I just read Marc Kuchner‘s Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times. This book was quite enjoyable – an easy read with short, concise, relevant topics covered in each chapter. The main message is that marketing your science is incredibly helpful to you, your work and science in general, and that to do this well you must build real relationships with a range of different types of people.
Kuchner defines marketing as:
the craft of seeing things from other people’s perspectives, understanding their wants and needs, and finding ways to meet them.
I loved this. So often, people simply broadcasting the fruits of their labors consider themselves successful marketers. But, to really help your research products gain traction, you must first have a set of people that value your work and opinions to take your ideas seriously and promote them themselves. How do you get to this point where you have a cadre of promoting supporters? By building a network of people, by fostering relationships, by figuring out what people want and need and finding ways to help them.
Kuchner talks about quite a lot of things, but this “fundamental theorem” is pervasive. I found his first several chapters quite useful and universal. These cover how to sell your ideas, how to build relationships, branding, and archetypes. The rest of the chapters start to focus more explicitly on marketing science, though extrapolation of their lessons could be equally as useful for others.
Librarians and other information professionals could certainly take a cue or two from this work. We are constantly having to legitimize our existence in our organizations, right? Reading this book (or others like it) can only remind us of our need to market ourselves and our work, lest others forget how useful we are! When librarians do a good job at something, it often means that that something becomes invisible, second-hand nature, and taken for granted. I think the main lesson here is that it is critical to continuously build and strengthen new and existing relationships with our patrons, collaborators, funders, and organizational leaders so that we stay on their minds as useful allies and assets to their needs.