Marketing and advocacy – or why you should get along to LIANZA’s course!

Heather Lamond, LIANZA’s president-elect, has recently blogged to promote the upcoming advocacy workshops that LIANZA is running in New Zealand. There has been slower uptake for these workshops and I thought I would pitch in and do some promotion.

One thing to be aware of is that advocacy and marketing are not the same thing. So if you have already attending one of the recent LIANZA marketing courses (co-presented by yours truly) you will be exposed to a different emphasis and pick up another skill set. As library marketing guru Kathy Dempsey says marketing is:

determining what people want, delivering it, evaluating consumer satisfaction, and then periodically updating the whole process.

While advocacy is:

getting people who have good opinions of your organization to speak to others on its behalf, to convince other people of its value

Dempsey’s definition does make it sounds like advocacy is part of what other people do for us, but as Heather points out:

we all, as individuals, need to have the skills, knowledge and strength to articulate our value and unique contribution (without having to wait or rely on someone else to do it).  This is not just about negotiating library budgets or funding for new buildings, but about being able to tell our story in a way that makes a difference to those outside our profession

This doesn’t necessarily come easy to everyone, but I believe it’s important to do our bit to develop these skills, so that we can be advocates for our libraries, our customers and our profession at every level. You can find details of the workshops in Heather’s blog post – be sure to attend if you can 🙂


Building a buzz (word of mouth marketing and libraries – book review)

Building a buzz: libraries & word-of-mouth marketing by Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace is a fabulous book. Starting off with a short description of what marketing is all about, they then emphasise the importance of having a plan and go on to describe the key components of a marketing plan and a marketing communication plan. They also include a great communication checklist you can use to self-evaluate all aspects of how your library comes across. The few pages spent on this are really useful stuff and are a great primer for getting up to speed in the area.

Then it’s on to the details of word-of-mouth marketing, and the 5 things you must have (and how to get them):

1. A good product and great customer service
2. A plan
3. A clear, conscious, consistent message
4. A prepared and committed sales force
5. People willing to testify

The book includes reports from the fifteen of the 35 libraries that participated in the Buzz Project that the book authors were involved with. These give rich detail about specific WOMM projects. Each mini case-study gives an introduction, the goals and objectives, key audiences, the message, strategies, tools, budget, impact and lessons learned. These provide a great framework you could use yourself, not to mention some inspiration. The overwhelming number of examples are from public libraries, but there is a case study from BP Information Services which showed how they used a staff survey to increase awareness of their services and to better target new resources to a globally dispersed workforce. It looks like three academic libraries were part of the wider project so it’s a little disappointing none of them made it to the book. Regardless of that there is highly useful information and examples in this book relevant to all sectors.