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Marketing Wireless in Libraries

Someone on Web4Lib asked about posting symbols or signage to identify wireless access in libraries. This is a slightly revised version of my reply on the list, sent after several folks referred the original poster to the wireless warchalking symbols popular among the digerati.

Essentially, this is basic library marketing 101. If you’re planning to market wireless services not only to the folks who will seek it, but to folks who would either find a way to use it if they knew what it was or may never even use it but will mentally file this service under “what a great library this is,” then integrate the fancy symbols with very plainspoken, large, plain-lettered wording. Go to a site that offers wireless for its customers and see how they peddle it. (Remember, that’s what you’re doing: selling a service.)

Make the language achingly clear. “Wireless hotspot” comes to mind… but maybe something else makes more sense locally. Assuming you have a bookmark or brochure advertising this service, repeat the logo and the phrase throughout the materials. I know that libraries offer things for free anyway, but why not push that as well? Wireless–FREE!

A funny idea that comes to mind is a play on the universal blue and white “library” sign, emanating radio waves from a slab that is more laptop or PDA than book, with WIRELESS HOTSPOT on it.

Or you could practice another kind of library marketing, and either put up one tiny, very obscure sign, or make it very large and then title it “Bibligraphic WEP-enabled 802.11* Access.” And in your assessment of the service, observe that very few people use it. 😉

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