Monday, June 16, 2008

Marketing Communications Manager Speaks about Marketing Libraries

Susan G. Akers, Ball State University Libraries’ Marketing Communications Manager, spoke at the May 30, 2008 Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) Conference held in Indianapolis, an event attended by 130 people. The focus of her talk was how to apply the 4 P’s of marketing, created in the early 1960s for use in business models, to the library environment.

Susan explained the value and use of the 4 P’s — product (librarians, collections), price (time), place (library), and promotion (communication, outreach) when transferred to a non-business environment.

An important take-away from Susan’s talk was that marketing in a library refers to everything the librarians do to promote the library. This includes service delivery, how phones are answered, an inviting atmosphere, developing and improving consistent customer service, relationship building, and looking for creative ways to promote the librarians and resources to the user community.

Susan identified several important benefits and outcomes from raising awareness about library programs, services, and collections. These include:

Create and maintain a relationship between the library and its user community
Create and reinforce the library’s brand to students, faculty, and administrators through information dissemination about the library’s programs, services, and collections
Create demand among user community members for the library’s programs and services
Provide awareness about services accessible through the library that support the college’s or university’s core mission for teaching, learning, and research
Provide a consistent message to students, faculty, and administrators about the library to build behavior that results in increased library utilization

Part of Susan’s presentation focused on performing a SWOT analysis as a first step in formulating a communication/marketing plan. The concept of using a tagline to assist in branding the library was also discussed.

Ken Gibson, Director of Duggan Library at Hanover College, said he and a colleague jotted down several creative taglines that could be applied to Hanover’s library system and that he could see further application from the presentation in promoting the PALNI consortium.

Hand-outs included an article on how good signage contributes to a positive library experience and “40 Marketing Tips for Academic Libraries on a Shoestring Budget (aren’t we all!)” available at the May 28, 2008 blog entry on

For information, contact Susan G. Akers, Ball State University Libraries’ Marketing Communications Manager,, 765-285-5031.

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