Friday, July 21, 2006

Taking the "non" out of "non-user": Part 2 of 4

Once you have a good idea of what's keeping potential patrons from becoming actual patrons, you'll also want to come up with some objectives for your marketing initiative, which brings us to:

Part 2: What are you trying to do? (Setting goals)

You may be thinking that the goal here is obvious - you want non-users to become users. Doing so, however, is not as straightforward as it may seem. What, for example, defines use and non-use? Patrons may be users in some respects, but non-users in others. Perhaps you have teens who are heavy users of your library's computing resources, but they don't take advantage of your homework help service or your electronic databases. Also, what about patrons who simply don't have any relationship whatsoever with your library? Do you want to get them through your doors for programs and events? Or encourage them to sign up for library cards? Or prompt them to utilize your online resources? All of the above? If you don't know who you want to do what you'll have a hard time persuading anyone to do anything. Your marketing efforts will come across as jumbled and irrelevant, and you'll waste a lot of time and money in carrying them out.

For these reasons, you'll want to choose a population (target market) and an objective(s) related to that population's needs. Hopefully, the direction you take became apparent as you identified the problem. During your initial investigation, you could find, for instance, that a substantial group of your non-users (however you've defined it) happen to be working mothers who would like more children's programming at convenient hours. Now you know "who" (a market segment of working mothers in a particular geographic area with children of a certain age...) and "what" (children's programming that takes place during hours that are convenient for working mothers). At this point you can customize your marketing strategy to address the needs of this group and create promotions that ask people to take a specific action (attend the programs). Also, it's usually best to set some kind of numerical and/or measurable goal. In this example, you could set goals for the number of attendees or levels of satisfaction with the programming.

What's difficult about this is that hard choices have to be made. We want to reach out to everybody, but it's virtually impossible to appeal to all non-users in the same way because they all have different needs and characteristics. (If you can do this, by the way, you have a very lucrative career waiting for you in marketing!) Ultimately, you have to select and target the groups you can serve most effectively. Remember too that marketing plans don't last forever. You can target one group for the next six months to one year and then adopt a new strategy. You can also implement more than one strategy at a time. The idea here is to have a crystal clear plan of what you want to accomplish, focus your efforts on that target group and desired outcome, and assess if you met your goals.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Possible tactics.

Categories: tips_to_try

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