Marketing for the Rest of Us – SLA 2012 session write up

The session Marketing for the Rest of Us: a guide for introverts, with speaker Mary Ellen Bates, was standing room only, so I hope that writing up my notes from it will be useful for those who couldn’t attend. The slides for this presentation can be found here.

Marketing, both our services and ourselves, was a theme that cropped up in a few sessions. This presentation focused marketing techniques and advice for the introvert personality type, which I am sure is very common among librarians (I know I’m one!).

I wanted to write up my impressions from this session, as it was inspiring and really got me reflecting on my own marketing/branding etc. Here are some of the ideas and tips that I found most useful and interesting.

‘So, what do you do?’

Mary Ellen started the presentation with some interesting examples of how simple it is to transform an answer to “what do you do?”. Think about what it is you do that’s unique, that’s what your organisation needs. It’s also important that you’re not making the other person do all the work; in other words, it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m communicating the value of what I do. This reminded me very much of elevator pitches, which I later discovered Mary Ellen ran a workshop on at SLA last year!

She also pointed out the importance of talking about benefits, not features. This is something that Ned Potter also spoke about, a few months ago, and is something I am wholeheartedly behind. As soon as it was pointed out to me, I now see people talking about features everywhere, and have vowed not to do myself!

Promote, don’t defend

By taking on a defensive approach, it’s an uphill battle, since you’ll probably be going against your user’s prior experience. Saying Google isn’t reliable, for example, contradicts, for the user, all those times they used Google and found what they wanted.

I think this has some interesting implications for teaching information literacy, and engaging people in wanting to gain these skills; if you can show them how to make the most of Google, rather than saying DON’T USE IT DON’T YOU DARE, they’re more likely to get the most of the instruction because they feel it’s relevant and useful to them.

Build up your brand

Social media is a great way to develop your personal brand, but you can also add value to your profile by doing things such as live-tweeting a conference, blogging, or sharing your slides from a presentation. I’ve been trying to keep my personal brand in mind after reflecting on it for CPD23, but the idea of adding value hadn’t occurred to me. It makes a lot of sense though; I’d rather be contributing than lurking.

I was also tweeting (adding value!) during the session, and I created a storify of my tweets, which should hopefully build you a broader picture of my impressions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to embed in wordpress, but please visit the link below:

[View the story “Marketing for the Rest of Us, with Mary Ellen Bates” on Storify]

Were you at the session? What were your take-home messages from it? And if you weren’t, what tips do you find helpful for marketing as an introvert?


  1. The observation about promoting, not defending, is something we do at work. We run training sessions on Google and we never say “don’t use Google”. We actually start off by saying how great Google is but then say the ways their use of Google can be enhanced.
    I didn’t get a chance to go to this session so thanks for the write up!

    1. You’re welcome!
      Yes, the promote, don’t defend idea, and also emphasising benefits, not features, is something that is so simple. It’s common sense once someone says it, but it needs to be said out loud for it to register.

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