When the university of waterloo library asked for an entrepreneurial approach to entrepreneurial programming, The Founders were immediately intrigued. With a combined passion for entrepreneurship and experience spanning marketing, startups and fine arts, we were excited to tackle this project.
Together, with Team Venture, with the help of University of Waterloo library staff, we developed and worked toward the vision to make the uWaterloo Library a top-of-mind stop on the journey of every entrepreneurial-driven uWaterloo student. And with the mission to position the library amongst other campus services as an aid in market research and ideation.
The University of Waterloo is a magnet for entrepreneurial-driven students. Named the most innovative Canadian university by McLeans Magazine for the past quarter century, It’s a place where students are encouraged to find innovative ways to improve lives, change the way we see the world and address the challenges of today and the future.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. Whether for a school project, or starting a business, every entrepreneurial venture goes through key stages. Resources are needed every step of the way to make it through. The university offers a lot of these resources to students and alumni. With programs like Velocity that offers startups resources like mentorship, workspace and funding, Enterprise co-op that allows students to start a company in exchange for a co-op credits and St. Paul’s greenhouse that help build networks for entrepreneurs, the University has worked hard to provide resources to support this journey.
The University of Waterloo Library provides resources to help with the ideation stage of the entrepreneurial process. Namely instruction for specific programs, workshops for students and the guide for entrepreneurs. Providing that help in the ideation stage is essential for a successful entrepreneurial journey. But there’s a problem.
People don’t know!!! We talked to 24 students and alumni of the university of waterloo, 12 of who had conducted market research for a school project and 9 for a startup. What we found, was that 21 of them, 87.5 per cent, didn’t know the library provided services focused on ideation and market research. They hadn’t used the guide, and claimed they didn’t know it existed.
When browsing the University of Waterloo site, entrepreneurship is a key focus, but in listings like this one, on a page marketing the entrepreneurial resources provided by the university, the library is not listed.
Based on the lack of knowledge and the lack of visibility, we decided to focus our efforts on building awareness of the library’s services it provides to entrepreneurial-driven students. We want students to think of the library when they need help in the ideation stage of their entrepreneurial venture.
With more than 35,000 students enrolled in uWaterloo … Canada’s most comprehensive research university, the market for this kind of support is huge.
#ideasstarthere -Is the university’s current campaign that is used to engage alumni, faculty and community reach current and prospective students. They use this campaign to differentiate themselves from other universities to position themselves as a professional entrepreneurial school . #IdeasStartHere is successful because it has created a conversation between students, faculty, admin, alumni, and community. The hashtag is meant to both encourage students about why you should come to the University of Waterloo but also to create a sense of pride and belonging. What is the follow though to make those ideas come to life.
#UWentrepreneurs hashtag is another campaign to promote university activity. The purpose of this campaign is to highlight the successes of students that have created start-ups and build the University of Waterloo as an entrepreneurial school. Pictured here Waterloop, one of the University of Waterloo’s recent success stories that has been highlighted in mainstream media. How could the library have helped them in the beginning?
Between #IdeaStartHere and #UWentrepreneurs awareness campaigns there is a missing link. Students are greeted with ideas start here campaign with a lot of promise , but what does that really mean? How do students actually create interesting and innovative idea? Where is a starting point and a central place where we can go to build ideas?
This is where our awareness campaign comes in. #BuildYourIdea. This is the missing link to engage and invigorate students ideas that can boost them to the next stages after ideation. We propose to use a multi-platform campaign based around the hashtag #BuildYourIdea to answer these questions. We want to see the library as a place for students and alumni to come with their ideas and create the foundation for their ideas. Build your ideas would consist of a podcast, webpage (landing page), a strong social media campaign using the hashtag #BuildYourIdea A campaign and marketing plan that’s all about collaboration. #BuildYourIdea
Driven by the major entrepreneurial stakeholders at the University of Waterloo, this awareness campaign would consist of social media, a website that shows the full menu of entrepreneurial options and a bi-weekly podcast featuring thought leadership about building out ideas.
Having a podcast would provide value to entrepreneurial students/community. The library would invite entrepreneurs and thought leaders to provide insights from their experience. How did they get started? What challenges did they face? Plug Guide for Entrepreneurs during podcast. We recorded pilot episode as example. Interviewed Chase Denomme – a uWaterloo grad, entrepreneur, manager of the Accelerator Center.
Create value > Build relationships > Spread the word Based on Forbes list of essential skills such as staying motivated and staying up to date incorporated with interviews from leaders in the Entrepreneurial and Startup sector from around Waterloo Region #BuildYourIdeas podcast is a way for the Library to gain reach to potential users and students.
Creating a landing page/website creates a quick intro into resources available at the different stages that the UW library can assist with. Ideate > Validate > Scale
List of programs & partners your audience may be interested in, giving them a platform where the audience can dive deeper into details and visit their respective sites.
Live social media feed would demonstrate and gauge the University of Waterloo’s audience engagement & reach.
How would people hear about this podcast or reach the website? #BuildYourIdea Social media would multiply the library’s reach significantly, thus increasing student awareness in the Guide & other library resources Efficient way to raise awareness Reach thousands of students with 1 hashtag Based on UWs social media channels and number of followers, the three main social media channels to use are Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook UW Library: Twitter = 2788 followers Instagram = 1018 followers Facebook = 963 likes
Now here is the kicker – Exploit the exponential power of social media. Build relationships, this is the potential reach between all of these people. Velocity Twitter – 22,700 followers Entrepreneurship Society Twitter – 1,275 followers With just 2 of these partners and using only Twitter = 22,700 + 1,275 = 23,975 more people to reach! The incentive to promote the #BuildYourIdea hashtag is so people listen to the podcast where entrepreneurs are interviewed. Thus spreading the word of the podcast, and consequently, the Guide.
The low cost print media via student handbook or student newspaper is very cost effective at $1,500 . These traditional marketing methods are a great way to promote the campaign.
Tee-Shirts, canvas bags, key chains, mugs and cups (Swag) creates a recognizable entrepreneurial librarian.
Today, the library offers class visits that, unfortunately, aren’t often used. The Library does attend the MBET orientation week. Following these visits, there is a noticeable spike in inquiries regarding the library’s entrepreneurial services, but it doesn’t take long to drop off. Going to classrooms works for a short period of time. Students are busy. Students are distracted. Students forget. The Guide provides hard to find, crucial market research information for those at the ideation or early stage startups.
Students are busy. The marketing rule of 7 states that people need to hear a message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy a product or service. Reaching students through multiple channels allows the message to be digested in a variety of ways and means they will remember these services when they go start an entrepreneurial venture. If you have a clearly-defined market strategy that maps out how you will touch that prospect at least 7 times, you significantly increase your odds of sales success. As a matter of fact, nowadays, you might need more than those 7 times to be heard through those clutter that’s in people’s news feeds or fields of vision. Social media crushes old school marketing by expertly leveraging a medium that touches customers regularly. Social media affords uWaterloolibrary the opportunity to converse with the students often 7 times every day! It’s accomplished by sharing content and interacting with students and alumni. Tap into the power of the social media Rule of 7 And we can engage students during every stage of the cycle. “There can be no words without pictures.” -Aristotle There are some platforms (Instagram, Pinterest) where no words are necessary. But don’t fool yourself by thinking that all your images are compelling, especially if you have no content strategy backing them up. “Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video“ Video is good at everything: smart, sharable & personal. It is the best way to reach customers at scale. Video is for engagement: direct, social and real. Remember, the foundation of all content is to attract, engage and ultimately convert target customers. Interviews and “How To” videos provide a lot of visibility and can establish your authority and online reputation https://www.krusecontrolinc.com/rule-of-7-social-media-crushes-old-school-marketing/
Students could be exposed to the campaign via an ad in the student handbook, they could see a staff member wearing the T-shirt, or see the hashtag on Instagram. The audience could go to the webpage, listen to the podcast. Any of these interactions would ultimately lead them to learn more about the services available to them through the university of waterloo,
This is a collaborative project. The other resources available to entrepreneurial students should not be viewed as competitors, because we are all in it for the same reason: student success. Our competition is everything else happening in a student’s life – homework, sports, jobs, friends. This campaign will allow you to break through that noise and be seen as a trusted resource for students.
There were elements of waterfall project management throughout the process. Different restrictions such a time and scheduling did not allot us the ability to re-iterate as often as we would have like. This project was a great introduction to Agile Project Management. Some defined members from the agile methodology during our project: Stakeholders Product Owner : Sandra Keys from the University of Waterloo Dana Porter Library Agile Team: we took turns acting as Scrum Master this meant emailing Sandra each week about what was discussed in our meetings Our first step was to make a contract, identifying what are strengths and weaknesses are and what we each individually bring to the project. Next we made a Journey map and broke down each week what needed to happen until the deadline., By doing this we were able to identify our tasks and action that needed to happen in our backlog. We used Trello to collaborate on our backlog. This gave everyone access to the backlog at all times and the ability to make comments and thoughts about tasks/actions. Our weekly meetings/sprints were more non traditional in that we did not have a testing stage and very minimal reiteration Weekly tasks completed from the backlog What needs to be added to the backlog Successes and challenges Deciding who would be the project manager for the week All the documents we created including weekly notes, presentations, copy for media graphic files etc were saved to Google drive, so everybody could contribute and access files. Most of our communication happened in Slack, some via email. Part of our integrating and testing component was sending out a survey to see who has heard of the library’s resources. From here we were able to gage who had heard of the library resources (more specifically the guide) and who had used them. Not many people (1 in 24 had even heard of the library services. It was very apparent to us that we needed to make people aware of the Library Entrepreneurial services. We decided to create an awareness campaign through collaboration, social media, and existing platforms at the university.
To begin to define our awareness campaign or product for the Entrepreneurship Program at the library we began by imagining users. We created a current student persona and an alumni persona or user. Our student persona we imagined as someone who may be researching a group project or an upper level or graduate student who may potentially have an idea for a project. They would need market research, assess the industry, patents and how to actually scale their startup, small business, or project. This is where we imagine #build your idea. Our Alumni persona we imagined as someone who is still connected to the university either through a company such as Velocity or through Alumni services. This person may be working, but they have a really exciting project/start-up idea and they need to find some research out to be able to make some initial steps. We really wanted to have our campaign focus on the Library being an initial starting point for students and alumni to be able to find out more information. New ideas are exciting and we often have a ton of ideas when we are starting out we imagined our users as curious and enthusiastic to make their ideas come to life . Finding out more information is a good starting point to know which direction to take and that is where we want to position the library.
Building relationships is key to spreading the word about the Lib & the Guide. By pitching this campaign to key stakeholders such as Velocity and the ENT Society, the Lib will raise awareness of its Guide for Entrepreneurs which could impact the University’s large entrepreneurial pool of students looking to take the leap and start a venture. There are 35,000 students at the University of Waterloo. This campaign will put the Library at the forefront of these students’ innovative journeys by providing value necessary to their success.