21st Century Librarians are the original Growth Hackers


Just the other day I came across one of the biggest buzzwords of 2014: Growth Hacker. I was unfamiliar so I started digging.

Lauren Hockenson in her article on Mashup defines Growth Hackers as:

“The growth hacker is essentially a scrappy, resourceful and creative marketer with a knack for attracting users. It’s a must-have role in most startups because it helps put the product in the hands of the masses and expand word-of-mouth reach. And it won’t be going away anytime soon — even if the name fizzles out in the next few years.”

So essentially- a Growth Hacker is someone who grows your business with marketing tactics using inventive ideas due to limited resources.

Well! This sounds like every user-centered Librarian I know! “But Kimberly,” you say, “Every sources says that Gowth Hackers are for ‘startups’! Libraries have been around forever. We aren’t start-ups!”

While the definition of a start up by wikipedia shows no relation to Liibraries :

temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.

No, we are not startups. But we have an aweful lot in common when it comes to challenges and keys to success! While all the different business sources seem to have a different “Top 10” of pitfalls, challenges, and keys to success, these 5 items consistently appear:
1. Inadequate Funding – for libraries that is an old song of slashed budgets and lost funding.
2. Poor Planning – how many years, meetings, or conference sessions have we endured to increase our planning acumen?
3. Staffing Problems – ranging from too few to disproportion in the grade levels (top/bottom heavy organizations) to needing new blood to our organizational memory retiring to “that’s not my job”. Where there are organizations there will always be staff problems just as there will always be sunburns with sunshine!
4. Competitors – Say it with me now: “Why do we still need libraries when we have Google?”
5. Poor or Inadequate Marketing – If we all just had a dime for every time we have heard “I didn’t know the library has/does that!!??” Marketing is something libraries are learning to do better everyday…but it still isn’t ingrained in us!

Libraries can lay claim to facing all of these challenges. In fact, these may be our be the “Top 5 Organizational Challenges For Public Libraries”.

Fast Company in their article on the current secrets of business marketing :

“Sean Ellis, a startup advisor who coined the term, put it like this: “The #1 requirement for effective, sustainable growth hacking is to start with a ‘must have’ product experience.”

But we can also stand proud knowing that we definitively have the MUST HAVE product of the ages…Access to Information.

So do you have a Growth Hacker on your staff to grow your patron base using innovative tactics?! YES? Then you, Dear Reader, are a true 21st Century Librarian!!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “21st Century Librarians are the original Growth Hackers

  1. Pingback: 21st Century Librarians are the original Growth...

  2. There are still people that believe that library marketing and branding are not necessary. They believe that libraries have no competition. *sigh* Successful growth hacking in libraries does require that libraries know and engage with their communities. Growth hackers don’t wait for people to come to them. They go where their people are, because they know where to find them.

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