Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Marketing opportunities abound !!

My son is running to replace himself as treasurer of his school student council - a job he thoroughly enjoyed last year.  While assisting him to prepare his speech we addressed the age-old sales technique of putting the product in the buyer's hands.  I suggested that he exchange, "if you vote for me," for a more powerful, "as your treasurer," to begin a paragraph.

As librarians, we need to constantly assert our facilities and services in many, many ways.  Like a good salesperson, we need to constantly be "on" and ready to sell our product in a way that motivates our ever-changing audience.  Our sales must be a blend of great service, great timing, and a measure of initiative toward self-promotion.

Today, I motivated several patrons to "love" the services I offered and the library I represent.  I was motivated to post this entry, however, by another librarian's motivated and motivating self-promotion of the Rochester Public Library over the weekend on a local radio, call-in, talk show and the buzz it created on our list-serve.

Linda Cruttenden from the Rochester Regional Library Council explained and complemented another Linda, from RPL, "I was listening to the Jim Salmon Home Repair Clinic on WHAM1180 this weekend, when he suggested that a caller consult a particular reference book for his/her answer.  The next caller was “Linda from RPL” who let the listeners know that RPL was ready to help, and that the reference book could be found at the downtown branch!!"

"After her call, Mr. Salmon mentioned that he 'never thought of the library any more' and that he appreciated Linda’s call.  Congratulations to Linda for helping the listeners, and getting some good promotion done for RPL’s libraries!"  Librarian responses on our listserve included Coleen Hopkins from SUNY Geneseo, "Great work Linda and shame on Jim Salmon, he is missing a major resource for himself and his listeners," and Wendy Stephany from Byron-Bergen Middle School, "That's a great example of taking the opportunity to remind people that the library is there and willing to do anything to help."

Certainly, we all thank Linda from RPL for being in the right place and doing the right thing to "sell" our facilities and services, but the real question is, do we step up and do the right thing when we have the opportunities?  Perhaps we don't all have the gumption or the opportunity to garner FREE radio advertising, but what do we do to guarantee our jobs in the 21st century?

I miss many opportunities and many days, should probably be beaten senseless by my own words, but today I enjoyed some successes.  Like Linda's success, I will share and celebrate these here and now, but the goal and focus needs to be to find a way to replicate library marketing success every day.  Today I . . .
  • Helped a teacher convert an unreadable file to one she could use with the Zamzar file conversion Website.  I "made [her] day!"  I am confident she will come back the next time she has a problem.
  • I got unruly, beginning-of-school-year, not-yet-ready computers to work for vast majority of students in classes increasing teacher confidence in our available technology.
  • I offered suggestions that were accepted and appreciated to a group of teachers that are collaborating to develop a new research assignment.  These suggestions will lead to increased research and synthesis by students completing this project.
  • I delivered a cart of books that another teacher and I had discussed to support a project her classes are completing.
  • And my favorite, when overhearing a student comment that she "found the perfect article but [she was] not going to pay for it," I asked if I could help.  When the article happened to be from our local newspaper, available through a database purchased by our local library, I showed her how to log on using my library card number.  When the article popped up she commented, "You can do that with a library card?  I'm gonna have to get one of those."
Good luck to me, and good luck other librarians.  We may not have successes every day but we can make service our focus, hope our timing is right, speak out when it seems appropriate, and do the best we can.

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