Monday, May 05, 2008

Article Note: On Guerrilla Marketing and Information Services

Citation for the article:

Baltes, Guido and Isabell Leibing, "Guerrilla Marketing for Information Services?" New Library World 109.1/2 (2008): 46-55.

Read it via Emerald.

This is another article that explores the idea of guerrilla marketing in our field. I wrote about another article on this topic here. I picked this up because, given my role in outreach, I figured it might be useful. We need all the marketing and promotional help we can get, and I am always looking for ideas. This article is a basic overview of the guerrilla marketing concept. It does have some practical idea, but it is a bit more theoretical when compared to the one I read previously. However, I think those who work in outreach for libraries should probably take a look at it.

Some of the highlights or things I noted:

  • The definition used in the article: "The term 'guerrilla marketing' describes unconventional marketing campaigns and/or strategies which should have a significant promotional effect--this at a fraction of the budget that 'traditional' marketing campaigns would spend for the same goal (Patalas, 2006)" (46). That is the crucial idea: that you are doing something unconventional that catches the eye and costs less. This is probably the type of technique that smaller places with limited budgets should be exploring more. The authors here ask if these strategies would be effective alternatives for information services.
  • "Guerrilla marketing is--amongst other things--based on marketing the implicit attributes of products or services rather than their explicit, functional aspects. Rather than introducing the product itself, by introducing the idea that comes with it, it addresses the emotional ideology bound up with the product" (49).
  • In discussing how to consider features to emphasize, they use the example of Business Source Complete; however, this would likely work with any database (at least any within EBSCO's list). The point that caught my eye on this is their discussion of the link resolver, the link we usually put on our databases when an article is not full-text in order to see if a different database has it. The authors describe this as a feature that reduces cost of use because it provides convenience. However, for it to work, it has to be presented clearly. How many times do librarians get a frustrated patron who click on such a link (call it LinkSource, or what have you), only to get to some intermediate screen they have no idea what to do with? More than I can count in my case, which makes my point that I don't think there is that much cost reduction if you are increasing the annoyance factor of your user. This would mean a reduction in quality of experience, which is something that marketers would be interested in emphasizing. The authors write, "however, it actually seems reasonable to question whether services that offer positive costs of use but negative quality of experience will compete or survive well in the business environment" (52).
  • "There is also an additional and very basic further argument for applying marketing strategies to information services--what you do not know you cannot use. That means that before any information services can be effective, user knowledge of its existence has to be established within the relevant target group. Assuming that for any information service alternative services may be available a further argument arises--the benefits of using the service have to be communicated to the relevant target group in order to enable decisions in favour of using the service (instead of existing alternatives)" (52).
    • I have been saying the line about you can't use what you do not know about for years now in one form or another. It's a big reason that drives my passion for instruction because instruction is one of the ways in which we let the students know what is available, and we can show them that there are better options that just googling it.
    • A lot of that paragraph in the article has been seen in a few of the articles, and a good number of blog posts in library bloglandia where people either extol the wonders of Google or decry that it makes students lazy (or insert other adjective here to convey student lack of research skills). It is always going to be a matter of education. Marketing is a tool of education in this case.

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