This Award is designed to recognise marketing excellence over a sustained period that is likely to be measured in years rather than weeks (short-term initiatives and campaigns are eligible for the Marketing Initiative Award).
The Award will go to the organisation that best demonstrates how an active, customer-focused marketing strategy, consistently applied over time, has driven business improvement, won extra journeys and captured new customers, ideally through a shift of travel from car to bus.
The winner of this Award will be able to show that this sustained approach has:
- delivered measurable improvements in customer service and customer satisfaction
- created or developed strong brands
- helped to change public perceptions and/or consumer behaviour
- genuinely driven all aspects of the business, particularly
- customer service
- staff training
- management and supervision.
The important thing is that the winner can demonstrate a passion for marketing and for serving the customer over a sustained period.
The 2014 Results
Gold Award Winner
Business to Business - Go Growth!, Arriva Yorkshire and Arriva North East
The business-to-business strategy at Arriva North East and Yorkshire is proving to be a highly successful sustained marketing programme which introduces the idea of bus travel to tens of thousands of people across the region. The marketing team invest heavily each year on promotional support for employers from intranet information to merchandise, followed by roadshows at every 'signed up' location. The dividends have paid off, with a 25% increase in revenue and a seven-fold return on investment. While many in the industry have recognised the importance of such a strategy, the judges were impressed with the company's proactive, imaginative and sustained approach to building awareness of bus travel and improving perceptions.
Silver Award Winner
listen, innovate, improve - the evolution of Reading Buses, Reading Buses
Reading Buses has spent the last six years upgrading every element of its marketing mix. Through a series of large and small measures, customers can now access information when and how they want it. Far from resting on its laurels, the company continues to progress with imaginative initiatives to raise the profile of bus travel and attract more customers, from a top-to-toe route revamp growing patronage by 14% on its purple 17 hybrid service to a smartcard campaign increasing online transactions by 437%. The judges were impressed with how Reading Buses' philosophy of listening to its customers had impacted on everything the company does: when it comes to sustained marketing excellence, others in the industry looking to develop their own model need look no further than to Reading.
Bronze Award Winner
Arriva Social Media - Never Miss the Buzz, Arriva UK Bus
From an initial pilot in 2011 to what it prides as industry-leading coverage across the UK in 2014, Arriva has demonstrated continued innovation and excellence in its use of social media. Arriva uses dedicated employees to deliver a mixture of daily proactive content, specific campaigns and live responses to engage customers and deliver genuine business benefits. While many bus companies now recognise the importance of social media in communicating with customers and young people in particular, Arriva was amongst the first to develop this as a key part of its marketing strategy, impressing the judges with how the group has continued to innovate and achieve positive results, with more than 75,000 followers and fans on its channels.
First Manchester - Growth Strategy, First UK Bus (North Region)
After experiencing a historic reduction in patronage and revenue until October 2012, First Manchester ran a strategic marketing campaign to attract new customers through reduced fares, service improvements, and stronger customer foundations in Greater Manchester. Adopting a long-term strategy for commercial stability, the company has achieved substantial growth through improved customer focus and good employee buy-in, generating 14% growth in fee-paying customers in 2013/14, compared to the previous year. The judges were particularly impressed by the four tactical stages of the campaign, each building on key messages and taking customers and staff through a perception-changing process about both bus travel in general and First in Manchester.
Go North East - Marketing for Growth, Go North East
Go North East has a passion and reputation for service and innovation, which it firmly believes is responsible for its growth in passenger numbers and high satisfaction levels. As well as refreshing conventional approaches, the company has successfully used new technology to improve its communications, pricing and delivery of services across its area, and prides itself for challenging thinking on how buses should be marketed and run. The company's use of solid market research and sophisticated techniques more akin to major retailers to ensure that its business is well supported and its marketing activity targeted and cost effective, appealed greatly to the judges.
Who could be nominated?
This category was open to operators, authorities, partnerships or other organisations participating in the securing, marketing or promotion of registered local bus services. We welcomed entries from entrants, winners or runners-up of previous marketing awards, who could now demonstrate how their sustained activity had produced results.
… and by whom?
We welcomed nominations from customers, authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination is acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
The judges determined their verdict on the basis of the quality of the submissions made, which were required to:
- Describe the strategic objectives and describe how marketing drives the achievement of these
- Provide evidence of initial and ongoing customer research (including methodology and results)
- State how the strategy was implemented and the how the workforce was involved and empowered
- Describe the promotional campaigns implemented, showing;
- methods used and the reasons for their use
- how demand was stimulated
- how customer access to the product improved
- how potential customers were identified and informed
- Describe how the impacts of the campaigns were monitored and measured
- Describe any changes to the campaigns or the overall business strategy made as a result of the monitoring
- Supply statistical evidence showing the results of the strategy and the campaigns in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators, especially modal shift achieved
- Supply appropriate examples of campaign materials that delivered the reported results
- Describe any future plans for further development
- Include any relevant supporting material.