Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Determinants of Delight

I went to a marketing research workshop this week. The presenter said many things that stuck with me, but I keep thinking about two of them:
  1. The determinants of delight are different than the determinants of expectation.
  2. Satisfaction = Performance - Expectation
Some of this builds on something I've been mulling over and wanting to post about for some time. How do we get customers/users/patrons to get excited about libraries? To recommend us? How do we go beyond satisfying people and really delight them? What are the determinants of delight?

Sadly, it doesn't seem very hard to satisfy people these days. And yet it happens rarely. Satisfactory service is practically delightful because current service expectations are so low.

I recently experienced delight. The workshop I went to was held at the Cincinnati Convention Center. It was recommended that we stay in the Cincinnati Marriott at RiverBend. So I did. Generally, I just hope a hotel won't suck. That is won't be dirty, that the bed won't hurt my back, etc. But this hotel, well it was great from the moment I arrived until the moment I left.

First, it's impressive and spotless when you walk into the hotel. My room was spotless. The bed was a dream complete with a down-filled duvet comforter (the only way to sleep in my opinion). The bathroom was stocked with products from Bath&Body. When I called the front desk they greeted me by name before asking how they could help me. If you passed a hotel employee they would smile and greet you. I was impressed.

Then, on the morning of my last day there, a hotel employee went above and beyond by helping me find my car in the parking garage. Yes, you read that right. I'm one of those. And it was very embarrassing. Telling you about it is embarrassing. But I was lost and panicked because I was running late for the last day of the workshop. And even more amazingly, he didn't show the slightest hint of what he had to be thinking (which had to be what an idiot. Even I was thinking it). This last bit of my stay bumped me up to delighted.

Which once again got me thinking about how we can delight library customers?
  • Smile. Yes I know you do. All the time. But some of those other people, well they don't, I've seen them.
  • Be really nice, all the time. Yes, we all have bad days. But it's intimidating to ask anyone for help. We don't like to admit we don't know something. And that is what most libraries do, wait for people to ask for help. So if they ask, and then have a bad experience, guess what? They aren't coming back. Ever.
  • Get back to them as soon as possible. Answer e-mails and voice mails ASAP. Especially if you have a generic address (, etc.), because expectations that you'll even answer are probably pretty low.
  • Limit the times you say no. Rules are made to be broken, and maybe it was a bad rule in the first place. Once I noticed two books still listed on my public library account that I had returned. I called the library to ask about it. I expected a problem because how could I prove I returned them. The staff member I talked to apologized and took them off my account without question. She could have easily said no. I was delighted.
  • Emphasize the positive, not the negative, in signage, announcements, etc.
  • Speak their language. No one like to feel stupid and when you don't understand the words someone is using you tend to feel stupid. (says she who spent three days hearing the term cross-tabs and multivariate analysis with no clue what they were).
  • Go above and beyond. I received an e-mail from a patron about a corrupt PDF of an article in our Electronic Journal Center. As per usual, we asked the publisher to resupply the file and told the customer we couldn’t guarantee when or if it will be delivered. I recommend he contact his library to get the article via ILL. He wrote back to ask if we could notify him when the article is delivered. We don’t have an automatic way to do this, so I explained that and repeated the please contact your library bit. But it occurred to me that just because there wasn't an automatic way to notify someone of this, didn't mean I couldn't do it. So I kept checking our journal center to see if the PDF was delivered and a day later it was. When I e-mailed the article to him, he was delighted. It only cost me a few extra minutes, but I bet that person has a much better opinion of OhioLINK after that.
  • Listen to what they want and give it to them. Look, I know you’re afraid of food and drink spills on books, keyboards and the carpet, but what if you had to work all day without a drink or a snack? Would that be a comfortable environment you'd want to visit again and again? Making the library comfortable makes a big difference. See Coffee's On, Dusty Books Are Out at UMass Library.
That's my working list so far. I hope to add to it with your help. So tell me, what are the other determinants of delight and how can we meet them?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

OCLC Will Develop Library Marketing Campaign

Interesting news: "OCLC awarded Gates grant to develop library marketing campaign"

I think it's interesting that it's OCLC doing this and not ALA. Although, that might not be a bad thing. I also wonder if any national campaign can actually trickle down to produce results on the local level? I mean advice, help and free materials would be great, but don't expect to sit back and watch OCLC do all the work and reap great rewards. Everyone needs to pitch in (call it promotion, education, marketing, etc.) and do their bit locally if they want results. But I'm singing to the choir on this...right?

You can read more from Library Journal.

Oh and if you haven't looked at OCLC's Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources report, you should. There's a college version too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Going Where the Users Are - When, Why & How?

Barbara Fister's post on the ACRLog this week triggered more thoughts on some things I've been mulling over for awhile. We know users aren't going to library Web sites, so how do you appropriately promote and advertise libraries to users on the places they are visiting (MySpace, Facebook, Google, to name a few)? Is putting a page on MySpace worth it? Should we advertise on Facebook? Should we be buying Google ads?

The Business Week article mentioned in the post is old, but has some interesting points, like:

But young consumers may follow brands offline -- if companies can figure out how to talk to youths in their online vernacular. Major companies should be exploring this new medium, since networks transmit marketing messages "person-to-person, which is more credible," says David Rich Bell, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

In fact, the advertising can be so subtle that kids don't distinguish it from content. "It's what our users want," says Anderson.


"Kids don't buy stuff because they see a magazine ad. They buy stuff because other kids tell them to."


Just replace the buy with try on that last one if you think it doesn't apply.

But I'm not sure that just putting up a page on MySpace or Facebook is enough. Maybe there a small amount of residual "cool factor" that you get if someone stumbles on your page (yet how do they find you and why would they want to visit?), but otherwise just being there isn't enough. You need to add value, provide an extra service, respond right when they need it, etc. (See more from Jill Stover about this). And that can be hard and time-consuming to do. Mass marketing is time efficient, but less and less effective.

The Ubiquitous Librarian (great blog!) has some ideas and experience with using social networking sites for niche marketing. These are the kind of reasons to be involved with social networking sites that make sense.

Niche marketing opportunities go beyond social networking sites. Have you set up alerts and feeds to monitor what people say about your library online? The small investment of time is well worth it on this one. You'll be amazed at what you find. And if a complaint, rant or problem a user had winds up in your aggregator do you take the next step and contact them and solve it?

I'm far from an expert in any of this, but I think the basics best practices with any promotion effort apply. Focus on benefits to the user (no one cares about your new service or product by itself, they want to know what it will do for them), be interesting (or better yet be remarkable) and to hit a home run, give them something to talk about.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Start Your Engines: National Library Week 2007

Mark your calendars, grab your idea books and get ready to plan. The official dates for National Library Week 2007 are April 15-21. ALA has a proclamation, press release, letter-to-the-editor and PSAs text available here. For more library promotion and events dates go here.

NLW always seemed to sneak up on me back when I worked in a public library. Here's hoping it won't sneak up on you.

I'm always interested in hearing how academic libraries celebrate NLW. Anyone have any exciting future plans or past successes to share?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Ideas in the Gallery

I've been working on adding the backlog of promotional materials to the OhioLINK Idea Gallery. I've made some progress, but there's still lots more new stuff to come. Look for the yellow new icons to spot the latest stuff quickly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Not a Press Release Pro? This Tutorial May Help.

Don't feel like a pro when it comes to writing press releases? Need a complete tutorial, a refresher or even just some new ideas on when to write releases? Then Joan Stewart's free tutorial, "89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Release" may be of interest.

Joan's description of the tutorial:
Every day for 89 days in a row, I'll give you one lesson, delivered via email, on how to write and distribute a press release. Each day, I'll also give you one opportunity to write a release. For example, if you're rolling out a new product, that's one opportunity. Each day's lesson will take you just a few minutes to read.

See The Publicity Hound's Blog for complete details and links to get started.

I've signed up and am on day three of the tutorial. A refresher never hurts and I'm bound to gain a new idea or two. Those without training in public relations will definitely find this course helpful.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tip: Get More Mileage from Your Swag

Chris Olson sent out a good tip on the AcademicPR list today about how to get extra mileage from your promotion swag:

You can get extra promotion and visibility mileage out of your giveaway. Tell everyone that you'll be holding a contest over the next 2-3 months. Anyone spotted wearing the bracelet/shirt/hat/ or using the cup/pen/whatever in the library at random, unannounced times, will get a special reward and their names entered into a larger drawing for a larger prize. This gives you several visibility opportunities for announcing the winners, reminding people about the random sightings, and building up for the grand prize drawing.

Another option is to doing the "spotting" in a public venues, like a football game. Then you'll be encouraging everyone to wear something that advertises the library (walking billboards) and the winners can be announced during the half-time on the loudspeaker (free PR broadcast).

So don't just give something away. Make it count towards your overall marketing and communications strategy. It doesn't take much more effort and you'll get a better ROI.

This is a great tip and radio stations do this all the time with great success. Has anyone actually executed this idea? How'd it go?

See the original question about ideas of promotions items to give away at orientations at the Academic PR Forum.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

OCLC's College Students' Perceptions Report

OCLC promised to sift the Perceptions' data from college students out into a new report and they've delivered with the College Students' Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources report.

Even if you've examined the original Perceptions report in detail, it's worth checking the new report out because OCLC promises there are "all-new graphs and additional analysis of how college student data compare to that of total respondents."

(via the It's All Good Blog)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You MUST see this presentation!

I heard Alane Wilson, senior library market consultant, OCLC, speak at Ohionet's annual meeting today on "Understanding User Perceptions." It was a fantastic presentation and one that I think anyone working in or with a library should hear. Whether you've read the OCLC's "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Services" report or not (I must admit, I've done more skimming than reading thus far), you must see this presentation! Luckily, you can watch Alane do her stuff from the comfort of your home or office by watching the SirsiDynixInstitute archive presentation of her talk. Go. Go now.

Alane's presentation and the way she framed her talk really got my gears turning. I have so many ideas and thoughts now I'm not sure where to start. Hey, why are you still reading this? Go listen for yourself.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Want publicity? Don't do this...

This week's issue of The Publicity Hounds Tips of the Week by Joan Stewart has even more good advice than usual. When working with the media to try and get publicity you should not:
  • Pitch a story to a new media outlet without first reading the publication, or watching or listening to the program and studying what the reporter covers.
  • Ask a reporter to read their story before it's printed.
  • Ask a media outlet to cover a story because "you've worked hard on it or it deserves coverage."
For more of Joan's good advice on mistakes to avoid at all costs, read the article (yes, you'll have to scroll down a bit to story #1).

Joan's third article in this issue, "Attract PR Clients" is also relevant to libraries. Yes, the article is about how to attract PR or any business clients by going on the speaker circuit, but someone or rather a lot of someones from your library should be regularly offering to speak to community groups in your area.

Do you offer to speaker to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, special interest clubs, business people, homeschoolers, PTO groups, churches, campus groups, etc. about how the library can specifically help them?! Unfortunately, far too many people still think of the library as an antiquated place to pick up a classic novel or to take the kids to finish a report. Offer to tell groups how the library can help their members save time, win business, save money, get an A on their paper, etc. People I talk to are still amazed at the wealth of resources from today's libraries. There are still many people (too many!) out there who are shocked that they can read industry journals for free from the office via library-purchased resources, find information in consumer reports or other popular magazines from home while they're relaxing in their pjs, and borrow blockbuster movies from the library. Answer the WIFM (What's in it for me?) question and you just might gain a new user/patron/customer.

Looking for more publicity tips? Check out these past posts:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Don't have award winning library PR materials? Get a makeover.

Could your library PR materials use a little help? Now there is a makeover opportunity for your library’s PR materials! LAMA’s PRMS Swap & Shop committee is continuing the popular PR Makeover event introduced at last year’s Annual Swap & Shop. This year it will be even bigger and better with makeover tips and both budget and deluxe versions of the makeovers.

How does it work? You send three copies of a library brochure that you’d like to see made-over. The “PR Doctors” and library promotions experts, Linda Wallace and Peggy Barber of Library Communications Strategies will select three lucky entries to be “made over” in both a low cost and higher end format. The makeovers will be unveiled during the Swap & Shop event on Sunday, June 25, 2006 from 11a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in New Orleans (check conference schedule for exact location). You’ll have a chance to see the before and after brochures as well as consult with the “PR Doctors” during the event.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to get expert advice and possibly raise your library’s promotional brochures to new heights.

To submit a brochure for consideration, email or mail three copies of each entry to: or LAMA PRMS PR Makeover, 5109 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640. Include the name of the library making the submission, library staff contact name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Short questions about your entry may be directed to Swap & Shop chair, Jennifer Keohane ( or 860-658-7663.) Entries should be sent to arrive no later than May 1, 2006.

Do you have award winning library PR materials?

ALA's Library Administration and Management Association is giving you a chance again this year to show off your marketing stuff and gain recognition for your PR efforts via the Annual 2006 Swap and Shop Best of Show public relations competition. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 1, 2006. Entry forms are available online. See the information sheet with FAQ for more information.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Links Worth a Look

One of my favorite reasons for reading blogs is that I find out about many articles, resources and tips I would have missed otherwise. So to continue that spirit of sharing, here's some items that caught my interest recently:

There's more, but it's getting late for me, so stay tuned...

Get a date @ your library?

Did you catch the American Libraries' story about speed dating in a Belgium library? The story is online in case you missed it. This is definitely one program I’d like to see a library try around here. It could be a great way to get college kids into the academic library on the weekend. I think it has great potential to catch on with the under 40 crowd and get some special attention.

Has anyone tried this in the U.S.?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Promotional Products: The Best and Worst

I think I've found the absolute worst promotional product ever: the antimicrobial light switch cover. Because everyone wants a company's logo on their light switch cover. And we're all tossing and turning over fears of germy light covers. Who would ever want this thing?

As to the best promotional products, well, that depends on the event, the audience, etc., etc. I generally prefer to give products that are useful (and hopefully won't go right into the trash) and will be seen by multiple people. If they tie into the theme even better.

It would be nice to always be able to give something new and exciting, but those items usually aren't so useful. Umbrellas were probably the most complimented item I've given out. When I'm on the receiving end I tend to keep the useful items like portfolios, bags, travel mugs and pens while the more flashy, but useless trinkets are purged.

What promotional products have you found to be most useful?

LibTalk is Dead, Long Live LibTalk

I checked this blog for the first time in months today to see that I haven't posted in more than two months, officially killing off my blog. Horrors! But fear not LibTalk fans (if there are any), I'm back and I have my typing fingers on.

I won't bore you with my excuses for my long absence. Suffice it to say life trumped blogging, or my cat ate my laptop, or you know *insert excuse here.*

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rx for Pitches

Publicity hound Joan Stewart is offering a free teleseminar to help solve your media pitch problems on January 25 at 1 p.m. eastern time. Joan will choose some submitted pitches during the call. Registration is required.

In related news, you can now get the Publicity's Hounds Tips of the Week newsletter online and via RSS.

Free Info to Go

Two upcoming seminars at the SirsiDynix Institute may be of interest:

  1. Knowing Who We Serve - To Serve Them Better Geo-Marketing: Customer-Based Research - February 08, 2006
  2. Weblogs & Libraries: Communication, Conversation, and the Blog People - February 15
Don't worry if you can't make the Webinar, you'll be able to view the archived Webinar online afterwards. And if you haven't seen it already, check out Pat Wagner's archived seminar "Marketing As If Your Library Depended On It."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Newsletter Tips from a Pro

Kathy Dempsey, editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter, gave some great tips every library newsletter writer, editor and contributor should keep in mind today on ALA's ACADEMICPR electronic list. I've summarized her tips below, with Kathy's permission:

  • Don't just send the newsletter to everyone. Although opt-in newsletters "make the start-up more complicated, that's what people usually prefer to do. Sending to everyone then saying 'you can opt out' can make people resentful."

  • When it comes to newsletters, one size doesn't fit all. Consider different newsletters for each audience. As Kathy explained, "faculty and students have very different needs, so if you want to create something that really matters to your audience, you need to customize for each different group."
  • Give 'em what they want! "Don't forget to ask: why would people want to read this? If you give people something they want, you'll be more successful than if you push them content that you think they need. If we connect with the people first, later in the conversations we could say, "you know what else might be of use to you?"

Want to sign up for ACADEMICPR? From ALA's site
"To subscribe, send a message to: Leave subject blank. In the body of the message, type: subscribe ACADEMICPR your first and last name."