Identifying market segments. Defining and promoting products. Adding value to increase customer satisfaction. Organizations around the world apply these basic marketing principles to grow their businesses. As markets become more competitive, finding unique products to reach new customers and enhancing services to keep current customers happy become critically important.
A similar phenomenon is occurring in corporate information centers. The recent increased activity of information brokers, outsourcing firms, commercial online services, and the Internet has created an increasingly competitive environment for today's information centers. By applying marketing techniques used for years by major businesses, information professionals can grow and expand their own presence within a company. Marketing efforts can also raise management's awareness of the important services the corporate library provides.
Like the corporation itself, the information center must meet budget requirements and production goals, while at the same time satisfy internal customers. It is time to add a marketing component to the information center's responsibilities. Marketing techniques can be employed to help information professionals reach and influence their in-house clientele successfully.
MARKETING-CRITICAL TO TODAY'S INFORMATION CENTER
Marketing activities are a prominent part of life today. Many people work in marketing jobs or in positions that interact with marketing departments. Just about every business markets an array of products or services. People are exposed to marketing messages, most visibly in the form of advertising, thousands of times each day.
Most people think of marketing solely as advertising or selling, and since both of these activities can be irritating, marketing may have a negative connotation for some people. In reality, marketing is much more than selling. It is an exchange of value in which both parties gain something. Virtually any organization-including a university, a government, or a church-offers value to a group of constituents.
According to Theodore Levitt, author of The Marketing Imagination , the difference between selling and marketing is that "selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer." Levitt goes on to say that marketing is concerned with "satisfying the needs of the customers by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it." To market effectively, information professionals must know their organization's business thoroughly to be able to contribute to its success.
Libraries and information centers have traditionally worked to satisfy the needs of their customers. But today more than ever, information professionals must be concerned with marketing their services within the organization in order to thrive. More alternative sources of information exist than ever before. Although that can mean information centers face increasing competition, it also presents an opportunity for corporate libraries to help customers choose the right source among the growing number of services.
Information professionals may not realize that they themselves are already engaged in some marketing activities every day. The key for information professionals is to recognize that creating and following a marketing plan is an invaluable tool; they should learn how to harness its power to benefit the corporate library and the enterprise as a whole.
A SENSE OF MISSION
A good marketing plan begins with a mission statement. Ideally, the statement is an expression of purpose that applies to the entire organization and is reflected by each organizational division.
Some organizations choose not to have a mission statement because they assume all their employees know what the corporate body is trying to accomplish. That assumption is a bit risky, however, because it is all too easy to lose sight of the big picture in the clutter of details. …