Marketing, or the process of tailoring specific products or services to meet customer needs and wants, has long been important to business. It is increasingly important to public services providers in a world of both more competition for financial support and greater expectations on the part of service receivers.
Classical marketing can be broken down into five elements:
- Research. The basic component of marketing is market research, or the process of collecting information about the needs and wants of actual and potential customers.
- Products and Services. Library products include the mix of materials in the collections, services such as reference and reader’s advisory and the programs offered both in house and through outreach.
- Price. The cost of services is not usually a talking point in libraries, but price is a factor in such practices as overdue fines, charges for photocopies, interlibrary loan services and indirect cost to the user (government funding.) Today’s libraries are also beginning to consider fee-based services – e.g. databases searching or specialized services to specific customers.
- Place. In a library setting, place considerations include location of library facilities, as well as the method of delivery of materials such as deposit collections, materials by mail, or answering reference queries by fax or email.
- Promotion. Libraries promote themselves by communicating with customers to encourage them to use the library’s products and services.
A library marketing program should be guided by the following considerations:
- Determination of the library’s strengths and limitations.
- Identification of the wants and needs of actual and potential library users.
- Finding of matches between library strengths and actual and /or potential usage.
- Selection of a role or roles that match library strengths with community needs and wants.
|1. There is a written marketing policy that reflects the library’s goals, objectives and defined roles.|
|2. The annual budget allocates funds for the marketing program.|
|1. The library annually collects data on its performance and uses other measures needed to make management decisions.|
|2. The library conducts a community survey every five years to determine local awareness of, and support for, the library’s roles. The survey is designed to measure the community’s knowledge of library services and identify community information needs and wants. Demographic analysis and community input is included in the survey.|
|3. The library uses a planning tool such as the New PLA Planning for Results : A Public Library Transformation Process to assess the ability of the library to meet the needs of its potential and actual patron population.
|4. The library develops a marketing plan using the research from the community assessment.|
Products and services, as elements of marketing are addressed in the Collections and Services Chapters of this document.
Libraries need to periodically evaluate the prices they charge for services. The evaluation includes determining the actual cost of providing the services and the potential of charging user fees to underwrite the cost of providing services.
|1. An annual evaluation of fines and fees is conducted to determine if they should be raised, lowered or discontinued.|
The place component of a library’s marketing program includes where and how the library’s materials and services are distributed. Place includes considerations such as the best location of library facilities, layout of the library facility’s interior and alternative delivery modes such as items by mail, as well as response to patrons by email and fax.
|1. The library is located on a well-traveled street accessible by car and public transportation.|
|2. *The library has an exterior sign which clearly identifies it as a library.|
|3. Materials are displayed in an attractive and inviting manner. Face-out shelving is used where practical.|
|4. Frequent, attractive displays feature various library services and resources.|
|5. The library has a well-designed signage system which identifies different sections of the building and clearly labels the collection.|
|6. In determining services, the library actively considers alternatives to walk-in services, such as reference transactions by phone/email/fax, deposit collections, homebound delivery, remote access, and etc.|
|7. *The building is clean, safe, uncluttered and easy to use. The library staff and library board conduct and annual walkthrough of the library facility to assess the image the library projects. (see appendix H)|
A public relations program is a chance to tell the community of the library’s ability to meet local needs through materials, services and programs. The purpose of public relations is to have the community use the library.
It is important to remember that everyone in the library contributes to the success of the public relations program. The work of the maintenance staff directly affects the customer’s first impression of the library. The work of the technical services staff sends a message to the customers about the ease of finding materials. The work of the public services staff affects the environment and creates the relationships with patrons that encourage frequent usage.
|1. All new library staff members receive an orientation on how job performance and behavior contribute to good public relations.|
|2. The library staff and library trustees speak to community groups about library services.|
|3. The library staff keeps the community informed of noteworthy events through the news media.|
|4. The library staff makes a special effort to extend library services to municipal officials, local businesses and other identifiable segments of the community.|
|5. *The library distributes a brochure describing the library’s facilities, resources, services hours and rules.|
|6. The library staff maintains a mailing list of community leaders, interest groups and agencies. These contacts regularly receive promotional and informational materials.|
|7. In addition to the media, direct mail, library brochures and Friends of the Library groups, the following methods of communication with the community about library resources, services and programs are used:
|8. The library ensures the professional quality of all printed materials and graphics.
|9. *The public’s interests come first when evaluating and developing library policies and procedures.|
- Anderson, Kristin & Ron Zemke. Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, American Management Association, 2002
- Bradley, Phil. Getting and Staying Noticed on the Web,: Your Web Promotion Questions Answered, Neal-Schuman Pub., Inc., 2002
- Dolnick, Sandy. Friends of the Libraries Sourcebook, ALA, 1996
- Hernon, Peter. Delivering Satisfaction and Service Quality: A Customer Service Based Approach for Libraries, ALA, 1998
- Jones, Patrick. Running a Successful Library Card Campaign, Neal Schuman Pub., Inc., 2002
- Jurewicz, Lynn. High Tech, High Touch: Library Customer Service Through Technology, ALA, 2003
- Owens, Irene. Strategic Marketing In Library and Information Science, Haworth Information Press, 2003
- Rubin, Rhea Jones. Defusing the Angry Patron: A How-To-Do‑It-Manual for Librarians and Paraprofessionals, Neal-Schuman Pub., Inc., 2000
- Reed, Sally Gardner. Making the Case for Your Library, Neal-Schuman Pub., Inc., 2001
- Reed, Sally Gardner. 101 + Great Ideas for Libraries and Friends: Marketing, Fundraising, Friends Development, and More, Neal-Schuman Pub., Inc., 2004
- Strouse, Karen G. Customer-Centered: Telecommunications Services Marketing, Artech House Pub, 2004
- Wagner, Par. Library Customer Service Training Manual, Patten Research, 1999
- Wolfe, Lisa A. Library Public Relations, Promotions, and Communications, Neal Schuman Pub., Inc., 2005
- Walters, Darlene E. Future-Driven Library Marketing, ALA, 1998
- Walters, Suzanne. Library Marketing That Works! Neal-Schuman Pub., Inc., 2004
ALA Advocacy Campaign:
Marketing Library Services Newsletter:
PLA Advocacy Issues: