Changing the Message

[Please welcome Guest Blogger Colleen Cable from Cable&Clark, and blogger with Law Firm Bottom_Line]

Oftentimes we get stuck in a rut and just don't know how to get out. I sometimes feel this way about the current status of law librarianship and how we communicate with firm management. This is especially true these days as we try to defend our budgets and perhaps our very existence in the organization.

So what should we do? Since most of us are in the same rut, I'm always a big fan of looking outside our profession or industry for inspiration and new ideas. Recently, I came across this video (also embedded below) on Twitter and it immediately resonated. The basic message from Laura Patterson is: impact not output. While the video and the topic might be geared toward redoing a marketing budget, the general message applies perfectly to law librarians. Like many, we typically think about the 'numbers' from an output perspective. For example, how many reference requests did we have during the month of February? How many new titles were added to the catalog this month? But I wonder if this is enough? Is this meaningful to anyone? Does it show value? It hasn’t worked, so how do we change the message?
In the video, Laura recommends focusing instead on these three things:
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Customer retention
  • Customer growth
This could be a real game-changer for librarians. Instead of the number of reference requests, what if we focused on increasing the number of new attorney users to a recently purchased product? How can we grow the customer base? You could then measure the cost of the subscription on per attorney basis and watch the value increase month over month. Another opportunity: We know that only a fraction of the potential customer base uses the library, so how can we acquire new customers and retain them? How can we expand our services to existing customers? How can we increase the IMPACT of the library on the organization?
Bottom line: stop measuring the ‘stuff’ we do and start measuring the outcomes we achieve.

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