Marketing training on the web for public library staff
Strengths & Weaknesses
Who are we, really?
Assess strengths and weaknesses
After examining the library mission, start the marketing process with a marketing audit
to examine the library's capabilities, products, and services. A marketing audit is a
systematic self-examination and assessment of the library's activities, including
strengths and weaknesses. The marketing audit establishes where the organization is, and
why. Part of the analysis involves establishing the environment, or situation, in which
the library operates.
Context: Environmental or Situation Analysis
While assessing internal capabilities, you must also assess the environment, or
situation, that affects how the library functions. Consider what's happening in the
community, region, state, or world-wide that will affect demand for library services. Look
at community demographics and the local economy and political situation. Assess the
- Structure of your organization, system affiliations, networks.
- Technology, issues of access, expectations for Internet services and access.
- Economic situation, changes in primary industries of the area.
- Politics, the realities of support and funding for services.
- Demographics and population, growth or decline, distribution within age groups.
- Lifestyles and activities demographics in the area.
- Media, national campaigns or local news that affect how users think of the library.
- Education opportunities, types of schools, alternative libraries, home schooling.
Demographics and Segmentation
Part of the environmental analysis is to determine target markets, your specific user
groups. For your area, locate demographic information for at least the sex, age, language,
family size, educational level, income, and occupation statistics relevant to your
community. Find out if any of this data has been gathered for library users specifically.
Primary and secondary information
The demographic data you are gathering for the environment or situational analysis of
the audit comes from local and national resources, and is called secondary information. Market research works directly with customers and therefore
provides direct information about what actual users want, need, and how they see us
(primary information). Both types of information are useful in market planning.
The marketing audit consists of an internal assessment of strengths
and weaknesses and an environmental (situational) assessment of factors in the community
that will affect library marketing.
Include a short environmental analysis in your marketing plan: Use
the audit form.
- You may LIMIT the analysis to facts related to the service or user group you have
chosen, OR you may look at the big picture and decide to change the service or target! (If
so, go back and revise the first parts of your plan.)
- Describe VERY briefly your structure, technology issues, local economy and politics,
demographics (age and interests), media availability, educational situation. For example,
your community may be part of a regional system, have statewide access to resources but
limited hardware, have a declining economy, a supportive local government, no local
newspaper, no colleges in the area, a growing number of retirees, and no nearby
- Include very brief demographic information in your plan. This may be available from a
Chamber of Commerce brochure or web site, or from Census resources or a library fact sheet
that answers the basic questions about the demographics in the area. Include information
that's easily available such as percentage of population by age, sex, income, occupation,
educational level, language, marital status, etc. Several resources are listed in the
- Use these demographics to explain why the target group or service you have chosen is a
good choice for marketing.
- If you do not have access to a library marketing plan, look at sample
library marketing plans from Module 2 or Sample Marketing Plans from NSLS and
Members. You may also look at online plans for several types of business available on a
commercial site. Choose one or two of the non-profit plans to scan. These plans are more
complex than the plan you will be working on in this module,
but will give you an idea of the way that marketing audits, market research, and the whole
planning process are reflected in the final marketing plan.
What are your strengths & weaknesses?
What are other libraries doing with Library 2.0?
Recommended links for staying aware of new ideas and Library 2.0 applications!
Library Marketing blog
Information Wants To Be Free
The Librarian in Black
The Shifted Librarian
Tame the Web
Got data? County profiles
Strategic Research has Ohio data on People, Industry, and Economic demographics.
Business data sources
Ohio index and Ohio
Business & Labor section (statistics, Chambers of Commerce, etc.)
Ohio Facts has county census population info, colleges, county officials, and links for
Census People Topics
Statistical Abstract of U.S.
Print planning form
Print a sample form for your audit.