Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Outside the Book - W.O.W.!

Wait no longer for this week's (marketing) Word of the Week, which is: marketing. Betchya didn't see that coming!

I know we've talked about this before (see Thursday, March 31, 2005's post), and I know that you are all marketing-savvy; but I also know that it's easy to lose sight of what we're really doing when we're marketing, so I thought this topic deserved another go 'round.

Maybe you've had colleagues ask you, "How did you market x service?" when you know what they're really wanting to find out is how you promoted x service (a red flag). The problem here is that if we only think about advertising our services, we're addressing a small piece of the marketing pie. In fact, promotion is usually the last thing we should think about when designing new services.

In my marketing studies, I've been instructed to think about marketing as a philosophy and a way of doing business. That philosophy centers first and foremost on the needs and desires of an identified market segment from which all other considerations (product, price, place and promotion) follow. If we design a service just because we think it will be beneficial for patrons, we've already made a crucial mistake. First, we need to figure out who our patrons are and what it is that they want.

I don't mean to oversimplify here. As librarians, we do have social and cultural responsibilities to provide services that go beyond just stocking the latest best-seller, and it's important to anticipate needs that are often unexpressed, but I would argue that marketing principles still apply here. Knowing our patrons very well can help us to find the best matches for their needs and our abilities.

My favorite article of late on the nature of marketing comes from one of my favorite sites (MarketingProfs.com). It's called What is Marketing? by Allen Weiss. If after this post you're still up for reading more, I'd highly recommend it. According to Weiss, "Marketing is, in fact, the analysis of customers, competitors, and a company, combining this understanding into an overall understanding of what segments exist, deciding on targeting the most profitable segments, positioning your products, and then doing what's necessary to deliver on that positioning." Whew!

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