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.
Editor’s note: Many thanks to the National Retail Federation (@nrfnews) and Steven Schatz (@stephenschatz) for passing along this video.
There is a new research document available online that transportation planners and communicators should consider adding to their reading list. The report, “Potential Use of Social Media in the NEPA Process,” attempts to fill in the knowledge gap between how most transportation agencies utilize social media tools and how the tools might be used in an environmental planning and public involvement process defined under the National Environmental Policy Act.