Aaron Gaul is the Director of Urban Trans North America, a transportation planning and social marketing firm with a focus on multi-modal trip planning. He redirects the question “why can’t you sell brotherhood like you sell soap?” towards the TDM industry. This question was first asked by Gerhard Weibe, a WWII U-boat commander in 1952. It was the birth of social marketing strategies, a valuable tool that the TDM industry is just starting to utilize.
Get people to engage with the tools you provide to them. Aaron offers an example of his own success with audience acquisition. He recently started a new TMA in Playa Vista, Los Angeles. One can usually expect to acquire 2% of the potential audience for a business in the first year. Aaron exceeded expectations and acquired 11% in the first week. How did he do this? He utilized the incentives structure of the RideAmigos platform and the information provided about what individual employees were doing and what they wanted. Sending out a customized email template to every individual employee and then giving them a presentation on it is what allowed for 11% acquisition in just one week.
Send the right message. Los Angeles is notorious for its terrible commuting situation, however, it doesn’t have to be. By sending the message that this barrier can be overcome by already existing investments in its future, you can increase optimism for carpooling. Showcase how making the right decisions about commutes now can help the world now – and its future. One statistic identified that it is 3 times more likely to have a heart attack after one hour of a daily commute. This would incentivize anyone to make the healthier choice. Inform users not only of what they prevent, but what they receive. A commuter could arrive home substantially earlier by using the best transportation option, and have the opportunity to utilize time in the way that he or she wants.
Recognize that not all employees fit into the same category. Breakdown who they are and what market segment they fit into. Each market segment has a unique need and will respond similarly to the same market stimulus. Aaron offers an example of an Atlantic station TMA with 650+ people. Most of them were on the online tool that was offered, but not participating. To solve this, the users were broken down into categories: long-time carpoolers that had stopped reporting and current carpoolers that don’t report. The company tested two different email subject lines to survey the needs of their users:
- “Please activate account for carpool incentives” which had 0% open rate.
- “Your interest in carpooling to Atlantic station” which had 30% open rate.
By doing this, they were able to divide their users into walkers within 2 miles, and active transportation users within 5 miles based off of zipcode in infrastructure. This resulted in 37% increase of commute logging rates, 116% increase of account activation, 100% increase of Cash for Commuters, and 300% increase in GRH (Guaranteed Ride Home) applications.
“Find the right people to do the right behaviors because if you don’t, you’re going to be preaching to too many people.”