Okay, I didn’t chronicle my Introduction to Marketing class the way I thought I would. To be honest, I think it’s because it’s an intro course and it’s not being conducted in a way which stimulates discussion: it’s all definitions and facts-as-the-textbook-sees-them. It’s left me a little frustrated, as I’d hoped for discussions relating to real-world situations between busy working people ecking out a few hours for some pertinent continuing education.

Oh well. I’m the type of person who appreciates the community setting of a classroom in focusing my own thoughts on a topic, so I’m getting a lot out of it from that perspective. I also feel that we throw around marketing and marketing-related terms a lot, and this at least has helped me get my vocabulary straight!

For the record, we’ve covered The Overview, Strategic Planning, Marketing and Social Responsibility, Global Marketing, Consumer Decision Making, Business Marketing, Segmentation, and Product Concepts, and will try to get through Developing and Managing Products, Nonprofit Marketing, and Customer Relationship Management before class ends next week.

It’s given me some things to think about, and I’m hoping Consumer Relations will be more interesting next semester.


Just another comment…of the 26 individuals who registered to use downloadable audiobooks from April – July 2008 who stopped using the service, 24 of them (92%) were active, in-person library users during the same period. WOW.

Of the 12 patrons who are registered for downloadable books and who are either active users or who have registered within the last 30 days,  10 or them (83%) are active users. I can’t determine the status of two others because their names don’t match what’s in our files.

So what does this mean? It seems trying or using downloadable books is an extension of the services already used by our active user base. The service doesn’t seem to be connecting with the theoretical “people who want to use their library a different way.” And while most of our marketing has been pitched to people who come in to the library (Electronic bulletin board slides and postcards handed out to advertise June’s classes) there’s also a notice on our home page, so it is accessible to people who never set foot in here.


Numbers are in for July downloadable audiobook usage…holding steady in the mid 130s, which is what we bumped up to after our late Spring advertising campaign and classes.

Time to delve into this a little further. We have two downloadable subscriptions, one of which registers patrons like a regular library. We had 47 registrations for that service from April 1 – July 31. Of those 47, 19 (or 40%) were staffmembers, test accounts for the classes we offered, or are people who are actively using the service.

I’m going to contact the other 60% by email and ask them why they haven’t used the service much or at all since they signed up. I did this a couple of years ago and found that most people dropped off when they realized you couldn’t use the service with an iPod. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed much, although Overdrive is finally taking baby steps toward the iPod crowd. Unfortunately, with iPod marketshare estimated around 70% (that low? see here) what we really need are giant leaps.

Keep an eye on this space for results.

I’m a little behind in my reading so I’m recommending a post that’s about a week old…please go over to Designing Better Libraries and check out Taking the Slow But Steady Path to That “Aha” Moment. Author StevenB discusses the fact that there are rarely “quick fixes” to problems, and that libraries need to make time to see where they’ve been, figure out where they need to go, and see what new resources might be out there to help them get there.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but that sounds a whole lot like strategic and marketing plans to me.

The New York Times is running a piece on whether Americans are still reading. You can get the first installment here:

Rich, Motoko. Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? New York Times, July 27, 2008.

Of course the article comes to the usual conclusions: Americans aren’t reading as much PoP as they used to – and young Americans are eschewing POP for the Internet almost entirely.


What the article didn’t assert was that Americans, young or old, are reading less than they did, say, 10 years ago, or 20, or 30. There have always been readers, and there have always been people who don’t read. There have always been kids who have gone to the library (or whose parents took them there) and there have been kids who have spent their free time doing something else – like playing. Some of those children grew up to read, and some of them didn’t.

Format: so formats are changing. Time for me to go out on a limb here: big deal.  I don’t care. PoP, audiobooks, DVDs, anime and graphic novels – libraries are in the business of providing information, and I’m happy to do that in whatever format my patrons want. I doubt it spells the end of libraries. Did the monks sit arround worrying that because of this new thing called printing, people just weren’t borrowing papyrus the way they used to?

Finally – to give this a marketing hook – different people consume information differently during the course of their lives. Doing marketing research to find out what patrons want and need and to try to provide it to them is the kind of marketing we need to do. As long as we do it, I think we’ll be okay.

I’m interested in knowing about any market research projects you all know about or are involved in:

What kind of research did you do? (Focus groups, surveys – web-based, paper, other? – patron observation, environmental scanning, etc.)

Did you make any changes in offerings or service based on the results?

What was the result of those changes, positive or negative? (increased circ of a collection, increased support of the library or a service, etc.)

Post a comment or email me, and if you email me privately, let me know if I can reference your email in a future post. Thanks!

It’s been a couple of months since we started our proactive campaign of asking new registrants if they wanted to subscribe to our electronic library newsletter. We’ve added about two hundred names since we began, and today I took a look at statistics for this year.

In July, we had 34% or recipients open the newsletter. This is exactly in the middle of where we’ve been for the year, when click rates have averaged between 30% and 40%. So we haven’t gained in percentages, but we now have 34% of 300 subscribers versus 34% of 100 subscribers.

Still waiting to see if this translates to increased usage of the services we’re plugging….