Monday, 2 August 2010

Thing 19: Marketing

Effective marketing is an extremely difficult thing to do well. The four Ps - product, price, place and promotion – used to guide services towards the best mechanisms for reaching out to users. However, as the Cam 23 Things programme has shown, we all have the power to become creators of our own products now as well as consumers. As information professionals, we need to be able to find connections and context for our content, to engage in conversations with each other and with our users, if we are to succeed in advocating our services and raising the profile of our institutions.

Branding can play a large part in service marketing but essentially our users need to be able to do two things for our marketing campaigns to be effective: they need to be able to identify a definite and unified signifier for our service and what we do, and they need to know how to communicate with us. Emerging technologies give us many more channels through which to communicate and a diverse array of platforms in which to engage the user: Facebook, Twitter, library websites, blogs, virtual pin boards, VLEs. It is even more crucial now that we present a unified image for our service which signifies what we do and what we offer within this diverse plethora of communication platforms.

It is more important than ever that we engage in conversation with our users, something made possible by new technologies in the sense that conversations now become public and debates may emerge from within the heart of the library’s technological space. These conversations in context are to be encouraged and promoted. We hope to implement a library Twitter and Facebook presence as soon as practically convenient.

Yet in the midst of these new possibilities brought forth by emerging technologies, it is important to remember that older ways of marketing are perhaps not yet dead. Front-line staff recommendations, physical pin boards, recommendation boxes where requests are responded to and pinned up for all to view, leaflets and signage – these are important marketing and communication mechanisms that push out to our users all the added value services which we can provide for them from within the library and beyond.

We need to push a presence out into the virtual space, for example by including links to podcasts of information skills tutorials on our homepage or by pointing our users via a Twitter feed to a Youtube video introducing library staff and our diverse range of services, without forgetting that effective marketing often takes place directly in the physical library in user conversations with physical staff.

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