Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Show me the women
There's a great article in the NY Times, "Women Build Businesses Their Way", rich in marketing inspiration, about an ideal target audience for libraries. Read the article and you too will become inspired.
We know from our own experiences that most women go about building a business from the heart and soul then integrate the growth in their life between all the other things they already have going. Businesses plans and budgets usually come along somewhere down the road... sometimes toward the very end of the road. But what struck me about this article was the idea that libraries could serve as a great place to network BUT and this is a really important part- we would need to stage the meetings to be conducive to the kind of networking that makes women comfortable. And that means making it hip, chic so speak.
Years ago my husband and I ran a little poet/songwriter coffee house in the local art gallery. Working on a shoestring budget we went out and bought inexpensive, but nice sized coffee mugs; cut butcher paper into squares, draped it over tables and provided felt tipped pens so artists cold draw or write notes as they listened. The finishing touch were small bits of clay with a flower or two. We created an atmosphere that matched the mood for the event. It worked - people felt comfortable and creative.
The best performance I ever went to was to hear Ellis Paul in a library but I have to tell you, I had to close my eyes to block out the atmosphere because it was such a stark room. Atmosphere is everything.... how do you think romantic dinner by candlelight got such a great rap? :-)
Women like nice things and giving gifts...
So getting back to marketing to women. Women like "nice things" and we like to buy trophies ( t-shirts for the kids, mugs for ourselves, etc...) that means we prefer to drink out of mugs not paper cups ( so go ahead and order "Ladies that Launch" coffee mugs for your group and then sell them to cover the cost. Get a great t-shirt design so your women will buy them to workout in or give them to the kids for sleeping or at the beach. We also like to buy things that have funny sayings on them for our husbands (t-shirts?) and we love to buy cards and gifts for our friends (get a few card designs to put into your library's store and sell those t-shirt "buy one, get one half off"). Why am I encouraging you to get into the retail end of selling items? Because part of marketing requires you to create a well designed product that people want. Most libraries can't afford to buy nice looking mugs or t-shirts as give-a-ways but you can sell a product and then use the profits to sustain the freebies. It gives you the money to brand your programs and makes them appealing plus it puts your message where you need it.
But coffee mugs and t-shirts alone will not make the atmosphere. Women like creativity. Forget the big "Hello my name is..." name tags. Get some art paper and stamps and create attractive pins where the women can write their names.
Introduce, introduce, introduce....
Instead of greeting people with a sign up table, welcome them with an offer to get them a cup of coffee and then when you return with the coffee ask them if they'd like a name tag. As the crowds grow you can ask others to help the new comers find the badges or show them where the coffee is.... in other words start thinking of your events as social events.
Ditch the calories ...
Have food but for goodness sake, ditch the cakes and cookies. Sure we love them but women want to be about health and fitness and your affairs need to reflect that thinking- high energy power bars, find the newest products that give energy and low calories. Comfort foods are great but they are usually unhealthy- you are creating a group that is looking to move ahead, improve their lives, etc... make the whole experience reflect that thinking.
Nourish the seedlings ...
Anticipate that beginning meetings will be small numbers and host them in a nook rather than a big room. Plan to have successful women speak (still in a coffee table environment- no podiums please), plant people make sure you hand pick some mavens (read Tipping Point) and keep the meetings short. Grow them from seedlings and let the group grow the meetings as they grow.
Keep inviting ...
Have the circulation staff invite people they meet at the desk who are reading business books- have the invitations printed on postcards and keep them clever and in brand. At different stages, bring in various authors... again keep it intimate- let the women meet the authors personally - you will be creating experiences that will inspire these women and they will want to share the groups with their friends.... that is the beauty of good marketing, we get others to do it for us.. free.
Posted by Nancy Dowd at 7:06 AM