If there ever was a time to check in on what’s happening in Seattle, it is now. No, not because the Seattle Seahawks are dominating the National Football League. The massive tunnel boring machine digging a 1.7 mile path under the city is stuck. Nicknamed Bertha, the $80 million TBM is part of a massive project – years in the planning and implementation –designed to replace the elevated double-deck highway that runs along the Seattle waterfront with a tunnel.
Transportation agencies are constantly innovating to meet the needs of an aging system, a declining revenue stream and an evolving customer base. The FHWA Highways for Life program earlier this year published a document, “A Guide to Developing Marketing Research for Highway Innovations,” which is intended to help transportation agencies “understand the needs, wants, and values of their existing customers and potential customers and us that information to make better decisions.”
While I believe that most agencies already use some kind of research when deciding whether to pursue programmatic and operational innovations, the guide should prove a very useful resource for the transportation communications community.
Filled with anecdotes and case studies, the manual is a solid introduction to marketing research. It will explain things to consider when deciding on the types of research you might need, whether you will need to bring in a consultant and even some strengths and weaknesses for various research methods.
Whether you are a seasoned communication pro, or just getting started, the Highways for Life guide is worth checking out.
In transportation circles we tend to talk among ourselves a bit. Those in construction, planning, engineering and operations all understand the reasons why a robust transportation infrastructure is important to the national economy and our quality of life, largely because it is important to these industries’ economies and qualities of life.
What we can miss is the broader coalition of advocates who can offer a much more credible commentary on the situation. In this video, the National Retail Federation does an excellent job telling the story of how 420 million packages will be shipped this holiday season. And, those packages are not moving to your doorstep by drones. It takes a dynamic and dependable transportation system for our economy to move.
So, next time you find yourself looking at your coalition of support, ask the simple question, “Who are the customers?” It will keep you focused on the best messages and you will find a deeper pool of advocates than you might have first imagined.
Every so often I am asked to share some thoughts on social media, transportation communications, public involvement and other topics that we tend to tackle here at Talking Transportation. Wednesday was one of those days and it was a delightful 90 minutes or so of hearing about powerful social media tools and ongoing transportation-focused social media research that is underway.
“Social Media and ITS,” sponsored by Thinking Highways included presentations by several experts in research and transportation issues including Larry Ehl, publisher of Transportation Issues Daily, and Andy Palisanamy, well-known among social media folks as @TranspoGooru. I won’t rehash too much here, but I encourage you to check out a recording of the webinar. You will need to register your name and email address, but I think the content is worth it.