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Three simple #marketing rules all #libraries should live by… http://t.co/Nd460UO

  • Ned Potter August 25, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    (Mentions for @batty_towers, @mebs and @SLAhq in that post on marketing libraries: http://t.co/Nd460UO)

  • Mylee Joseph August 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by… by @theREALwikiman http://j.mp/n92W1J

  • Elsemarie Valstar (@evalstar) August 25, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Mooi en simpel stukje over marketing en bibliotheken. Fijn van Wikiman! http://t.co/keQuye3

  • Tracy Thompson-Przylucki August 25, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to challenge you on #2. I agree there are many times when the ‘how’ isn’t (and needn’t be) important to the researcher. However, as professionals I think it’s our task to discern when it actually IS (and should be) important to the user, and then to help the user recognize its importance. The ‘how’ is often exactly what’s needed, as it provides the context in which the ‘what’ is understood. The ‘how’ can deliver that lightbulb moment of comprehension. Your statement on its own may be true: “no one cares about the how!” But part of the service we provide should be to help them recognize when it pays to care.

  • thewikiman August 25, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Hey Tracy, thanks for your comment. I do agree with you – but libraries are SO far entrenched in the mind-set of explaining the how (and in many, many cases this is failing to inspire use) that I’m happy to go to the other extreme for now, and perhaps we’ll meet somewhere in the middle…

  • Anne Slaughter (@aslaughter) August 25, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Marketing rules for libraries. This is good stuff. http://t.co/pUq7JAL

  • libcroft August 25, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Hey wikiman. Agree with all your rules and recognise a lot of those failings! Do we also need to get something in there about the importance of marketing the library service as a person or people? Emphasising the fact that it is a specific individual that is providing a service rather than a service that is being done by a faceless generic person.

  • thewikiman August 25, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    libcroft, I agree completely – I wrote about it in this post about personality in library promotion.

  • Jaakko Sannemann (@Jaakkokeskari) August 25, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by… http://t.co/DAYxnUS via @zite Täytyy toimia näin. Vai mitä?

  • Ned Potter August 25, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Three simple rules that should inform library marketing – does yours get these right or wrong? http://t.co/Nd460UO

  • David Lee King August 25, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Three simple rules that should inform library marketing – does yours get these right or wrong? http://t.co/CpsNAlN

  • Shanti Freundlich (@friendly_rock) August 25, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    This advise was perfectly timed today @theREALwikiman Three simple #marketing rules all #libraries should live by… http://t.co/AdCeh8R

  • Matt Weaver August 25, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by… « thewikiman – http://t.co/mFfvNzM

  • Kate Arnold August 25, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Totally agree with all you say Ned. Pleased to see you’ve looked at SLA alignment project work. There is a great deal of valuable insights in there that we should be using as evidence to change the way we market ourselves & our services.

  • thewikiman August 25, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Hi Kate – I think the SLA Alignment thing is so important, it should be re-launched every year to try and find the all the people who didn’t catch it the last time around! Laura (Woods) and I talk about it in our Marketing Libraries Outside the Echo Chamber presentation so I’ve known about it for a while, but it was great to get even more detail about it at SLA2011. I was particularly interested in Stephen mentioning that psychographically we’re essentially the opposite of our patrons. I believe he said that (in North America, presumably) 70% of people are extrovert and 30% are introvert, and that in librarianship it’s pretty much the exact opposite.

  • Kathy Dempsey August 25, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    All good points. I’d like to add another that will make your 3 more do-able: Get to know your customers (and non-users). Once you know who they are, what they need, & what they value, you can move on from there to do what I call “true marketing.”
    http://www.librariesareessential.com/library-marketing-resources/cycle-of-true-marketing/

  • [...] always brilliant Ned Potter wrote up a wonderful little primer on library marketing entitled “Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…” In his post, he emphasizes marketing the service, dropping the ‘how this works’ explanation, [...]

  • thewikiman August 26, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Kathy thanks for commenting, I agree completely! A huge part of marketing is understanding the market, it’s an on-going give and take process, not a one-off promotional event. In the Strategy chapter in my own marketing book (forthcoming) I emphasise the gains that come from strategic marketing, embedded in what a library does, rather than a series of unrelated efforts at marketing something specific. Getting to know the patrons (and potential patrons) is absolutely key.

  • Ned Potter August 26, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    Yesterday I blogged about 3 very straight-forward marketing rules every library needs (http://t.co/Nd460UO). Today I've blogged a follow up:

  • kate smyth August 26, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Yesterday I blogged about 3 very straight-forward marketing rules every library needs (http://t.co/Nd460UO). Today I've blogged a follow up:

  • [...] juice will help them reach the finish line quicker. (This encapsulates marketing rules 1, 2 and 3 from the previous post: market the service, not the content; no one cares about the how; and and market what THEY value, [...]

  • Bohyun Kim August 26, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    This is really spot-on "Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…" http://t.co/LxbJWyQ by @theREALwikiman

  • jill_robinson (@jill_robinson) August 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    For my library peeps: 3 simple marketing rules all libraries should live by… http://t.co/Elu9E1G

  • Bohyun Kim (@bohyunkim) August 26, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    This is really spot-on "Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…" http://t.co/LxbJWyQ by @theREALwikiman

  • Sarah Clark (@OKLibrarian) August 26, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Awesome! RT@theREALwikiman Three simple #marketing rules all #libraries should live by… http://t.co/UC69goK #infolit

  • Ed Jewell (@WiredDilettante) August 26, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    See @theREALwikiman , see, this is what your inspirational posts (http://j.mp/rlK6oB) make me do! http://j.mp/rdLNUa

  • Ned Potter August 26, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Three simple rules all libraries should live by http://t.co/Nd460UO – & the Patrons As Marathon Runners Analogy… http://t.co/KZUX68F

  • Text a Librarian August 30, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    RT @bohyunkim: This is really spot-on "Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…" http://t.co/PjewrkZ by @theREALwikiman

  • ProQuest August 30, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    RT @textalibrarian: RT @bohyunkim: This is really spot-on "Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…" http://t.co/Tk5Se6q

  • Danielle Salomon (@DaniSalomon1) August 30, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Good advice on marketing and libraries. RT @theREALwikiman: http://t.co/L1fRSMU

  • David Bates August 30, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Excellent stuff. I think the midway point between you and Tracy Thompson-Przylucki is that no-one cares about the how…. unless they get the why. Here’s an example from shortly after I joined my previous library.

    My manager contacted me to say that we’d have to cancel a training session because with a week to go only one person had booked on it. To me the reason was obvious – it was simply advertised as “RSS Training”. I asked my manager for 24 hours to see if I could get a few more people on it and then re-branded it as “What’s new? Learn how to keep up-to-date and informed in just 90 minutes”. Within 5 hours of my initial email we had 12 bookings, by the end of the week we had a waiting list, demands for a second session and complaints that we’d not advertised it earlier!

    Sell the “why” successfully and watch the queue of users wanting to know “how” grow before your eyes.

  • CTState Library August 30, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    RT @proquest: This is really spot-on "Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by…" http://t.co/X6Yt414 via @bohyunkim

  • Dana Longley August 31, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Excellent post – just sent it to my co-workers, as marketing is something we struggle with mightily working with adult distance learners. I could see these points also being very effective in approaching library instruction (which is what I do) as well!

  • thewikiman August 31, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Hey David, thanks for your comment. That is a great example of simple re-branding making a huge difference. Because you’re talking benefits not features! So easy to do! Why can’t we all do it!

  • thewikiman August 31, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Hey Dana, yes you’re right, the same principles apply to induction. I’m about to be doing inductions for the first time in October, so will try and apply my own rules!

  • ALA_TechSource September 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by… « thewikiman http://t.co/AWsVLKM

  • [...] time.   It’s just a case of reconfiguring our existing efforts to acknowledge some simple rules.Show original Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark [...]

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