As noted in an earlier blog post, libraries need marketing to promote awareness of library resources and services. I would take this one step further and say that the goal, in addition to promote, is to match library users with services. Marketing is “the science of discovering what people loved about your product and of engendering love if none previously existed.”[1] Not only that, but marketing, when done right, is a science of speed and precision.

Speed, is more of a factor now in marketing because of the rise of social media. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is all too familiar with the speed at which a social media can cause a movement. [2] A positive example of the speed of social media was how nonprofits used social media to mobilize rescue efforts and to support the community after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. However, in addition to speed, precision is equality important in effective marketing.

With the internet and digital technology it is easier than ever to publish information. While this has many benefits for information scientist, some marketers see this explosion of information as a problem because it is more produces more noise they need to cut through to get their message across. “People see more than 34 billion bits of information per day – an equivalent of 2 books a day online.”[3] This is important because when “information overload” occurs “a reduction in decision quality” is likely.[4]

Marketers no longer have the time or broadband to blanket channels with one message, and wait for feedback. Fortunately, the same data explosion that is causing this noise, with the appropriate skills, can build targeted intervention to deliver at appropriate speeds.

Jodie Sangster, chief executive of the Association of Data Driven Marketing and Advertising, also expresses her concerns for massive amounts of data, “Marketers are struggling to cope with the explosion of customer data more than ever with the problem exposing the acute skills shortage in the industry.” To bridge this gap, marketers are turning to Information Science (IS) skills.

With IS skills, marketers can extract the predicting buying patterns of customers and responding to their needs with personalized content. These skills with monitoring applications like Sprinklr, help marketers “identify and prioritize leads at every stage of the buying cycle and provide real-time insights to help tailor outreach.”[5]

I am not saying IS skills alone will solve the marketing problems of the future, for libraries, or any industry. Just as gut decisions for marketers isn’t good enough anymore, data alone doesn’t tell the story that marketers need. The data isn’t even useful information until taken in the right context. Knowing which metrics to use is also an important.[6] The collaboration between marketer and IS professional that Sangster works to build is critical at this step of transitioning data to information to insights to plan.

Sure, when used appropriately this information can provide consumers with fast, relevant service; however, there are risks. This goes into the scope of another post, however it is important to bring up now even if briefly.

Most of the tactics used to gain consumer information is hidden deceitful. As a quick example, marketers can put “pixels” in digital ads to collect information as you browse and without warning. There is an invasion of privacy here. Marketer researchers usually argue that the free market will decide which companies respect consumer privacy. However, because the methods for collecting and data collected are not always clear, consumers of the free market don’t get enough information to make an informed decision.

The main way to address these concerns is to maximize transparency and choice so that consumers can make informed decisions from a variety of choices.[7] Another way is to standardize the information collected so that there is a unified approach to protecting those pieces appropriately. Supply chain contracts could also be standard to help keep the data used appropriately and tracked for auditing.

As other post in this blog show, libraries of all types will need to market an event or service. Hopefully this post highlights some reasons and ways LIS skills are being called up to support marketers. Written by Thomas Garcia, 7/12/15


[1] “The Science Of Marketing.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web.

[2] “How Susan G. Komen For The Cure Torpedoed Its Brand.” Fast Company. N.p., 03 Feb. 2012. Web.


[4] Speier, Cheri; Valacich, Joseph. Vessey, Iris (1999). “The Influence of Task Interruption on Individual Decision Making: An Information Overload Perspective”. Decision Sciences 30.

[5] “Want Big Data to Help Your Marketing Team? Hire a Data Scientist.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web.

[6] “Marketers Need Insights Artists, Not Data Scientists | AdExchanger.” AdExchanger ICal. N.p., 14 Apr. 2015. Web.