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?

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