Small town public library life and library school topics of interest

LIBR 204: Week 15: Marketing and Advocacy for the Contemporary LIS Organization

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One of the most brilliant marketing campaigns I have come across in the library world is the 2006 “Bringing the World to Wyoming” marketing campaign for the Wyoming State public libraries. The campaign was/is multi-faceted, designed to reach out to non-users, fully embracing Evans and Alire’s (2013) concept of “making potential customers know you exist and providing them, and existing customers, with information on what products and services you have available” (Evans & Alire, p.263). Perhaps the most famous (or in some circles infamous) part of the campaign was the spoof of the mud flap girl (http://s474.photobucket.com/user/Nocturntable/media/Librarians/wyoming-library-mudflap-girl.jpg.html (Links to an external site.)) found on semis throughout the U.S. The mud flap girl was created in an effort for library staff to reach out to the state’s huge number of truck enthusiasts; the image was posted in garages and gas stations state-wide, and was used to promote the library’s online Chilton’s database. This image went viral for a period of time, creating controversy among those who found it sexist, while at the same time realizing its intended purpose as the number of men signing up for library cards increased. The Wyoming State libraries successfully targeted an underserved population of users (car and truck professionals and hobbyists), figured out a key product that they had to offer to them (the Chilton’s database), and marketed directly to them (in garages and service stations); obviously, they had considered the questions raised by Evans and Alire (2013) in their discussion of Target Group Definition (p.272). A second part of the campaign involved billboards advertising various types of media offered by the library system. The use of billboards across the state is an intelligent choice; while there are populated areas on the west and east ends of the state, the vast area in between is open country, cut through by a few highways. Drivers traveling though the state are naturally drawn to anything breaking up the landscape; clever billboards would certainly have a positive impact not unlike the Burma Shave ads of yore. One of the most well-known of these billboards depicted a Trojan horse being hauled across the Wyoming prairie by a pickup truck (presumably sporting mud flaps with the library mud flap girl on them) (http://maisonbisson.com/post/11212/wyoming-libraries-marketing-campaign/ (Links to an external site.)) advertising the popular film Troy along with a stack of other audio-visual materials. The message? “A World of Inspiration Awaits You.” A second billboard promotes the library’s travel materials by illustrating the commonalities between an old-fashioned windmill in a Wyoming setting and the Eiffel Tower (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/177962622749002036/ (Links to an external site.)) . The message? “Bringing the World to Wyoming.” By incorporating the familiar Wyoming setting with historic and cultural icons, this marketing campaign surely spoke to everyone in the state (as well as those just passing through). This use of billboards hits a wider audience than the mud flap girl was designed to reach; library marketers must surely have used a similar process to the one Evans and Alire (2013) define as Differential Marketing Analysis (p.273). Perhaps the most remarkable part of Wyoming’s campaign is their brand logo. Using the iconic cowboy-on-a-bucking-bronco image found on the Wyoming license plate (and more recently on their state quarter), and modifying it to be a cowboy-on-a-bucking-book (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265149496781981996/ (Links to an external site.)), the designer creates a logo that is at once identifiable as being all things Wyoming, while at the same time implying that books and reading are as exciting as a rodeo. This is an exceptionally smart blending of the traditional library brand (books) and the state nickname (The Cowboy State), embodying “the essence of a product, service or organization” (Evans & Alire, 2013). Not only was this campaign used to encourage new library users, but it helped out the library budget as well. All the library creations were available on merchandise such as coffee mugs, T-shirts (even one for dogs!), messenger bags, etc. Even today, nearly ten years after the campaign was first released, these items are still hot sellers, available online at http://www.cafepress.com/wyominglibrary (Links to an external site.). Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman Joyce, Matt (2009) Library’s mudflap girl campaign turns heads. Casper Star Tribune Communications. Retrieved from http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/library-s-mudflap-girl-campaign-turns-heads/article_edd1b798-d162-5613-9253-a29b192b49b5.html (Links to an external site.) Sweetwater County Library System. (2007). Bringing the world to Wyoming. [Data File] Retrieved from http://www.sweetwaterlibraries.com/news/newsdetail.php?nID=264 (Links to an external site.)
Edited by Karen Christiansen on May 5 at 4:29pm

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