This morning, I keynoted the 2013 Ohio Library Council Convention & Expo.
After introducing attendees to the core principles of microMARKETING — most notably the trends toward microcultures, micromedia and microcontent that have already disrupted the media and marketing landscape, and are now reshaping virtually every information industry from publishing to education — I laid out what I see as three fundamental marketing challenges and three massive opportunities to revitalize the library experience, shift the way people perceive the value libraries offer, and reassert the library’s role in connecting the members of the local community to one another.
Public libraries — like businesses and organizations of virtually every stripe — must evolve to meet the needs of increasingly digital patrons. Many are, through the addition of new services, an embrace of technology, and an appreciation for the curator’s vital role in the age of unlimited information. That said, most aren’t doing everything they can to attract patrons, partners and funders (and more importantly, the community members who may have once been patrons and might become patrons again in the future but who don’t frequent the library today) through digital marketing.
So I highlighted three marketing challenges: A significant gap between people’s positive perception of the library and the reality that — despite this — half don’t actually use its services. A low level of awareness around post-print era services such as e-book lending. And the struggle to engage digital natives in particular (the new and next generation of patrons) in the face of new technology-driven competition.
I then laid out a simple framework designed to tackle these challenges, create value, and infuse community into the library and the library into the community. Veteran marketers will recognize hot topics like storytelling as a marketing technique, advocacy as a driver of online and offline word-of-mouth, realtime marketing, content marketing to super-serve the interests of niche audiences, blended physical-virtual experiences, and crowdfunding as a means of assembling a network of supporters. While I featured a story or two from microMARKETING and a handful of big brand examples (Amazon, Oreo, Tesco, Walmart), I also showcased interesting initiatives by libraries and other hyper-local organizations around the country.
You can flip through my slides below. Bear in mind that these visuals (along with multimedia elements that I’ve stripped out of the ‘leave-behind’ version embeddded here) were meant to accompany my talk, not to stand on their own — but with the context I’ve provided above, I hope you’ll find them interesting.