ALA’s “Advocating in a tough economy toolkit”

What a great idea this toolkit from the ALA is – so I decided to give it its own post! It:

contains resources and tools, including newsclips, op-eds and statistics to help library supporters make the case for libraries in tough economic times.

It includes material on: libraries and the economy, making the case, outreach to patrons and the public, talking to the media, working with government officials and legislators and staging a rally.

Strikes me libraries (especially public libraries) in New Zealand could do with something similar – so many of us have had to, or will have to, gather together material at very short notice to make a case for library services for one reason or another. I don’t think LIANZA has a resource like this already?

Library Survivor

Thje second trend marketing trend being followed by Alison Circle on her Bubble Room blog is responding to the economy. Circle talks about an idea for libraries  in harsh economic times – utilising after school homework help centres during the day as job help centres. 

 I’ve also spotted:

  • a report in a Milwaukee newspaper that libraries benefits are being rediscovered during the economic downturn
  • the editorial from the New Zealand Listener earlier this year that talks about the importance of libraries in times of economic hardship


Duncan McLachlan (Library Life, Dec 2008) has outlined 6 marketing ideas libraries can utilise to survive the economic downturn themselves. These include:

  • know your customers better and double your efforts with your ‘frequent flyers’
  • show your family values because they match the prevailing mood
  • adjust your services to value-for-money options
  • spend more on promotion not less – but simplify it
  • be quick and responsive
  • go for market share

You can read Duncan’s full column in the PDF version of Library Life, which is available to non-members, just jump to page 14.


All about marketing from the Free Management Library

The Free Management Library is a collaborative online resource which:

provides easy-to-access, clutter-free, comprehensive resources regarding the leadership and management of yourself, other individuals, groups and organizations. Content is relevant to the vast majority of people, whether they are in large or small for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Over the past 10 years, the Library has grown to be one of the world’s largest well-organized collections of these types of resources

There is a section on marketing  which looks like it provides excellent background on a range of marketing topics. It divides the subject into inbound and outbound marketing:

Inbound Marketing Includes Market Research to Find Out:

  1. What specific groups of potential customers/clients (markets) might have which specific needs (nonprofits often already have a very clear community need in mind when starting out with a new program — however, the emerging practice of nonprofit business development, or earned income development, often starts by researching a broad group of clients to identify new opportunities for programs)
  2. How those needs might be met for each group (or target market), which suggests how a product might be designed to meet the need (nonprofits might think in terms of outcomes, or changes, to accomplish among the groups of clients in order to meet the needs)
  3. How each of the target markets might choose to access the product, etc. (its “packaging”)
  4. How much the customers/clients might be willing pay and how (pricing analysis)
  5. Who the competitors are (competitor analysis)
  6. How to design and describe the product such that customers/clients will buy from the organization, rather than from its competitors (its unique value proposition)
  7. How the product should be identified — its personality — to be most identifiable (its naming and branding)

Outbound Marketing Includes:

  1. Advertising and promotions (focused on the product)
  2. Sales
  3. Public and media relations (focused on the entire organization)
  4. Customer service
  5. Customer satisfaction

This point jumped out at me:

Too often, people jump right to the outbound marketing. As a result, they often end up trying to push products onto people who really don’t want the products at all. Effective inbound marketing often results in much more effective — and less difficult — outbound marketing and sales.



Two interesting books to look out for

Spotted while visiting blogs recently  …

Marketing Today’s Academic Library by Brian Mathews, which promises that as its guiding principle the idea that marketing the academic library “should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcasing how the library fits within the daily life of the student.”

And one revisiting that ongoing favourite obsession of our profession – how we come across to others –  You Don’t Look Like a Librarian Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age by Ruth Neale.

How green is my library?

I’m currently following the marketing trends that Alison Circle has been reviewing in her Bubble Room blog.

First up was going green– an interesting one  given there was recent publicity about Google as a carbon criminal  (and an inference from a Google blog that libraries might be one as well).  In her blog post on the subject Kathryn Greenhill makes a very good point that

we should be working to make sure that our information format brand isn’t presumed to be only print books. Maybe we also need to work hard to ensure our “query answering” brand is not “in person”.

The Hartman Group pick gone green for good as an ongoing, with zero “green fatigue” currently in sight.  Their summary mentions green clothing and urban farming but as a megatrend it’s relevant to all sectors.

Useful book: Developing strategic marketing plans that really work

While running a search on libraries and marketing I came across a book review on Developing strategic marketing plans that really work: a toolkit for public libraries, by Terry Kendrick.

I haven’t seen the book myself, but the review by Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) indicates it’s a very worthwhile one to consult – a book that is practical and one that helps convert theory into practice. I’m interested that:

In later chapters Kendrick discusses the market for public library services, and how to discover more about this by market research to help in the creation of a community profile. He goes to describe how the market can be segmented and a value proposition written for each segment.


Top trends for 2009 and beyond from The Futurist

The Futurist magazine put out an annual list of their trends  for the coming year and beyond. There current list is wide ranging – they’ve picked out things like surveillance of individuals, bioviolence and the end of the car. But whatever industry you work in there are usually one or two trends that are directly relevant to what you do.

So how then how will we (as academic librarians, library educators and public librarians supporting our community) respond to trend #4?

Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized. An increase in unusual college majors may foretell the growth of unique new career specialties. Instead of simply majoring in business, more students are beginning to explore niche majors such as sustainable business, strategic intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Other unusual majors that are capturing students’ imaginations: neuroscience and nanotechnology, computer and digital forensics, and comic book art. Scoff not: The market for comic books and graphic novels in the United States has grown 12% since 2006. -World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2008, p. 8

And trend #6 ?

Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it’s acquired. An individual’s professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before. Most professions will require continuous instruction and retraining. Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate job education for almost every worker. At any given moment, a substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs. -Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World, Part Two,” May-June 2008, p 41

Great website for marketing basics

If you need to get up to speed on marketing basics is a great website to start with. It includes a number of tutorials which give background on topics such as market research, customers, product, distribution, price and marketing management.

I was interested to see how the site came about:

In November of 1997 a conversation between a university marketing professor and a university business librarian brought to light the lack of a centralized Internet resource dedicated to the field of marketing.  This conversation was the starting point for building an online directory of marketing resources.  By October 1998 the project moved under the domain name where it remains today.  Over this time the site has grown from a web directory to a comprehensive site that includes tutorials, articles, forums, links to industry news and much more.