I’ve written about my past life as an eBay consignment cataloger before. Every now and then, I embrace an Antiques Roadshow mentality and go searching for hidden treasure. I might be at a yard sale, digging through the box of silverware looking for stamps. Or, I might be trolling vintage luxury brand listings on eBay: vintage YSL, vintage Celine, vintage Ferragamo…
Meet my new work sandals. I’m not going to link to the listing that brought us together, but here is the item description:
Lots of exceptions and rules up front, very little description of the actual item, and certainly not a description tailored to buyers of designer wares. “Looks like they were purchased in Italy?” A close up of the tag:
It’s printed in French, suggesting they were purchased in France, or perhaps Switzerland where Bally is based.
The other most important piece of information from a price tag? The price. These shoes originally sold for 550,00. I’m assuming that price is in Euros, because that would have been nothing in Francs (French or Swiss). Of course, that also means that these are not vintage, since the Eurozone was created in 1999. In any case, in today’s U.S. dollars, these shoes were $684.
I bought them for less than $20, including shipping. That’s better than I can do at Payless for work shoes.
The take away from my Ballys for library resource guides, course descriptions, and the like?
- Know your audience. Every program is not designed for every patron. Flyers for genealogy class will look different from flyers for story time, pro se help, or your 50 Shades of Grey reading hour. Clearly the content will be different, but so will the wording, font size, contact method, etc.
- Not sure who your audience is? Do a little research. People watching (much like price tag reading) is a totally free investment that could bring big returns for your programs. Notice that all the moms with toddlers hang out by the door? That’s so they can take fussy ones outside in a hurry–try putting your story time fliers there. Or better yet, put them just outside the door. Idle time bouncing baby might be an advertising moment.
- Tailor, tailor, tailor. If you have a diverse patron group, maybe you need different info guides for the same subject. Yes, it’s more work, but it might save explanation and on-the-spot editing later. I’m thinking of making a database guide for my pro se patrons so they can get right to what they need for the cases, and skip over our wonderful (but useless to them) comparative international law resources.
- Put the most important stuff up front. I know I’m not reading to the end of your training flyer to find the date and time. Know what’s important to your intended audience and put that up front. Story time? Parents need times: kids are scheduled down to the last minute of their tiny existences.
- Don’t be afraid to advertise with the obvious. Joe DiMaggio said, “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time, or the last time. I owe him my best.” It may be someone’s first time at your library. You’re there every day, and the magic might have worn off. Not so to the first time user who had no idea that you had wi-fi, or ebooks, or whatever else. People are always amazed that you can request as many books as you want at one time in library. We advertise that fact exactly nowhere.
Your library shouldn’t be full of hidden treasures. Much like the Bally shoe seller, you could be getting a lot more money if you show value by reaching the right people.