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FAQ and Tips for Supervisors!
1.OverviewWhat is marketing? Why do libraries need it?
2.PlanningMarket plans, market research, the process.
3.ProductsWhat are library "products"?
4.PromotionWhat are the best promotion strategies?
5.InternetWeb marketing, design, guidelines, new ideas.
6.OhioHow does Ohio market and promote libraries?
Introduction to Marketing the Library Module 1
What's in this module?
The Overview module is an introduction to the process of marketing and to the materials covered in the Planning, Product, Promotion, Internet, and Ohio modules.
Explore the marketing process
Are you a whiz at library marketing, but want a refresher, with links to helpful sites and some ideas from other libraries? Are you a pro at promotions, but a novice at assessing what different groups want from your library and targeting your services? "Marketing the Library" explores the marketing process.
You're not the only information source in town anymore. You may not even be the only library in town because the Web offers access to many libraries! The availability of resources on the Web can change the way many users access information.
Public libraries often have better-than-Web resources and personalized assistance, but does your community know? Are you reaching everyone who could use your services and offering the right services? What's the best way to find out? What resources and services do users in your community actually want and have you asked lately? Marketing helps answer the questions!
Some people need to know you're there. Others haven't visited for a while and need to know you're STILL there. A few others just want to know everything!
Libraries can benefit by letting the community know just what part of everything the library provides. Ultimately you want to match library strengths with users' needs. Marketing positions your library in the minds of the community as a "go-to" source for information and helps users understand what you have to offer them. Marketing builds good customer relations, and contributes to a positive relationship with media, businesses, local government agencies, and organizations.
A current catchphrase is "Go where the users are." This applies to delivery of library services and to marketing the library. New resources are available and new ways exist to market library services, communicate the value of the library, respond to increasing demands for mobile services, and meet the growing need to integrate delivery of services for users involved in online communities.
Often marketing is about changing perceptions -- ours and theirs! Everyone benefits when we find out what users really want, and when we let our community know everything that a library can do, in the library or on the Web.
Meeting needs of customers
There are several definitions of marketing and more than one way to describe the process.
"The process of planning and executing conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives."
[Dictionary of Marketing Terms, 2nd edition, edited by Peter D. Bennett, published by the American Marketing Association, c1995. Also see Glossary of Marketing Definitions from IFLA.]
"A social and managerial process by which individual groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and exchanging products of value with others."
[Kotler, Philip, 1997, Marketing Management, 9th edition, New Jersey, The United States, Prentice-Hall International, Inc.]
In libraries, the "exchange" part of the marketing process may consist of continued taxpayer support in exchange for valued library services.
"Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you're continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return. Marketing is usually focused on one product or service. Thus, a marketing plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Marketing activities include "inbound marketing," such as market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist, what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you should meet them, etc. Inbound marketing also includes analyzing the competition, positioning your new product or service (finding your market niche), and pricing your products and services. "Outbound marketing" includes promoting a product through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales."
[Free Management Library]
The key is "process."
Planning and research are a key part of the process. Effective marketing requires quality research in order to assess what the library has to offer, what the users want, and how to match the two. The process includes several steps before publicity and promotion begin.
What is the process?
- Know the library -- who are you, what is your mission?
- Find out about your users -- who are they and what do they want?
- Create products and services that users want.
- Develop a plan of action with promotion strategies to market selected products to targeted users with appropriate methods.
- Be sure you're doing it right -- establish measurable goals and evaluate how well you've done.
- Start over!
Be careful what you wish for! What would happen if the library suddenly had twice as many users in the facility or visiting the web site? What if every program suddenly required limiting attendance? If you had more phone calls, and more visitors, and the lines for checkout extended out the door like the opening of a movie premier? Perhaps it's enough just to keep your regular users informed! Working through the process can help you determine when you've done enough.
Marketing is the process of planning, pricing, promoting, and distributing goods and services to create "exchanges" that satisfy the library and the customer. Marketing is ongoing and dynamic because customer needs and library products change. The marketing process determines the decisions and activities involved in continuing to meet the needs of customers.
Look in your favorite library and information science glossary, in marketing books in the library, or in online marketing glossaries for definitions of marketing.
- Find at least three definitions of marketing. They won't all be the same, but all libraries aren't the same, and one will work best for you.
- Do all of the definitions mention or imply a "process" of planning that includes several steps?
Why Market Libraries?
What does the community need to know about you?
What's a library?
Does everyone who could benefit from library services know about them? You may have new services and resources to offer that will benefit new users or keep current users coming back. A few users may not understand the services libraries have always had. Have you heard this before?
- Gee, I didn't know you had movies!
- You mean I can ask for a book from another library?
- The library databases have full-text articles? Wow!
- I can really search the catalog from home?
- Oh, I really don't want to bother you -- I'll just look around for a while.
Do users understand the power of the library card, the systems that connect all libraries, and the availability of online library services? Many users do not know the difference between quality online databases and undirected web searching. Some users think only of a building instead of services when they think of the library.
Who uses the library? Who doesn't?
Do you know what percentage of the population in your area does not use the library, perhaps many who truly believe that everything is on the Internet? Marketing may be directed at those who don't use the library, to show them the value of library services. Marketing could mean survival! Libraries cost money, and marketing informs the community of the value of library services and the necessity of continuing to support the library. Marketing is a means of presenting the benefits of the library to all segments of your market, users and non-users.
In a marketing plan, you consider demand, competition, and the customer decision-making process. You determine what the community needs to know in order to decide that the library is a service worthy of continued support. The public library tradition is to offer needed services in the best way possible and the tradition of great service doesn't change -- but the methods do.
Marketing lets the community know that libraries continue to be an outstanding source of information in a changing world.
Look for statistics on library usage. Use a library professional yearbook, statistical resources, the Ohio State Library's "Ohio Public Library Statistics" site, or search a magazine database.
- What are the numbers, how many people are using libraries?
- What are the trends, are percentages going up or down?
- What statistics are maintained by your library?
Steps of the Marketing Process
Marketing can be messy!
Just follow the yellow brick road...
The process of marketing is not always linear (do step 1, do step 2, etc.). For example:
The process starts with the mission, but sometimes knowing the customer better may lead you to reconsider the library's mission.
Assessing internal capabilities helps create a focus for market research into customer needs, but the research results may show a need to go back and change what the library is capable of delivering.
The marketing plan may need to be adjusted after each step.
Whatever the results, following the steps of the process will result in a stronger marketing plan.
What are the steps?
1. Begin the marketing process by examining your library's mission or purpose. (Module 2)
2. Assess library capabilities with a marketing audit, an internal assessment.
3. Find out what products (services) your users want and how they perceive the library through marketing research. (Module 3)
4. Develop goals and objectives based on your mission and the results of your internal audit and external research into what customers want.
5. To meet goals, select strategies to promote your products that will work best, be affordable, and reach your customers (Module 4). Include the Internet in your plan (Module 5). Look at what others are doing (Module 6).
6. Create a plan of action that describes all the steps needed to carry out the strategies for meeting goals. Outline the specific tasks, timelines, and assignment of responsibilities. Consider budget restraints.
7. Evaluate how well you have done. Evaluation may indicate that some goals can't be reached or can't be measured, some methods of promotion don't work as expected, or what's really needed is an entirely new plan!
Learn more about the marketing process in Module 2.
Good marketing plans are the result of a process that includes self-analysis, market research of your customers, establishing goals, using strategies based on your research, and evaluation.
Read the library's mission or statement of purpose.
- Describe how reference, children's programs, a special collection, and the latest library event contribute to the library mission.
- Can you think of a one new service that would significantly contribute to the library mission?
The Marketing Audit
What are the capabilities of the library?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Begin the planning process with a marketing audit to determine the library's capabilities, products, and challenges. The marketing audit establishes where the organization is, and why. The marketing audit can suggest directions to meet the library's mission or to improve library usage and performance.
The process of conducting the marketing audit contributes to the final marketing plan by providing a basis for informed decision-making. Effective marketing strategies must be based on internal capabilities, realistic assessment of what the library CAN do, not unrealistic or arbitrary goals. What makes your library unique or special? What do you have to offer? Who says so? What can you do? What can't you do? Can changes be made? What's holding you back?
Take a close, hard look...
The audit has two components: the library self-analysis of strengths and weaknesses and an assessment of the environment or situation in which the library operates. Assessing what the library can do may be difficult. Sometimes "what we've always done" makes it difficult to know "what we really could do."
The 4 Ps
The marketing audit also analyzes the "4P's" of marketing (i.e the marketing mix):
- Product - library services available to clients such as interlibrary loan.
- Price of Service - direct and indirect costs to produce and deliver the product, or actual fees if any.
- Place - delivery and distribution of the products and services.
- Promotion - methods to promote products.
Learn more about the marketing audit in Module 2 Planning.
A marketing audit is a systematic self-examination and assessment of the library's activities, including needs and capabilities, and the marketing mix (the 4Ps of product, price, place, and promotion).
Analyze the products of your library:
- How many "products" does your library have to offer? Include services as well as resources.
- Examples would be reference, children's programming, special events, etc.
Assessing Customer Needs.
Know your customer!
What do your customers think about the library and the services you offer? How do they "perceive" the library? Marketers say that perception is reality. Market research helps you see the library through the eyes of your users. It is a way to quantify, to actually measure what your users want -- or find out what keeps some community members from using your services.
Typically, market research looks at a specific marketing problem or a product assessed in the marketing audit. You want to know what is or will be your users' response to a product or service. Market research is not an internal assessment -- instead you're looking at users. Traditionally libraries look at distinct groups of users (market segments) or "publics." Users are not all alike in their needs or expectations of the library. Despite those days when everybody seems to have an opinion, not all of your users are letting you know what they really want!
Internal vs. External
Marketing audits assess internal capabilities, but marketing research is external, gathering information about the needs and wants of users or potential users. Market research identifies possible opportunities, but also finds the problems and challenges, or external barriers to successful marketing of the library to the community.
Methods depend on the product, but also on staff and budget resources. Formal market research methods may include print surveys, telephone surveys, pilot tests, focus groups, user surveys, Internet polls, etc. Do market research sensitively -- if you ask people what they want, they tend to expect you to give it to them! Learn more about market research in Module 2.
Market research focuses on the customer. Before preparing a marketing plan, find out what your customers want and how they decide on which products and services they will use. Use the information you've gathered to develop a plan that targets specific groups or emphasizes a service the research indicates that users want.
Have you ever participated in a market survey? Do you respond to mailed or emailed surveys? Have you been part of a focus group? Do you fill out cards in restaurants or hotels about quality of service? Do you find it easy or difficult to tell businesses about poor service or good service? Do you respond to online surveys or polls?
- During the next week, keep track of all the times your opinions are solicited -- on the Web, in stores while running errands, with telemarketers, by mail, on the back of trucks (How am I driving?), etc.
- Think about your users. Which method do you think would get the best response from them: a focus discussion group, a telephone survey, a web survey, or a written survey to fill out at the circulation desk?
Next info....MARKETING PLAN...