When riders think of your agency, what words come to mind? Agencies hope they evoke words like convenient, quick and comfortable. That’s branding in a nutshell; it’s the collection of ideas that are associated with your name.
To build your ridership, you’ll want riders and prospective riders to see the value you bring and attract them to use your services. Knowing how to market yourself, and specifically, branding yourself can help a lot. Let’s take a look a few tips that can help you strategize and mobilize your brand to work for you.
Before you execute on any marketing or branding strategy, it’s vital to understand how you are currently perceived and how you want to be perceived. Oftentimes, there is a disconnect. Branding is about creating carefully tailored messages that align with your identity. It may be tempting to showcase all your best features, but focus on 1-2 key messages and drive those points home.
Consider This: What sets you apart? What have you done to improve service? How do you show that you care about customer service?
It’s key to understand who your riders are and what resonates with them. Take some time to do research on how your riders perceive your brand – perhaps in the form or a public survey. This will help you determine gaps in perceptions, and help you better understand what is important to your riders. Some common themes that customers find important are reliability, good customer service, and modernity.
Now that you have done your research it’s time to analyze the data. Look for gaps in perception and use them to inspire your key messages. Think about the types of content you could create and effective mediums to broadcast your message. Be sure to promote in places that will be viewed by current ridership and well as potential riders. The RTAP has great resources to help you get started with making your own marketing materials.
Tip: Connect with your audience by using stories of real riders. This will give your audience someone to relate to and make your message more tangible. Check out this page for some example of benefits.
The next step is to take your newfound core message and spread it everywhere. Take the opportunity to leverage every medium at your disposal. Consider using social media, your website, vehicle signage, and mobile apps. Social media is a low cost method to get your message out but requires your riders to be following you. Passenger portals, passenger information systems, and mobile apps are great because riders will already be using these services - thus maximizing brand exposure.
Remember branding permeates all aspects of your operation. So keep thinking of creative ways that you can broadcast your message and bring awareness to the great things that you are doing.