Magazine article American Libraries

Up, Up and Away: A Bird's-Eye View of Mission Marketing: A University Library Deploys Multiple Communication Venues to Grab the Attention of Its Diverse Audiences

Magazine article American Libraries

Up, Up and Away: A Bird's-Eye View of Mission Marketing: A University Library Deploys Multiple Communication Venues to Grab the Attention of Its Diverse Audiences

Article excerpt

Early in July 1982, Larry Walters tied more than 40 weather balloons to his lawn chair and rose 16,000 feet above the smog over Los Angeles. Spotted by various aircraft, he descended by shooting the balloons with a BB gun, eventually drifting some 20 miles. He ended up hanging from some power lines. FAA officials fined him $4,000 while shaking their collective heads. No one knows what happened to the lawn chair.

Occasionally, one hears of library marketing campaigns launched with about as much forethought as Larry's jaunt above L. A. In the bad old days, interested librarians would huddle around cauldrons muttering various and sundry spells, hoping to catch a glimpse of a marketing idea that would concoct greater visibility or better public relations. Those cauldrons have long since bubbled away their last vision--and that is just as well since some of them were far less than the sum of their parts. Today, libraries must test their steel with legions of entertainment and information-gathering competitors, and unfortunately many show up on the battle line with marketing strategies borrowed from George Armstrong Custer's playbook at Little Big Horn.

Marketing takes more than cauldrons or brainstorming: Marketing needs a plan. Texas Tech University has that plan and truckloads of evidence that it works.

The challenge we all face is that the diverse and divergent audiences we must address also have diverse and divergent communication venues. It is not just that one size does not fit all; some have no sizes. Each audience must be approached by multiple venues overtime--it's a complicated and creative opportunity that is both fun and organizationally rewarding. For example, when the Texas Tech University Libraries launched its first-ever awareness campaign in August 2008, it consisted of pushing integrated messages about library services through multiple communication venues based on a strategic marketing plan. By the end of the academic year in May 2009, with a grand total of 1,956 distributed marketing pieces, the libraries saw database searches double, a 25% increase in full-text journal usage, and growth in page views on our social-networking sites.

Other, similar marketing efforts have yielded significant double- or triple-digit increases. The carefully crafted plan employed and involved every communication tool available to reach our audiences. That may sound broad and generic enough, and in a sense the creation and distribution could be seen as pretty cookie-cutter, but what it boiled down to was the use of a cookie-cutter recipe that could be applied to a bunch of different molds to reach the intended audience(s). In a nutshell, we picked six services that key stakeholders within different areas of the libraries saw as undermarketed that could have the greatest impact on students' academic endeavors:

1. Wireless internet access increase

2. Digital collections

3. subscription

4. KIC scanners, personal librarians, and electronic resources

5. Digital media studio (DMS)

6. 3-D animation lab

Next, we plugged each of these six promotions into the academic calendar so that each would have two weeks in the marketing spotlight. From there, we considered the audiences--both campuswide and segmented--for each promotion, and selected which pieces to create and distribute from a list of all possible venues both financially and physically available to us.

For example, let's compare the increased wireless internet promotion--which had a very broad campuswide audience--to the DMS promotion, which also had segmented audiences. The communication opportunities looked like this:

                                              WIRELESS  DMS

Parent Relations monthly e-mail                   *      *

Liaisons HTML e-mail for faculty                  *      *

Graduate School HTML e-mail                              *

Faculty/staff e-mail signature                    *      *

TechAnnounce                                      *      *

Mobile Digital Unit slide                         *      *

Public computer wallpaper                         *      *

Website news story                                *      *

Podcast (website & iTunes Uhosts, DMS iPods)      *      *

YouTube video                                            *

Facebook post                                     *      *

MySpace post                                             *

The Daily Toreador ad series                             *

Flyer                                             *      *

Poster (campus & CitiBus included)                *      *

Door/elevator sleeve                              *      *

Postcard                                          *      *

Bookmark                                          *      *

Window cling                                      *      *

Table tent                                        *      *

News release                                             *

Classroom/student organization presentation

KOHM radio spot                                   *

As you can see, for the DMS promotion we tacked on specific central communication opportunities to home in on segmented audiences whose need for the technology and services offered through the DMS were already hardwired. …

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