Sunday, August 15, 2010
Marketing and Public Relations -- 4
Old Rules for Information Transfer are Ineffective
If you wanted to buy a car how would you start the process? Would you turn on the TV and wait for a flashy ad from a car company? Would you ask your friends? Would you search for the manufacturer’s web sites? If you went to http://ford.com, the site of the Ford Motor Company you would be assaulted with flashy car pictures, press releases in the guise of news, and links for more information about selected models. There are links for car specifications, technology, and financing. Someone at Ford must have read David Scott’s book and made changes because this is not the type of web site described in his book. When one is ready to buy, Ford has web based tools to select your features, build a price quote, get financing information, check inventory and find a dealer. This is pretty much what one needs to purchase a car. There were no “72 hour sales” or other gimmicks to get you to buy now. This site is operating under the “new rules” of marketing i.e. teach the potential buyer about your product and services, point them to a dealer, tell them about financing, and then let them decide.
The Ford site does not assume the buyer will purchase today. The first time visitor is like the tire kicker who is wondering in the show room. The old rule of marketing said to capture the customer, make him say yes, take the money.
The car browser who does not know what he wants is like the searcher for library information who does not know what they want. However in the library we need to serve readers who have known item searches and unknown item searches. The library search would like to search in once place for all their information needs. The visitor to Ford’s site would only learn about Ford cars. If he wanted to decide among several brands, he would need some kind of federated search.
The car companies want consumers to make an informed purchase decision. Before the World Wide Web companies had limited opportunities for attaching attention. They had to make a hard sell to get people into their showrooms. In the old days, non-targeted ads via high circulation publications, broadcast and direct mail were the main choices for broad interest of mass marketing. Today big media advertising may drive you to a web site for more exacting information. Broadcast ads are not affordable for small companies.
The library needs a web site that is a one stop information source and portal to all of the library resources. If a library ran a broadcast ad it would be as public service announcement to get people interested in reading or visiting the library. The American Library Association (ALA) or the state library associations many produce sample public service announcements for public libraries. Rarely will school, academic or public libraries use radio or broadcast announcements.
Broadcast ads are interruptive, while web sites are visited to find information about the products and services. Web sites, paper directories, and catalogs are done using the reader's time. The reader wants to visit the web site rather than not wanting the ads to cut into the program or music. Libraries want to reach their constituents. For a school or academic library constituents are their students and faculty. Libraries do not need dumbed-down product focused messages.
Public relations used to be about how to get newspapers and broadcast media to pay attention to you. Marketing was the same as advertising. Advertising needs to appeal to the dumb masses. Advertising was one way: company to the consumer. Creativity such as themes, songs, and gimmicks were the component of advertising. Advertising and public relations were separate disciplines with separate goals, strategies and measurements of success. None of this is true for companies or the non-profits.
Libraries can market themselves to the reading public and no assume the lowest common denominators. Creativity takes a back seat to content and a message of how the library can help the reader, faculty member and community. Advertisements, marketing and public relations are in the same person or department and have a common goals. Readers use the Web, licensed data bases, and the library catalogs to find information. Companies are communicating directly with consumers and so are libraries. Libraries are using online news releases, informational articles, bibliographies, blogs, podcasts, e-mail and other forms of electronic communications to bypass paper and the media. Public relations is about communicating with the public when they want to tune in. Marketing is not just company to consumer but also consumer to company. We want to create the best vehicle to distribute our message. How and what do you want people to know about your services, events, and resources?