Self-promotion is difficult for everyone …well, except the Kardashians. And it can be especially challenging for those of us who aren’t extroverted, or who simply don’t have a knack for it.
We are all continually exhorted to get out there and network, to get invited to meetings and to make presentations – and we know that without marketing of services, content and products, libraries are in danger of being seen as expendable. The trouble is, networking, “crashing” meetings and making presentations are activities that can be extremely stressful.
People generally believe that departmental and individual job security and advancement are merit-based. However, your terrific products, great services, innovative use of technology and the ability to quickly adapt to end users’ changing needs don’t mean much if your users don’t know about them. So what do you do if you aren’t a natural networker, meeting-crasher or public speaker? You practice what I think of as “sticky marketing,” which simply means attaching yourself to existing opportunities and leveraging them for personal or departmental promotion.
Jennifer Hermsen, one of Lucidea’s guests at this year’s SLA Hot Topics session (“Building the Resilient Library”) mentioned that part of her strategy for departmental marketing is to stay aware of all the meetings that are happening at Kemin Industries and to prepare relevant research packets for distribution at each. She isn’t necessarily in attendance, but her department then has a virtual presence and has provided important content…which gets noticed, and which often leads to an invitation next time. She gets a seat at the table by leading with products and service – no “crashing” required.
That strategy is related to one of the tenets of sticky marketing: meet your clients where they are. All Lucidea’s Hot Topics guest speakers (Jenny Hermsen, Karen McQuillen and Cindy Moon-Barna) recommend having a continuing library presence on the organizational intranet, for example - and they all hop on to existing internal marketing efforts as well.
Leverage what your users are already reading (e.g. CEO blog posts or emails) or visiting (e.g. the company intranet, HR onboarding and professional development platforms, CLE applications) or are required to use in order to do their jobs (e.g. DMS, RMS or even SharePoint). If your marketing department publishes an internal newsletter, maintain a regular column there. If they have LED screens around your offices or campus which offer continual updates on company activities, loop in some content on library services. The marketing department will welcome your offer of content, and this can lead to more opportunities to get the word out.
None of these activities require self-promotion or otherwise stepping outside your comfort zone. Focus on what you know and what you do well, and you can be confident about adding it to what’s already happening within the organization – and making it stick.
However, it’s also important to note that when there is a personal connection, people feel more comfortable asking for help - and the names of library staff will come to mind when important projects kick off. I’m a die-hard introvert who tends to “hire in my own image,” so with a department of non-networkers and a need to increase visibility, I leveraged an existing program at the management consultancy where I ran the research department. Every year there were new associates, all of whom started on the same day. To assist with integration, the office provided what they called “placemats:” single sheets of paper with photos of all the new associates, and a personal sentence or two about each. I worked with the graphics team to make up a departmental placemat with the faces of all the information specialists overlaid on the covers of magazines that reflected a personal interest such as scuba diving, travel, piloting small planes and vegan cookery. These were a huge hit, and resulted in drop in visits from like-minded consultants who came to talk about diving off the shores of the Yucatan Peninsula - but stayed to collaborate on important research projects.
Let’s see – that was a combination of “meeting them where they are,” “leveraging existing efforts” and making a “personal connection.” Hmmm. Sticky marketing means you don’t have to shout to be heard.
- Sarah Nichols, Sotto Voce Communications
About Sarah Nichols
Sarah L. Nichols is an experienced knowledge manager with expertise developed in a variety of professional services and nonprofit organizations. She is skilled in research, enterprise social networking applications, marketing of library and knowledge management services, contract negotiation and vendor relationship management. Now, as a writer, editor and principal of her own consulting practice, Sotto Voce Communications, Sarah writes about issues facing librarians, knowledge managers and other information professionals.