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SLA 2009: Creating Groupies

The final session I attended at SLA was Mary Ellen Bates’ talk entitled: “Creating Groupies: How to Add Value, Make Yourself Indespensible and Beat the Pants off Google”. Well, with a title like that, how could any librarian resist?

This was an absolutely fascinating session. Mary Ellen is a terrific speaker, and clearly very popular – I’d been warned to get there early, so managed to grab one of the last seats, but there were dozens of people standing at the back of the room and sitting in the aisles.

I won’t try and reiterate everything that was said (in any case, her slides are available here), but here are a few points that I took away and am looking forward to putting into practice:

  • Advertise benefits, not features. Your clients need to know “what’s in it for me?”
  • Build a relationship with the key decision makers in your organisation. Your goal should be that they can’t imagine making an important decision without your help.
  • Make yourself an essential part of what your organisation does, not an appendage that can be cut off.
  • Remember that people won’t tell you if they’re not happy with the service, they’ll just stop using it. Encourage negative feedback.
  • Gap between what people say and what they do: don’t ask what they want, offer a choice and see what they go for.
  • Promote your service, don’t defend it – and stop trashing Google! Talk about what you can do, not what Google can’t.
  • Use language your clients will respond to, e.g. “We turn information into actionable, reliable intelligence”.
  • Making searching easier! Users will try to DIY even if they’re no good at it. Impact of the Google generation, who are used to figuring out search on their own and believe that it is easy.
  • Use push technology – don’t expect people to come to you/your website. Figure out how people want to receive content – email RSS, even print (!), and tailor this to them.

Some fantastic marketing tips in this talk, and the PPT also has some useful data pulled from the SLA Alignment research. Definitely worth a read.

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One comment on “SLA 2009: Creating Groupies

  1. [...] conferences, rambling, sla2009 Looking back over my last few posts, it occurs to me that only one of the sessions I attended was specifically about LIS (or two, if you count Stephen Abram’s [...]

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