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Marketing your library to the Net Generation

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Market planning and analysis

Marketing is not a matter of throwing a few leaflets at supposedly receptive audiences: it must be planned, monitored and evaluated, and adapted in the light of new information. Spalding and Wang (2006: p. 500) describe the strategic marketing plan as including:

  • customer and market research;
  • analysis of context, including opportunities and challenges;
  • goals and objectives;
  • desired image and key messages;
  • operational plans for marketing efforts aimed at different audiences;
  • evaluation of outcomes, as well as feeding information into future research.

Image: Figure 1. The market planning process - Customer and market research; Strategic library plan; Promotion of the library; Providing products/services.

Figure 1. The market planning process (Spalding and Wang, 2006)

Having a plan will enable the library to talk with greater confidence about information-provision needs, and increase its visibility and funding potential.

Helinsky (2007) mentions a couple of common analysis techniques that can be applied to the library:

  1. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats),
  2. Boston Matrix.

The former is useful for analysing your current position. For example, a strength may be specialist expertise, weakness having to do too much on a limited (and possibly cut) budget, opportunities could be new e-resources, while threats might be technical problems and competition from Google.

The Boston Matrix uses analogies to help you analyse your products and services and help you prioritize:

  • dogs – problem services and should be got rid of;
  • cash cows – services with a high share of a low growth market (your book collection might be an example!);
  • question-marks or problem children – those services which consume a lot of resources now, but which could develop in the future;
  • stars – those services which have a high market growth (such as e-resources).