Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good marketing is also about perception shifts

This excellent post by Kevin Briody on how "Great marketing doesn’t always start with marketers" (via Scoble) reminded me why librarians should blog.

What struck me were these lines (on employee's blogs):
They are efforts most marketers can learn from, because their effect - and intent, even if indirectly - was to open up the company, put a face on it, shake off the four-colored opaque wall and invite our customers, partners, and even competitors in. That’s damn good marketing, in my book. Their cumulative impact - to effect a positive shift in perception and satisfaction of the company...

Some of my colleagues mistakenly think that I'm some blog evangelist (absolutely hate this term when applied to me).

I don't advocate blogs per se. To paraphrase Briody, I'm advocating that libraries "put on a face", "shake off the walls", and "invite our customers in", to "effect a positive shift in perception" about libraries (thank you, Kevin, for those beautiful words!)

One time I was telling a colleague why we should "put on a face" for libraries and librarians. I said people don't want to talk or write to "Helpdesk"; they'd rather deal with a "real person". He wasn't convinced.

I guess I should have explained that it's not that the staff behind the Helpdesk isn't real. The problem is that the replies are often standardised and impersonal. That's the problem.

Do staff who blog make them more personable? Of course not. There needs to be support structures that enable staff to understand what responsible blogging is about, and the organisation needs to foster a culture that supports the blogger's mentality (i.e. openess but not necessarily irresponsible tell-all; a willingness to say that "you're right and I'm wrong" without all the corporate-speak).

Today, it may be "blogs". Tomorrow, it's going to be something else. Technology constantly evolves.

But what certainly won't change would be customers being able to say what they feel in the online environment; for employees to seek these customers out, "listen" to what they have to say, actively engage these customers in dialogue, and build a relationship.

Next time someone tells me I'm a blog evangelist, I'm going reply:
No I'm not. I simply advocate a blogger's mentality coupled with tact and responsibility -- to bring about (or reinforce) positive perception shifts about libraries, librarians and all other people who work in libraries.


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