Marketing Plan for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES)
Channels of Distribution
Existing Channels of Distribution
The PBES implementation team developed the following list of approaches to customers and technology transfer:
- One–on–one assistance — most important!
- Training (formal classroom), including on manuals and decision–making framework
- Activities based on customer feedback
- Marketing tools (e.g., toolkit CDs)
- Open houses/showcases/demonstration workshops, including contractor participation
- Technical tools (e.g., manuals)
- Connection details, user–cost models, contracting methods
- Mini–scan tours between states
- Trade shows
- CDs/DVDs, including videos of construction
- Articles, papers, brochures
- Emphasize lessons learned and important aspects
- Interaction with the ones doing the work
- Marketing to CEOs
The team will identify federal and state champions and bring a diverse group of experts together, including experts in hydraulics, maintenance, right of way, and utilities, for a systems–based approach to design and construction. See Appendix C for contact information for key state and federal transportation officials.
There are several key methods for getting information to the state DOTs:
- One–on–one meetings. This is the most critical of any of the tools under consideration. This allows the other person to actually get involved in a dialog, rather than simply reading a brochure or listening to a speaker at a conference or workshop. It also allows the FHWA representative to probe into reasons why a DOT employee would resist using a new technology. Is it because of the technology itself? Is there something inherent in the agency's culture? Whatever the case, one–on–one meetings are marvelous tools for ferreting out answers while creating personal relationships. Further, any hesitation to using a new technology can be overcome better because the other person is there to Marketing Plan for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES) 21 reassure and the provide encouragement. Goals of the one–on–one meetings include building a relationship and partnership with the state DOT and obtaining buy–in to the technology; care will be taken to ensure that the technology is not perceived as an FHWA mandate.
- Training programs. Formal classes and workshops reinforce the one–on–one meetings because they can graphically demonstrate that the individual new to a technology may become quite conversant in it in a very short time. Also, because such programs use success stories to illustrate how the technology is applied, potential users who might otherwise feel that they are not able to apply the technology in their states are put at ease. Not to be minimized is the importance of providing a certificate to individuals who attend classes and workshops. It is vitally important that those individuals are told–not just orally, but also in print–that they are now recognized as being capable of applying the new technology. Their attendance in the classroom is not merely a review of information but rather an actual instructional effort with the desired outcome that graduates will be able to leave the classroom fully capable of putting the technology to work in their jobs.
- Presentations. Meetings of bridge engineers, as well as the leaders of highway agencies, are excellent vehicles for delivering a message on PBES technology. While less effective that either of the previous channels of communication, presentations at meetings are excellent ways of making an initial impression. Graduates of the training programs mentioned above should be armed with basic tools for providing presentations to their staffs, once they return to their workplaces in their home state
- Open Houses/Showcases. These special events are focused around projects that are being constructed using the particular technology under consideration. For example, if one state is building a bridge using PBES, it becomes an excellent opportunity to bring bridge engineers from other states to see the process as it develops. They get a chance to discuss aspects of the project with the project engineer as the work is being done.
- Marketing Communication Tools. Such tools as videos, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and websites can be used as vehicles for delivering the message on a technology. However, care must be taken not to rely on them to carry the message alone. Using a short video as part of a presentation, for example, is much more effective that simply sending it to everyone via the mail. Even such often derided items as give–a–ways can be used effectively in gaining support for the technology. Items such as lapel pins or stickers for hard hats, promoting the innovation, can send the message that the wearer is a supporter of the technology and can encourage others to "join the team."
New Channels of Distribution
Weblogs ("blogs") (use example of GM's CEO and how he participates in web blogs, talking with customers across the country, the world, in discussing his firm's products. Not Marketing Plan for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES) 22 only does it clarify the organization's vision to the customer, it keeps that CEO up to date on what some of his customers are thinking and needing.