Wednesday 22 January 2014

Learn the Lesson of Lovely Leaflets

 But, before that, "Wot About Milton Keynes?"

Alert blog readers with retentive memories will be aware that on Sunday 19th January a fleet of eight electric buses was due to start on City route 7. Only they didn't. On Monday 20th our Northampton correspondent sallied forth to Wolverton (where be dragons) to see what was what.
Only two electric buses were at work out of the 7 or 8 required to service. It is rumoured that 5 are still in Ireland delayed by a spot of tempest for their sea crossing. On Monday 20th the lonesome duo were at work on the short journeys between Wolverton and Central Milton Keynes
These battery buses recharge themselves by induction. There is no wire from bus to power supply. The bus lowers its charging plate at the termini (as here in Church Street, Wolverton) ...
... where power in coils in the road induces power in coils on the bus and tops us the batteries.

fbb will take a trip to MK when all is running correctly! (Mayhap after the even toed ungulates have become airborne.)
Back to a lovely leaflet.

Superb Stagecoach Supertram
Contrast and compare. The stagecoach leaflet (above) versus the Travel South Yorkshire publication (below).
In some ways a comparison is not altogether fair. Travel South Yorkshire [TSY] produce timetables, whereas this Stagecoach leaflet aims at a wider audience. Andrew (of Sheffield Campaign for Real Ale) who sent the PDF, assures fbb that there are racks of this brochure in hotels etc. But there weren't any in Sheffield Central Travelodge where the fbb's laid their weary heads on Sunday night!

The leaflet is "selling" the whole tramway experience. Despite this difference, there are lessons to learn.

We have a simple line diagram ...
... and a geographical map.
click on map to enlarge

This shows all stops and names them, with the addition of the orange stars for places of interest, sporting venues, hospitals etc.

fbb has, perhaps one complaint. The Stagecoach leaflet is not a timetable; all you get is a summary of frequencies.
Fair enough, you may say. But does this chart do justice to the system? The 10 minute Blue and Yellow service is marked "peak"; but it isn't. It should read Monday to Saturday "daytime". All three services run every 20 minutes during the evenings and on Sundays.

But the "purple" is odd, isn't it? It would appear to be more frequent "off-peak" than "peak"; additionally, during the day (every day), purples extend from City to Meadowhell (purple dotted line).

Would it not be better to say:-

Daytime trams run at least every 10 minutes on all lines
(except Gleadless to Herdings).
Evening service is every 20 minutes on the following sections:-
Hillsborough to Middlewood
Hillsborough to Malin Bridge
City to Meadowhall.
Gleadless to Herdings
For full details see the Supertram timetable book.

The main part of the leaflet consists of panel of text extolling the virtues of  the tram as the obvious and best route to specific destinations.
It really encourages you to take the tram to enjoy the weatherproof shopping experience with 280 to choose from. What a thrill!

There are lots of pictures ...
... in fact the whole leaflet makes tram travel enticing.

Surely, if TSY wants to encourage people to try out the bus, it needs to do better than this ...
... the only destination promotion on the new 81 and 82 leaflet examined in last week's (extensive) blogs. The routes also serve Malin Bridge for Rivelin Valley park ...
... Hillsborough Shopping Centre, Botanic Gardens and Endcliffe Park, itself an excellent start point for Sheffield's magnificent "round walk". The latter offers a 14 mile route, all within the city boundary and mostly through parks and open country.
click to enlarge the map

Mrs fbb shops at Tesco. She has a Tesco Clubcard which offers discounted special offers and "points" to use in-store or for superduper deals on other "stuff".

Your point, fbb? Tesco would soon slip down the league of super Supermarkets if their advertising simply said,

 we sell biscuits 

No, Tesco is past master at enticing Mrs fbb (plus a few million others) into the store to spend more.

Shouldn't bus leaflets do the same?

 Next bus blog : Thursday 23rd January 

1 comment:

  1. There are really two sorts of marketing, supermarkets like Tesco are very good at the glossy look at what we do things that tell you very little (similar to the Stagecoach leaflet you mention, a lot of general information but not a lot of detail), the alternative is a more informative guide with detail of the service offered (think the Argos catalogue or a bus timetable) designed for information but not necessarily eye-catching. If you think about it Supermarkets never tell you what they sell at what price, they merely show some headline products & maybe some offers and try to sell the concept. I have a large Tescos at he edge of my estate but I am not a regular customer and don't have a ClubCard - in over 5 years living with that as my nearest Supermarket I have never received any marketing from Tescos, a new Sainsburys has opened about 5-mins drive away & I have received 2 marketing leaflets from them (neither really had any detail of what they sold - it was basically we don't just sell food, there are clothes & a café as well!). Supermarkets aren't necessarily the best route to follow they appear to largely rely on bland, general national advertising to bring in new customers though using loyalty cards to try & upsell to the existing customer base.

    Bus operators are reasonably good at the information bit but generally woeful at the selling of the wider offer. The industry understands that we are a means to an end (few catch a bus to ride the bus, the catch the bus to get somewhere) and concentrate on giving specific information. If we as an industry looked a bit wider at selling the end (places we serve) we may be able to generate a bigger share of the means of getting there on the way. The balance is ensuring we don't lose sight of informing our customers of the detail whilst selling the wider offer, only the biggest companies have marketing departments with the staff to take the long term view on developing this and even then they are often covering a lot of areas and concentrating on rolling out special promotions rather than more routine marketing. There is a difficulty in adding extra costs in the current difficult market, even if there is the possibility of growth in the future. My job covers producing timetable leaflets alongside producing on-bus notices, service & network planning & scheduling over 200 buses at over half-a-dozen depots. My colleague that deals with other areas of promotions also has to process complaints & complete BSOG & Concessionary fare claims, finding time to deal with identifying & preparing more general marketing leaflets is difficult with all that.