Library Marketing for Public Libraries from the Ohio Library Foundation
Marketing training on the web for public library staff

Module PlanningPLANNING


Who plans?

Process Steps


Strengths & Weaknesses

Market Research







Module Overview overview

Module Product product

Module Promotion promotion

Module Internet internet

Module Ohio ohio



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Supervisor Tips


Contact OLC


Sample Marketing Plans

for Exercises in Module 2 Planning.

Plan 1
Plan 2



Plan One

Summary: The Public Library wants to establish Web services targeted to retirees, the largest growing segment of the community and a nationally increasing segment of Internet users. The web services will emphasize the scope of library online services that local retirees have indicated they want. Marketing of the services will involve the retirees themselves sharing skills. This service fits with the Library's mission to be a lifelong learning center.

Information about the planning group

The team includes a recently retired staff member, the adult services librarian, a board member who also works with the local Chamber of Commerce on developing the town as a center for retirees, a retired business person volunteer from the Friends of the Library group, a member of the local genealogy society, and the library webmaster.

Market audit section.  SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Situation analysis.

The library's mission is to be a source of information for living and lifelong learning.



  • Library has willing and able webmaster!
  • Recently retired librarian is active in retiree community and development of town as retiree center, and is an expert Internet user


  • Web site has adequate representation somewhere on the site for all services that will be of benefit to retirees.
  • Our web site can handle up to 50% more usage without need for modification.
  • Ohio networks and online capabilities are excellent.


  • Library already has weekly workshops on using e-resources, demonstrating value over generic Internet surfing.



  • Adult services is part of director's duties and is not always a priority
  • No staff member is assigned full time for marketing or PR.


  • Web mainly promotes networked resources, and events or e-resources by topic, not targeted audiences, very little for adults and seniors.


  • Resources useful to retirees/seniors are not organized and clearly labeled as such, in the library or on the web site.

Town is becoming known as a retirement community. The Chamber of Commerce is targeting retirees.  The local community college is offering continuing education for online living, focusing on tracking retirement funds online. There is a strong genealogy group, many retired with online needs. Daytime use of library has increased by seniors, many are Internet users.

Assumptions from National research

"The five top uses of the Web by senior citizens are using e-mail, looking up hobby information, seeking financial information, reading the news and checking weather reports." "They are more likely than younger Americans to be online on a typical day." "Wired seniors are more likely than their offline peers to be married, highly educated and enjoying relatively high retirement incomes." Based on Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Internet users are searching for health information per RAND study, Evaluation of English and Spanish Health Information on the Internet. "Few searches lead to relevant health information. Consumers using English search engines have only a 1 in 5 chance of finding information that is relevant to their search."

"This burgeoning population is becoming more adept online, and will likely represent almost one-quarter of all online retail spending by 2007." January 23, 2003, CyberAtlas.

"According to trend analysis by The Media Audit, the 50+ age group increased as a percent of the Internet audience from approximately 19 percent in l997 to more than 25 percent in 2000"

Internet Use by U.S. Seniors



50-54 52%
55-59 43%
60-64 34%
65-69 23%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Market research analysis of customer needs

Casual interviews with our retired library users and information from the Chamber of Commerce indicate that retirees are "looking for something to do."

Survey, using national research as starting point, determined local demand and interests. Survey was not a sampling, but rather was mailed to all users and was also targeted to the retiree segment to increase participation for that group. Staff took the survey to areas where the retirees gather, to promote the library's interest and increase awareness of Internet services: at senior citizen center, genealogy club, college retirement classes, Chamber, and on the home page of the web site. Surveys were distributed and then collected at meetings, classes, or events involving retirees.

Informal interviews while surveys were being distributed indicated that user decision-making was clearly influenced by convenience in time and location, and opportunity to be involved and share knowledge of Internet as retirement tool. Time, location, and sharing were not included on the survey in an effort to make the instrument brief, and so that it would work for all age groups to collect data to use in later projects.

Questions on survey

  • Age group
  • Profession, included retired as a choice.
  • "How do you get information? Check all that apply.
    • Newspaper
    • Library
    • Internet
    • Television
    • Other ___
  • If you are a library user, what do you use the library for:
    • read for entertainment
    • research or read for information
    • check out books, videos, dvds, cds, etc.
    • attend events, programs
    • use electronic resources e.g.. on library's computers
    • use library web site to access electronic resources
    • other ___
  • If you are an Internet user, what do you do online (check all that apply) :
    • investment information
    • banking
    • shopping
    • email
    • medical
    • weather
    • retirement information
    • news
    • hobby
    • sports
    • other ___


Because we targeted older users in surveying, the percentage of Internet users in that age group was expectedly high, compared to national data. That is, we surveyed more of our older users, so we found more Internet users for that group compared to other age groups. But the percentage of Internet users within the retired and older age groups was significantly higher than national average. We believe this reflects the nature of the community as a retirement center, and indicates the need for extended web services for this group. Interests in Internet were similar to national studies, with highest interest in weather, news, banking and investment, retirement, and medical information. The older age groups used the library as much as other groups but were least likely to use the library's web site.

Challenges and barriers

Competition is other internet sites, especially in health area, where national research indicates users have only 20% chance of finding reliable information. Promotion should convey inaccuracy of generic Web surfing for health information.

Retirees and over-55 age groups were higher than national Internet users, but were least likely to use the library web site, so promote web site.

Goals and objectives


Offer a Web service that will be used by retirees/seniors and will allow the library to participate actively in the community effort to continue growth as a center for retirees.


1. Create targeted area of web site for retirees/seniors.

2. Increase web usage by retirees 25%.

3. Target the established weekly web training workshops to the retiree group and train volunteers to teach others.

4. Offer the new site as part of the Chamber of commerce community campaign promoting area to retirees.

Marketing strategy and tactics.

Phase 1. Create targeted area of web site for retirees/seniors to promote and integrate library resources, library web resources, network e-resources, and Internet resources for the topics our seniors use most: weather, news, banking and investment, retirement, and medical information.

Phase 2. Promote new web service at identified seniors/retiree gatherings, in the library, newsletter, press releases, flyers, presentations, on the web, and through direct marketing. Include as part of the library's "What's New" podcasts and blog, and in the eNewsletter (although senior's use has been limited, family members are likely to pass on the information). Monitor usage by market segment with feedback survey form on web site.

Phase 3. Target the established weekly web training workshops to the retiree group at least three times during the two-month test period. Recruit at least 6 volunteer retirees, providing training in use of web site and resources, asking that they assist in the workshops. After workshop is tested, other locations can be investigated, with retiree volunteers leading workshops using library-prepared materials. Retiree activities are newsworthy in the community, so seek press coverage for training workshops when volunteers begin leading them.

Phase 4. Offer the new site and training as a targeted program, to be listed in promotional materials in the local business and Chamber of commerce community campaign promoting area to retirees. One team member will actively participate in C of C campaign to increase library involvement, provide community feedback, and promote the new service. Request C of C to promote on their web site.

Action plan

One team member is responsible for each strategy/objective and will prepare a step-by-step outline of tasks with timeline. Implementation is targeted in two-month phases, each phase to be completed before the next begins, in order listed in section above.


Web usage is monitored regularly on web site. Feedback survey will be tabulated by team members at the end of each phase and used for plan revision before next phase is implemented. Event attendance will be monitored, and feedback forms will be solicited at the training events.


Local Chamber of Commerce works with local Foundation to administer community grants. Once the web service is established and the training is tested, the team can apply for a grant to continue training and establish off-site locations for future workshops.



Plan Two

Summary: The Library's technology training program is now well-established, and is utilized by several of the key players in the high-tech industry of the community. The Library would now like to reach out to more businesses and to students and teachers at the local college involved in programs related to the area's industries. Maximum outreach can be accomplished by establishing an annual technology fair that will position the library in the community as a technology center. A marketing planning process will be used to design and implement the technology fair, featuring community industries and the local representatives of nationally recognized companies.

Planning group

The planning team represents library staff with the most suitable expertise, and also includes community members representing the proposed market segments. An organizer of successful technology fairs for a similar community will serve as advisor and paid consultant.

Market audit, SWOT, environmental analysis.

The library's mission includes serving the community with the best traditional and technological services.

Strengths of the library and its staff

  • Library is already equipped with a up-to-date media and computer center.
  • Library has strong technology department.
  • Library is located near a major university, in a high-tech industrial community, and has established good relations with the university and the industries through well-utilized training programs offered by the library.

Weaknesses of library

  • Lack of staff time to provide outreach to each individual business or college group, and lack of staff available to manage the complete technology fair project.
  • Lack of experience with a technology fair specifically.
  • Lack of budget to support complete program.

General assumptions that could affect success of program

  • The university and large population of people under 30 suggest there would be a strong interest by the community.
  • The large number of technology businesses in the area will be as interested in participating in a technology fair as the industries in a similar high-tech community have been.


  • Business owners are a potential segment, but they can be further segmented into businesses looking to buy the latest technology, innovators looking for ideas or competition, and businesses looking to promote their own wares.
  • Teachers are a second segment that can be further segmented by subject they teach, by grade level, or by school: such as public or private.
  • Another segment might be university students who can be segmented by degree and career plan, by hobby, or by education level.

Market research


  • Factors affecting demand for Business owners: Time of presentation. Availability of parking. Tech companies selected. Are there group rates?

  • Teachers: Day and time of fair. Price? Is it educational or more retail?
  • College students: Is there a fee? Can they obtain credit? Is there good public transportation?

Customer Decision-Making Process

  • The different factors affecting demand also affect the decision-making process.

  • Business owners might base their decision on a specific company displaying new goods at the fair. A teacher would have to decide if the program relates to materials taught in class. Price is a decision-maker for college students.

Challenges and barriers

Competition comes in the form of business hours, class schedules, extra-curricular activities, even local sporting events. Does the fair offer more than what people would learn on TV or the internet? Is the fair offered at the right day, time, and location?

Goals and objectives


The Library will develop and produce an annual Technology Fair featuring internationally recognized companies and local innovators.


  • To attract 2000 people on average. (Based on similar events in community and other library events.)
  • To generate press and media coverage.
  • To raise $ 5000 from local businesses.
  • To obtain the participation of internationally recognized tech companies.

Marketing strategy, tactics

Price and place

Fair will occur over one day, into evening hours, to meet time needs of market segments. Admission fee will be set low, and students will receive discounted price of admission. Presenters will be admitted free. Businesses will be encouraged to buy and distribute multiple admission tickets. Suitable high-tech conference area is available at the university, which is centrally located and will allow visitor parking.


Direct marketing to technology companies and specified market segments is priority. Separate brochures are being developed that will appeal to each market segment. Presentations will be made to local businesses and business oriented clubs.

Success and satisfaction of companies participating in a similar technology fair in a nearby community will be stressed in brochure for technology companies and in press releases.

Releases will be sent to the college and marketing will be targeted to faculty and students.

Team has identified possible participants and will make calls and personal contact with companies, utilizing prior contacts established with these companies for the library technology training programs.

Team members are involved in producing library podcasts and blog content, and will announce the event on those which are targeted for businesses or college students.

The action plan, implementation

Project management consultant and technology fair organizer has established timeline of tasks and responsibilities. Each member of the team has an established set of tasks to complete and understands how those tasks fit into the overall plan. Critical tasks (those that can hold up the project significantly) have been identified.


Attendance, feedback, media response, amount of funds raised will be used to monitor plan success.


Funds are available in library budget for project management consultant who has organized a successful technology fair for another community. Budget for the project has been prepared by team and is available upon request by local businesses wishing to contribute.