Sunday, 21 July 2013

Marketing Schmarketing?

So why go on a marketing course where you find that plenty of the content is familiar and you end up providing plenty of the right responses (at the right time)? This is, of course, an exaggeration, but not far off.  However before you think of me as unpleasantly arrogant, let me explain that the reason I went on this course was to learn, and learn I did. I find that it can be tempting to look around at training that is offered, from all sorts of quarters, and quickly dismiss something with a 'done that' attitude, not always considering what opportunities are missed and what the message this gives to those around us. Perhaps this IS slightly arrogant of us.

So why did I go to this course? Partly because I think there might be something to be gained by not just going to library-focused training, and mostly because I want to keep on learning, and I am willing to try other avenues. Although the course was on marketing, which I have considered previously in my Librarian role, and which my colleague, and co-editor, Andy Priestner, has written about, it looked to offer a different perspective (Business) and none of the other participants were librarians!  In fact I consciously made a point of selecting it from a series of modules that are part of a course I am dipping into at Loughborough Business School.

What did I learn and come away with? Lots of snippets, some theory that I hadn't come across before, brilliant interaction and conversation with people working in such a variety of different jobs, new perspectives and some concrete plans of 'what to do next' in my own context. Oh yes, and an assignment that needs to be written by 11th September!! Ho hum.

Here are a few thoughts that rang true for me. If you are reading the points below you may start saying 'yep I know all that', but of course you might not want to tell me that.................
    · How are we telling our customers what we provide?
    · Who are our influencers and how do we market what we do to them?
    · Don't skimp on the basics - it's so easy to get carried away with the fun of the next service or product that we forget to keep the books tidy on the shelves.
    · Analyse, choose, implement. Make sure the process is applied.
    · Stop trying to do everything for everyone and be targeted - otherwise we run the risk of under-performing.
    · It costs to exit from a strategy. Check the financial implications.
    · Don't always keep on doing new things - check that you are getting as much value from the products and services you already provide. Don't stop innovating but if the user is not bothered with some new thing don't persist to the nth degree!
    · Don't run out of things people want
    · If you find yourself telling a user 'we don't do this', make a note and investigate why you don't.
    · After sales care is vital. When things go wrong for a user - what do we do? And how do we deal with the customer?
    · Building relationships is all about creating a mutually beneficial relationship, but remember that the relationship is on their terms. Just because we wag our tails madly when we see them does not mean that they want to engage. It is important that we respect this. Some might even want to engage with us remotely. Banks do this all the time - it means more ways that we communicate but more ways we engage.
    · Market the 'value' of our services in order to get people to open their wallets.
    · Internal marketing - essential criteria are the ability to persuade, negotiate and recognise and use internal politics. CRUCIAL matrix - Power vs Interest. For LOW interest and HIGH power make sure that they are given a briefing every eg 3 months so that they know what is going on. These people are the change agents and we need to recognise their level of interest. If assume they want to come and see us and are interested in us then we have missed a trick.
    · Use PLAIN words to sell products, don't dress things up with 'fake' terminology.
    · A well-known brand of drink as an example of 'flanking marketing' using segmentation - £10.00 bottle, competitor came along with their version at £9.20. What did they do? Provided a 'special' bottle at £11.00, a regular at £9.90 and a 'value' bottle at £9.00. Tactical strategy which removed competitor fairly swiftly. As a manipulator I like this.
On a practical level some of the things I will be doing soon:

1. buying at least one sofa

2. sending our students a quick one question survey on their preferences for invigilator-manned opening hours

3. preparing a briefing conversation for bosses

4. creating a different system for allocating students to email lists

5. working harder at collaborating with college librarians
And one lovely fellow-attendee is going to help me overhaul a workflow process! Yay!

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