A General Marketing Plan

Many IL Programs already have well established marketing plans and can easily incorporate the IL Logo into their marketing efforts. The basic steps provided in this manual may be used to develop your first marketing plan or to revise and update an existing plan.

3.1 Scope of this Section. A logo is an important element of branding your Information Literacy program.  Here, you will find some ideas on how to use the UNESCO-IFLA logo within the general concept of a branding and marketing plan.  Marketing is, as a generic term that includes branding, a powerful management process that helps you shape your IL services, so the more you know about it, the better you can benefit from its techniques.  This section provides basic definitions and a general marketing framework, so that you apply it right away to your information literacy work. The structure of the manual is based on the main steps of the branding and marketing process for information literacy work. The approach is schematic, with an introductory paragraph, followed by a summary of key bullets, to make reading and comprehension easier.  Please, keep in mind that it was not possible to include in this short manual a complete detailed monograph on the subject.

The elements of the manual are based on concepts and recommendations by different authors, but the main book used was Hart, Keith (1999) Putting Marketing Ideas into Action. London: Library Association Publishing. If you have the time, read this book and look for additional library related materials.  Marketing in general is a rather well covered subject, so you can easily find literature and adapt it to your information literacy task.  Please, check the bibliography included at the end of this document. There are some good publications available on marketing library services, written by librarians with administrative background. Texts intended to promote nonprofit organizations are also useful.  You can adapt the concepts and strategies to information literacy requirements.

3.3 Products and Services.  According to Stanton, Etzel and Walker (2003) a general marketing program may be divided into two main parts:

  • Programs for tangible products
  • Programs to promote services

InfoLit programs, fall within the service category.  Promoting services bring especial challenges that force to use strategies and tactics different from those utilized to market physical products. However, the key elements of the communication plan are, in general, the same.

3.4 Services Characteristics.  These same authors identify four fundamental aspects of services:

  • Intangibility. You cannot always smell, see, hear, taste or touch a service
  • Inseparability.  A service very seldom can be separated from his/her creator or vendor
  • Heterogeneity. Services can not be standardized at the same level that it is possible for physical products. Quality may depend upon many factors, some of them unpredictable
  • Perishability. Regularly services have a life span during which they can be offered and consumed, it is not possible to store them.

3.4.1. Reducing Effects of Intangibility.  Using the InfoLit logo helps to alleviate the lack of tangibility in a service, given that it allows the user to establish a mental connection with a benefit provided by the IL service. There are four basic ways to reduce the effect of intangibility, according, again, to Stanton, they are:

  • Visualization. Companies describe the benefits of their services with spots where persons appear enjoying them.
  • Association.  Users are induced to make a connection between the service and a product, a person or a place.  As an example, IL activities need to establish connections with computers, library facilities, printed documents, and more.
  • Physical representation. By using a tangible aspect, it is attempted to underline some features of the service.  For example: a pair of looking glasses included in the image of a poster, reflects an idea of intellectual work.
  • Documentation. Include as many facts and figures as necessary to support statements.

3.5 Marketing, a Definition.  When the word ‘Marketing’ is used you will probably think about advertising, selling and cost, as Keith Hart explains (1999), but you will also have to think about customers or users, planning and investment.  He states that marketing anticipates and meets customer demands.  Marketing is getting on your customers’ shortlist – preferably a shortlist of one, according to Peter Drucker (Cited by Hart, 1999).  Marketing is about four Ps:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

When using the new information literacy logo, even though is not a product that can be sold, you can still adapt the same marketing principles to your IL.

3.5.1. Product.  Your information literacy program is a service that can take, as you know, different formats: workshop, course, seminar, talk, or a demonstration of databases, websites, and publications, etc.  Your service needs a name and a logo to create an identity in the mind of the user, and to position it in the marketplace/IL users, your library community, against other distracting alternative activities such as those freely offered by the Internet, where sound, color and movement may have a great appeal to most users, but especially to the young population.

3.5.2. Price.  Your IL service may not have a price but has a value; therefore, you need to communicate the benefits and positive impacts of IL among your different customers/users.  Stress the benefits of developing information skills and how a user can be empowered to play an active role in lifelong learning and at the knowledge society that we live in, no matter how remote is the village in which you live, you are affected by it.

3.5.3. Place.  Your IL service should ideally be available to users wherever and whenever they may need it.  If you are at a school or academic environment, IL should be offered at the different educational levels, as well as at the library, at the classroom, or at the workplace; or if you are at a special library, IL training needs to also be delivered wherever the reader is. In a web environment this means 24/7 availability.

3.5.4. Promotion.  Communication is essential for any IL program.  You need to use different media to communicate with your customers and potential customers.  As a non-profit organization it is likely that you will not be using television or newspapers, but you can use your institutional media and many of the Internet social networking tools, such as email, blogs, twitter; as well as printed materials, such as flyers, and banners that are most easily adapted for the logo use.