Welcome to LJ’s Bubble Room – where marketing ideas and tools bubble up to the surface. In a time when libraries face so much competition and need to reinvent ourselves as transformational agencies ( see OCLC’s From Awareness to Funding report: oclc: From Awareness to Funding) I believe that is going to happen with a lot of help from savvy marketing, not just because we will it so. Here in Bubble Room I’ll talk about terms, trends, innovations in the field of marketing, both specific to libraries and to the marketplace in general.
Let’s start with this critical marketing question: in this age of Google, when information is available everywhere and at anytime, what compels people to use a library…in marketing terms, what is the key differentiator, the value-add, of libraries? Answering this question defines how a library positions itself to customers and articulates its value to the community.
The answer, of course, is our people. At Columbus Metropolitan Library the way we say it is: Without our people, we’re just four walls and a bunch of books. We use this headline in many applications, from advertising to recruiting. But because the answer is so self-evident, many libraries generally take the value of our people for granted. Instead of highlighting the faces and personalities of our staff, I see a lot of focus on the very information that is easily available anywhere.
This is why at our library we invested some modest dollars in good quality photographs of our staff and have plastered their warm and welcoming faces everywhere – from our website (columbuslibrary.org) to banners to personalized posters. The impact has been powerful and effective, practically making rock stars out of our staff. And it is our people who are going to make our libraries those transformational agencies that we need to become.
Here’s an example of something we did, super easy. The shell is a template and the copy remains the same among all our staff. The photo, name and signature change (obviously!) We print these in house and on demand.
Let me know what’s on your mind and the marketing challenges you are facing. We have a lot to talk about!