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A Strategy for Marketing the iSchool: A Three Phase Plan INF381 Individual Study Prof. Rice-Lively 4.28.2008

Student: Pasquale J. Festa


Table of Contents Purpose and Mission __________________________________________________ 2 Executive Summary _______________________________________________________ 3

Situation and Analysis ________________________________________________ 4 Macroenvironment Situation_______________________________________________ 5 Company Analysis ________________________________________________________ 6 Introduction: A Needs Assessment_______________________________________________ 7 Strengths ________________________________________________________________ ______ 9 Weaknesses __________________________________________________________________ 10

Market Analysis __________________________________________________________ 11 Market Segments _____________________________________________________________12 Target Market Characteristics__________________________________________________13 Market Potential ______________________________________________________________ 15 Market Needs ________________________________________________________________ 16

Marketing Strategies _____________________________________________________ 17 Products______________________________________________________________________18 Promotions ___________________________________________________________________ 18 Promotions ___________________________________________________________________ 19 Distribution Methodology ______________________________________________________ 20 Pricing _______________________________________________________________________21

Marketing Strategy and Objectives ___________________________________ 23 Marketing Plan___________________________________________________________23 Introduction __________________________________________________________________ 24 The iSchool Business Card Program_____________________________________________ 26 The SXSW Interactive Essay Contest ____________________________________________ 28 The iSchool & Blanton Museum of Art Co-Curated Digital Art Exhibition ___________ 30

Understand Success______________________________________________________32 Keys to Success _______________________________________________________________ 33 Milestone Timeline_____________________________________________________________34 Concluding Statement ________________________________________________________ 35

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 1


Purpose and Mission

Executive Summary

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 2


Executive Summary

th

The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin is currently ranked the 7 best academic institution in its field in the United States of America. In addition, it holds the

coveted spots of 1st and 3rd in the areas of Preservation and Conservation and Law Librarianship, respectively. Despite these impressive achievements, the iSchool at the University of Texas at Austin exists in relative obscurity in the context of the University as a whole, as well as that of the general public. While countless members of society utilize the services which are made possible by information professionals the iSchool, and to a larger extent the realm of Information Studies, is wholly unheard of and, due to a movement from Library Sciences to a broader area of study focusing on information as whole, is something not effectively explained or concretely defined to the outsider. As this is the case, a large scale, multifaceted marketing plan must be conceptualized that would work to benefit the iSchool, its students, alumn i, the University of Texas in its entirety as well as the greater Austin community, existing information professionals and society at large. As ambitious as such a plan sounds, some creative thinking, multiorganization collaboration and strategic planning may, fundamentally, bring such a goal to fruition. With the iSchool’s dedication to the realm of Preservation and its forward thinking focus on emerging technologies, it is imperative that the iSchool take active steps to become the center of convergence of these two seemingly distinct fields. Whereas Art and Science, particularly in the traditionalist academic sense, are seen as fundamental opposites of one another, the School of Information can, and more so should, stake its claim as the place where these two seemingly dichotic areas meet. Through taking proactive and focused steps to conjoin the realms of Art and Technology, the iSchool will create for itself a diverse audience for attention, as well as build bridges for future interdisciplinary projects as well as forge alliances for professional development for its students. It may go without saying that the marketing strategy that is to follow takes on the ambitious goal of tapping into a number of critical markets for the sake of aiding in the development of the School of Information as well as all of those involved in this epic undertaking.

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 3


Situation and Analysis

Macroenvironment Situation Company Analysis Market Analysis Marketing Climate Marketing Strategies

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 4


Macroenvironment Situation Truth be told, it is not hard to understand that the world around is undergoing vast and prolific changes as a speed unbeknownst to humankind. As technological tools are becoming more portable, more necessary to daily life and ever increasingly more powerful as time passes, it is of utmost importance to understand the role of information in the hyper-evolving world. Telecommunications, digital media and network distribution have created a new set of problems in regards to information cataloging, retention and retrieval. As books morph into PDF files and the Library begins to take on the form of a massive computer lab, it is necessary for the University of Texas at Austin School of Information take into account the current state of the macroenvironment in which it resides to better understand its current situation as well as to forecast changes that may come about in both the near and distant futures. The winds of change are blowing in the sails of all manner of human existence. As foreign currencies overtake the American dollar and the International legal system begins to look into the effects of digital technologies on once static aspects of law, so too do we find the state of politics changing with the integration of citizen participation brought about through e-government. As nanotechnologies are being created that would allow for microcomputers to be implanted within human bodies and newer and faster modes of transportation have had an impact on ecological studies, our understandings of culture and society shift constantly, almost seemingly right before our eyes. This is the world in which the University of Texas School of Information exists and, quite notably, must survive. While the move from Library Sciences to Information Studies marked the iSchool’s acknowledgment of this evolving world, a simple name change is not enough. It is now necessary that the iSchool build a robust and well planned strategy to stake its place in the world of Information Studies for the present time as well as the future to come.

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 5


Situation and Analysis Company Analysis

Introduction: A Needs Assessment Strengths Weaknesses

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 6


Introduction: A Needs Assessment In formulating a Strategic Plan it is necessary to first conduct a Needs Assessment. In this phase of planning it is required that the goals for the project and what these goals bring in to existence in regards to outcomes be understood. The Needs Assessment works to identify: 1. Major problems that may have been overlooked or not successfully rectified by past initiatives. 2. Current goals in regards to development as well as strategically planning for future goals which may come into being as time progresses. 3. Possible aides and allies who may play vital roles in terms of successfully achieving these goals as well as positing reasons for which these allies may wish to aid in our endevour. Major Problems Currently the University of Texas at Austin School of Information is undergoing a radical change in character. With the changing of the school name from the School of Library Science to the School of Information, it has been made apparent that the field of Information Studies is in the midst of metamorphosis. As emerging technologies and the growth of telecommunications has added a new facet of complexity to the world of Information Studies, so too must the iSchool identity undertake a personality appraisal. In making this dynamic shift, the School of Information has failed to complete a number of tasks in regards to institutional approaches to marketing and advertising. The major problems plaguing the iSchool may be characterized as such: 1. The lack of a full-scale, long-term marketing strategy leaves the iSchool at a disadvantage. While the School of Information is notably well received in the academic community, a lack of public oriented approaches to advertising leaves the school in a position of relative obscurity when it comes to the larger community. By relying solely on the academic world the iSchool is failing to reach out to an entire community that has much to offer in terms of professional development, student prospects and intellectual diversity. 2. The lack of a cross-disciplinary relationship with the School of Art leaves the School of Information at a relative disadvantage when it comes to its forward thinking approach in terms of technology and digital communications. While Information Architecture and Usability studies are covered in the iSchool, Information and Interface Design are lacking the creative and artistic flare that Graphic Design can bring. While Edward Tufte and interface usability are topics of discussion in the School of Information, it would be required that a professional and familial relationship be nourished between the School of

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 7


Information and the Art Department Graphic Design program to further research and work in this area of Information Studies. 3. While paper-based marketing strategies have been attempted by the iSchool in the past, a lack of thoughtful and creative strategies for disseminating information have proven futile. While marketing materials are necessary for the advertisement of the iSchool, it is also important that a means of circulating these materials among target markets be conceptualized for creating a successful marketing strategy. 4. Not tapping in to the possible professional connections and forward thinking approaches to Internet communications and Multimedia that are inherent at SXSW Interactive leaves the iSchool at a relative disadvantage in terms of competing with notable “Internet Schools� such as Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie-Mellon. As the University of Texas did not play a key role in the implimentation and development of the Internet as it has come to be known, it is imepritive that the School of Information makes an active effort to become a part of developing the future of the Internet. The multitude of resources made available by SXSW Interactive would play a key role in instigating such research and are presently being wholly overlooked. With the most necessary of needs accessed, it would be most prudent to now focus attention on the strengths and weakness of the School of Information as to best ascertain what is lacking in terms of development, what aspects of the iSchool best promote its mission and bolster its status and, finally, how these two can be balanced for the sake of future growth and institutional evolution.

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Strengths The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin wields numerous strengths in terms of its position as a top ranked American Information Studies institution. A few of these strengths, perhaps only touching on the tip of the iceberg, may be expressed as such: 1. Top 10 National ranking with a ranking of #1 in the area of Preservation Management and #3 in the area of Law Librarianship. 2. 90% Professional employment rate of graduates within 9 months. 3. Professionally mature and experienced Faculty members. 4. A focus on human beings in the area of Information Studies. 5. Selective Admissions form a competent and enthusiastic Student Body. 6. A dedicated Career Planning office for professional placement and advising of students. 7. Proximity to world class Arts and Humanities research institutions such as the Harry Ransom Center and Blanton Museum of Art. 8. An ideal location in Austin, TX, one of the fastest growing cities in America and home to a vibrant arts and music community.

9. Human centered values that focus on ethics and morals in the realm of information usage.

10. The potential for interdisciplinary research and work with a number of other highly regarded and well respected departments of study at the University of Texas at Austin, a highly regarded State University.

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 9


Weaknesses Despite its numerous achievements, it must be said that there are a number of areas in which the School of Information falls short in regards to fulfilling its goals completely. While such a statement may be interpreted as a harsh criticism, it must be understood that pointing out any flaws or lacking elements in terms of the iSchool must be done for the sake of further development and future growth. Some of the weaknesses of the School of Information may be understood as being: 1. Despite the interpisciplinary nature of the School of Information there still exist relatively little cohesive bondage between the iSchool and a number of other schools who share their home at the University of Texas at Austin. 2. Even though the School of Information is highly regarded in the academic world, with its top ten ranking coming from a survey of Deans within the discipline, members of the IT sphere and, even more so, ordinary citizens in the general public have little to no knowledge of the School of Information or, for that matter, the discipline of Information Studies. 3. While students, both past and present, have been offered an exceptional and robust education in the way of Information Studies, a number wish to have greater access to and further promotion of professional work opportunities and immersion in the “real life” aspects of Information Studies. 4. While academic prowess and achievement create an air of intellectual maturity for the school, a failure to reach out to other sectors of the public sphere leaves the School of Information at a loss in terms of making a name for itself and creating a marketable identity that speaks to the school’s mission statement. 5. As past marketing campaigns focusing solely on print materials have had little impact due to a lack of dissemination and circulation strategies, and a fully digital approach would create a technological divide due to socioeconomic factors, a hybrid system for identity creation and projection would be necessary to impliment for strategic marketing of the iSchool. 6. Despite its celebrity among fellow Information Studies programs through out the country and the world, the School of Information exists in relative obscurity within the borders of its local community and, too a greater extent, in the minds of the individuals who inhabit the campus on which it resides.

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Situation and Analysis Market Analysis

Market Segments Target Market Characteristics Market Potential Market Needs

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 11


Market Segments

In regards to the iSchool target market, the full pool of prospective players and fellow facilitators can be divided into 4 distinct, yet loosely connected groups. The four main market segments as understood may be best characterized as: Internal and Departmental: Students, Faculty and Staff within the iSchool itself. Internal and Non-departmental: Students, Faculty and Staff within the University of Texas, but outside of the School of Information itself. External and Acquainted: Members outside of both the School of Information and the University of Texas at Austin who, however, are within the fields of Information Studies, Internet business and development, Computer Science, Information and Visual Design and a host of other fields which share common characteristics and possible overlap in terms of studies and professional applications with the School of Information. External and Non-acquainted: Members outside of both the School of Information and the University of Texas who have little to no acquaintance with the goals, teachings, projects and programs taught, explored, or worked on by both those within the University of Texas at Austin School of Information or, to a larger degree, fellow colleagues working in similar disciplines to Information and Internet Studies who are outside of the UT iSchool program. Each segment of the total market is defined by a degree of varying characteristics in regards to the individuals who occupy and inhabit the segment. While each camp may be understood and interpreted as heterogenous and divided from the other sectors, it must be understood that human relationships and interactions are fluid and dynamic. While this segmenting of the market defines the total population as a series of bounded classes, it is imperitive to understand that despite this, members from each sector can and will travel and move amongst the other three. While such markets that are seen as internal (i.e. University of Texas markets) can be best understood as being those in which the iSchool would have the greatest degree of success in regards to making an impact and marketing its programs and services (with the iSchool Departmental market easily being the simplest to capture), those markets that are external to the UT system (and those most notable not acquainted with the workings of the program and the impact of its mission) can be understood as needing a greater degree of focus in regards to proactive marketing. While the iSchool may still maintain a level of self-sustainability by focusing solely on the Internal and Departmental sector, it would be most prudent and more impactful in terms of strategic marketing to utilize the strong bonds established in this sphere to influence and educate the other three sectors for a more robust approach to information dissemination in regards to the School of Information in the larger marketplace.

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Target Market Characteristics As the School of Information is notably a multi-disciplinary academic program (it should be noted that the programs in the school itself lead to students engaging heavily with other academic departments on the UT campus through their actions in everything from Special Library preparation to Conservation to Policy and Law) it goes without saying that the student body which makes up the department itself is also of a diverse and varied background. Undergraduate degrees, ages, professional experience and academic interests among students of the School of Information vary widely from Biology and Chemistry to Art and Architecture to Law and Business and in trying to widen the market appeal of the iSchool it is not desirable to revamp the student body, but rather to find the niches in which similar individuals to those already enrolled lie. As this is the case, the market which the iSchool wishes to penetrate for departmental advancement and the building of strong and fortified professional bonds requires that the marketing strategy adapt to such a diverse and varied fabric in terms of potential colleagues. While the main focus of such a marketing program would be to maximize school applicants and to boost the degree of selectivity the admissions program may have in terms of recruiting the best and the brightest for the program, a number of common characteristics regarding the market must be pointed out. Despite the diverse nature of the student body and the faculty of the iSchool, a number of common concerns and interests can be seen as being inherent to the larger pool despite differing attitudes and perspectives in regards to specifics. These characteristics may be best understood as: 1.

Career concerns: Whether a student is undergoing a mid-career change or is attempting a graduate degree for the sake of starting a life-long career, the teachings of the school must be applicable to personal career goals in general.

2.

High regard for both Science and Art: While a number of disciplinary camps segregated along the Art-Science dichotomy attempt to build and sustain academic superiority based upon a debasement of the other camp, it can be seen in the iSchool, and its ideal student body, that a fundamental respect for both areas of learning is required and all the more encouraged.

3.

Respect for the Past and an interest in the Future: With the hybridization of preservation and conservation as exampled through use of emerging technologies, it is understood that the iSchool and its students bridge the gap between past and future and attempt to keep alive history for the sake of informing and educating society for the challenges of an unknown future.

4.

The Individual is a building block of Society: With its focus on the greater good with a willingness to preserve civil liberties and freedom on the individual level the iSchool and its host of considerably gifted students understand that undertaking a career in Information Studies requires a degree of keen thinking, creative problem solving an understanding of ethics. If it can be agreed that the student body already admitted over the years by the iSchool

can be seen as an adequate barometer for defining the path the iSchool wishes to follow in the

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 13


future, closely examining the characteristics of those individuals already a part of the iSchool mission will only help the organization to understand its target market for the future.

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Market Potential In regards to Institutional development, focusing a market strategy on core groups outside of the immediate organization itself is imperitive for furthering public knowledge and spreading information about the School of Information at the University of Texas. Without moving into uncharted waters, it would be near impossible for the iSchool to foster a broader influence in the realm of Information Studies in the academic, professional and public spheres. Without implementing marketing strategies which aim to create a more inclusive organization, the department itself would be foregoing a number of beneficial relationships that could offer assistance, guidance and help in regards to the furthering of Information Studies. Some of the potential benefits of designing a non-departmental and public focused marketing strategy can be best understood as such: 1.

A Growth in Public Interaction: By focusing on individuals in the public sector (i.e. non-UT members), there will be a substantial shift from the inward oriented academic model to one that works in a manner as to include the immediate community as well as those geographically distanced from the School itself. While interactions with the public do exist within the iSchool through the Capstone Experience project, such programs focus, for the most part, on Library and Business organizations. By implementing a more public oriented program based upon educational and entertainment modeling, the iSchool may insure the largest degree of penetration in terms of the public market, the fostering of new relationships to non-UT individuals and organizations and a broad degree of influence in regards to public opinion regarding both the School and University.

2.

The emergence of and connection to new Information Professionals: While its situation in Austin, Texas with Dell, countless libraries and museums and a strong State Agency presence has helped to open doors to future professional opportunities for students at the School of Information and has, in turn, helped to build professional bonds between such organizations and the iSchool, the landscape of Information Studies and Technologies has been vastly expanding. Without tapping in to emerging information organizations and programs the iSchool will be overlooking the potential benefits of having early access to the precursors to the future information environment. With online and Internet programs, services and organizations becoming more and more vital to daily life and the seemingly explosive growth of such up-start organizations within the business world, any ignorance of the newly born interactive scene would forego potential opportunities for new research and experiment in terms of the information and technological studies.

3.

Relational growth between the iSchool and other UT Departments: While the main focus of such a marketing strategy is based upon building relationships with members outside of the UT system, it is also necessary to note that relationships between the School of Information and other UT Departments, while existing, are confined in their scope. While the School of Public Policy and the Department of Radio, Television, and Film have interdisciplinary classes and programs with the School of Information and the Kilgarlin and Harry Ransom Centers play a major role in the Preservation program such important departments as Art, English, Philosophy and Computer Science are left untapped. Inciting conversation between the iSchool and these other UT Departments is critical for fostering a strong interdisciplinary program as well as for recruiting potential future students, faculty and general alliances for studies that are yet to come.

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 15


Market Needs When it comes to understanding market needs, the greatest challenge is overcoming the fact that the market itself is unaware of such needs. Without the market knowing how it can benefit from the University of Texas School of Information program it poses a new set of difficulties for the iSchool in terms of connecting with market segments. The only chief remedy for such a problem is to forcefully go out and make iSchool programs and services visible to the market. It would be best to look at the separate market segments that have been proposed and give a rough estimate of any deficiencies they may have which the iSchool could help to rectify: Internal and Departmental: A need for broader career development is needed for internal and departmental market segments (i.e. those within the school itself). While the iSchool does have a dedicated and thorough career development office for its students, adding more external and social career development opportunities can be seen as a definite plus in regards to iSchool student perception of the school’s commitment towards professional growth. By creating information sharing environments, the iSchool would allow for professional developments to grow based upon more human and organic social interactions. While resumes and interviews are a chief means for finding career opportunities, social networking has seen an almost exponential growth in terms of its importance in this realm. Internal and non-departmental: Outside departments at the University of Texas may benefit greatly from iSchool assistance. While the Schools of Radio, Television and Film and Public Policy already have hybrid programs with the iSchool, a number of other schools on the campus which could greatly benefit from iSchool input do not know of the possible services and collaboration that could come about from cooperative programs. As this is the case, the iSchool must proactively seek out departments that would be of use to creating cross-disciplinary and cooperative programs and studies for the sake of itself and academic learning at large. External and Acquainted: The needs of external and acquainted market segments are slightly clearer than most other markets. As members of this segment tend to work in the area of Information Sciences, their needs tend to be based around finding professionals to fill roles in working on projects, designing programs and further research. As this is the case, the only actual work that needs to be done with this market segment is to create environment that would allow for interaction between members of the segment and individuals from the iSchool. Essentially, this market segment is already well focused on its needs and is only in search of a pool of applicants for future professional collaboration. External and Non-acquainted: The needs of this segment are perhaps the toughest to pin down. As this group is very heterogeneous in its make up, defining needs is, for the most part, almost impossible. However, in understand the nature of the “long-tail� it is possible that within this group there is a market niche that would find interest in and benefit from iSchool programs and services. The chief goal in addressing the needs of this market segment requires sufficient iSchool exposure for the sake of creating a dialogue with this niche of the market.

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Situation and Analysis Marketing Strategies

Products Promotion Distribution Methodology Pricing

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 17


Products As the iSchool is not a private corporation producing a commoditized good, understanding the concept of its “product” is trickier than it would be for most other businesses. Despite this fact, it can be understood that the school does have to offer two distinct products. The first would be characterized as well educated and trained beginning professionals for all areas of the Information Sciences. As the school is ranked in the top ten for its field, its prestige alone gives credence to abilities and potential of the individuals who have succeeded at its program. The second product can be understood as a diverse and robust bank of professional development opportunities. While the first product (namely individuals) is closer to the level of a physical product, this second set lies in the realm of services. If these two camps are understood as distinct products that the school can “sell”, the chief method for “profiting” from them would lie in a cohesive and strong coupling of the two. The products themselves have a symbiotic relationship, by which the strengthening of one leads to the strengthening of the other. As iSchool students are more broadly exposed to professional development opportunities, future iSchool students will, inevitably, find a greater number of opportunities as well. The main point of this marketing plan is to create a series of programs that would foster such an exponential growth.

Product 2 Flow to Market: Professional Opportunities for Individuals.

Product 1: Knowledgeable Individuals (Items)

Product 2: Professional Opportunities (Services)

Product 1 Flow to Market: Individuals join Organizations.

Fig. 1: The connected relationship between “Products” for a potential iSchool Marketing Strategy. An iSchool Marketing Strategy 18


Promotions The promotional method advised is one that is rather straight forward and uncomplicated: Maximize exposure for the iSchool in a broad sense to connect with the most applicable market sectors. While the iSchool has attempted marketing plans in the past, these attempts focused primarily on marketing materials and did not take into account information environments. With the three tiered marketing strategy that is to follow, marketing materials are coupled with creating marketing environments to ensure maximum impact in regards to iSchool exposure. Through creative thinking and a general observation of pre-existing opportunities for market penetration, the strategy proposed is one that takes as its main goal a promotional method that is focused and targeted in regards to iSchool development. While marketing materials are of use to any organization, the chief difficulty is finding the right hands to place them in. Through general market research it has been found that a number of areas have emerged which would greatly enhance iSchool promotional programs. While each program could stand independently, it is advised that instituting all three through a series of phased deployment would be best to maximize the overall effect. The diagram below outlines how the marketing strategy as a whole targets particular sectors of the market and how each individual sectors influences growth for the organization. Before outlining the specifics of this approach, an argument for this distribution methodology will be laid out and the logistical, but necessary, financial aspects will be explained.

Professional Organizations

iSchool

Marketing Plan

External & NonAcquainted

External & Acquainted

Internal & NonDepartmental

Fig. 2: Flow Chart of Market Segment and iSchool Relationships as cultivated by the Marketing Plan promotions

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 19


Distribution Methodology The distribution methodology that is proposed by this report takes as its precedent the concept of viral marketing as utilized through Internet communications by a series of organizations and businesses utilizing the online environment for market penetration. As the nature of the School of Information as an education organization makes the particulars of such a strategy less than generic, there are still a number of general lessons than can be learned from the realm of social networking, target marketing and social based information circulation. As media embedding and copying and pasting on the Internet have illustrated, allowing potential markets to move the message for you both lowers advertisement costs and boosts overall market penetration. However, to overcome the digital divide and to further distribution, it would be prudent to also take into account the “in real life” world for maximum information dissemination. In that manner, the distribution method proposed in this report focuses on human-to-human interaction and the programs offered for consideration may be thought of as being attempts at building “information exchange environments” for the sake of iSchool marketing. After a discussion and explanation of the particular programs proposed, a general conclusion will be outlined illustrating the manner in which an implementation of such projects may encourage such information circulation and bring to fruition the desired ends in regards to iSchool advertisement and development in terms of student recruitment, professional bondage and overall social knowledge in regard to the organization. After a discussion of the market segments that have been conceptualized, it may be understood that as relationships with some camps of the overall market are stronger than those with others, the first step in information dissemination may be to quantify the degree of relationships as well as the perceived importance concerning the four segments previously discussed. Below, a visualization of segment relationship strength and perceived segment importance in regards to iSchool development can be found:

External – Non-Acquainted Degree of Relationship Importance for Future Organizational Development

External - Acquainted Internal - Non-Department

Internal - Department Current Strength of Relationship Fig. 3: Visualization of Market Segment Degree of Relationship Importance versus Current Strength of Relationship An iSchool Marketing Strategy 20


Pricing While pricing and economic issues are of concern to any organization, the Univeristy of Texas School or Information differs in the sense that it is not peddling a commodity nor can its success rate be calculated through a profit margin. As such, "profit" coming in to further sustain the marketing programs put forward will not resemble that in the standard capitalist business model. Furthermore, as a shift in business practice has shown, movement towards offering free products at a zero-based price to consumers can help business growth through generating larger returns in the long run rather than focusing on quick, low-level return (with the advent of digital media formats and telecommunication modes such as the Internet, this has been a recent approach to marketing that has been embraced by the arts, literature, music, film and design field ahead of a number of more traditionalist business programs). As the “products” offered by the School of Information are more long-term focused in regard to their return rate (i.e. educational growth and potential professional advancement) so too must the marketing program take on a similar vestige. As what is being “sold” has no immediate exchange value, the iSchool may only express a degree of integrity and commitment to its potential markets by also “going out on a limb” to reach out to its desired pool of applicants and future colleagues. As economic factors cannot be ignored and the reality of the situation is that something must always be exchanged to receive something back, the iSchool can utilize a number of methods to minimize or erase cost in terms of marketing strategy funding. Two particular methods for reducing or obliterating cost on the side of the market for obtaining information about the School or Information are: 1. Non-Monetary Compensation for Assistance: As the below market strategy will show, a number of offerings can be put out to potential marketing assistants for the iSchool mission that move from a monetary based level of compensation to a nonmonetary based system, such as professional business tools f or personal advancement and real-life work experience for resume building. Such approaches to obtaining services and this subsequent view of compensation will be further explained in the areas of the iSchool Business Card Program and the SXSW Interactive Essay Contest. 2. Sharing Costs with another Organization for Mutual Gain: Monetary investment may also be lowered by socializing the cost. Rather than the iSchool taking on the burden of funding an entire program on its own, it is possible to team with another organization which would mutually benefit from the program for the sake of dividing overall investment. The iSchool-Blanton Museum of Art Interactive and Digital Art Exhibition will follow this funding model. As has been stated, the iSchool is not selling a product or service in the conventional sense of such terms. It is rather trying to promote self-sustainablity and organizational growth that does not find as its methodology the standard capitalist model of price minimization coupled with

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 21


profit maximization. Lowering Faculty compensation or diminishing service to the student body will only be counterproductive in terms of fulfilling the iSchool mission. As this is the case, and the iSchool can not be easily understood in terms of the private business paradigm, it is highly stressed that new approaches to costs and funding must be experimented with for the sake of long-term sustainability and organizational growth.

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 22


Marketing Strategy and Objectives Marketing Plan

Introduction The iSchool Business Card Program The SXSW Interactive Essay Contest The iSchool & Blanton Museum of Art CoCurated Digital Art Exhibition

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 23


Introduction The question yet to be answered is this: How can the iSchool go about accomplishing such a task? With some outside research and the inclusion of observations regarding potential areas of interest for iSchool marketing within its Austin location, it has become possible to identify a number of areas which may be of tremendous benefit to the iSchool in terms of marketing the school which have, until presently, been wholly ignored or overlooked in terms of there potential for helping and working with the School of Information. The top three possible allies in an iSchool marketing plan may be best stated as: 1.

The University of Texas at Austin Art Department

2.

SXSW Interactive

3.

The Blanton Museum of Art

The iSchool Strategic Plan for a Marketing Strategy consists of 3 distinct programs or phases which, upon full implimentation, should bring about the goal of marketing and advertising the School of Information to a larger audience, widen the landscape of professional possibilities for students, and nourish bonds between the School of Information and other entities that will lead to a greater dialog and further collaborative work between the iSchool and organizations both within and outside the University of Texas. The three phases consist of: st

1. The iSchool Business Card Program: This 1 phase will create a collaborative bridge between the iSchool and UT Art Department by recruiting Graphic Design students to create a unique and identifiable image for the iSchool through a business card campaign. This phase will allow iSchool students to both advertise the school through their various social interactions as well as help to reinforce their own professional possibilities through allowing them to create a professional business network for career opportunities. In addition, this arm of the marketing strategy will serve to foster a more professional relationship between the School of Information and the School of Art. 2. The SXSW Interactive Essay Contest: The 2

nd

phase of the program would be the creation of

an essay contest for iSchool students to compete in for an access badge to SXSW Interactive held each springbreak here in Austin, Texas. SXSW Interactive is an international event bringing Information, Technology and Internet professionals together to discuss current trends and possible future applications of the Internet. With members of such organizations as Google, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, and a host of other upstart and long-tail businesses attending, SXSW Interactive is a goldmine for creating iSchool notoriety among the professionals of Information Technology and Application organizations and companies. This

An iSchool Marketing Strategy 24


phase, coupled with the Business Card program, would essentially allow a delegate of the School of Information access to this community for the possibility of forging professional ties and marketing the iSchool in an efficient and effective manner through real-time face-to-face interaction. rd

3. The iSchool and Blanton Museum of Art co-curated exhibition of Digital Art: The 3 and final phase of the strategic plan calls for collaboration between the School of Information and the Blanton Museum of Art for the creation of an exhibited show featuring digital art created by contemporary artists. While Austin is home to the Museum of Digital Art, it would be best to create a bond with the Blanton as this would allow for greater exposure to the UT Communit y and ignite public interest in the iSchool as the Blanton draws a large number of visitors from the public sphere of Austin. Ars Electronica in Austria, as well as a number of other venues both in Europe and the United States, have ignited a newfound interest in the intersection of Technology, Information Systems and the Fine Arts. As the School of Information, both with its program in Conservation and a number of its students and Faculty coming from backgrounds in the arts, has a pre-existing connection to the creative world, it only makes sense that a collaboration with the Blanton Museum would be a success in terms of its immediate outcome as well as the vast range of possibilities it may produce for future collaboration, programming and professional relationship growth for all parties involved. While each program exists independently of one another, it is important and almost imperitive that the manner in which the three interact with one another be understood. To best express the relation between projects I have included the diagram below: ISchool Business Card Program

External – Non-Acquainted External - Acquainted Internal - Non-Department

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Internal - Department External – Non -Acquainted External - Acquainted External - Acquainted ISchool SXSW Interactive Essay Contest

Internal - Non-Department ISchool and Blanton Museum of Art Co-Curated Digital Art Exhibition

Fig. 2: Visualization of the iSchool three- pronged Marketing Strategy and Individual Program Targeted Market Segments.

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The iSchool Business Card Program

Program Goal: To create a marketing program that is student driven for promoting student professional development and the creation of new professional relationships between the iSchool and outside organizations in the Information Studies world. Target Market:  Internal and Departmental: Fellow Students, Faculty and Staff  Internal and Non-Departmental: Other UT Students, Faculty, and Staff  External and Local: Members of Local and State Organizations, Businesses and Programs  External and Non-Local: Members of National and Internations Organizations, Businesses and Programs Co-Facilitators:  UT School of Art Graphic Design Department Faculty and Students Program Frequency:  On-going with cycle beginning each semester Program Cost Level:  Low, but continuous: 1. $97.20 (+ Customization Cost) per 1000 annually via UT Printing Services. 2. Design Cost: Free-Low dependent on incentives decided upon to offer Graphic Design Student participants. Program Description: A host of schools at the University of Texas already provide their graduate and PhD students with business cards for professional development. For the most part, however, these cards are generic and place emphasis on the University over the individual school or program. It is proposed that the iSchool would best benefit from a business card initiative by breaking from this methodology and placing emphasis on the school itself over the University as a whole. By emphasizing the iSchool through a business card initiative, the focus would be on constructing school identity and market presence. Design is gaining more and more importance in terms of advertising and marketing. Organizations with identifiable images and creative approaches to information communication are making greater headway in terms of market penetration compared to organizations utilizing generic forms of advertising. The business card, in and of itself, has become a new creative medium for information circulation. A number of graphic design firms have been reinterpreting the business card and utilizing its form as a new means for peaking interest in organizations. Such new approaches have ranged from simple experimentation with materials for construction all the way to utilizing USB flash drives as business “cards”. A professionally designed business card is both impressive and interesting. By providing iSchool students with unique business cards the iSchool would be making a statement about the institution itself through expressing its openness

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to experimentation, its focus on progress and its knowledge about information (as the business card is, in and of it self, an information communication tool). To initiate the iSchool Business Card program, a dialog with the UT Art Department Graphic Design program would first need to be initiated. This relationship building step has a number of advantaged. It will (1) create a professional working relationship between the iSchool and the Art Department which could be beneficial to both organizations as each works in the area of information and communications, (2) allow for quality creative construction of a school identity while minimizing the cost that might be incurred by going to an already established Graphic Design company and (3) would contribute to the professional development, portfolios and resumes of UT Graphic Design students prior to their introduction to the professional market, perhaps planting some interest in Information Studies. As Business Card design is consider by Graphic Design students to be non-intensive (we are not asking for web design, pamphlets and a host of other materials) this contest promotion would most likely generate a great deal of response from students as the benefits and time costs are balanced. Another method for maximizing Graphic Design student participation would be to offer a wrist-band for SXSW which takes place over Spring break each year here in Austin. The wristband price is low (less than $200) and allows individual access to a host of events ranging from music to film to interactivity. As individuals in the Art Department are creative and artistic, such an incentive would most likely enhance student participation. This aspect is optional however and the iSchool could opt to focus more on emphasizing the advantages for professional opportunities that participation in the program would bring. Business cards would be distributed to iSchool students at the start of their initial semester after iSchool e-mail addresses have been registered. A small number (roughly 50) could be distributed to each student at first and additional cards could be offered for purchase. As long as a template exists, adding individual personal information to the card would be relatively simple. UT Printing Services can produce 1000 cards for roughly $100 dollars. The overall costs of such a program are relatively low, but would fluctuate year to year based upon overall new enrollment to the school. The Business Card Program has a number of advantages in that: 1. It creates a working relationship with the School of Art that could possible culminate future collaborations such as the creation of a robust Information Design program between the two. 2. It illustrates to new iSchool students that the School of Information takes their professional development seriously from the very beginning. 3. It maximizes exposure while minimizes costs.

4.

It takes the first steps in creating a cohesive and impressive iSchool identity for future marketing and advertising initiatives.

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The SXSW Interactive Essay Contest Program Goal: To build a bridge between the School of Information and the annual SXSW Interactive conference through a student liaison for the sake of gaining access to discussions concerning future information trends and experiments in regards to e-commerce, online business, interactivity and web development. Target Market:  Internal and Departmental: Fellow Students, Faculty and Staff  External and Acquainted: Members of Local, State, and International Organizations, Businesses and Programs in the Information field. Co-Facilitators:  None Program Frequency:  One-time per year program Program Cost Level:  Low to medium once per academic year. 1. Cost for a 2008 SXSW Interactive Badge allowing access to all Interactive events was $275. Program Description: Each year during UT Spring Break in March Austin, TX hosts the annual SXSW festival which brings together individuals and organizations in the fields of Music, Film and Interactive Media. With over 11,000 participants registered for the Film and Interactive branch alone, it is easily argued that SXSW Interactive is a virtual goldmine for creating new professional relationships in the realm of Information Studies. Past conferences have focused on everything from Web Development to Social Networking to Interactive Gaming. The first Interactive conference was inaugurated in 1994 and despite over ten years of this ideal market convening on Austin on an annual basis, it appears that the School of Information has done little to take part in this burgeoning conference for the sake of creating professional ties and furthering knowledge in regards to interactive media. This branch of the full marketing strategy is rather straight forward and easily implemented. It is proposed that an Essay contest should be instituted in the iSchool that would encourage students to write on any aspect of Interactive Media for a chance at winning an access badge to SXSW Interactive. Upon completion of the initial contest one student would then have full access to the professional opportunities and newly emerging information governing interactive media that is shared at the event. In a way, the student would be working towards a furthering of his or her own professional development, but would also act as a liaison between the School of Information and the many professional organizations and individuals attending the event. A general perusal of the blogsphere focusing on Library Sciences has also made it apparent that a number of individuals in attendance are professional Librarians. As this is the case, individuals

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from the iSchool will not be confined solely to online organizations but may also share information with those working in the area of general Librarianship. SXSW Interactive is an event that focuses mostly on panel discussions given by some of the most innovative forerunners of interactive media. This past year’s keynote speaker was Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook and panel discussions varied by topic ranging from Programming to Wireless Technologies to Digital Marketing. The number of participants has steadily grown since the original 1994 conference with this past year’s number being well over the 7,000 mark. In addition, a trade show takes place where individuals in the realm of interactive media (everything from content providers to web designers to e-commerce entrepreneurs) are in attendance and are available for discussion and conversation. The atmosphere of the event is loose and casual. While the focus is on information sharing the event itself takes on an almost carnival atmosphere and the environment greatly facilitates cooperation and information sharing between individuals versed at all levels of interactive media. The casual nature of the conference, while departing from the more rigorous feel of an academic symposium, greatly facilitates a sense of ease in proactively engaging individuals which I feel would appeal to iSchool students who may feel intimidated by approaching Information professionals for the sake of building relationships. If the Business Card Program were to be instituted in conjunction with the SXSW Essay Contest, the iSchool would find itself in a prime location for conducting social marketing. As an iSchool student would now be allowed access to this fertile information environment and would be armed a tool for information sharing, the possibilities for such a student to create strong professional relationships is perfectly lined up. In addition, if the iSchool were to penetrate this market it would also open up a host of opportunities for past, present and future iSchool students and faculty to join panels and give lectures on current research and theories in regards to information studies, digital culture and interactive media. A number of attendants come to the conference with the goal of creating professional relationships for new business venture success. Allowing an iSchool student to attend would put him or her in a prime spot to explore the current needs of upstart information professionals and organizations. In turn, such a relationship could give the School of Information a noticeable rapport with SXSW Interactive that could open up opportunities for students and faculty to present research and theories on Information and Interactive Media topics that would appeal to a broader audience than just that of the academic symposium. After attendance, the student liaison could then give an open presentation to the faculty and students of the iSchool that could summarize some of the key topics and discussions that took place at this cutting edge event.

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The iSchool & Blanton Museum of Art Co-Curated Digital Art Exhibition Program Goal: To facilitate a relationship with the Arts Department at the University of Texas through the use of the Blanton Museum of Art in offering an exhibition of contemporary digital and interactive art for the sake of generating public interest in regards to both Art and Information Studies. Target Market:  Internal and Departmental: Fellow Students, Faculty and Staff  Internal and Non-Departmental: Other UT Students, Faculty, and Staff  External and Local: Members of Local and State Organizations, Businesses and Programs  External and Non-Local: Members of National and Internations Organizations, Businesses and Programs Co-Facilitators:  UT Blanton Museum of Art  UT School of Art Department of Art History Program Frequency:  Variable: Yearly to coincide with SXSW Interactive with the option to forego years. Frequency based on funding and Blanton interest. Program Cost Level:  Medium to High: 1. Program pricing would require discussion with the Blanton Museum of Art in regards to exhibition funding. Program costs could be split or supported by grant funding. Program Description: The final prong of the iSchool Marketing Strategy plan focuses predominantly on generating interest in sphere of the general public. While the first two branches of this plan are focused specifically on creating professional relationships for iSchool students, this final proposal focuses more on generating interest in the iSchool to recruit prospective students. In addition, the program also focuses on creating a relationship with the Blanton Museum of Art similar to that the iSchool has with the Harry Ransom Center. If the relationship with the HRC is built upon an interest in history and preservation, that with the Blanton may focus more so on innovation and emerging media. As the iSchool credo of preserving the past to build the future, such a relationship would illustrate the iSchool’s dedication to cultural and social growth and progress through supporting the arts. What is proposed is a joint exhibition to be put on during SXSW Interactive at regular or irregular intervals of interactive and digital art co-curated by the Blanton staff and iSchool students. The focus would be on illustrating the impact of Technology on Art and would serve as a tool for creating a “buzz” about the iSchool amongst the general public. As the facility to be used would be the Blanton temporary exhibition space an implementation of such a program would require scheduling with the Blanton to be worked out. It would be ideal to plan one exhibition within 5 years of implementing the overall marketing program. Funding for the project,

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which could be rather substantial, could be found in cost splitting between the Blanton and the iSchool as well as joint grant proposals aimed at organizations offering funding to those in both the Arts and Information disciplines. While Austin is already home to the Austin Museum of Digital Art, the organization itself relies on temporary facilities and does not have a physical gallery space. By utilizing the Blanton galleries for a digital and interactive art exhibition the degree of quality of the work brought in may far surpass that which Austin has already been exposed to. Currently digital and interactive art is most notably being exhibited in Europe, with Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria hosting festivals and exhibits on a regular basis. However, in the United States, acceptance and exhibition of electronic and digital art is far less prominent. It is proposed that by being a part of designing an exhibition of digital and interactive art at the Blanton during the international SXSW festival, the School of Information would be marking itself as a forerunner to adopting and contributing to the growth of technology, creativity and society. In addition, as such an exhibition would ideally be planned around SXSW the iSchool may be able to peak interest in members attending the music, film and interactive conferences and help to bolster museum attendance and concession sales during the weeklong festival. A number of Interactive and Digital artworks have been exhibited recently that focus on social interaction with technology. Recently Iraqi immigrant and artist Wafaa Bilal utilized web cameras and a remotely operated paint-gun in a piece entitled “Domestic Tension� investigating the role of media in representations of warfare through an interactive web-based performance piece. His recent work Virtual Jihadi at RPI was recently cancelled and generated much press in regards to free speech rights and artistic creations. Other digital artists, such as Yael Kanarek have utilized the web as their sole artistic medium and exhibition of web-based projects on computers in the gallery space could facilitate discussion about the role of art in the age of the Internet. While the logistics of such a program would require further discussion with the Blanton Museum of Art, it is undoubtedly true that implementation of such a program would greatly strengthen the iSchool presence in the public realm. While the school is relatively well known in academic circles, to further general interest in the area of Information Studies and to maximize market penetration in terms of recruit prospective applicants, the iSchool should greatly consider such a program for the sake of solidifying identity, generating interest and marking its place as a forerunner of new ideas.

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Performance Analysis Understand Success

Keys to Success Milestone Timeline Concluding Statement

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Keys to Success While the Marketing strategy that is offered does not operate on the standard product/profit design of most businesses, it is still necessary to find a way in which to measure whether such an approach to organizational development is ultimately successful. While the particulars of the organization make it such that this cannot be calculated by a simple observation of products sold and profits gained, there are a few key clues that would hint towards a successful implementation of the marketing plan:

1. A substantial and calculable growth in applicants to the School of Information from a vast geographic demographic.

2. Diversification and expansion in regards to the professional network which the School of Information is connected to for alumni career opportunities. 3. A series of new interdisciplinary classes and/or programs that illustrate departmental expansion across the University of Texas at Austin system.

4. A growth in local, state and international press coverage as facilitated by an openly public presence in regards to programs and events.

5. New possibilities for faculty and students to present research and findings to an international community of Interactive media professionals.

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Milestone Timeline

0 – 1 Years

1 – 2 Years

2 – 3 Years

3 – 4 Years

4 – 5 Years

 iSchool begins dialog with School of Art regarding Business Card Program.  iSchool begins dialog with Blanton Museum regarding Co-curated Exhibition.  iSchool implements SXSW Interactive Essay Contest  iSchool hosts Business Card Design Contest with School of Art  iSchool chooses design for Student Business Cards.  Logistical talks with Blanton regarding funding, artists and timeline for Exhibition. nd  2 Annual SXSW Interactive Essay contest. st  1 Round of Student Business cards produced and given to students. rd  3 Annual SXSW Interactive Essay Contest  Student Business Card Program integrated into SXSW Interactive Program.  Planning, Funding Searches and Exhibition Design continue with Blanton Museum of Art. th  4 Annual SXSW Interactive Essay Contest  Business Card Program continues for nd 2 full year of implementation.  Preparation of marketing, advertising and information materials for Blanton exhibition takes place. th  5 Annual SXSW Interactive Essay Contest.  Business Card Program continues for rd 3 full year of implementation.  Opening of first iSchool-Blanton Museum of Art exhibition of Digital and Interactive Art during SXSW Interactive.

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Concluding Statement In the end it can be illustrated that there are a number of as yet untapped resources for iSchool growth and development. As the school prides itself on its heavy emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, a focus on emerging technologies and a sense of responsibility in terms of social action, it can be seen that the marketing strategy put forward works in a manner as to maximize effect on all of these fronts. While the iSchool differs from a standard Business model in the sense that it focuses on learning and not profit, employs minds rather than workers and emphasizes self-sustainability over market control, a number of striking similarities can be seen in terms to what is necessary to formulate a marketing strategy for future development and growth. In a sense, the iSchool is in the Business or furthering knowledge, research and professional possibilities for its Faculty and Student body and offering the public the opportunity to take advantage of the skills, strengths and services it has to offer. As the iSchool wishes to preserve the past and build the future, such a marketing program takes as its main goal placing the school within an information sharing environment that would help sustain growth and facilitate further discussion in all areas of the social sphere in regards to Information Studies. The work of the school does not end at the doors of Sanchez and as such it is necessary for the School of Information to put itself out in public so that it may garner the attention it deserves. Only through social interaction and public focused marketing strategies will the iSchool be able to attain the stature and image it is so deserving of. It is my hope that the marketing strategy put forward will be seriously contemplated and that a fruitful and successful series of programs will be implemented from it for the sake of defining the iSchool of tomorrow.

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A Strategy for Marketing the iSchool: A Three Phase Plan