Marketing to L2 and L1

31 05 2007

 I get a lot of inspiration from Seth Godin. Today, he posted about the four different kinds of marketing:

There are four kinds of marketing situations, and the approach to each is radically different… If you are trying to sell a house or fill a job, you only need to persuade one person. If you want… your restaurant to be filled on Saturday night … you need to sell a few people…Viral bestsellers, killer websites and essential conferences hit their stride when most people in a marketplace have been converted…Lastly, when the market is defined right, there are situation in which you need to persuade all of the people involved.

So where are we with libraries? Don’t answer that, it’s a trick question. I think the answer is that every library system is different and unique.  In order to campaign most effectively you must take into consideration how many converts you need:

ONE: You’re a needle, the market is a haystack. Make your needle as sharp as you can, put it in as many haystacks as you can afford. Alternatively, you’ve already decided on your one (the date for the prom or the perfect job). In that case, throw the haystack out and engage in a custom, one-on-one patient effort to tell your story to the person who needs to hear it.

A FEW: Being exceptional matters most. Stand out, don’t fit in. Shun the non-believers.

MOST: Amplify the excitement of the few and make it easy for them to spread the story to the caring majority.

ALL: Compromise. You need to be many things to many people, embraced by the passionate but not offensive to the masses. Sooner or later, the issue for the reluctant part of the buyer community is that it becomes more expensive/risky to stand in the way of the group than it is to go along.

I think most libraries want to be in the “all” department. Something Seth doesn’t talk about is what to do with existing companies who are trying to do an about face. Library 1.0 is in the All department at the moment. Maybe it would be worthwhile going down a few rungs to the riskier rung of “many” or “a few” with Library 2.0 in order to get people enthusiastic about libraries again. I think this may be exactly what libraries are doing by courting social networking.

However, as I said in my post at Library 2.0 (inspired by LibraryCrunch), if 49% of our population has an aversion to technology, don’t we run the risk of excluding them as possible patrons by seeking to revamp the library as a tech-savvy place?  It’s dangerous to be sure… do we hope they’ll continue to stick with us for the services we’ve always provided? Will we try and market these services again or simply rest on the laurels of 100 years of library service?  And what happens when push comes to shove and we have to cut a program: a new L2 program or an old L1 program, which gets the axe?

I guess in the end we’re shooting for the “most” category. We want to keep our L1 patrons and court new L2 patrons. We need a split personality to do that.  Librarians coming into the profession will have to meet the needs of all their patron types, and this may require an odd mix of marketing strategies. I wonder what Seth would say about that?

8 things

31 05 2007

I am secretly grateful to Amy at Pimp My Library for tagging me to do the “8 things” meme because it means I don’t have to sift through my RSS feeds* to decide what to blog about (which is a wonderful thing since my Cataloguing class starts today).

Plus, my bio is a bit dry, so I thought y’all might like to hear a bit more about who I am besides a librarian-in-training who digs marketing and technology.

8 Things Meme: Read the rest of this entry »

Workaholic Librarian

30 05 2007

Being new to the profession of librarianship, I feel like I need to play catch up with everything that happened before. I want to read about everything my predecessors did to pave the way so I can understand where they’re coming from and learn from mistakes and successes.

As I sift through information, trying to keep up with everything new, and also trying to systematically absorb everything that’s happened in the last 10 years of wired librarianship, I’m constantly daunted by the sheer volume of information I’m contending with. Even with all my tools and systems to keep everything straight, I cannot hope to meaningfully comprehend everything we’ve been doing for the past 10 years. I had to sit down and think about where I was headed with my endless gathering of information when I read The Shifted Librarian this afternoon saying we don’t have to be SuperLibrarians by day and SuperBloggers by night.

I realized I was trying to do too much this weekend when my partner, Don, had to drag me out to spend time in the beautiful sunshine…I realized quite suddenly that I’d become a workaholic. Having a career that I love, that I’m truly interested in learning more about, combined with the saintly feeling I get for working for an essentially nonprofit company as a public servant is a dangerous mix. It’s very easy to get confused about what is “hobby” and what is “work.”

So I’m learning how to take a break. I didn’t open the computer at all this morning and didn’t check email til I got to work! It felt like a big accomplishment. I did accept an invitation to contribute to another blog, Library Angst, this afternoon. But there are two other bloggers there and there isn’t as much pressure to post daily or every-other-day. I think it will be doable.

I just need to remember to close the computer and go outside every once an a while.

Apparently, I’m not the only one. Check out the comments section of the Shifted Librarian’s entry, and these non-library related blogs:

Library 2.0 – the community

27 05 2007

As a new member of the online library community, there are going to be times when I don’t know about the coolest new thing librarians are doing. There are going to be blogs I’ve missed and resources I overlook. And even though I know there’s no possible way I can just jump into this and know everything that’s going on, I’ll still probably feel pretty sheepish when I stumble across something I feel like I should’ve known about already.

This morning I had one of those moments with the Library 2.0 Community. What a great place! I’m still poking around and seeing how everything works, but it seems very well done and just the sort of place I was looking for.

I’m thinking of setting up a group on it for marketing, and one for MSIS students, if they haven’t already been created.

Seeing yourself at the library

25 05 2007

Today on Seth Godin’s blog, (see: I’m just not that kind of person), reader Craig asks why a friend of his chose to buy something other than a Dyson vacuum when the old Dyson Craig had given her finally went kaput. She loved the Dyson, Craig says…so why didn’t she get another?  Seth’s theory:

Craig’s friend didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would buy a Dyson. Sure, she might use one, especially if it was free. But buying a weird, fancy-looking vacuum is an act of self-expression as much as it’s a way to clean your floors. And the act of buying one didn’t match the way his friend saw herself.

Now, lets take the pieces of that and insert “library”  wherever it says “vacuum”:

[She] didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would [use the library]. Sure, she might use [the materials at a library like books, movies, music]. But [going into a library to get those things] is an act of self-expression as much as it’s a way to [get that information]. And the act of [visiting a library] didn’t match the way his friend saw herself.

Pretty eerily correct.  I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I do feel rather superior every time I visit my public library to pick up a book or a movie. It’s as much a part of doing my duty as it is saving money on information. I’m a future-librarian, and as such, I see it as part of my duty to visit the library, even when my main branch library is pretty run down and has some interesting patronage I’m not usually exposed to. I believe a fellow-library student called it “nasty.” She said she wouldn’t go to the main branch because it was just “gross.” And as I was getting all riled up to tell her that it didn’t matter, I realized suddenly that it did. Just because she’s a future-librarian [edit: she has a job in DC as a law librarian], too doesn’t mean she has to put up with unattractive surroundings and admittedly eclectic clientèle.

She doesn’t see herself as being a patron of that library. In otherwords, the library is not a reflection of herself.  How could any self-respecting person want to be reflected in the main branch of the APL? It is nasty.  She (and many others like her) have been disenfranchised simply because many of our older libraries are so unkempt.  I’m not meaning to be harsh on the APL (thankfully, they’ve just gotten approval to have a new building constructed for the downtown main branch). But it’s a fact of life. If people can’t see themselves visiting a library, then they won’t visit the library.

It’s like Laura Schwartz, head of the Fine Arts Library at UT said: [paraphrase] “How do you  renovate when you don’t have the money? You find the money.”

Bring on the grant-writing courses.

Library marketing community via listserv? I think not.

24 05 2007

I had a bit of a facepalm this afternoon when I realized I’d completely overlooked listservs as a method for fostering a sense of community among librarians interested in marketing. So I went out and hunted up a few (with notations of where I found it):

I wouldn’t get too excited about clicking any of those links as it appears most of them are kaput. And this is important. Library marketing listservs, it appears, have failed. They have certainly failed to market themselves, for I was unable to find any website touting a thriving listserv. And there’s something else. I don’t know about everyone else, but I personally get way too much email as it is. I don’t have time to read half a dozen other emails a day, even in digest format. There’s something inherently wrong/boring/unstimulating about a listserv environment for me. Here’s why:

  1. I’m afraid to post. Even if I have something relevant to share, I don’t want to bug everyone with it…surely they have enough email to deal with already, same as me.
  2. I’m afraid to respond. Only rarely am I truly interested in something I read on a listserv. But when I am, when it’s something I want to respond to or have something to add, I never do it because, again, I don’t want to bug the whole group.
  3. Listservs are not pretty. Nor are they user friendly. Most of them still require subscribers to send some coded message to a subscription email and *hope* that they’ve worded their request properly. Its like typing at a DOS prompt except slower and more frustrating.

And so, I think, the time of the listserv has passed. Not for everything…for small communities (like your branch library) they’re good. Everything sent out will most likely be relevant to everyone on the list. You’ll know who you’re talking to. You know who’ll be annoyed if you get off-topic in your discussion and when to go off-list. But when you start getting bigger, the content and communication becomes unmanageable.

What do I want instead? I still like the idea of a forum. Forums are different than listservs…you can select the threads you want to read and skip those you’re not interested in. That’s why I set up the Tangler community. But discussion boards aren’t perfect either. For one thing, you can’t RSS them. Sometimes you can get notifications of new comments in threads you’re watching, but this is clunky. For the time being though, they appear to be the best chance we’ve got to share our ideas and create a community.

Thoughts? See any I missed? I haven’t tried signing up for that first one… does anyone know if it’s still active?

Yesterday’s library services are today’s killer app

24 05 2007

Well, it seems today is the day for repackaging library services as Web 2.0 apps. Not only has the search engine ChaCha begun providing co-browsing services, but now we’ve got GoodReads. Yes, yes, I know, we’ve had LibraryThing for ages, but that at least had library in the title. I think perhaps this one bugs me because it’s called the exact same thing as the recommender page of my local library.

But why should this bother me? Is it the same? Better? Worse? The premise for GoodReads (and LibraryThing) is the community of recommenders. Rather than one or two librarians researching and providing recommender services and lists, these rely on a community of readers to weigh in and share likes and dislikes with other users. Maybe that is better… it’s at least more ground than one librarian could cover. But what about the community of librarians? Surely we didn’t do it all on our own (or did we?). We must have talked to eachother…served as a recommender amongst ourselves to get the word out. And we read reviews… but how was that any better than anyone else reading reviews?

My thoughts aren’t quite formed on this subject yet…give me time and I’ll put a little marketing shine and silver lining on this.

Update: Every librarian I’ve told about ChaCha says “Oooh, how cool!” Even the ones who provide chat reference/co-browsing! I was beginning to think my reservations were misplaced, but then I took a closer look at the ChaCha Chat window on the left of these screenshots (the middle one) and I was rather amused that they decided to include this particular chat session which doesn’t seem to be going too well.

This guy is looking for golf balls. The guided search person says “Have you checked the Relevant Links in the sidebar?” That would be the grey-box sidebar which are paid advertisement links. When the patron says “none of those are what I want” the Search Assitant drops out and the service says “Another search expert will be on shortly who can help you better!” So…by better you mean you’ll help me out beyond just telling me to click on your advertiser’s links? Are you serious?


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