Know Your Market

I saw a free Library Journal promoted webcast recently – Takin’ it the Street: Why Businesses, non-profits and libraries must change how they deliver service to their markets – sponsored by CIVICTechnologies.  The session covers the concept of market segmentation – which is a great way for public libraries to take the guess work out of determining what programs and materials their service areas want. 

Market segmentation categorizes your users by their consumption behaviors and is based on census data and consumer surveys.  This conveniently lets you sort users into groups based on their demands, so you can use the profiles of the various groups in your community to make decisions on what they want based on verifiable, statistically significant data, rather than using the scattershot patron surveys normally employed by libraries.  This information also comes in handy for strategic planning.

ESRI, one of the companies that provides the underlying system, sorts your users into 65 different groups (see page 2 for the chart) such as –

– Rooted Rural who like hunting and fishing and rodeos

– Trendsetters that are into fashion, food and the latest technologies

– Up and Coming Families own dogs, spend lots of time in cars, and need advice about financing college

-Main Street, USA  types rent DVDs and buy lots of games and toys for their kids

-Rustbelt Retirees play bingo and belong to fraternal orders and unions

Getting any programming and collection development ideas yet?  The information can also inform meeting room policies and the layout of new buildings.  And what a great source for your next marketing campaign – you can tell if they’ll respond best to email or Twitter or your paper newsletter, and what will grab their attention.  Best of all, you can target your marketing to groups in specific areas.  This lets you get more bang for the buck as you avoid wasting your message on people who aren’t interested in that particular program or event.  And by not carpet bombing your residents with tons of library emails, they’ll pay more attention to the promotions they do receive.

Market segmentation details who and where  your customers are and what factions are most prevalent in your service area.  It covers what they spend their money on and what they do in their spare time.  Overlay this with data on your card holders and you can see who you’re not serving well.  This is also a great tool for your next fundraising campaign.  And, consider providing a database with market data for your business customers.  It’ll help them hit the audience most likely to respond to their offerings.

The hard data provided can be used with your board or funders to shore up your case for new funding, buildings or programs.  So stop making assumptions based on anecdotal evidence and increase library satisfaction and use now.

12/5 Just heard CIVICTechnologies did a white paper on the subject.

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