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Immersive cultural experience est bien meilleur

Jacksonville Public Library, FL
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Innovation Summary

Earlier attempts to promote the Transparent Language Online database resulted in acceptable sign-ups at the start of the year but trailed off as the year progressed. The instructional classes were not engaging customers to become long-time users. Our E-Services team thought creating language-specific classes might be more successful.

Innovation Leader: Kathy Lussier, Assistant Director for Community Relations and Marketing, klussier@coj.net

Problem Statement

Jacksonville is a military town serving the largest city in land mass in the contiguous United States. Interest in international languages is high, so we knew we had the right audience for the Transparent Language Online database. The database is one of the best online language-learning programs and it’s free to library card holders. It’s accessible via an app — a great feature for language help on the go. This incredible service was going unnoticed and underutilized. Previous classes focused on teaching students how to use the database. Usage improved a bit, but customers were not using the database to its full potential and we wanted more customers to try the service.

Innovation

The innovation was two-fold: a new format for the classes and a new approach to marketing them.

Rather than instructional classes on how to navigate the database, we offered full cultural immersion in a series of three interactive sessions focused on conversational use of the language, travel tips, local cuisine and currency conversion. Students received in-person instruction from advanced speakers and learned how to use the database for practice after class ended — a free service only for library cardholders.

Marketing answered the customers’ need for an interactive language learning experience. The database became a tool, not the driving message.

Progress

The results were amazing with sign-ups far exceeding our expectations and use of the database more than doubling. In September 2014, prior to the new promotional approach, 251 people used the database. In December, use was more than double with 600 people using it.

Classes were filled quickly; the library added five more laptops to their classrooms yet still had to turn away some interested customers. Due to demand, we are adding classes and expanding the language offers to Spanish, Tagalog and Mandarin, with a future class planned in Hebrew.

Based on this success, we plan to use the same marketing approach – focusing on how individuals’ needs will be met rather than focusing on the features of a product – for other products and services.