TCAT Marketing Proposal
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A Marketing proposal for the TCAT, a public transportation system based out of Ithaca, New York. This proposal was presented directly to the clients and many of the strategies and tactics were......

A Marketing proposal for the TCAT, a public transportation system based out of Ithaca, New York. This proposal was presented directly to the clients and many of the strategies and tactics were directly implemented. I did the design and layout and contributed to the research and tactical planning.

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  • 1. Contents situational analysis 2 swot analysis 3 primary research 4Presentation By secondary research 5 target audience 6 Jimmy Knowles Kirsten Quinn communication methods 7 Hillary Duchovnay Beth Jones campaign implementation 8 budget 10 conclusion 11
  • 2. situationalhistory analysisThe Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, TCAT, was formed in 1998 by merging three public transit systems of the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County and Cornell University.While the consolidation of these three routes is relatively recent the City of Ithaca and Cornell University established independent bus systems in the 1960’s. These systemsdeveloped successfully, growing into surrounding suburbs and rural towns throughout the seventies and eighties.Tompkins Country began developing suburban and rural routes, forming the TOMTRAN. The TOMTRAN offered busing services to Dryden, Caroline and Newark Valley. Theroute eventually extended into Groton, Newfield, Ulysses, Landsing and Danby.The growth continued in 1992 when the City of Ithaca, Cornell and Tompkins County built a $5 million transit facility that would serve as a base for transit operations andfleet maintenance. In 1996 the New York State legislature adopted a state law that authorized TCAT to be created as a joint partnership, as a government entity. This ledto the establishment of TCAT as a public entity in 1998. In 20045 TCAT re-defined itself as a non-profit corporation called, TCAT, Inc. Currently the board of directors iscomposed of representatives from the City of Ithaca, Cornell University, and Tompkins County. timelineIn order to successfully implement the campaign we believe that the orientation materials and the myTCAT mobile application should be launched in August. As Freshmanlearn to use the TCAT, they can also incorporate the use of the mobile app into their daily life. As students get more comfortable with TCAT and begin to use it more often,the contest will open in January. Students will have 4 months to submit and vote for videos. The contest will close in April when the winners will be announced.
  • 3. strengths The strengths of the TCAT include a strong presence in the community and an affordable and convenient mean of transportation. The major presence that the TCAT has in the local community indicates that the TCAT is swot analysis a well-known and recognized means weaknesses of transportation. The TCAT is also an affordable means of transportation. Community members can take advantage of the TCAT services for a A major weakness of the TCAT is the unreliability and delays that often low cost and do not need to deal with occur on routes. The delays occur for many different reasons such the high costs that are associated with as traffic and weather conditions. However, TCAT users are unable to other forms of transportation. The predict when the TCAT is not on time, making it appear to be unreliable. TCAT can be accessed conveniently This weakness causes individuals to be hesitant when relying on the at the many bus stops located around TCAT in time sensitive situations. Tompkins County.There are many potential opportunities for the TCAT to increase There are existing threats to the “A strong threatsa sense of popularity among college students. The recent push TCAT that must be combated. One presence in thefor sustainability on college campuses and within the Ithaca major threat is that the majority ofCommunity may encourage students to find more sustainable college students have their ownmethods of transportation. The TCAT can also target incomingfreshman classes that may not have a personal car and need a personal vehicle. It is difficult to persuade these students to change community andopportunities method of transportation. their transportation habits. Another an afordable and convenient threat is that many students do not know how to fully optimize the TCAT services. Finally, there are many other companies such as Car-Share mean of or Zip-Cars that offer competition to transportation” the TCAT, as they provide students with ways of going to campus without using personal cars.
  • 4. primary survey researchThe majority of students surveyed answered that their primary method oftransportation was their personal car. All of the students responded that they survey questions:have taken the TCAT at some point n their college career. While all of the students 1. What is your class standing?answered that they have taken the TCAT the majority of students answered that 2. What is your primary method of transportation?they take the TCAT less than once a month. We were able to gain insight into 3. Have you ever taken the TCAT bus? 4. If you answered yes to the question above how often dohow to encourage students to take the TCAT. Some of the responses we received you use the TCAT?included: A route that goes to the commons around ten and eleven at night and 5. If you answered no, why do you choose not to use thebetter discounts and schedule. The biggest trend we noticed throughout the TCAT?responses was that people didn’t know how the TCAT works. This general sense 6. Is there anything you can think of that would eitherof unawareness indicates that our campaign needs to focus on awareness and encourage you to use the TCAT more or enhance your current experience?focus groupspreading quality information to our target audience of college students. In addition, we conducted an informal focus group with 10 peers about their current feelings and beliefs about the TCAT bus. Although all had admitted using it at least once, only one of the members used the TCAT in the last couple weeks. When asked why the use was so infrequent among all members, these were some of the responses recorded: -”I never know when it will show up” -”I have no idea where it goes and if it will take me where I need to be” “I have my own car which is a lot more reliable, even if its more expensive” We understood that many of these thoughts were negative, soley based upon the lack of knowledge these peers knew about the TCAT. If they had easy access to knowing where and when the next TCAT bus would be, perhaps they would be more prone to using it. Owning a personal car is expensive with the rise of gas prices and the maintenance costs of keeping a car in Ithaca - especially during the winter - so if we believe that if we emphasize the strong benefits of utilizing the TCAT on a more day-to-day basis, we could gain many more loyal customers.
  • 5. secondary researchTo fully understand the TCAT and the culture surrounding the use of public transportation in a city much like Ithaca, we took to the TCAT website as well as several otherresources to assess successes and failures in other communities similar to that of the Ithaca area. We were able to pull from resources already compiled by the school aswell as others in assessing the use of public transportation on the Ithaca College campus in particular and the process into looking at alternative methods of transportation.From this research, we were able to see results of how students assessed the reliability of the TCAT and to what extent they found the most use for it as it pertained totheir particular life and day to day activities. Questions included how often they would use the TCAT if they were to add more stops on campus and more specifically, ifthey would take advantage of the TCAT if it made itself more accessible to the Circle Apartments. A study conducted by the Student Government Association identified thedesire for a more reliable inter-campus transportation system and the enhancing of the TCAT route was looked upon as a viable option for what the intended purpose wasin regard to this particular case study and how they would progress from that point.
  • 6. target audienceOur campaign is targeting college students, between the ages of 18 and 22, who go to either Ithaca College or Cornell University. Because this campaign is occurring inIthaca, NY, and being Ithaca College students ourselves, we believe we truly can “get into the minds” of our target audience to help change a certain behavior. Namely,we wish to promote more bus-riding of the TCAT bus system among these college students, and less use of personal cars. Although we are narrowing our audience tostudents only in the Ithaca area, we must still generalize our marketing strategies to encompass all students. Therefore, we cannot target specific demographics – otherthan age and current location – and we cannot target specific interests, as we are targeting this audience as a whole. Thus, our marketing efforts must be as generalas possible, but still keeping our audience in mind with strategies we know “typical” college students will respond best to. By learning about the various attributes of ourgenerations relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles, we as researchers will be able to fully understand the best way to market to our audience.College students are tech savvy. They have grown up in an age where computers were a common item in every household, and thus, they are dependent upon thistechnology for every task. They are the first to be in line for the new iPhone, or the new iPad, and flaunt their technology quite a lot, despite the fact most cannot affordsuch items. “Nine out of ten college students own a computer and 82% have a mobile phone;” (“Quick Study”) and their lifestyles revolve around technology - specificallytheir computers and cell phone use. They must constantly be connected with one another. This generation is often referred to as the “Millennial Generation” becausethey have ultimately been shaped by the technological developments and trends of its time. The rise of instant communication technologies made possible through useof the internet, such as email, texting, and IM, and new media used through websites like YouTube and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, mayexplain the Millennials’ reputation for being somewhat peer-oriented due to easier facilitation of communication through technology. They long to be accepted by theirpeers, and through the new trends in technology, this has become significantly easier. We have capitalized upon social media through the mobile app we have created, aswell as through the incorporation of YouTube with the video submissions.College students are prone to being lazy. As most are away from their homes for the first time in their lives, they refuse to do “at-home activities”, such as cleaning orcooking. Thus, their dorm rooms are usually trashed, and their credit card bills are extremely high from all of the food ordered to their rooms. And walking to school orlooking for a bus schedule is absolutely out of the question, as it requires actual effort. Therefore, we have capitalized upon this aspect when creating the mobile app,as it will give students an easy way to find out when the TCAT is approaching, or how close the nearest stop is. College students have very little money to spend freely, sogiving out the 10 free bus rides to freshmen will not only save them money on gas, but encourage riding the extremely inexpensive TCAT in the future.College students are competitive. They love a challenge and have high expectations of self, thus resulting in a competitive nature when it comes to peers, particularlywhen the prize is something desirable. As a result, we’ve created the competition for the best TCAT video to encourage students to challenge themselves and one anotherto create great videos.
  • 7. communication methodsThe goal of our communication strategies and methods is to challenge and change the current perceptions of the TCAT in the minds of Ithaca College students. Ourresearch has indicated that students refrain from taking the TCAT based on their belief that this method of transportation is unpredictable and inconvenient. Ourcommunication methods will consist of traditional print media, a mobile application and YouTube videos and will prevent and combat the current perceptions that existamong the Ithaca College student body.We will begin the communication method by educating incoming freshman through promotional material. This will be the first step in our pursuit to make the exchangebetween students and the TCAT more attractive. The goal of the promotional materials is to prevent incoming students from believing that the TCAT is unpredictable andinconvenient through an increased sense of awareness. The promotional material, coupled with free TCAT bus passes, will allow the students to learn about how theTCAT works and experience it first hand. The promotional material will be clear and instructional, teaching students how to use all of the TCAT features. There will also bea step-by-step guide instructing students on the best way to reach popular destinations such as Wegmans, the Pyramid Mall and the Ithaca Commons. College freshmanare often concerned with how they will navigate a new town. The promotional material, geared to the specific needs of college freshman will help make the TCAT a moreattractive option.The main goal of the mobile application is to increase the convenience and of the TCAT. We want to make it as easy as possible for college students to use the TCATby creating a tool that will help our target audience use the bus. We hope to communicate the convenience, reliability and predictability of the TCAT through the mobileapplication. We plan to communicate the convenience of the TCAT through GPS features that will direct the user to the nearest TCAT bus stop. The GPS function will givethe user step-by-step instruction of how to get there and the time of the next bus that will arrive. The time of the bus will take delays into account, increasing the senseof reliability and predictability.Our last method of communication will be a viral video campaign that will be featured on our YouTube page. The main communication goal of the viral video campaign willbe to create a sense of community among college students who use the bus. Our deep understanding of the target market indicates the importance of community. Thiscan be seen through the dependence on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Students will be more likely to use the TCAT if they know that their friendsand fellow students are using to bus. The competition will revolve around a situation when the TCAT came to the rescue and saved the day. This topic has a main goal ofincreasing the sense of predictability and convenience associated with the TCAT. The videos will be posted on our YouTube account and will help create a buzz among ourtarget market of college students.
  • 8. campaignimplementation phase 1The first aspect of the campaign is creating and distributing TCAT orientation materials to incoming freshmanand their parents. To connect with students and parents TCAT should first establish a larger presence oncampus during summer orientation sessions. Booths will be set up in different spots to distribute pamphletsand information, and presentations will be held for parents who are staying in the area. The presentations cangive parents extra information about the services that TCAT provides and explain how easy it will be for theirchildren to access local shops and restaurants during their time at Ithaca College. By having these personalizedinformation sessions with parents they will likely encourage their children not to bring cars to school, cuttingdown on harmful emissions and increasing the chances that they will use the bus system.When students arrive at school, they will be provided with TCAT orientation materials. This will include a list ofuseful bus schedules that they could post on their dorm room walls, tips on how to use and ride public transit,and 10 free bus ride vouchers attached to their student ID that they can use within the first month of school.Educating them early and allowing them to try the bus system for free will increase the probability that they willbecome repeat customers. If students start using and utilizing the TCAT early in their academic career, it will belikely that they will continue to use the TCAT all 4 years that they attend Ithaca College.
  • 9. campaign implementation phase 2The second aspect of our campaign will be the developmentand implementation of a mobile application. We believethat a mobile app will help better connect the TCAT withtheir current and potential customers. It can be used asa tool to educate people about the different aspects ofpublic transportation and to make it easier for people tofind, locate, and use the TCAT. The mobile app will useGPS to locate the customer’s location and direct themto the nearest bus stop; making riding the t-cat simple,straightforward, and almost effortless. College studentswill specifically be able to utilize this mobile app by finding phase 3out when the bus will be stopping on campus, where it willbe going, and how they will get back. The third aspect of our proposal will be to implement a contest which will encourage college students to get involved with TCAT. The contest will ask students to submit a short video about a time that TCAT has saved their day. Groups, no larger than 5 people, can e-mail their video submissions to t-cat during the contest. Finalists will be determined by TCAT and their videos will be posted to the TCAT youtube channel where people can ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ each video. The video with the most ‘likes’ at the end of the contest will win free t-cat bus passes for a year. The idea is that the finalists will post their videos on their facebook pages to have their friends vote for their submission, which will increase visibility for TCAT and will act as free publicity and advertising.
  • 10. budgetWe plan to spend $1,000.00 to develop a mobile application. The promotionalmaterials will have an approximate cost of $500.00. We plan to give each incomingfreshman 10 bus passes this will cost around $50,000.00. While this is a largecost we believe that there will be a large return on investment and all cost will berecovered.Mobile  Application   $1,000.00  Promotional  Materials   $500.00  Bus  Passes   $50,  000.00   $51,500.00    Total  
  • 11. conclusion When put together these 3 projects will help TCAT gain and maintain a new customer base for the future. Many college students do not use TCAT simply because they donot know how to, or find it inaccessible. With the implementation of a freshman orientation program, and a mobile app students will become better educated on how touse the bus system and will likely use it more often. Once students know more about the TCAT, they can interact and become more involved with the TCAT bus system bycreating a video submission for the contest. This will give the t-cat more of a presence on the Internet as well as provide the company with free promotion.