January 26, 2018

A big step forward for library marketing

The Kitchener and Waterloo libraries in Ontario did an interesting and important thing last May. As they went out to bid for a new ILS, the RFP they issued included a bit of a twist. Along with identifying the standard ILS functionality they knew they needed, they included a totally new section–a section that specifically addressed their interest in functionality related to Marketing and Customer Engagement. This was the first time that we’ve seen a library establish requirements specific to library marketing technology functionality as a significant element of the procurement.

We think this is good news for libraries and we’re proud to say that Patron Point has been selected by the Kitchener Public Library to be the foundation of their marketing and customer engagement efforts. You can read more about the selection in our press release.

Library marketing has become our single focus and, as we have talked to libraries, we know that many of them have an “inkling” of what they want to do but have struggled to clarify what they want in a system. For years, we have heard early musings about a “CRM for Libraries” and yet oftentimes the discussions never get beyond the conceptual level.

Having worked with systems such as Salesforce, I could see the potential application the technology could have. At the same time, knowing the details of how these systems worked, I always felt that it really wasn’t about capturing contact information as a Customer Relationship Management system does (a library’s ILS system also does a pretty good job here). It was more about being able to personalize and automate many of the marketing interactions to better promote their services. This type of functionality is much more aligned with marketing automation platforms such as Hubspot, Pardot, and others.

One of the key driving visions for Patron Point™ is the belief that libraries can benefit from this new generation of marketing automation technology that is being successfully used by the business community. In a kidding way, we call it “using marketing technology for good”.

When we first saw the RFP, we felt that this was a turning point for the library marketing conversation as it finally put into specific terms what a requirements set can look like. [Note: If you’re interested in the RFP, you are welcome to contact Lesa Balch, KPL’s Director, Technologies and Content at 519.743.0271 x231 or Lesa.Balch@kpl.org.] It detailed over 80 requirements covering all facets of Patron Relationship Management such as: List Management/Segmentation and Persona Tracking; Content Creation, Tracking and Management; Visitor/Patron Nurturing and Engagement; System Integration/Functionality; and Adherence to Anti-SPAM and Privacy Legislation. The RFP included items such as ILS patron data integration, monitoring patron activity levels (checkouts, program attendance), renewal dates, etc.

We were also pleased to see that the process was open to companies that could either present a complete offering or was able to address address specific requirement of the RFP. As a result, the Libraries were able to receive a broad range of automation solutions and visions from both ILS platform and specialized providers.

This is a major step forward and we hope a foundation on which library marketing will begin to realize its potential to help libraries succeed into the future.

Shimshock out.

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