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6 Tips for Marketing Your Commuter Program

The success of a commuter program can often depend on reaching and engaging the right audience.

Depending on the target audience, organizations need to market and promote commuter programs in different ways. Government organizations may be looking to reach commuters directly, or to partner with local employers. Businesses are seeking to engage and motivate their own employees. Educational institutions want to spread the word among staff, faculty, and students.

Whichever scenario you are facing, you’ll need a tailored communications plan to connect with your target audience. To that end, here are six helpful tips that will help you market commuter programs more effectively:

  • Start with surveys. Commuter surveys are invaluable tools for understanding commuter behavior and preferences. They are essential in the planning stages of a campaign, especially for learning which alternative modes of transportation your commuter base would be most likely to try.
  • Emphasize benefits that matter to commuters. Surveys can also deliver valuable insights into what matters most to your target commuter base. You can use that information to design campaigns and marketing materials that emphasize benefits. For example, students might be looking to save money, so focusing on that interest might help you appeal to them.
  • Use simple graphics to create eye-catching, easy-to-understand pictorial representations. There are many free or inexpensive graphics platforms you can use to put together visuals that quickly and clearly express your program’s fundamentals. Try pairing graphics with relevant statistics to draw attention to a particular problem associated with commuting, or to illustrate a specific benefit you’re trying to achieve.
  • Create a strong, two-sentence summary for your program. When you market commuter programs, you’ve got to engage people in a simple and direct way. Have a clean, easily digestible, and compelling two-sentence summary of the program to add to your script anytime you talk about your efforts.
  • Make the most of existing communications channels. Before you try to create brand-new channels for communications, use ones that already exist. For instance, use recurring departmental or interdepartmental meetings as an opportunity to market commuter programs, or leverage employee newsletters, campus newspapers, or existing advertising networks to help get the word out.
  • Designate a “point person” to deliver your message. In large organizations, it’s better to designate a “point person” who can deliver your message directly to team members than it is for an anonymous, unconnected individual to reach out to the entire commuter base. Messages are more readily accepted when they’re delivered by someone you know, so try to get departmental or team-based reps involved in your program.

For more insight, check out this talk on marketing techniques from our CommuteCon 2017 event, or contact us to discuss your program. We’re here to help you deliver commuter programs that generate enthusiasm, high participation rates, and real results.

The Intersection of Marketing and Getting the Results You Want

 

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.

TDM Marketing

Acquisition

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.

 

Messaging

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.

 

Segmenting

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:

  1. “Please activate account for carpool incentives” which had 0% open rate.
  2. “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.”