Once you decide to implement a new virtual reference service or introduce changes to an existing one, in addition to planning, training, and making technological and staffing decisions, you will want to create a marketing plan.  This does not mean solely advertising on Facebook or in your library instruction classes (although these are good too), but this includes many other actions, including but not limited to the following:

Determine what message you want to send

Research marketing strategies of other VR services

Research your target market

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What do they need/want from VR services?
  • What technologies do they use?

Determine how to reach your audience

  • Library website, university/county/city website, social media (Facebook, Twitter), classroom presentation, video tutorials (mention in other tutorials and/or have tutorial specifically show how the service works), library brochures, subject guides, printed bookmarks/handouts, posters, advertising (radio, print, and other media), one-on-one marketing by staff during interactions with patrons, library newsletter

Come up with branding

  • Logo/icon design
  • Program name
  • Service description

More market research

  • Literature
    • Avery, B., Docherty, K. J., & Lindbloom, M. (2011). Collaborative Marketing for Virtual Reference: The My Info Quest Experience. Reference Librarian52(1/2), 36-46. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.521737

    • Dubicki, E. (2007). Basic Marketing and Promotion Concepts. Serials Librarian53(3), 5-15. doi:10.1300/J123v53n03_02

    • MacDonald, K. I., van Duinkerken, W., & Stephens, J. (2008). It's All in the Marketing: The Impact of a Virtual Reference Marketing Campaign at Texas A&M University. Reference & User Services Quarterly47(4), 375-385. doi: 10.5860/rusq.47n4.375

    • Stempler, A. F., & Polger, M. (2013). Do You See the Signs? Evaluating Language, Branding, and Design in a Library Signage Audit. Public Services Quarterly9(2), 121-135. doi:10.1080/15228959.2013.785881

    • Taddeo, L. (2008). R U There? How to Reach a Virtual Audience through Affordable Marketing Strategies. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13(2-3), 227-44. doi:10.1080/10875300802103890

  • Websites
  • Marketing Guidelines
  • Tips & Best Practices