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Marketing

To fulfill its mission supporting the goals of a school, a library media center has to be used -- first impressions are important.  It is important to consider and avoid anything that makes people view your program unfavorably.  Creating a good impression with teachers is the key to success.

Even if a program is well run, this does not good if people don't recognize it.  It is common to take things remember bad experiences and forget when things are alright.  Marketers know this -- that is why they spend millions on advertising.  It is not enough to satisfy a customers need -- one has to be viewed as the best route for fulfilling that need. 

According to the book, Marketing Without Advertising, "Ford Motor Company estimates that a dissatisfied car owner tells 22 people, while a satisfied car owner tells eight." (Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry, , 2d ed., Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press, 1997, 2.5.).  In many ways, marketing comes down to effectively communications.

Of course, marketing a good product is easier than pushing a bad one.  Start a marketing plan by determining a vision for the program implementing that vision using available resources.  Think about these questions:

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Who are you? 

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Who do you want to be? 

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What do you do? 

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What should you do? 

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For whom...? 

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What do they need? 

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What should you be doing in three years?

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What are your assets? 

Marketing Plan

While communications and creating awareness are both important parts of marketing, it is actually more.  Marketing also focuses on:

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Public awareness, i.e., presenting your image 

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Dissemination of information on your current materials and services 

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Developing services or products to meet identified needs

This last point must be based on some type of market research to determine users needs and how users perceive them.  Learn about the needs of clients is the starting point.  

In a school, that may include teachers, administrators, students, parents, community, employees, etc. In a public library, there is a much great number of market segments (e.g., general public, media, high school students, children, physically disadvantaged, senior citizens, donors, business community, local college students, staff, political leaders, ethnic groups, government agencies, trustees, volunteers).  

Identify Stakeholders

The goal is to develop an Understanding about who currently uses the library media center and identify those who could potentially benefit from library media programs, but are not current users.  In schools, they are probably in same building, but you may also serve community members or people from other schools in the district. 

Identify Needs

A survey is a good place to start, be be careful -- results can very widely depending on how questions are written or even placed in the survey.  Also, it is hard to get people to return surveys.  Don't assume that non-responders would have answered the same way as the responders -- in fact, those that choose not to participate might be the those who don't currently value your services.  The opinions and perceptions of those people are important.  

Often just talking to people and really listening to their answers is the best way to get this information.  Observation, in the library media center and throughout the school, is also important -- a library media specialist may be able to identify unmet needs before the teachers themselves can.  

Don't try to market a program that has little value to users.  It is better to spend time, energy, and resources determining users needs and working to build a bridge between those needs, the school mission, and the school library media center.  

Are there certain times of year when different needs emerge? Do different teachers and students have regularly predictable needs?  Can previous years help anticipate some needs?  Can teachers identify needs periodically throughout the year? 

Satisfy Needs

To get started, ask which needs are currently being met,  Be sure to ask both those satisfied with your services and those who are not current users.  Even if their are some negative feelings, hearing complaints is vital to create programs to serve more users. 

Perceptions

Determining how stakeholders view the library media center is also important.  Do people see the program as responsive to their (or the school's) needs or just a place to drop off their kids when they need a break?  Do they think the LMS is too busy to ask for help?  Do they see the LMS as possessing skills that complement their own? 

Many teachers have turned to the public library to fulfill unmet needs or are viewing the Internet as providing everything they need.  Do they feel students are getting all the library skills they need in English class?  Look at the competition and see where it will be possible to "win" back users to resources and services that more directly meet user's needs.  

Keep Current in the Field

Learning about library media centers and "best practices" is probably the best way to learn about successful program and marketing strategies.  WEMA, keeping in touch with peers, and professional journals are the best way to learn from the successes of others.

What to Market? 

What can be identified in each of these categories in the library media center?

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Services considered a priority by a majority of your users (i.e. Teaching information seeking skills to students)

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Services offered because a need exists (i.e. Locating resources to meet needs of exceptional education students)

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Services that should be provided but are not requested (i.e. Interlibrary loan)

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New services (i.e. Working with teachers to develop assessment instrument for multimedia products

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New resources (i.e. New database on contemporary authors)

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New equipment (i.e. Digital video camera) 

Determine Outside Factors that Impact the Library Media Center

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Political (i.e. ush for high stakes testing)

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Regulatory (i.e. New teacher licensing regulations that require professional development plans) 

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Economic (i.e. Declining school age population that impacts budget allocations) 

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Social (i.e. Increasing variety of cultures in a school) 

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Technical (i.e. Internet access in each classroom) 

Conduct a Benefit Analysis

  1. List the services the LMC offers and their features

  2. Examine each feature in terms of its advantages to prospective users(Feature / Benefit Analysis)

  3. Develop a matrix of services / resources and their benefits to groups of users. Be sure to include:

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Feature fact or attribute of library resources or services, used or not
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Badgerlink databases

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Benefits of the feature for different user groups
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Allow access to magazine citations and fulltext through the Internet on classroom, library, and home computers

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Proof ways to show the relation between the feature and its benefits to specific users
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Show teacher(s) how a specific database could be used for classroom assignment

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Approaches best methods to present the benefits
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One on one demonstration to a teacher or to a group of teachers in the same content area

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Timing best time to present the benefits
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During teacher prep time at his/her convenience or during department or grade level meeting

Find areas where the increasing burdens being placed on classroom teachers can be lightened.  For example, Badgerlink databases allow access to magazine citations and fulltext through the Internet on classroom, library, and home computers.  Show teacher(s) how a specific database could be used for classroom assignment.  Depending on what is more convenient, try a one-on-one demonstration to a teacher or to a group of teachers in the same content area or during teacher prep time at his/her convenience or during department or grade level meeting

Develop Strategy to Meet Needs

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Determine best way to get information to appropriate users. 

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What has worked or not worked in the past? Why? 

Build Support

Let staff, students and teachers be advocates for the program.  As Beth Carpenter stated, "Word of mouth is perhaps the most important marketing tool in existence."  

The authors of Marketing Without Advertising make a good point when they state, "The idea of people making recommendations to other people is so familiar to us that it often takes a big stretch of the imagination to understand what a significant factor it can be ..." (Your attention, please! Marketing today's libraries, Computers in Libraries, Sep98, Vol. 18 Issue 8). 

Evaluate Effectiveness

Determine and continually monitor the results of all of these suggestions.  Did the library media center increase demand, reach new users, or accentuate a new service or resource? 
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Promotional Activities

Promotion is one aspect of marketing. You can take your cue from the ad agencies that are paid big bucks to create promotional activities for their products. 

Develop a Theme 

Watching commercials or looking at ads allows one to examine many successful (and some not too successful) promotional activities.  What themes can be used to identify the LMC program or a specific service or resource? 

These articles / sites provide some ideas for different types of libraries. You may find it useful to skim one or more of these before doing the activity. 

bulletMotivational Ideas for Children's Book Week 
bulletSchool library Media Day 
bulletCarpenter, Beth.  Your attention, please! Marketing today's libraries. Computers in Libraries, Vol. 18, Issue 8. 
bulletJarvis, Margo.  Anatomy of a marketing campaign. Computers in Libraries, Vol. 18, Issue 8 (statewide campaign for something like Badgerlink) 
bulletDodsworth, Ellen.  Marketing academic libraries: A necessary plan. Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 24, Issue 4 (academic library examples)

Personalize Service 

Working with stakeholders is important.  Not only does this directly communicate with users the degree to which the library media program can support them, it results in better services and builds support.  Here are some examples of personalizing services:

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Develop a resource list or category in the online catalog for a teacher's yearly unit.  

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Meet individually with a teacher for technology training on an area they identify. 

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Sell survival skills and/or lifelong learning 

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Help a teacher adapt a lesson for a special needs student in the class. 

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Provide resources for a teacher's professional development plan. In some respects, you are using a fear of the future to help people prepare themselves. 

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Get involved in all curriculum areas 

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Don't forget those people in auto mechanics or physical education. They may not be regular library users but they may benefit from some of your resources or skills you can teach their students. Get involved on curriculum committees to keep up on new developments. 

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Become part of every class 

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Even those curmudgeons have needs that you could potentially satisfy. It's a matter of determining what they are and providing the resources or services at the point of need. 

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Thrive on chaos 

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Try things others have tried before and learn from your mistakes if it fails. Don't reinvent the wheel. 

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Make the ordinary sound special 

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Put something in a new package and often people will flock to it. Macintosh computer learned this when they changed the look of their computers in recent years. (Of course, they also continued to improve their offerings, but people were drawn in mainly by the new look.) 

Be Positive

People are drawn to positive people rather than those who can only see the negative. 

Entertain 

Why do people tune into the Super Bowl during the commercials? Many do it just for the entertainment value. We've all gone to inservices where the speaker was entertaining, and we probably paid more attention because of it. 

Be Creative 

Nothing says you have to continue the standard monthly newsletter of your predecessor that never was read anyway. Think about changing it radically or using something entirely different. Consider all alternatives, no matter how wacky they seem at first. 

Change Habits Slowly 

Just like kids learning new skills, you have to start slowly and build on your successes. Teachers took many years to develop to where they are currently, so don't expect overnight changes. Reward them for small steps and help them start from where they are and move forward. Think about Hartzell's idea of commitment -- people who commit are more likely to continue. Don't try a one-size-fits-all approach and give change time.

Get Out of the Library Media Center and Make Contacts 

You'll never make headway if you expect everyone to come to you. Eat lunch with other teachers. Participate in school activities. Go to teachers' classrooms to talk to them. Attend school presentations to find out what is going on in different classrooms. Stand in the hall as classes change and grab passing teachers. Work as a team with teachers. 

Be Proactive 

Don't just talk about it; do it! Make this one of your goals for the year. Create circumstances that are ripe for change. Lead the charge. 

Use a variety of techniques or media 

Examples from the advertising world include:

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Space and time advertising (e.g., direct mailing, news releases, TV, newsletters) 

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Loudspeaker advertising (e.g., morning announcements over the intercom) 

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Mailings (e.g., notes, memos, notices in homerooms) 

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Sales presentation (e.g., new materials at teachers' meeting, rewards of sample products)

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Contests (e.g., prizes, uses to expand the market) 

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Free samples (e.g., bookmarks, posters, production workshop) 

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Displays, signs (e.g., billboards, point-of-sale display) 

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Sales literature (e.g., bibliographies, flyers on workshop or speaker) 

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Brochures 

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Formal presentation 

Persuasive Techniques

We can also learn much about promotion from the research on persuasion in advertising. Look at tv, print advertisements, political speeches, sales pitches, and store displays to see if you can recognize some of these. 

Some of the techniques that are used in the business world, as determined by marketing researchers, include:

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Appeal to common folks 

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Testimonials 

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Bandwagon 

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Appeal to fear 

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Glittering generalities 

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Name calling (linking a person or idea with a negative symbol) 

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Transfer (carrying over the authority, sanction, or prestige of something respected to something new) 

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Euphemisms (bland terms for strong ideas) 

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Appeal to logic 

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Extrapolations (push the case to the limit) 

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Foot-in-the-door (get agreement on a small request and then work on agreement to a larger one later) 

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Door-in-the-face (start large, expecting to be rejected and then ask for something smaller) 

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Lowballing (don't reveal all at the start, gradually ask for more) 

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Investing time (creates feeling of obligation in others) 

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Appeal to pity 

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Appeal to pride 

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Attacking a straw man (against a fabricated argument) 

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Withholding information 

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Suggestion 

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Appeal to value 

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