It's all about marketing and where you go!

Let me tell you about two articles I read last weekend. One is librarian related, and the other is not! Both resonated with me because of our business and what we have to do to keep in business and to move in new directions if we're going to stay relevant in the IM environment that is being whipped out from under our feet! Particularly in the government milieu.

The first is a fabulous article by Stephanie Cripps in the latest Felicter "Reference by hanging around the porch. " No.6, 2005.
The second is an article from the Ottawa Citizen " The Harper Brand: How an ad man would sell the Conservative leader." Joanne Laucius. Saturday, December 17, B4.

How could an article about reference librarians hanging out at a half way house for released offenders have anything in common with Steven Harper and his Tories?

It's all about going "to" your clients and knowing who they are. If they don't come to you you gotta get out there. Marketing is something we are getting better at but we still need practice!

The Citizen article is not about Stephen Harper or the Tories really, it's how the use of marketing techniques would help brand Mr Harper, using the "seven golden rules" of cult branding as described in a book titled The Power of Cult Branding by Matthew Ragas and Bolivar J Bueno.

How do we in our information centres/libraries/knowledge centres fare using the cult branding methodology?
What is our brand identity?
Are our libraries recognized? Do we have a cadre of devoted customers? How do we expand?

What is our brand strategy?
What do we do to get our clients in the door?

What is our positioning?
Who are our competitors? Are we better? How do we know? Are we sure?

If our libraries/information centres/knowledge centres were "products" what/who would we be?
A traditional but comfortable blue-chip stock company? A mediocre, tired Eaton's about to go down? Or an up and comer tearing up the information highway like Google?

What are our icons and symbols?
How about our strength and weaknesses?

Who is our brand evangelist? Laucius believes that Lowell Green of CFRA Radio with his legion of fans influences how people vote. Pehaps we need to enlist his support? People apparently pay attention to this guy! Does he ever use a library? Why do we keep going to the erudite CBC instead of the front line CFRA?
What about Brand expansion and the big one... brand problem?

The article in Feliciter is about a programme where a public librarian in Vancouver goes to a half way house for released offenders. She "hangs around" answering questions, brings library cards to the house and shows them how to use the online catalogue. Genius. Ever so simple. It's out of the box, out of the building.

It's taking the idea of the embedded or outsourced librarian to a completely different level. And if eventually it turns clients at the house into "regulars" at the library then the job is done. Elegantly simple! Not always easy.... but simple.

Surely we can take some of these ideas and use them in our own organizations. Perhaps you already do. Let us know. Post your out of the box marketing strategies with us.

Watch for our January Brown Bag Lunch Programme in mid January on outsourcing librarians. Learn from of our colleagues how they have gone out into their communities, marketed their services and now work outside the walls of the library providing front line services. More information coming to our website in early January.

Until then, Best wishes from all of us on the CASLIS Executive for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a productive Happy New Year! See you all in 2006!

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