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Targeted Marketing

The targeted marketing of sustainable modes of travel is a key behaviour change tool that community groups can take up as a project in order to encourage a modal shift away from single car use and to engage their community on issues such as air pollution, climate change or the effect of high car use on communities.”

Targeted marketing was an approach to encouraging behaviour change on transport developed during the Sustainable Travel Townssmarter travel‘ programmes. These projects were a 5 year, £10 million UK government investment in sustainable transport schemes across 3 towns that completed around the year 2007. In this section I want to give examples of how community groups who are keen to create behaviour change around transport and car use can run simplified and successful versions of this kind of sustainable transport project in their area.

Targeted marketing involves going door to door or leafleting a neighbourhood and offering residents the opportunity to select leaflets and information about sustainable transport in their area. Usually the material has been specifically designed for that area in mind and has been personalised. For example, producing a bus and cycle map of the specific neighbourhood, personalising bus and train times to that neighbourhood or to nearby bus and train stops, re-designing existing leaflets so that they reflect the local area, offering free training, talks, or workshops on key themes in the area, and so on.

Personalising the information in this way is a key aspect of targeted marketing, as it greatly increases the appeal of the material to residents and also the ability to effect behaviour change. Residents were also often asked to complete a survey of their existing travel habits, in order to find out travel trends in that area, identify any common problems, and to get a benchmark from which a quantitative measurement of the project’s success at behaviour change could be established. Going door to door also allows for conversations on these issues.

Two simple examples of targeted marketing are given below. Both of these were created, managed and delivered by community groups.

In 2009 in the village of Staveley in Cumbria a group of 10 volunteers embarked on a targeted marketing project and went door to door with the survey form below. The form was given to residents and a conversation was had explaining to them what the project was about and what they were doing. It was hoped in this way that resident’s would take an interest in what was being offered and select one or more of the options available to them, and that this would help them to shift their travel habits towards more sustainable and community friendly options. A pre-paid envelope was provided so the completed form could be returned, and a drop off point in the village where the forms could be dropped off was also arranged. The material in the survey had all been collected before hand, ready to hand deliver, and personalised timetables (see below for an example), new leaflets, and events had also been arranged to help create a bit of a buzz in the village.

Volunteers on the Staveley Green Travel Initiative preparing to go door to door.

The response rate going door to door was 56%, whereas for those who weren’t in and who had the form posted through their letterbox, the response rate was 7%. Door knocking works! The result of the project was hard to gauge but a final survey suggested that around 50% of those who participated were using sustainable transport options more than they were the year before, and that they were doing so on a weekly basis. The project was repeated again the next year, and another community group also ran a version in the nearby town of Kendal on a much larger scale (population 30,000). Even today, nearly 15 years later, the local parish council are still printing the personalised timetable that the project developed.

An even more simplified version of targeted marketing is shown below. In this case the form was designed to promote home energy options, but the same model can and has been used by community groups to promote sustainable transport. In this case there would be only a limited range of material offered. In the town of Kendal, Cumbria, in 2010 for example, a limited form like this was delivered to 30,000 homes marketing new cycle and bus maps that the local Transition Town group had produced. These type of projects are ideal for community groups to run and are an effective way to engage with your local community in issues around car travel.

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