UHV graduate marketing class conducts survey for Fort Bend libraries
A group of graduate students in the University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration helped identify the marketing needs of libraries in Fort Bend County.
The graduate marketing research class taught by Jun Yang, a UHV associate professor of marketing, coordinated with Fort Bend County Libraries to conduct a marketing survey that explored what services and resources were being used by library patrons.
“Libraries are funded by taxpayers, so they don’t often have a budget for these kinds of studies,” Yang said. “This was a good opportunity for the library to learn about their patron’s habits and knowledge and a great chance for the students to gain real-world experience in marketing research.”
The survey was conducted in two stages, Yang said. First, students met with two focus groups made up of regular library patrons. A questionnaire was created based on the information gathered during the group sessions and emailed out to library patrons 18 years old and older. Physical copies also were available in the libraries, and a link to the online survey was posted on the Fort Bend County Libraries website.
“The main purpose was to find out which services and resources were used the most and identify what things patrons weren’t aware of and needed more marketing,” said Oscar Voigt, a Houston graduate student pursuing a Master of Business Administration in marketing. “We kept the survey limited to one page so people would be more inclined to take a little time and participate.”
By the end of the survey period, the library received more than 7,200 responses, and many of those included detailed feedback about specific programs.
“We were amazed by how many people contributed to the survey,” said Joyce Kennerly, public information officer for Fort Bend County Libraries. “When we first started sending out the surveys, we were told to expect responses from 2 or 3 percent of those contacted. Instead, we had a 12 percent response rate.”
Yang’s class took the responses and analyzed the information for the library. Students looked for trends in how people used the library’s resources and services as well as information on how they preferred to be contacted with information about new or updated resources.
“One of the biggest surprises for us was how people wanted to be contacted,” Kennerly said. “The majority of the responses said they prefer email notifications over social media. Now, we’re using that information to try to find a balance between sending out information and avoiding inundating people’s inboxes.”
In addition to notifications, the survey also helped the library identify resources and services that needed more marketing focus, Kennerly said.
“A significant number of responses suggested programs that the library already has in place,” she said. “It showed there’s a definite need to do more to let people know what is available, and that knowledge is invaluable. We would not have been able to accomplish this study on our own, and we are grateful to the students and UHV for helping us improve the library’s marketing strategies.”
The survey was a strong learning experience for the class as well, Voigt said. Students were able to use their creativity and information they had learned as part of their degree program to help improve a community resource.
“The UHV School of Business Administration prides itself on offering our students strong, hands-on learning experiences,” said Farhang Niroomand, dean of the UHV School of Business Administration. “This project is another example of how the school and UHV students are able to engage with the community and create a positive impact. Projects such as this give our students real-world experience and help them see the results of their hard work. I look forward to seeing how this project will improve Fort Bend County Libraries.”
Voigt credits the success of the survey and the evaluation of the gathered information to Yang’s leadership and guidance.
“Dr. Yang was good about giving us guidelines but not influencing our perspective with suggestions,” he said. “She let us explore our own ideas when we were evaluating the responses, which helped us develop an unbiased view of the results.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.