February 17, 2018

Another Resource: from ALA

This week I received a copy of Bite-Sized Marketing, and thought you’d like to be aware of it. One of the authors is Nancy Dowd, whom you might want to follow if you don’t already. She writes a blog called "The M Word," focussing on marketing and libraries.

Available from ALA, Bite-sized Marketing focuses on word-of-mouth marketing. If you are looking for somewhere to start, this is pretty good. The book is easy to digest and straight-forward.  

Of course (!) I have a few of reflections.

The complete title of the book is Bite-Sized Marketing, Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian. Now I know that many libraries — even most — can’t afford professional marketing staff, so I’m very sensitive to that. But isn’t it time that marketing professionals do this job? As my executive director so often says, "marketing is the last area to be professionalised in libraries." Why is that?

The book uses the word marketing, and so often that word gets confused with promotion. I’m happy to see that the authors state: "marketing is a concerted effort to articulate your value." Amen!  And that "all good marketing always takes into account a customer’s need and includes an evaluation." Many times organizations (libraries, too) promote what they want, not what customers want.

Finally, I’m always cautious about word of mouth marketing. When combined with other strategies, it can be powerful. I’ve too often seen it used, instead, as a disguise for "cheap." It needs to be done because it is the right strategy, not only because it has a smaller pricetag.

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.



  1. Kathy Dempsey says:

    Thanks, Allison, for mentioning Nancy’s great book and our M Word blog. But the link in Nancy’s name goes to an ALA site instead… I think you meant for it to go to The M Word?

  2. Margaret Heilbrun says:

    See the January issue of LJ for another review of this book. MH

  3. Alison Circle says:

    Yes, I did mean to link to Nancy’s blog. Sorry about that. It is themword.blogspot.com

  4. The marketing may be bite-sized, but the price isn’t. As usual, ALA is charging a ridiculously high price for this. That’s why I rarely buy any ALA publications, for personal or professional use.