In this Q&A installment, we’ll be focusing on bike share program marketing and accessibility considerations. The specific questions we will be answering in this installment will be as follows:
Our previous installment focused specifically on program development and operations. You can view those questions and answers here.
How should we be thinking about marketing our bike share program?
Are you clear about what your riders want? What does your ideal customer look like? The answers to these questions can be found in your branding and marketing. Branding and marketing, in all of their creative forms, are necessary to create and maintain demand, relevance, and reputation. Almost every municipality has to promote their product or service in some form or another, so it’s important to be very intentional about how your bike share program messaging and branding connect with the users you intend to serve.
Along those lines, Tandem Mobility offers a white label app creation and program branding through our software partner, Movatic. Every asset (bikes, stations, mobile app) can be customized to reflect your local brand, which means that the sky's the limit! Tap into your creativity here and take the time to make it your own. You create the design(s), and we print and customize your physical assets.
Uploading a system banner with your logo or other graphic to display on the app
Custom membership options to give benefits to specific riders (e.g. discounted rates for regular riders who pay a weekly, monthly, or yearly membership fee)
Modifying the primary and secondary colors of your brand to be reflected on the app
With regard to targeted messaging & potential marketing partnerships and platforms, consider the value proposition for the community.
Who are the potential user groups and what kinds of trips might they take? For example:
Short trips within a core network
Longer trips between destinations
Longer trips between communities in a region
Last mile: Specifically connecting transit stops to key destinations
First mile: Providing support for those traveling TO transit stops (perhaps by encouraging the use of personal bikes, scooters, or other lightweight modes of transportation and providing bike lockers that may be accessed via the same app that is used for the bike share system)
What kinds of targeted promotions would make the strongest impact? Some things to consider would be:
What is your overall goal for the promotion?
Do you want to increase first-time ridership and program awareness or encourage repeated use of the system?
Do you have multiple assets (i.e. bikes, bike lockers, etc) that could be promoted in a targeted campaign?
How long should your promotion last?
Create SMART goals and engage partner businesses and advocacy groups who can cross-promote with you. Offering VIP bikeshare system access to those marketing partners or even a friendly local marketing competition for those free passes could really get your campaigns rolling!
By making sure the SMART goals you set are coordinated with the five SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you now have a reliable foundation on which to base all of your decision-making. There are quite a few SMART goal templates available on the internet now, but here is one you can reference below:
Shared mobility programs are always implemented with the best of intentions, but without community engagement (both before launch and ongoing) can fail to serve specific users. With vastly unique interests, needs, and personalities, a lot of communities seek to implement bikeshares to better serve their communities in very specific ways, such as providing better access to mobility in marginalized areas or giving people an opportunity to enjoy a little sun therapy in style.
Community engagement builds trust and loyalty not by simply boosting ridership, but by helping communities meet those specific needs. The more you understand your customers' lives, the more relevant your design and promotion of the system will be, ultimately creating a truly impactful bike share program. Community engagement can be implemented in a number of ways:
Engaging local stakeholders and community members frequently to stay up-to-date with news and relevant feedback.
Finding local bike shops to get involved in the maintenance and operation of your program, ensuring repairs in a timely manner as well as the opportunity for brand exposure, additional revenue, and local impact.
Incentivizing customer feedback via surveys. Incentives may include (but are not limited to) coupons for free rides, free or discounted annual memberships, ride credits, and so on. Find out what would motivate your constituents to participate in the program, what the barriers are, what elements of your system are working well, and what areas are leaving opportunities for improvement. This can be done through email marketing and (free) survey software like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms.
Strong Community Coalition
Establish a coalition committed to promoting the program prior to launch and thereafter. The greater the effort, the greater the ridership, and the greater the rider revenue that goes directly back to the partner. Each community has different needs, so being able to highlight and promote the most practical and beneficial uses of ridesharing will help simplify the branding and ideas being presented to potential riders.
A great way to build community coalition is through local partnerships and sponsors. Collaboration brings together a pool of varied skills, knowledge, and ideas, all with a common goal in mind. For example, our bikeshare partner in Huntsville, Alabama teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to bring their bikeshare platform back to life through funding and strategic cross-promotion, relaunching stronger than ever.
Huntsville and Blue Cross Blue Shield teamed up to launch Blue Bikes.
Oftentimes local service providers - be it healthcare clinics, community recreation centers, or retail facilities - desire to increase mobility options to their locations in an effort to improve accessibility or reduce parking congestion. Partnerships with these community organizations and businesses can be as simple as engaging in targeted marketing campaigns to increase ridership and adoption in a focused community segment or for a specific use case. On the other end of the spectrum some of these same organizations may want to make a financial commitment to hosting stations or even sponsoring the entire system. Bike share programs connect people with resources, and strong community coalitions will ensure that the program is meeting the needs of both the local business community and the people it serves.
Through brainstorming, different businesses and backgrounds bring collaborative solutions to general objectives. As a result, you have not only more ideas to work with but potentially more comprehensive solutions to implement.
Roles and Responsibilities
Local partners take on the primary role in marketing their program. We specifically structure it this way because Tandem isn’t the forward-facing brand. We have found that efforts from a vendor to promote local programs are typically less impactful and relevant to the local community, simply because we are an “outsider”. Knowing the needs of your community allows you to be more granular with your marketing efforts, thus providing a more tailor-made solution distributed through locally known channels.
Tandem focuses on providing exceptional turnkey operations and management, including all the routine maintenance and fleet management, customer support, and partner account management support. We support our partners’ marketing efforts by providing a local landing page template and URL. With some templates, you may either make the appropriate modifications at your own discretion or opt for our customization services for a fee. For example, the Bike Share ICT official website showcases resources like membership options, safety guides, and detailed route recommendations. Once launched, your community may also receive the opportunity to be highlighted on our blog, whether it’s your launch story, your transportation vision, or a professional blog interview with either audio or text format.
What efforts is Tandem making to improve accessibility? How can we reach some of our residents who could most benefit from more transportation options?
Tandem Mobility operates bikeshare programs on a mobile app-based rental platform. In order to ensure the bikes are secured correctly and able to be located accurately, they must be rented via our smartphone app.
Interestingly, in recent outreach efforts, our partners are increasingly discovering that the smartphone is not a typical barrier to entry. Rather, rental costs and payment options play a primary role in determining participation. Here is some information on the ways we can help you create an equitable bike share program:
Partners can create a variety of membership and pricing options, with some specifically targeted to low-income or other disadvantaged populations - these options can be unlocked via a promo code, via admin authorization, or via email domain. Partners also have the ability to add multiple pricing options to accommodate both short-term and long-term rentals.
Different units can include different payment options as well. For example, an E-bike can have different pricing than a pedal bike, scooter, and so on.
Flexible payment options for the unbanked
Memberships may be subsidized/paid upfront by a 3rd party. Partners also have the option to issue credits to individual users.
Which other communities are working with Tandem?
Since Tandem first opened its doors in July 2020, we have launched and operated 8 community bike shares with 500 bikes.
Here are our current partners:
Of these launched markets, Bike Share ICT in Wichita is the largest, with 200 bikes across 40 stations. Wichita is also a great example of a public/private partnership, as this program is a collaboration between Tandem Mobility, the City of Wichita, Bike Share ICT, Visual Fusion, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the title sponsor.
I have more questions. How do I contact Tandem?
Perhaps you’re looking for a full turnkey solution or maybe you’d rather provide some elements of the program yourself and you just need some help sourcing hardware, software, maintenance, insurance, or customer support solutions. From program design consultation to implementation and ongoing operations - Tandem Mobility can provide support tailored to your needs.
Interested in learning more about how we can help launch a bikeshare system in your area? Reach out to us by filling out the form at the bottom of our website.