by John Hammond
Table of Contents
Developing a Marketing Strategy
Organizational placement of Information Center
Library products/services/staff of Information Center
Target market/Internal customers
Information gathering habits
Marketing Action Program
Meeting goals and objectives
Market segments selected & targeted
Positioning relative to competition
Surveying population served
Selecting marketing action tools
Phillip Kotler has defined marketing in his work, Marketing Management
"the art of identifying and understanding customer needs and finding solutions
that satisfy those needs, and at the same time, producing profits for stockholders."
It is therefore necessary to understand peopleís needs, to design services
to satisfy those needs and to inform the target market of the value inherent
in the use of the product to satisfy their needs. So, we may correlate
that special libraries, in general, are organizations that have been established
to serve the needs of an identified client base.
Funding sources are dependent upon the type of library. For example,
public libraries monies come from taxes, private colleges and universities
from fees and special libraries draw from corporate, and research and private
Whatever the organization, the purpose of marketing is to achieve that
organizationís objectives. Wilson in Marketing Tips for Professionals
states "The no. 1 rule in the business environment of a special library
is: everything relates to the bottom line; profit. The no. 2 rule is you
must market your product to be successful." Special libraries have frequently
been operated as cost centers.
Through effective marketing of the special library this cost can be
turned around. Increasing Information Center usage and cost recovery through
client or departmental chargebacks will turn a negative into a positive.
Such an Information Center can be turned into a profit center and become
essential to the parent organizationís success. In todayís climate of information
center cutbacks and reductions, marketing can help insure an Information
Centerís survival. Marketing is finding what your customers want and, within
reasonable parameters, providing it.
The question now becomes for the library professional "how do I market
the Information Center?" The answer?: Through the development and implementation
of a marketing program. A marketing program is more than just good public
relations and the dissemination of information to the public. It is hoped
that the information presented in this chapter will provide a roadmap for
successful marketing strategy.
Developing a Marketing Strategy
According to Charlotte Wilson, author of Marketing Tips for Informational
Professionals, the development of a marketing strategy is composed
of five broad steps:
Draw a chart to help you determine the hierarchy of command and where in
the hierarchy of command the Information Center lies. Just as no company
can successfully market to every single person, no Information Center can
efficiently serve every single employee. Groups have different needs. It
is essential that you look and assess those who are strategically place
and as a result, "they get things done."
Articulating Marketing Objectives
Developing an Action Plan
Choosing Action Tools
Evaluating & Reviewing the Marketing Strategy: It is essential
to take stock and analyze the current situation. This effort will provide
an overview and help define a plan of attack.
Mission statement: The identification of the basic purpose of the
organization and the Information Center. Examine
the mission statement of the parent organization and use this as a guide
to create a specific mission statement for the Information Center. If you
have one in place, make sure that it reflects the mission and objectives
of the parent organization.
Organizational placement of Information Center: To whom does
the Information Center report. Take a look at the organizational structure.
Library products/services/staff of Information Center: What types
of information and services do customers need and want? Create a list of
products/services that the Information Center provides for its users. This
list will provide a rough guide to areas that may need to be marketed more
effectively. The list may also show you new areas to be marketed or gaps
in the services/products being provided by the Information
Center to its users. Be aware of any changes in the quantity and quality
of the staff in the Information Center and the organization. This may effect
both the Information Center and the organizationís ability to carry out
Information Gathering Habits: Where do clients go other than the
Information Center to gather their needed information and why? Determine
how the Information Centers users most often obtain information. Determine
where they are going other than the Information Center: personal reading,
personal access to databases, business contacts and other alternative sources.
Determine the reasons they are using other resources: i.e.: unfamiliar
with the Information Centersí services, bad experiences with the Information
Center or others like it. This knowledge will help the Information Center
target those areas in its service that may need to be expanded or users
who may need to be informed, through proactive marketing, of services provided
by the Information Center.
Target markets and Internal customers: Identify the departments
and personnel that hold power within the organization. Study the Information
Centerís user population, its environment, its resources, the competition,
and the parent organization itself. Find out what makes up the Information
Centers user population. Look at those individuals who have power within
the organization. This is the primary target market. Information Centers
must select from these groups those who they impact the most. These are
the groups who can best support and defend the Information Center. Examine
the secondary market. These are those people and departments that are not
currently using the Information Center, but should be.
Determining Goals & Objectives: It is important to determine
where the Information Center is headed. Use the information gathered during
the Developing the Marketing Strategy phase to review the Information
Centerís current situation. Establish objectives and place them in order
of their importance to the success of the marketing program. Determine
goals based on the objectives, remembering goals and objectives are restated
in an operational and measurable form. For example: Objective Ė Increase
the number of customers using the Information Center and its services.
Goal Ė Increase the number of customers using the Information Center and
its services by 20%.
Market Segments Selected and Targeted: Review those primary and
secondary target markets that were determined in the current situation
analysis of your Information Center. Examine the secondary market. These
are those people and departments that are not currently using the Information
Center, but should be. Remember those who
hold the power in the organization are those who are very likely get things
done. They would be able to make sure the Information Center remains a
necessary part of the organization during any downsizing that may periodically
occur. The secondary markets can help create a demand through increased
awareness and use of the Information Center.
For example, if a neighboring library or a competitor provides CD-ROM
printouts and searches to their users, then the Information Center should
have the same or similar service too.
Positioning relative to competition: Determine how the Information
Center is positioned to compete with competitors in providing the information
and services required by the users. A list of competitors and the services
they provide will help you create or improve services offered by the Information
Center. This will, in turn, enhance the organizationís perception of the
Information Center as an Integral part of its ability to meet its business
goals and objectives.
Product/Service: First list the services that the Information Center
currently provides its users. Next, determine which services are utilized
the most and are the most cost effective. Rank them from the most used
and cost effective to the least. At this point you should consider discontinuing
those services which are the most costly and least used in favor of newer
services. Next, consideration should be given to what other services the
Information Center could offer that it currently does not offer to its
This will also enable the Information Center to recoup some of its
costs through the use of charge-back fees or by increasing the billable
hours via increased patron use of the services. Therefore, a thorough examination
of the costs associated with the Information Centerís services is very
useful in creating a marketing plan for the Information Center.
Price: This refers to anything that relates to the cost of providing
services or recovering costs by charging for the services provided to the
organization. By making certain that you are using the most cost efficient
services, the Information Centerís image will be enhanced.
Place: In this context, place refers to not only the physical aspects
of the Information Center: how the Information Center is organized i.e.
cleanliness, maps, signs, friendliness of staff , but its place in the
organizational chart. Also to be considered are any methods used to disseminate
information to the organization. The methods used to disseminate its information
to the organization are tied to cost associated with speed of delivery.
The Information Centerís goods and services fall within this area as well.
Therefore, take a look at the physical plant of the Information Center.
Is the collection organized for ease of retrieval? Are the directional
signs adequate? Is the facility clean and orderly? Is the staff knowledgeable
and helpful? Are online sources more efficient than hard copy? What can
Marketing Action Program:
Promotion: These are the various methods available to enhance the
Information Centerís visibility within the organization. For example: additional
for Information Center personnel on how to deal with the difficult client.
Training to increase staff research skills. Provide orientation tours and
staff name tags. Initiate a suggestion box. Create special programs and
workshops to assist clients in their searches. Make presentations before
the organizations managers. All efforts should be designed to increase
client awareness of the Information Center and resources.
Survey the population served: Find out the information needs of
the organization. (1) Conduct an "information audit of clients and
potential clients. This can be done using multiple methods: questionnaires,
telephone surveys, one-on-one interviews, group interviews etc. (2)
what competition the Information Center has for its userís attention.
(3) See what services, resources, and staff members are perceived favorably
or not favorably. (4) What services would the users like to see
but that are not provided by the Information Center?
(5) Do patrons
realize a saving in time and or money by using the Information Center?
(6) What types of document delivery do the users prefer?
This can lead to an increase in demand for the Information Centers
services and you will learn more about the organization too.
Select Marketing Action Tools: The population survey will suggest
what types of marketing action tools to use first. Use those tools that
will bring the greatest amount of positive user perceptions of the Information
Center to the organizations movers and shakers. Here are some of the most
commonly used marketing action tools. (1) Brochures: these should
be short and to the point. They should cover such key services as resources,
the Information Centerís mission statement and the qualifications of the
Information Centerís staff. (2) Special mailings: these are sent
to specific targeted members of the organization and because they are targeted
they are more cost effective than a general mailing. (3) Routine
mailings: These are reminders to the users in the organizations of the
existence of the Information Center. (4) Promotional presentations:
they can include presentations at staff meetings, employee orientations,
and open houses designed to get-out the Information Centerís messages to
the users on services. (5) Product packaging: The packaging should be easily
recognizable as something from the Information Center. You can easily do
this through the use of stamps, a cover page, a special folder etc. Try
to make the package look as professional as possible. (6) Follow-ups
after delivering a project to a patron: This activity while seemingly minor
is still very important. It shows that the Information center is interested
in meeting the userís requests. It can also be used to gather more information
on quality of the service. (7) Annual reports: these can be used
to communicate the value of the Information Center to the upper levels
of the organizationís management. It is an opportunity to let the management
see just what contributions and successes have been made by the Information
Center. (8) Internet and Web Pages: This is a great tool to use
as it demonstrates that the Information Center is a part of the information
revolution. It also provides a low-cost way for you to advertise the Information
Centerís services. (9) Committee Participation: By participating
on various committees and teams you can let people know just what an information
professional can do for them. Once they understand what an information
professional can do for their team or committee, others will ask for your
Cost Analysis: At this point you should determine if the cost of
the product or service being offered is worth the investment in staff time,
money, and materials to offer the service/product. You should consider
the direct and indirect costs needed to provide the service. Questions
that should be asked include: What does the client need? Is the client
receiving what is really needed ? What is the value of the service to the
client? Is there a way to make the product more cost effective? Additionally,
the cost of any service the Information Center is going to provide should
be examined relative to the overall benefit the Information Center services
provide the organization.
Evaluation and Review: This effort monitors the progress of goals
and also measures the marketing performance against established criteria.
Review dates should be in the marketing plan. A critical part of the evaluation
and review process is the Marketing Audit. An examination of the previous
internal and external analyses of the organization would be the place to
begin and give you a base from which to evaluate the success or failure
of your marketing program.
A marketing audit is an examination and evaluation of the Information
Centerís activities that include its needs and capabilities. Planning and
scheduling the data collection must be organized. Determining the methods
and forms for collection data are nest. Data can be gathered for the evaluation
through the use of various tools designed for this exercise. User surveys
are frequently used. Tally sheets to determine usage of the facility. Questionnaires
are useful for user feedback or one may determine the population(organization
population)and track an In-Information Center use per capita.
Training of the staff for data collection is necessary. Last, one must
analyze and report the data. A review or marketing audit should occur roughly
every two years. The person who is to conduct this audit should be some
neutral party from another part of the organization. This person can then
examine the Information Centerís marketing performance and make suggestions
on possible improvements. The audit should provide a thorough examination
of all essential aspects of the program. It should reveal areas of success
as well as determine efforts that did not meet expectations and goals.
The object of the analysis is to provide information to develop better
marketing strategies for the Information Center. A marketing audit should
also examine the four Pís of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
Were the goals and objectives of those essential elements met? Were the
goals and objectives of the Information Center met?
It should be noted that this is an ongoing process and should be considered
for the life of the Information Center.
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