New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

The M Word helps librarians learn about marketing trends and ideas.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Wonderful Example of Asking Users What They Want

Everyone who decides what libraries look like and how they work should be spending lots of time asking their patrons and potential users what they want the libraries to be before taking any action. Today I want to point you to an amazing example of that. Check out this post over at Designing Better Libraries. It explains the many things that libraians at Georgia Tech did to get input while redesigning their much-used second floor.

Library planners used not only focus groups and surveys but also mind-mapping, open forums, storyboarding, and furniture demos while asking students what they wanted the rennovated space to be like. The post author, Brian Mathews, also did something that's as simple as it is rare: He grabbed his laptop, left his office, and went out to "live among" his users. He found the experience very worthwhile:

Living, working, and going native was a tremendous benefit for me—not only with this project but for a richer understanding of students and their library usage. It’s one thing for us to talk about the library, but another to actually use the spaces and services that we provide.

Why am I mentioning all this on The M Word? This, my friends, is the essence of the True Marketing that I preach. The first step is getting to know users, asking what they want (thereby starting to get their buy-in), and designing your products and services specifically to fill their needs. What Brian and his colleagues are doing at Georgia Tech is a shining example of true marketing in action.

And even if you claim not to have the time, money, support, or whatever to do such in-depth studies, there's no reason you can't simply "go native" like Brian did. It's easy and it's free! Grab your laptop and your mobile device, disguise yourself by trading in your nametag for a baseball cap, and go use your space like a patron does. Can you find a power outlet in the area you want to sit? Is the furniture comfy? Is it too loud or too quiet? Look at how others are working around you. Watch and learn.

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