This post was written by Ruth Gibendi. Ruth is currently the Senior Librarian at Meru University College of Science and Technology, Kenya, a constituent college of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She has shared her experience in marketing electronic resources and given us some excellent ‘top tips’. The information below is drawn from her own experience and similar experiences of colleagues at Strathmore University library.
Start planning early
This may seem like an obvious first step, but never underestimate the amount of time needed to plan and prepare. Procrastination or making planning a low priority can quickly lead to last minute activities. This, in turn, may minimise the effectiveness of your marketing and create a greater workload over a short space of time
Include marketing in your budget
Effective marketing is more than simply making resources available, people need to know what is available and how it can benefit them. Whether this means printing information or website development, making your resources known will cost money and discussing this upfront with institutional or library managers will help reduce compromises and cuts further down the line.
Get to know what users really want
Getting to know the information needs of your users is vital if you are to market your resources. Be sure your marketing is directed to exactly what they need (and think they need). A user is much more likely to return to a resource if they know that, no matter the effort it will take, they will get what they need once there.
Perform selective marketing
Too much information is often overwhelming to users and you don’t want your efforts to be overlooked or become little more than white noise. In our case we sought to market only databases offering access to e-books, and even then limited them to one collection. Equally, one could market resources in one subject area.
Ensure ease of access
Provide access points to e-resources embedded in the traditional catalogue, and include use of the catalogue and links to resources in the user training.
Work with the students
In our case, we trained selected users as ‘Library Ambassadors’ and actually used them to run the campaign. The librarians took an overseer role for the campaign. Read about how Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) used students in a previous blog post
Social media works
Social media provides valuable tools that are both popular and effective. In addition to reaching a large number of people, they make use of a different tone that users may respond to. We involved the students as administrators to help run the social network campaign.
Motivate users with small, relevant rewards
We offer rewards to users that are relevant to the activities without requiring a large chunk of the budget. These have included airtime and catchy ‘souvenirs’ with messages embedded along with a grand winner receiving the first prize — a smart phone.
Keep in touch and offer on-going support
Just because a marketing campaign is complete doesn’t mean the users are now expert searchers and users. Anticipate that they will face difficulties in using the resources, even after the marketing and training. By providing troubleshooting and simple contact mechanisms you help to build long term engagement.