Thursday, 29 October 2009

Being a specific marketer

This quote comes from a piece written by Mark Ritson in this week's Marketing magazine.

"Then comes targeting. A good marketer has made the leap of faith and accepted that fewer target consumers will deliver a better overall result. Usually, that means stepping back from the segmentation and only going after 10% or 20% of the potential market. Tight target segments mean the marketing has a chance to succeed. Too many marketers lose faith at this stage and end up targeting pretty much everyone."

Find out more about being specific in marketing public transport here.

The full article can be read here

Mark Ritson is an associate professor of marketing and consultant to some of the world's biggest brands.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Will bus stop art get us talking?

Can artwork on the roofs of bus stops encourage us to talk to each other more?

That's the aim of two artists who have been awarded a cash prize to help us celebrate the 2012 Olympics.

Londoners Paula Le Dieu and Alfie Dennen have been commissioned to use the roofs of bus stops across all the boroughs to act as a canvas for residents to tell their stories.

The commission is one of 12 special designs by Arts Council England and London 2012 in the first major project for the Cultural Olympiad.

Alfie says: "This was an opportunity for us to engage all of London. Creativity is untapped and sits within everyone and if we just give them the tools to express that and have a voice, well that's the core of the project."

The roofs of 40 bus shelters across all London boroughs will offer LED panels as canvases on which Londoners can talk to each other, display their creativity, play games and express what is special about their London. The installations will add a joyful surprise to the experience of riding on buses, inspiring wonder and creativity in one of the last places expected.

I don't know about promoting London 2012, but there is definitely scope for councils or operators to use the space to promote bus travel!

First launches UK's first single deck superside

For the first time on the UK mainland, single deck buses will be able to carry a double decker superside advertising panel following the launch of the single deck superside, a panel each side that extends above the roof of a bus.

Further to trialling and investment in innovative bus advertising formats with First UK Bus, CBS Outdoor's latest format will be available across York as a showcase to advertisers about this new advertising proposition. The superside format has never been used on a single deck before, but is a leading format on the iconic double decker buses.

The new format was trialled earlier this year on two buses around the city of York and proved a massive success with a further four advertisers coming on board including Visit York, Safer York and the high-end department store Fenwicks.

Jason Cotterrell, Commercial Director, CBS Outdoor, comments: "The industry must continue to invest in products and innovation and this is a great example of how CBS Outdoor and First UK Bus is leading the way. The single deck superside will give advertisers in York the chance to use campaigns across both the double and single deck buses, further broadening their options to advertise on the one of the most visible outdoor advertising formats available."

Leon Daniels, Customer Service and Communications Director for First UK Bus, said: “Bus advertising is a valuable source of revenue for bus companies and double-decker sites are worth more than double their single-deck equivalents because they are of course ‘head and shoulders’ above the traffic. In some of our cities we have fewer double-deckers than the demand for advertising so these new sites will allow us to grow our revenue. I have seen attempts to do this before across the water but I wanted an elegant and economic solution for our buses on the UK mainland. iPhone app is a big hit

Kizoom and online rail ticket retailer,, has launched a new UK train journey planning iPhone app with the added bonus being that it is free, unlike the National Rail option that'll cost you a fiver.

Covering the entire UK rail network, app is said to be easy to use and offers a start-to-finish route planning feature, using station search by name or on a map showing the user's location and nearest rail stations.

The "Next Train Home" function gives users stations and departure times from their current location anywhere in the UK to their stored home destination, while there's also up-to-date Tube information, that can be saved for offline access.

There's also some Twitter integration with the option to tweet other passengers about their journeys. explains "It brings travellers together in sharing thoughts or sharing taxis! This quirky - and likely popular - function has a pre-loaded # tag specific to the users' trains, so it's simple to engage other passengers and spice-up the long trek home!"

These neat little features and the fact that it's free have meant the app is now the second most downloaded iPhone app in the world!

Just goes to prove that simple, up-to-date travel information and getting hold of it as easily as possible is the one of the most important things for customers.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Change people's behaviour, it works.

Volkswagon has a site called with the idea being that if you make things fun, you can change people's behaviour.

Which confirms what we said in our april newsletter that changing behaviours is far easier than changing attitudes. e.g. it's easier to get you to try using the bottle bank by making it fun, than it is convincing you that using the bottle bank is a good idea.

Here are two examples that encourage people to recycle and use litter bin.

The great thing is that by associating these fun, clever and creative ideas with the Volkswagen brand, VW is contributing to their brand equity on a different level than just talking about their cars.

Be creative, do the right thing, have fun, save the earth. Brilliant.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

An inspiring and funny talk on eduacation and creativity

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

I always knew the fact I couldn't spell, didn't mean I wasn't a geneus.

From the awesome

Little things maketh the brand

Coming back from Manchester Piccadilly on the 1706 CrossCountry service yesterday, I couldn't help but raise a smile to the young man in charge of the refreshments trolley.

After every stop he'd start his journey back through the carriages with a subtle smile on his face, and a 'Would you like..' or a 'Can I interest..' to any passenger who caught his eye. Not in any way intrusive but an employee just quietly going about his business of keeping passengers in snacks and drinks.

To that gentleman - your positive, friendly attitude didn't go unnoticed. As the title says, little things maketh the brand.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Man travels the length of England using his free bus pass

A retired maths teacher has travelled the length of England using his free bus pass - at the second attempt.

David Bird, 80, of Throckley, Newcastle, was forced to abandon a trip from Cornwall to Northumberland last month when he lost his mobile phone.

He has now used the bus network to travel in the opposite direction from the border north of Berwick to Land's End - more than 500 miles.

The pensioner finished in three days, 14 hours and 34 minutes on Thursday.

Mr Bird said: "I completed the trip using fewer than 30 buses and in what I believe is a record time.

"It is a great sense of achievement, especially considering I was forced to abandon the last effort."

He was inspired to make the trip after reading a BBC story about how over-60s could cross the country for free on the bus network.

The former teacher, who was travelling with a folding bike to allow him to travel to overnight accommodation, returned to the North East by train.

First air-con Tube train arrives

The Tube's first air-conditioned train has arrived at a depot in north-west London ahead of its introduction next year.

Air-conditioned trains - known as "S" Stock - will be used on the Metropolitan line from September 2010 and are longer, increasing capacity by nearly 20%.

By 2011, 58 air-conditioned trains will have replaced the existing rolling stock on the Metropolitan line.

The trains will then be rolled out on to the District and Circle lines by 2015.

The first air-conditioned train is housed at a depot in north-west London.

London Underground is trying to develop methods of installing air-conditioning in the network's deeper routes - such as parts of the Bakerloo, Northern and Piccadilly lines - which get the hottest.

Mayor Boris Johnson said the train was the "next milestone in the rebuilding of our transport system".

In the next year, Transport for London (TfL) hopes to complete several key projects, including the £1.4bn extension of the East London line and the upgrade of the Jubilee line, which will increase capacity on that line by a third.

TfL is also looking to make efficiency savings of more than £5bn by 2018.

The Tube began service in 1863, making it the oldest underground railway network in the world.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Scrap your car and get a free bus pass!

An Isle of Wight bus company is starting its own car scrappage scheme.

Southern Vectis is offering either a six-month or one-year travel pass worth up to £720 to people who hand in their old car, scooter, moped or van with a current MOT certificate.

The firm said the scheme was aimed at people thinking of getting rid of a second vehicle due to the recession.

It hopes other operators will adopt the plan in a bid to "remove cheap cars from the local market and ensure a switch from car to bus".

Marc Morgan Huws, Southern Vectis commercial and operations manager, said: "I was mulling over ways of getting people out of their cars in a real but imaginative way.

"The government-funded car scrappage is a scheme that does nothing to tackle the fact that we have to encourage people to use their cars less.

"We know that if we get people to use buses they tend to switch for the long-term. The problem is how we get them to switch in the first place."

Conditions of the initiative, called the Really Green Car Scrappage Scheme, include the vehicle being in a driveable condition and being registered to the person who gets the free travel pass.

"Many families feel the need for one car, but the second one is a marginal purchase, often something cheap and cheerful," Mr Morgan Huws added.

"The costs are often overlooked until it's time to tax, MOT or insure the car.

"We know that in the current economic climate, and with big job losses on the island people will question the cost of a second car."

A really good idea, that is sure to get loads of PR. Check out the website at

Friday, 16 October 2009

Now that's what I call customer service

Just read an interview with Arthur Leathley, Communications Director at Virgin Trains, where he recalls how the company's staff dealt with passengers involved in the Grayrigg incident in 2007.

He talks about one gentleman who lost a Parker pen which he'd had 50 years, and was irreplaceable. A member of staff got in touch with Parker in the US, managed to find an exact replica of that particular pen and ordered it. No waiting for a purchase order to be signed off, no red tape to go through. It only cost the company £100 but to the passenger it was priceless.

A nice touch that really epitomises everything the Virgin brand stands for, and no doubt will have a lasting impact on the customer.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Social Media Guru

Following on from our theme on 'Social Media' here's a wonderful piece of silly but truthful animation.

Twitter, it's not all it's cracked up to be!

Thinking of starting a Twitter account for your transport company to improve sales? You might want to think again.

Some interesting facts that show despite their millions of 'users', social media and in particular Twitter, isn't actually that good for business:

  1. 5% of users account for 75% of all activity
  2. Barely 5% of Twitter users go to an online retail service from Twitter. Google UK sends 365 times more traffic to shopping websites than Twitter
  3. 72.5% of all users joined during the first five months of 2009.
  4. 85.3% of all Twitter users post less than one update/day
  5. 21% of users have never posted a Tweet
  6. 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers, while 92.4% follow less than 100 people.
  7. Of people who identify themselves as PR professionals, 65.5% have never posted an update
  8. Of the people who identify themselves as PR professionals, 15% follow more than 2,000 people.
  9. This compares with 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people.
  10. More than half of Twitter users use something other than the Twitter website to tweet, monitor and manage their tweeting (TweetDeck has the largest market share with 19.7%).
Taken from research by Sysomos

'Connect', 'engage' and 'have conversations with your customers' hmmm.

Emperor's new clothes springs to mind.