A Note From
Time to put on your marketing glasses! Our lead
article considers the marketing strategies of service companies and
points out approaches libraries can incorporate into their own
Everyday someone encounters your library brand. Managing these "touchpoints" is an essential aspect of brand management. Learn more by reading "What is A Touchpoint?"
In our Promotion
Gems column we recommend that you forget the slides and focus on the
person the next time you are invited to make a presentation about the
Look for our next issue November 16th when we will feature
tips for holding brainstorming sessions.
Taking Cues from Service
Planning and managing the marketing
strategies of an library information service can be tough. What makes it
so difficult is that an information service is intangible. It can't be
held. It can't be inspected before using it. It can't be stored until it's
needed. A user of an information service has to trust the promises made by
a library about its services. Users have to rely on their experience, what
they know, what they've heard, and their perceptions about a library's
information service when making a decision to use its services. When you
think about it, if you're not a regular library user and you're not
familiar with information services, it's quite a leap of faith to put your
question into the hands of someone you don't know.
aren't the only enterprises faced with the challenge of marketing
intangible services. Hotels, banks, entertainment establishments,
cleaning services, real estate brokers, and travel offices are just a few
other businesses that must overcome the intangibility of what they offer.
For example, hotels are in the business of providing a night's rest. Sure
you can inspect the room like you can inspect a library, but experiencing
the night's rest is like asking a question at the reference desk: it's not
until you actually put your head on the pillow or ask the question that
you begin to know if the service is meeting expectations. And by the time
you've made the committment, it's too late to turn back. Unlike a tangible
product that you can inspect ahead of time and return if you don't like
it, an intangible service is consumed at the time of its
If marketing an intangible service is so difficult,
why do hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants and other service
companies not only stay in business, but thrive? Because they constantly
apply tangible features to their services. Every strategy in their
marketing management playbook strives to overcome the intangible nature of
their services. Hotel brands utilize every feature of a overnight stay to
promise a good night's sleep. Bank marketing strategies strive to earn
your trust while cruiselines tangibilize trips with ports of call and
As the person or team concerned with your
library's marketing program, the strategies and activities of other
service companies offer a wealth of insights and ideas that you can apply
to your own marketing endeavors. I call this "wearing marketing
glasses." Instead of looking at every television or magazine ad for a car
rental agency, bank, or hotel chain as a nuisance, stop and pay attention
to the message and the images they use. Become a marketing critic and
analyze not only the specific ad, but the whole series. Become aware of
their marketing mix -- the different media, communications and events they
use to get their messages across. What's the message? What service
features have they selected to tangibilize and how is it being
accomplished? You might be surprised at what you learn. You'll see
successful campaigns and not so successful ones.
Take the insurance
companies. Now there's an intangible service if ever there was one. In
fact, in the case of a life insurance policy service, you're not around to
experience it at all! How does a life insurance company tangibilize its
service? Many of them start with their name and brand tagline. Prudential
gives you "a piece of the rock" while at Allstate Insurance "you're in
Other marketing lessons abound across service
industries. Here's one from Disney. As a stock owner I received an email
message from the new company president on his first day on the job. In the
short letter he stated his goals and the vision he has for the company,
and provided a quick overview of the company's major initiatives which
span the globe. It wasn't a major report. It was a reassuring note to
stakeholders in the Disney company business -- investors, staff members,
suppliers and others. It's a valuable marketing lesson. When was the last
time you communicated with stakeholders and gave them a snapshot of your
library's information business? Don't wait until there's a
As service marketing strategies come into focus through
your newfound marketing glasses, you'll begin to recognize strategies that
don't work. Take heed and avoid the same mistakes. A couple of years
ago EDS, a computer software services company spent millions on an ad
which aired at the Superbowl football game. It used the analogy of herding
cats to illustrate that managing company information resources was as
difficult as managing cats. The commercial related how EDS offered
services which could successfully manage disparate pieces of company
information. It was, in my opinon, a brillant ad that effectively and
memorably represented their service. Everyone who saw that ad remembered
it. And yet, EDS didn't run with it. They squandered a great opportunity
for making themselves a household name like IBM or Hilton. If they had
allowed the strategy to evolve they could have spun the cat herding
concept into a brand personality which would continue to tell the
company's story. (If you don't remember the cat herding ad or never saw
it, you can find it on the web site of the ad agency which created it.
Go to "Our Work." Click "Television." Go to the last movie entry on the
list called "Best of Television.")
I recommend looking at any
company in the hotel industry for marketing insights. Notice how they
package their intangible services and brand them. Compare the branding
strategies of Intercontinental Hotels Group, owners of the Holiday Inn
brand, with Marriott, owners of the Courtyard brand. What's the
difference? Marriott attaches their corporate brand name to every one of
their services while Intercontinental prefers individual brand names to
stand on their own. Both strategies have their pros and cons. Which
strategy does your library follow when it names services and products?
What ideas and insights can you pick up from either hotel chain that you
can adapt to your own situation?
Another good service industry
to watch is consulting services. In fact, you might find it easier to
relate to the marketing strategies of KPMG and Accenture. Many times
companies share their marketing messages on their web sites. For example,
to review the message theme for Accenture go to http://digbig.com/4fakd Okay. So maybe
your budget can't afford the likes of Tiger Woods. But as you read their
campaign description about performance do you get any ideas of applying
the concept of "performance" to your own marketing message theme? And I
don't mean statistics. What has your library done lately and what
difference has its performance made to library stakeholders?
perhaps you'd feel more comfortable with the approach taken by KPMG at http://www.kpmg.com/about/ourpeople.asp
Notice how they emphasize the roles their people play in providing
services, and what their staff members add to the company and the work
that it performs. How about the clean design of the web site and the
clearly worded descriptions. Each of these features helps KPMG to
tangibilize its services.
I could go on. The point however, is
that you're not alone in marketing an intangible service. There are
other companies overcoming the challenge everyday, many times with
strategies which have approaches suitable for your library's marketing
efforts. Just remember to wear those marketing glasses so you don't
miss a great idea!
What Is A
Touchpoints are all the
physical, communication and human interactions an audience -- users, staff
members, suppliers/vendors, management/investors, partners, prospective
users, and others -- experience during their relationship lifecycle with a
library service. Every day people make decisions and create perceptions
about information professionals and information services based on their
experiences and interactions with libraries and our profession.
you consider the various ways your library brand interacts with and
impacts different stakeholders, it becomes clear that managing brand
interactions, or “touchpoints” is critical to the success of your library.
Touchpoints can include web sites, newsletters, phone conversations,
meetings, press releases, advertisements, networking introductions,
sponsorships, awards, publications, mentoring chats, presentations,
reference desk interactions, reading rooms, exhibit displays, promotion
items -- to name a few. For example, take a few minutes to list every
contact your library has with current library users. From the moment they
see the directional sign for the library to when they interact with a
staff member to the time they visit your website, list all the situations
your library brand "touches" a user. I am sure you'll have quite a list
when you get done, and it will take you more than a few minutes. Each
touchpoint offers you the opportunity to establish and build your
library's brand into a positive experience and memory.
this: Your staff and other stakeholders could be experiencing your brand
touchpoints as many as 100 times per day. Multipled by the number of
people experiencing the interactions, and it becomes apparent that every
day the library brand touches scores of people hundreds of times. And each
time is an opportunity for you and your library to make an impact, tell
your story, communicate your value, and distinguish your services from
Touchpoints are brand assets you should include in
your information service branding plans. The long-term benefits of
assessing and managing touchpoints can’t be over emphasized, especially if
value perceptions are an issue. Brands have been described as mental
footprints. Every time someone interacts with your brand, perceptions and
memories are formed. Don’t ignore your brand touchpoints. Every point of
How many times have you introduced the library by walking
into someone's office and giving a prepared presentation using slides,
handouts or a brochure? We've all done it. We talk about the library, it's
products and services, how great the library is, and in closing we remind
people to call us. And then we walk out the door. During your presentation
did you find out their job title and responsibilities? Their interest
level for services? Phone number and email? Immediate information
Unfortunately, it's too easy to rely on slides and handouts
to carry us through a presentation, and we never take the time to learn
about our prospective users. It doesn't matter whether you're an academic
librarian, a librarian embedded in a corporate department, a public
library director, or a consultant, an invitation to make a presentation
about the library is the perfect opportunity to get to know your users and
relate the library's services and products to their needs.
an exercise I'd like you to try sometime. When you visit a prospective
user, leave the slides and brochures in your briefcase. Instead, take out
only a piece of paper, a pen, and your business card. Just the thought of
starting a meeting without a brochure or folder in hand can be scary. What
are you going to present? Absolutely nothing. This exercise will force you
to have a real conversation with the person. Before going into the
meeting, jot down these words on the piece of paper: Who? What? Where?
When? Why? How? As you speak with the person, fill in the blanks. Do not
start talking about the library until you get a complete story of their
situation. Here's how the conversation might go:
"Hi, my name is
Chris. I appreciate the time you're taking to help me understand how my
library/information service can be of assistance to you. Before we start
talking about the library, I want to take a couple of minutes to get to
know a little more about you and your department/office to determine which
of our services are best suited to your needs and how we can help
This approach creates a "consulting" environment rather than
a "library sales pitch" tone to the meeting, and it sets you up for
showing how the library is a valuable asset from the user's perspective.
The key to a good presentation is to encourage people to talk about
themselves -- their job, needs, preferences, constraints, and what they
consider to be valuable. Use any combination of questions to answer the
"who, what, and where" points. As you listen you're getting to know your
prospective user better, enabling you to make a quick assessment of what
library products and services you should highlight.
Now you're in a
position to make a presentation, one that is tailored to match the user's
needs and wants. You can emphasize the features of library services and
use examples based on the user's profile. You can point out the advantages
of your library over the disadvantages of a competing information service,
or talk about Google's role relative to the services you offer and what
the person may need under different circumstances. Best of all, you'll be
in the position to walk away with an "order for an information service or
product." This is a great way to begin a long-term relationship -- they'll
be library supporters for life.
Your goal during a presentation to
a prospective library user is to find out how the library can make them
look good and solve their information problems. So introduce yourself with
only a business card, a pad of paper and pen. Take good notes and ask
probing questions. Only after you have a profile of your library customer
should you pull out the brochure and handouts to help you make a tailored
presentation which shows the value of the library from the user's
Why Libraries Matter: A Story Long
The Alliance Library System and
TumbleBooks, Inc have produced a new animated online book entitled "Why
Libraries Matter: A Story Long Overdue." The book, in both online and
downloadable format, is available free for use on public library and
elementary school websites.
The animated story, told in rhyming
verse, features a young girl who shows her family and neighbors how
important the library is to them and their community. The Alliance Library
System introduced the blue "Libraries Matter" bracelets last year.
Definitely an out-of-the-box group of thinkers at Alliance! Pick up the
animated book at http://www.librariesmatter.com/
Here's an inexpensive way to jazz up your
library. Display words, sayings, phrases or quotes on walls, doors,
stairways, stair risers, bookshelf ends, cement floors, sidewalks, signs,
posters, fabric hangings, doorway entrances, ceilings, windows, and more.
The Wall Words website features pre-pasted and pre-spaced transfer letters
for painting all types of surfaces. And it won't break your budget. Most
quotes are only $27.95. The website takes orders and makes letters and
stencils that have a one time use. The stencils are easy to apply and the
lettering is perfectly spaced. They offer a wide selection of quotes,
phrases, words and single-image designs, or you can use your own. The
website allows you to review your selection in the color and typestyle you
select. Looks fool-proof to us. http://www.wallwords.com/index.htm
Steve Abram at Sirsi has written
a series of 3 articles with 32 tips for inspiring innovation in your
library. I always enjoy reading Steve's perspective and contemplating his
ideas. Here are the links to his articles. <http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/>
Brand Gap: A Review
Every once and a while a book
arrives on my desk which I can't put down. I thumb through pages and
before I know it, I've got numerous sticky notes bookmarking nuggets.
Here's one for you, "Brand management is the management of differences,
not as they exist on data sheets, but as they exist in the minds of
people." In that one sentence Marty Neumeier captures a basic tenent of
branding. And there are more in his book, The Brand Gap (revised edition).
This is a must-have and must-read for everyone involved in marketing and
communicating the products, services -- and above all -- the benefits and
value of libraries and information. Characterized as a "white board
presentation," the book's black and white pages are a pleasing combination
of text, imaginative photos, diagrams, and sketches. In his preface
Neumeier says one of his goals is "to give you a book you can finish in a
short plane ride." Well, he succeeded. In 45 minutes (or less if you're a
speed reader) I got excellent insights into basic branding concepts --
differenciation, collaboration, innovation, validation, and cultivation.
The writing style is snappy and personal. A back-of-the-book summary
presents key points while a handy glossary of branding terms and a short
annotated reading list rounds out the 190 pages. Buy this book and have
your highlighter and sticky notes handy.
The Brand Gap by Marty
Neumeier, (Revised Edition) 2006
Published by New Riders. ISBN
Contests to Enter
1.) Win $2,000 for your library
with the "@Your Library" awards sponsored by FOLUSA, ALA, and Baker
& Taylor. Friends groups of all sizes and types, including school,
academic, and public library Friends groups, are encouraged to apply.
Award information is available online at <http://www.folusa.org/>, including
the official entry form, guidelines, and details. Deadline is November 15,
2005. Go for it!
2.) Win $1,000 in the IFLA Management and
Marketing Section's International Marketing Award for 2006. Sponsored
by SirsiDynix, the award considers any library in the world which has
employed an on-going marketing project during recent years. The winner
gets airfare, registration fee, hotel charges and per diem and a cash
award of $1,000 to further marketing activities in the library. Deadline
for submissions is: November 30, 2005 (if it says January 2005 on their
web site, ignore it.) For details please visit: http://www.ifla.org/III/grants/marketing-award.htm
Help This Marketeer
Centennial Celebration Ideas Sought
Kari Martin at
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Libraries is looking for ideas for a
Centennial celebration. Kari writes, "Our University is currently in its
Centennial year. As such, all large units on campus have been challenged
to plan a special event and have been given a budget of $3,000 - $4,000.
EKU Libraries are in the process of trying to identify a special event we
could host some time in March or April. Our target audiences would include
our students and faculty/staff, as well as our community users. I would
appreciate any ideas, suggestions, and/or experience you could share with
me regarding similar celebrations that have taken place at your library.
What did you do? What was well received? What was not well received? What
did it cost?"
(In case you're wondering, the 2005-06 academic year
is considered the Centennial Celebration year. And the library archives
have plenty of information, documents, and pictures regarding the
library's history.) Send your responses to MarketeerSOS@chrisolson.com.
We'll compile and publish responses in the November issue of Marketing
A public library wanted to know if other libraries
sold advertising space in their library newsletters. And guess what? Out
of the thousands of people who read this newsletter, not one of you sent
an example. Huh? I don't believe it.
We did receive an excellent
tip from Stephanie Holloway, Community Relations Manager at the Anderson
Public Library in Anderson, Indiana. She notes, "We currently receive a
[special] bulk mail rate for our monthly newsletter. We once included a
coupon in our newsletter and were subsequently scolded by the post office.
Apparently you cannot receive the special bulk mail rate when you put
corporate or for-profit types information in your
Stephanie's experience shouldn't put a damper on
your newsletter mailings. Here's the US Post Office page which explains
the restrictions using the Special Bulk Rate allowed for nonprofit
However, you can register and use a regular bulk mail or periodical rate
permit for your newsletter and not have so many restrictions. <http://pe.usps.gov/text/dmm200/discount.htm>
Our best advice is to talk with your local post master. The guidelines for
postal mailings are so complex that it takes experience to know the
options and requirements.
Returning to our question about selling
advertising space in library newsletters. I'm surprised that no one is
selling business card ads or small classifieds to offset production and
mailing costs, or offset web site maintence expenses. So if you're out
there selling advertising space in your library newsletter or web site,
let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketeer SOS Update
Remember Amy Skolnik from
Exeter Public Library in Rhode Island? She was looking for library cards
to celebrate her 1st year anniversary. Well, thanks to many of our
readers, Amy was able to display more than 60 different cards along with
notes of congratulations. The folks in Exeter saw how their library
connects them to a world of information - literally. The display included
cards from Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Canada!
display, Amy writes "This is how I created our display: I put each card in
a clear report-cover sleeve with either a note from the library who sent
the card or a map of that library's state. All the sleeves were mounted on
a wall where everyone could see them. To ensure that people would actually
look at the display, I created 4 mini-quizzes and drew a winner from all
completed entries. Examples ofquestions were "Which library sent us a
letter on yellow paper?", "Which library card has palm trees on it?",
"What 4 countries did we receive cards from?" (Answer: Sweden, New
Zealand, Australia and Canada).
Amy continues, "I promoted the
display and information about Library Card Sign-up month on the library's
blog, in our newsletter and in a local press release. In addition to the
display, I created a "Library Card Wall of Fame" encouraging students in
grades K-6 to sign their name according to grade if they had a library
card. Kids were excited to see their names and the names of their friends
when they stopped in. It also served as a very informal survey of what age
students were spending the most time in the library (grades 2 &
In closing Amy says, "I really appreciate the efforts of all
the libraries who sent library cards to us and I am willing to pass on the
collection if anyone asks." Photos of Amy's display can be found on the
library blog at http://exterpubliclibrary.blogspot.com/
Thanks everyone for
your great insights and ideas! Need some help with a promotion program?
Looking for advice? Want to know what others have done? Send your
marketing challenge to "Help this Marketeer" at MarketeerSOS@chrisolson.com.
October 21. Marketing As If Your
Library Depended on It! A full day workshop by Pat Wagner in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. http://rcm-library.rcm.upr.edu/scmla2005/
22. Service Strategy: How to Get the Right "Mix" of Services.
Marketing Library & Information Services: A Practical Approach. School
Librarians = Information Gurus. Workshops and sessions at Internet Library
2005, Monterey, CA http://www.infotoday.com/il2005/preconference.shtml#sunday
25. Writing for the Web. Sponsored by OCLC CAPCON Center. A half day
workshop in Washington, DC. http://www.oclc.org/capcon/training/courses/descriptions/I170.htm
4. Market Your Library: Reach Out to Faculty and Students. A workshop
by Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace. Sponsored by the Ontario College and
University Library Association. In Toronto. http://digbig.com/4ercq
14 Branding 101. Learn the basic strategies for creating and managing
a library brand. A morning workshop by Chris Olson in Washington, DC.
Sponsored by OCLC CAPCON. http://www.oclc.org/capcon/training/courses/descriptions/M211.htm
14 Promoting Library Services Using Blogs and RSS. A live online
course. 4 hours over 2 days taught by Max Anderson. Sponsored by SOLINET.
4 Planning Library Promotion Campaigns. Step through the process of
planning a campaign & apply your new knowledge on a promotion planning
team. A morning workshop by Chris Olson in Washington, DC. Sponsored by
OCLC CAPCON. http://www.oclc.org/capcon/training/courses/descriptions/M212.htm
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Are your marketing efforts stuck on the back burner? Time
to call Chris Olson!
Whether you need help on a product
make-over, logo design, brainstorming sessions, promotion campaign, web
site design, communications plans or branding strategies, Chris and her
associates are available to lend a helping hand. Call 410-647-6708 or send
a note to Chris@chrisolson.com.
inquiries and projects are held in complete confidence.
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(c) 1987-2005 Christine A. Olson
Chris Olson & Associates : 857
Twin Harbor Drive : Arnold : Maryland 21012 USA
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Volume 14 Number 10
Cues from Service Companies
Is A Touchpoint?
A Story Long Overdue
Gap: A Review
Contests to Enter
. . . . . . . . . . .
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