Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Building BUZZ - Word of Mouth Marketing

I enjoyed reading "The Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM)", an article by Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace in the November issue of American Libraries. The focus was on empowering public library staffers to ask patrons questions like "Do you know we have the Tumblebooks Site" and demo those sites or databases. It is simple, fun, and strategic on many levels. It creates a buzz. It is something like a fast food store asking all customers if they'd like fries with their meal -- it makes customers think about it, often add that item, and stimulates sales.

How would this work in school libraries? Is anyone doing something like this now? Would it be a fun experiment?
  • Select a book-a-week for teacher librarians, library clerks, and/or student library aides to promote? Upon book check-out, ask something like: "Have you heard about X book by Y author? It is very popular -- check out a copy on the book display table". Effectiveness could be measured by how many times each of the recommended books gets borrowed over the semester or year. This could be a school-public library collaboration too.
  • Select a library database or public primary source database (like Calisphere.org) to promote once-a-month.
Peggy says: "WOMM can definitely work for school libraries and we included an example from a middle school in our book [Building A Buzz]. Basically we suggest that every library have a marketing/communication plan that includes two-way communication-- finding out what the people served want and need.--- Then goals and measurable objectives based on what is learned, with WOMM as a useful strategy for making the plan work. (Golly....I do start preaching!) A library staff team can develop the plan, and all staff can make it happen. In our case study, a school district library recruited two people from each school to be advocates--both listening and telling colleagues about library services....and they had bunch of practical ideas --like "eat lunch with teachers and make the librarian accessible." Bottom line...the ideas you suggest sound good, but they'll be great if they are part of a plan---- organized, focused, consistent."

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