NOTE: won't be publishing an issue next week. My essays for ExLibris are going to be sporadic for a while because I have a very full schedule through June 1, 2006, delivering presentations, coordinating and writing profiles for Library Journal's Movers and Shakers issue, and writing my next book. I'd like to keep publishing ExLibris regularly, though, which requires your help. Please consider submitting an article.
I would especially welcome articles from aspiring LIS students and from our profession's newest members. You are the future of librarianship, and I for one would like to know what directions you want to take it in. I hope LIS faculty members and established librarians will encourage students and new professionals to participate.
PRESS, PROFIT, AND PROVOCATION: LIBRARY PROMOTION FOR THE OVER-EDUCATED, PART 10
by Tia Dobi
The US Dept. of Defense spends over $2 billion each year for advertising its recruiting efforts to customers. Which means the Armed Forces has 3 things Librarians do not.
I'm a copywriter. And this is my confession:
THE FUZZY DICE SECRET EXPLODES SALES
Sometimes what I think is fuzzy the most is our thinking. For instance, last month I offered (pro-bono) to review your marketing collateral, dear Readers. And received none. Nada. Zippo.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces is making the CEO's of six very big ad agencies toss and turn each night while they dream of winning a mega $$$$ account. So the way I see it, the U.S. Armed Forces has three things U.S. Librarians do not.
#1. A product --the intent to kill -- to advertise.
#2. Two billion dollars to advertise that product.
#3. The knowledge that advertising works.
Somebody's playing La Dolce Vita. But is it the military? Or the library?
Maybe you think I'm treading murky water. But the way I see it, the library has a product that's priceless (so I just blew #1 in the list to smithereens). It's item #3 that, to me, seems to be what's killing libraries (because I do have a U.S. Postal Worker who's apt at delivering my packages).
Which leaves us with what's behind door #2. Today, then, I'm going to share with you a secret of Top Gun marketeurs. It's one I learned from a man who's created a sprawling real estate empire of 80+ websites that sell everything from information to electronics to $7,000 a pop armored suits (and not to the military). His name is Andy Jenkins. So he can take the credit (I'm always happiest just taking the cash).
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE FUZZY DICE SECRET AND HOW CAN YOU MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU?
Here it is: you lasso more customers by greeting them wherever they are looking for someone like you.
The smartest and simplest way to sell (or tell) anything these days is online. Adopt Andy's way to sell online.
This means matching the way people search online to your sales process.
Suppose you have a library with many products. You might have a huge portal, linked to all your product lines (services, seminars, special events, book sales, catalog, etc.).
Trouble is, people don't go online searching for "a product line." When I typed "library" into my search bar, I got 1,520,000,000 results!
Yet almost nobody searches for "library."
But people do search for a single product. Like "Fuzzy Dice" (you probably know one library pal who has those spongy over-sized dice dangling from the rearview mirror right now).
Or they'll search specifically for "story-time for children ages 2-5."
Since that's how people search, I suggest that's how you should sell. Have the producer of your website create landing pages specifically devoted to each of your spectacular products. Fuzzy Dice. Lambskin seat covers. Low ride wheel covers.
HOW TO TAKE FUZZY DICE TO MARKET
You don't need a ton 'o Uncle Sam banknotes to support your star products' mini-web sites. Your equally vertical, dedicated, specific online ads and ezine marketing campaigns (intercepting your customer where s/he is ALREADY) that drive traffic directly to your product sites can now be supported by the age-old winning marketeur's tactic: go vertical and go deep.
Do you know the secret space on the web where your customers take cover? That intimate space read by the hyper-literate, highly networked, influential and sometimes affluent? Where the fanatics, pundits and even journalists, go daily?
Now you can target select spheres of New Yorkers, lawyers, evangelicals, gizmophiles, gays, conservatives, baseball, fans, foodies, liberals, scientists and dozens (perhaps billions) of Fuzzy-Diced (niched) bloggers.
MORE THAN CLICK-THRUS. MINDSHARE
The best thing about advertising on blogs is that the bloggers are a close-knit community of regular readers, seeking information. (So for some of you, I've just axed your ad-guilt factor.) Rather than click-thrus to links touting free trips to Iraq (in exchange for say, blood), or soulless banners and ads regurgitated from giant random databases, use your relevant, smart ads on blogs to:
- Combine an image (up to 150X200 pixels) and text (up to 300 characters) and multiple links.
- Appear among peer content, increasing audience engagement with your message.
- Sponsor influential blogs for a fixed period, saving money on longer sponsorships.
And to help you get out of the trenches, and onto the front line, here are tactics for writing your blog ad.
6 STEPS TO WRITING A KILLER BLOG AD
1. Think: Headline + image + text block. Design your ad to use all 3 elements. Think of your ad as a text newsletter ad, plus an image, plus a headline.
2. Pop your words with formatting. HTML is easy peasy to bold and italicize words for quicker/scan readability. Choose to use on the words that might attract the right readers' attention.
3. Get hyper. You want people to click-thru to your product page. Use hyperlinks.
4. Provoke with image. Book covers and library posters are seldom the best image to draw readers' in (exceptions: combining elements of the two, a best-selling title). Still of the human face and locales are the #1 image sellers. Keep logo size small and text sans serif font for legibility. Keep images: big 'n easy. Uncomplicated close-ups.
5. Keep it short 'n sweet. Sometimes. The size quoted above is large. You can choose shorter (or no) images, call to action in a single text line or bulleted list. Web publishing is infinitely more flexible than the printed page.
6. Stir it up! Got a complex story or multi-faceted campaign? Create a few ads and change 'em out on the same blog in the same place. Create a control: your master ad, measure response. Then change just ONE element (i.e.: one word) and run it again. Keep beating your controls.
INTERCEPTING YOUR CUSTOMERS
The homework this month Readers, is for you to intercept your customers by traveling where they are. You may think it will cost $$ to place your blog ads on blogs. Maybe. Try this: creating blog ads (to start, you can build them in PowerPoint, then save them as a .jpg and program a click-thru website page in the image) and posting them: to your own company website and your own blogs.
If this is too much advertising, try taking the family to see "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio." Or take a peek at the Library of Congress' video-online ads [http://www.instream.com/instream/inStreamDemoMovie/
movieloader_content.html]. If they can get the Ad Council to produce them for free, I've no doubt you'll find a way to negotiate your public-service ads for free all over the web.
Long live the library!
Let me know how it grows.
Tia Dobi is a marketing consultant, copywriter and library fanatic living in Los Angeles. Reach her now at [email protected]
Previous articles in this series:
Part 1 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib229.html
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Part 2 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib234.html
Part 3 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib236.html
Part 4 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib241.html
Part 5 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib244.html
Part 6 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib249.html
Part 7 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib253.html
Part 8 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib260.html
Part 9 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib263.html
As we design new services to reach our users where they happen to be, we should focus on experience..and create an identity for the library and ourselves… and remember that emotion may be a guiding factor. Does your new building make users happy? Engage them with space or art? Does it offer a way for users to express themselves, such as digital creation stations for recording of user-created `casts of all types or hands on access to the latest technology? Simply put, does the library have an identity within its community?
Michael Stephens. "Librarians' Reading List: The Future of Music." in ALA TecSource, October 18, 2005, http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/blog_detail.php?blog_id=75#comments
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