Make your Stuff Obvious

This sign was at our local shopping mall. Like any good blogging geek, I stopped and took a picture of it – to the chagrin of my kids, I’m sure (“Mom – Dad’s taking pictures of signs again!” – eye roll!)

But the sign made me think of a few things that I thought I’d share:

  1. The sign is nicely done – large, easy-to-read words.
  2. Just an interesting side-note – the sign’s in the shape of a smartphone. A few very short years ago, a phone that did wifi wouldn’t have made any sense. But we all easily get it now, don’t we?
  3. The message is clear, the service is obvious, the sign is hard to miss. You know exactly what they’re advertising.

Contrast that with the average wifi sign in a library. In most of our libraries, we make little, tiny, dinky-winky signs that say “wifi.” Usually provided to us by our wifi vendor. If we have signs at all [hmm… I wonder what our wifi signs look like? I’ll need to check].

But at the mall … where they really want you to stay awhile … the wifi sign is HUGE. This sign was almost as tall as me, folks! And right out in the walkway, standing close to the food courts (one place people would possibly use wifi for an extended period of time).

What do they want you to do at the mall? Stay awhile. Eat some food. Use their free wifi. And buy more stuff!

Now translate that to a library. What do we want our customers to do? Stay awhile? Eat more food (if you have a cafe)? Read/watch/listen to/download more content? Ask us questions? Attend our events? Probably all of those things (though I’ll bet most of us don’t spell those goals out quite like that).

Define what it is you want your customers to do, then make your branding, your promotion, your signage – what you want people to do while engaging with you – make it obvious.

People are Human, Brands (and Organizations) not so much

I recently read this post, Why your nonprofit needs a personality and NOT a brand, on John Haydon’s blog. Here’s a snippet:

“Most of the people you connect with on Facebook and Twitter are your friends. They’re people. They have personality.

And I bet that you spend 95% of your time connecting with people – not companies. And even when you do connect with a company, your best experiences are defined by the people who work at that company (think Zappos).”

Reading that made me think – how does my library work on giving our organization “personality?” How are we, as a system, acting more like people rather than an organization?

Hard question, huh?

Here’s what we’re doing (off the top of my head). What can you add to this list?

  • Blog-based content focused on our collection and events. Our content creators’ personalities shine through in their writing.
  • we include pictures and full names for every blog post. Same with our public-facing staff directory. This allows our customers to connect with actual people. And it works – I get emails and phone calls from customers wanting to talk to the “techie dude” every week.
  • We send staff out in the community. We do this through our bookmobiles and other vehicle-based delivery, through offsite programs and events, and through our speakers’ bureau. Again, this gives a face to the library.
  • We have an Ask Now button pretty much everywhere on our website and catalog that connects to IM chat reference.
  • We use multimedia – pictures of events, videos, etc. Visual ways to introduce staff to customers, and to make our library more personal to customers.
  • We share what us librarians are reading, using Goodreads and LibraryThing widgets (think staff picks – see examples here and here).
  • And of course, we’re using social media – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

So – that’s some of the things we’re doing to create a Face2Face connection with our customers.

What would you add? What’s your library doing? Please share!

photo of smiling people by Bigstock