The educational institutions in higher education system were among the early institutions undergoing radical changes with the dawn of the information age (Ismail et al., 2010). In this regard, academic outreach gradually developed in Higher Education System. Academic Outreach is an effort by a faculty/ university or organization to connect its ideas, products or practices, to the efforts of other organizations, groups, scientific clients or the general public, in which marketing activities is a key component (McGivney, 2000). In Iran, marketing activities for Faculties of Agriculture is in related to Academic Outreach, but trustee unites of marketing of information products and services in them (academic agricultural libraries) don't have comprehensive strategies for marketing.
Marketing is a set of activities by which the demand for goods, ideas, and services is managed to facilitate exchange (Kotler, 2000). In other hand, marketing is planning and managing the organization's exchange relations with its clientele. It consists of studying the target market's needs, designing appropriate products and services, and using effective pricing, communication, and distribution to inform, motivate, and serve the market (Joseph Jestin & Parameswari, 2002). But, when the main products and services of marketing is "information", it's called information marketing (Suresh Kumar, 2010; Kanaujia, 2004). Information marketing is an aggregate of activities directed at satisfying information clients and wants through exchange processes. Marketing involve viewing the whole information service or product from the point of view of the final result, i.e. from the information client's viewpoints (Kamba, 2009). Information marketing is not just disseminating information; it includes the optimum use of information products and resources in information centers (Kanaujia, 2004). Information marketing involves promoting the information products and services by adopting marketing strategies effectively. The most important objective of information marketing is to attract more number of clients and to encourage them to utilize the resources of the information centers to the maximum extent (Suresh Kumar, 2012; Kumarjit and Mohan, 2014).
Garusing Arachchige (2002), investigated an approach to marketing in special and academic libraries of Sri Lanka. According to findings, special libraries and academic libraries of Sri Lanka had a sufficient amount of resources acquired and market opportunities available. Yet, they practiced poor marketing. In comparison, marketing performances were more available in special libraries than in academic libraries. Special libraries and academic libraries of Sri Lanka had cost recovery capabilities and even profit potentials from their services if they undertake proper marketing. Library personnel had very little knowledge of marketing principles. Lack of trained staff; poor library investments (allocations), insufficient technology and know-how etc. identified as problems that hinder the practice of marketing.
Kanaujia (2004), in her paper discussed the role of marketing of information products/ services with the help of survey in information centers of India. Her findings revealed that librarians have a positive attitude towards the different aspects of marketing of information products/services. The study recommended that currently efforts for increasing clients' awareness and separate financial support are requisite for efficient marketing. Instead of scattered approaches and different styles, a coherent view must be taken. According to 91 percent of the librarians, marketing helps in justifying the involved cost in generation of information products, and aspects such as resource constraints, shrinking budgets, electronic information age have made marketing necessary. Also, many librarians perceived many barriers to apply the concept of marketing in their respective libraries. These barriers consist of lack of knowledge; lack of manpower and financial support (89 percent of the librarians strongly agree that implementing a marketing program requires adequate manpower and financial support); and misconception about the concept of marketing. librarians and information managers were facing challenges such as an increase in clientele, their variety, demands, and expectations; an increase in the initial or capital cost of information and information technology; drying up of the public sponsorship and subsidy and the need to find alternative sources of revenue; and complexity in ways of identifying clients and their requirements, and servicing them, which in following, appropriate strategies for the development of information marketing was presented.
Suresh Kumar (2012), in your research performed an objective analysis of the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) of four university libraries in Kerala viz. Kerala University Library (KUL), Mahatma Gandhi University Library (MGUL), Cochin University of Science and Technology Library (CUSATL) and CH Mohammed Koya Library of University of Calicut (CHMKL) in terms of collections, infrastructure, human resources, and library and information services. He also analyzed the strength and weakness of the university libraries according to the opinion of the chief of each library. According to findings, all University Librarians in Kerala have a positive opinion towards marketing but none of the libraries has specific allocation of funds or a designated person or a marketing wing for marketing of information products and services. Most of the libraries identified certain problems encountered in the marketing of information products and services such as lack of trained staff, less demand from the users for the existing resources and services. In this research, the SWOT analysis shows all the university libraries in Kerala with their strengths and opportunities can easily overcome the threats and weakness with appropriate positioning and marketing strategies. Based on the average score of university libraries in Kerala, the strengths identified were lack of fund, customer care, special collection, membership, and geographical position of the library. The major weaknesses identified by the Kerala University Library and CUSAT Central Library were shortage of staff strength, inadequate fund, space problem, lack of weeding out policy, absence of University Librarian etc. MG University Library identified the major weakness as geographical position of the library; computer networks etc. while CHMK Library identified lack of sufficient fund as the main weakness. The opportunities identified were in related to academic plan, new sources of funding, cooperation and consortium in collection building, technology; also the opportunities identified were consist of alternative information providers and rate of change in information field and information technology.
Garoufallou et al. (2013), examined the current situation in Greek academic libraries as well as staff attitudes and perceptions towards marketing applications. The findings of the study indicate that Greek librarians acknowledge the need to adopt marketing techniques as a means of promoting library services, and they realize that marketing approaches can be effective if they are correctly incorporated into their work. However, the results indicate a divergence in practice. The majority of libraries made an ad hoc use of some marketing techniques, mainly related to promotion and advertising, without incorporating the concept of marketing into their general institutional goals and strategic planning. The major weaknesses identified were factors such as lack of marketing education, seminars and training courses, resistance to change, budget cuts, etc. Findings indicated that, although the majority of the librarians showed an appreciation for the concept of marketing, they also had limited exposure to marketing education, therefore, a long way to go in order to fully understand its procedures and integrate it into their strategic planning. Also, the absence of any formal education, seminars or workshops on marketing and managerial topics hinders strategic planning in Greek libraries in conjunction with lack of appropriately educated staff and funding.
Given aforementioned discussion, the present research seeks to determine the appropriate approaches to develop information marketing while identifying the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to information marketing in Iranian Faculties of Agriculture. Secondary objectives of the study are as follows:
1--Respondents' attitudes to information marketing
2--Comparison of respondents' personal and professional characteristics, their attitudes towards information marketing.