Marketing trends to watch – from Alison Circle

More words of marketing wisdom from Alison – you can read the full post, and I have posted some highlights here, along with a few of my thoughts 🙂

This is a very good point for starters:

One bad habit in Libraryland is that too often we look exclusively at libraries for ideas and trends. For example, when redesigning web sites, we look at other libraries, not trendsetting retailers or innovative nonprofits. We’re guilty of a little too much me-too-ism. As a marketing professional, I see trends everywhere, ideas ripe for libraries to pluck and make their own in order to demonstrate that we are still here and better than ever.

Trends followed by Alison in no particular order:

1. Twitter – allows you to speak directly to customers, run instant polling and build loyalty

I didn’t “get” Twitter for ages until I changed my focus on who I was following and thought more about the identity I wanted to portray. I’m a Business Librarian and I’m now following a range of businesses, business news and business info vendors, along with fellow librarians and few fun things. I’m retweeting things I see that might be of  value to my followers. I can certainly see how libraries could fit into the Twitter picture. There are disadvantages – tweets can get lost in a continuous stream of updates for instance. But on the other hand its a very easy channel to use to publicise blog posting and news items, so why not get on board.

2. Value. Value. Value

It isn’t hard to figure out your value. Conduct this exercise. Think about where you fit in each of the three circles … [important to audience – you are good at it – no one else is doing it]. Where they intersect is your value proposition. Tell people this story over and over. Then over again. You’ll get tired of it long before it penetrates public consciousness.

Ah yes value. I think we need to be smarter at demonstrating this to our customers.  I work in an academic library and I think we need to make it more obvious how our resources can deliver value to students. Don’t just link to “library resources” in an online learning environment but be blatant – “how to find the 5 articles you need for your essay”

3. Online reputation management

In today’s world, organizations must spend as much effort managing their online brands as they do the physical one. Without diligence, the online brand may fall out of sync with your offline marketing messages. User-generated content, blogs, and online forums all mean that the flow of information and messages about an organization is no longer controllable.

4. Video marketing

Today, advertising is flipped on its head—and can be had for a completely different cost equation. For example, take the story of YouTube sensation Lauren Luke, a self-styled makeup maven. She started selling cosmetics on eBay and soon was putting up videos on YouTube that she modestly taped from her bedroom. Her videos have logged more than 50 million views, and her YouTube channel has 250,000 subscribers. She never paid for a single ad.

Further evidence for this one today –  “Forget the 30-second television advertisement, the Internet is where it’s at”, says Air NZ (via bernardchickey on Twitter)

5. Value-added content

A modest way for libraries to do this is to add an “If You Like” enhancement to the catalog, similar to what Amazon does. This pushes circulation and provides a core value enhancement for customers. Seattle Public Library offers searchers a “similar titles” feature as well as tags. Most of us, however, are still using the online catalog like a bookshelf.

6. Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing, or marketing through a mobile channel, is one of the first new channels to arise in over 50 years and is quickly becoming a primary way to reach customers. Phones are now the one-stop shop for communication, digital services, email, photos, and navigation. Libraries can embrace this channel and quickly. At a minimum, web sites should be easy to navigate in a mobile browser. Provide the option to receive notices via phone (even my dentist does that) and develop specific apps to enhance your presence on customer devices.

7. The art of being real

You’ll also hear this referred to as the trust economy. Libraries have this in spades. In fact, I can think of few others that have us beat. We have so many stories to tell about ourselves: successful job seekers, kids using Homework Help Centers to improve grades, childhood literacy through Ready To Read. We could own the trust economy and should be shouting those stories from the rooftops.

8. A deeper shade of green

Some libraries are doing more to demonstrate their green commitment. Worthington Libraries, OH, for example, selected a green theme for its Teen Summer Reading Club in order to address this hot topic for teens.

I’m not so convinced on this one  – so many businesses/institutions are trumpeting this then unless you have really got something to brag about – like an eco-designed library building – promoting green initiatives may not have an impact?

9. Death of email

This is a subset of mobile marketing, but it is more specific because it deals only with the texting capability of phones. A consortium of international libraries has introduced My Info Quest (, a text-messaging service that provides live reference services for the public. Users get the answer they need from a worldwide network of professionals, but it feels and sounds just like their local library. They never know the difference! Fifty U.S. libraries are participating in this free, librarian-vetted version of ChaCha (a free service that you can call/text from any cell phone for answers to any and all questions), which is nipping at the heels of reference librarians.

10. Micromarketing

Libraries believe this approach can’t be for us, because we are open to all and serve everyone. But reduced budgets and a clamoring marketplace mean we can no longer be the same thing for all people … The trick is not to lose control over your overall brand while appealing to target audiences.

11. Value of Design

Libraries, in contrast, tend to focus on individual expression, allowing staff to execute the brand however it wants. Instead, standardize your library’s brand through use of templates, consistent color palette and fonts, and development of (and adherence to) a brand book. We need to move beyond what is fun for our staff toward what is best for our brand.

12.  Speed

Conduct a thorough evaluation from the customer’s point of view to determine how service delivery can be streamlined and made easy for them. If people have to work at it, they’ll walk away. Early on in my library career, a senior manager was proud that our library had “taught our customers well” how to follow our protocols. This kind of thinking just doesn’t fly anymore.

13. Emotional connection

Marketing today is all about making an emotional connection that establishes relevance to customers. Libraries want to be all about content. But now that content is everywhere (including contradictory dates for Queen Nefertiti’s birthday), libraries—almost better than anything else—need to and can cement that emotional and personal connection  … When we focus on our collections, electronic databases, or—heaven forbid—library FAQs, without first establishing an emotional connection, I worry about the future relevance of our great institutions.

We really need to concentrate on this to build our point of difference between other information providers such as Google, Amazon etc.

2 thoughts on “Marketing trends to watch – from Alison Circle

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