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.

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