Saturday, September 1, 2012

Marketing electronic resources: our five biggest mistakes

...and how to fix them!

5. Poor web design

Databases are a complex resource, and unless you're careful, they'll be hard to find, hard to browse and hard to search.

The fix: Let designers into the mix. Develop clear web way-finding, make sure we have good instructions and write a good "What are these and how do I use them?" introduction.

4. Marketing them as a lump

Saying "there's great stuff in the resources" isn't working. Very few people think "Ah-ha, THERE'S the great stuff! Just what I was looking for!"

The fix: We need to be promoting what individual resources can do. "Genealogy research? Try HeritageQuest!"

3. Using technical language and jargon to explain them.

You might not think "databases" is jargon, but I think it is - to a lot of people, a database is how you keep track of sales data, not a complex indexing of articles. We also need to watch out for "search Find It Virginia"' and other brand names.

The fix: My personal favorites are "articles" and "research," but you can use anything that makes sense to your non-library friends and family.

4. Attacking Google and Wikipedia.

Google and Wikipedia are fine for most people, who are just trying to find a good-enough answer and get on with their day. When we say "google isn't reliable" without putting that statement in context, we sound like this: "What's that, sonny? The inter-what? No, I don't trust that computer-thingy."

The fix: context! There are circumstances when you really need a specialized resource. When we talk about the differences between subscription databases and Google, we should be giving examples of times when Google won't do the trick.

5. Acting like they are equally useful to everyone.

They're not! Electronic resources are useful to certain subsets of our users, like students, scholars, business owners, etc. So again, be specific about what you're advertising, and to whom.

The fix: we should be marketing specific resources to the particular groups that will find them useful.