Now that you've seen that wonderful movie on the Power of Marketing, I'd like to spend a few posts talking about some basics for marketing that are essential for anyone interesting in marketing their library, non-profit or small company. Let's start with defining marketing.
It all begins with a product or an idea or service that will fill a need for a person.
Chris Penn, Financial Aid Podcast, described the process perfectly when he said, "Marketing is the creation of demand for a product."
I'm always hearing people in "libraryland" say that libraries need to market more or that the problem with libraries is that people don't know what we do. I really struggle with that thinking because ii is often the product, not the marketing, which is the real problem. In marketing we look to find the people who will use our product and then create that demand. But if that audience doesn't want, need or like the product, then no amount of ethical marketing is going to work. The classic example of this was the downloadable audio books so many libraries offered.
Sounds great. audio books, There's a big market there, right? Sure. but the glitch was that iPod users couldn't use it. So right there we took away about 90% of our audience.
But wait, instead of admitting that we were going to purchase a product that 90% of the public couldn't use, we start figuring out ways to make the product work for them. We buy MP3's and offer to lend the player with the books.
Did we really expect someone to put away his or her iPod and carry a cheap MP3? It was pretty doubtful especially since at the very same time Microsoft was trying to launch a competitive MP3, the Zune, and was failing miserably. Chances are if a company with millions of dollars can’t break into that market to change users that is a pretty good indicator that people are not going to want to borrow a MP3 player to listen to a free book.
Meanwhile the usage for most libraries was fairly low and people started thinking that we need to market them so people know we have these audiobooks available. Because if people only knew we had this great product, they’d come to the library for sure.
But marketing doesn't work that that way. It isn't just about letting people know about what we have, marketing is about creating a demand for what we have. We could have done some surveys to find out who in our libraries were using MP3s and started to create profiles that we could have used to develop collections that appealed to those people then market to them. And we could have probably extended that to the community as well. There were lots of possibilities for reactive marketing but the real problem started when we purchased the downloadable audiobook contract because we didn't connect why we were buying them with our audience. We didn't know our target audience and in turn didn't know whether the product was going to meet their needs.
The first steps in marketing is defining the target audience, finding out what their needs are and then developing a good product that works. Is your organization stating there or are they stating with a product then trying to find an audience for it?
As an experiment, think about the one product that you would like more people to use in your library.
Then answer these two questions:
1. Who is going to use this product?
2. What need is it filling?
My next post will help you with the next step from there.
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