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Marketing Plan: Making Work Zones Work Better
Customer–Client Analysis/Target Markets
The market for MWZWB is fairly extensive, since all road construction projects have work zones. MWZWB will have a positive effect on the roadway owners and roadway users.
While not the primary target of this new program, FHWA division offices will be the initial targets of the marketing. As their primary role will be leaders and disseminators of the program, it is essential for them to be aware of and understand the program as early as possible. Division offices have much closer ties to their corresponding DOT than do the Office of Operations or the HfL Office, and so generally have more credibility with them. In addition, division office personnel are closer to the specific issues and constraints facing their respective DOTs and should be in a better position to identify potential areas to target. The challenge in addressing this specific target market is that they tend to think more as a DOT (operationally) and do not automatically accept and embrace efforts that are promoted from FHWA headquarters. In addition, it is important to realize that, in most cases, it is the division personnel who decide whether a DOT is complying with any rules or regulations handed down from headquarters. If division staff are not on board with a concept or requirement, their likelihood of pushing it forward within the DOT obviously is going to be lower.
With the program being designed to assist in compliance with the new work zone rule and adoption of innovation through the HfL program, the primary target of the marketing will be state highway agencies. The primary message to the DOTs will be, "Leap, Not Creep" in proactively improving work zone safety and congestion. Within the DOTs, the initial marketing efforts clearly need to begin at the chief engineer or Deputy Secretary for Highway Operations level. Below that level, there exist at least two sub–target markets to be addressed. The first of these are the personnel who make up the various central division offices (traffic, construction, design, etc.). These individuals typically are tasked with identifying and helping to draft policy and guidelines that govern agency operations, but they are not involved in day–to–day decisions regarding innovation application to a specific project or set of projects. The overall consequences of policy and guidance recommendations upon such things as project costs, tort liability, and similar concerns do weigh on their decisions, however. Central division and administration personnel within a DOT likely will have general awareness of the MWZWB concepts, but their grasp of all of the nuances and specific innovations that can fall underneath this concept may be limited.
The other major sub–target market within DOTs is the field personnel who operate from district or regional offices. The degree of autonomy with which these districts operate varies substantially from state to state. These individuals generally are responsible for individual project development, as well as the conduct of the work once a contract is initiated. These individuals are very well versed in the specific challenges and problems encountered in the field across the range of projects to which they have been exposed. However, their breadth of experience and awareness of potential innovations may lag behind slightly (often because of day–to Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 19 day pressures of keeping a particular project on task and budget). Personnel positioned at this level in the DOT are also highly cost conscious and typically have budget needs in excess of funds allocated to their group for projects. Furthermore, although societal costs associated with work zone projects (delays, increased crash risk, etc.) are acknowledged as important, they do not impact the district's budget the way that expenditures for innovations to mitigate those impacts do. As a result, it is important to this group for innovations to provide significant benefits that far outweigh the costs of implementation, and that the risk of failure to provide such benefits by an innovation is fairly low. As DOTs continue to downsize and increase workloads on those who remain, the ability of district personnel to have time to develop enough expertise and understanding to facilitate innovation implementation on their projects continues to diminish. The end result of these pressures is towards the maintenance of the status quo, or towards the adoption of only those innovations which have low potential risk and consequences of "failure." That is exactly why this MWZWB program needs to begin at the executive level—at the end of the day, the degree to which it will be implemented is a policy–level decision.
Considering that many DOTs rely on the consultant industry to design their traffic management plans, a secondary target will be consultants. Thus, in addition to identified industry–specific marketing channels, it will be essential for the division offices and DOTs to reach out to this segment of the target audience. It is important to recognize that this audience generally is directed fairly closely by DOT district staff. District personnel hire and fire consultants through the bid–reward process as well. Whereas there may be a desire on the part of the consultant to include and promote innovation during the design or plan specification and estimation [PS&E] process, this group generally will defer to their sponsor when challenged about a decision to include such innovation. Fortunately, this group is also fairly well insulated from any public backlash for any innovations that do not turn out as intended.
Local transportation agencies also will benefit from the P2P program; however, the resources needed to assess their individual needs adequately and provide appropriate assistance currently are not available. Therefore, the first phase of marketing may not specifically target this audience.
Finally, it may be necessary to include the highway contractor community at some point in this process. Part of the reason is that innovations that improve worker safety have traditionally been viewed as the responsibility of the contractor rather than the DOT or local agency owning the roadway. The other part of the reason is that highway contractors typically do have the opportunity to suggest changes to the plans and processes originally proposed by the DOT (and may be less risk averse in doing so), so long as the cost of the project is not affected adversely. The contractor is likely to suggest changes that improve worker safety and worker mobility to and through the work zone. Since congestion in the vicinity of work operations constrains material deliveries and other facets of construction, it may indeed be possible for innovations to benefit both the public and the contractor in some instances.
Additionally, those outside the highway community play a critical role in the success of this program. The foremost reason for involving the public is that the laws, regulations, and traditions of our society demand involvement of the public in governmental affairs. Also, of course, it is public funds that support the entire program. In fact, the demands of an informed and knowledgeable public may be the ultimate driver to a successful MWZMB program.
Strategic Plan to Deliver and Deploy MWZWB
The P2P phase of the MWZWB program is on the verge of implementation. Through advance funding provided for this component, a task order has already been executed, and recruitment of work zone peers to support the program is well underway. The P2P program is expected to be ready for launch by spring 2007. A P2P brochure and business card are being developed to help with program outreach and marketing. Division offices will be engaged to help ensure that their DOT partners are familiar and comfortable with the resources available through the P2P program. Another opportunity will be to present the MWZWB information at the FHWA Operations/ITS annual meeting.
While the focused workshops are not as close to implementation as the P2P program, the intent is to conduct two pilot workshops and up to four additional workshops during fiscal year 2007. The workshops will draw from the pool of experts created for the P2P program. Contact will be made with division offices in the identified initial target states to begin discussions and to further assess needs and identify potential focus areas based on these needs. The state will be involved as determined appropriate by the division. Once the need for a focused workshop has been confirmed and its focus identified, formal planning for the workshop will begin. Experience from these initial workshops will be used to shape the longer term aspects of providing focused workshops. During this initial phase, only the targeted states and their respective divisions will be made aware of the focused workshops. As the focused workshops become more established, their availability will broaden and appropriate marketing will occur. A statement of work is being developed to support the provision of focused workshops.
The initial and key component of the project assessment assistance effort will be the development and distribution of the primer and guidance on work zone traffic analysis tools. This will be supplemented by technical assistance provide through the P2P and focused workshop components as appropriate. A statement of work has been drafted for the development of the primer and guidance.
Supporting resources will be developed and made available based upon needs identified through the P2P, focused workshops, self–assessments, and other interactions with the DOTs.
As elements of the program are developed, marketed, and implemented, it is important to keep in mind several key challenges that this program will have to Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 21 overcome. With the passing of SAFETEA–LU came several new programs and requirements for states to implement. To compete with the demand and requirements of these new programs, the MWZWB effort must be able to show the DOTs "what's in it for them."
Limited manpower, high turnover, and limited travel are other challenges that need to be considered. These challenges will play a significant role in identifying experts to support the MWZWB program. It may be that some states do not have the manpower to spare an expert to travel to another state at the request of the P2P or focused workshop. It will be crucial to identify which experts will be allowed travel when provided adequate advance warning.
In addition to limited manpower, in recent years, both the FHWA and the DOTs have been asked to do more with smaller budgets. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that any funds spent in an effort to improve work zone safety and mobility be at a high benefit–to–cost ratio.
Another obstacle to overcome is the perception that high tech and innovative equates to added work and higher costs. In fact, often the opposite is true. Technology and innovation lead to more efficient processes and better, longer lasting products. A good example is the computer industry; computers today are cheaper than they have ever been yet are multiple times faster and are capable of doing many more functions than their predecessors.
Scheduling of Activities
To implement this plan efficiently, it may be advantageous to use a project manager program to keep track of dates, activities, and responsibilities. The following is an example of activities that need to be completed in order to put the program into operation:
Roles of Various FHWA Office/Units
Roles of Various FHWA Office/Units
Long range goal – follow up with states that utilized a tailored workshop for a Highways for LIFE project to identify adaptation of information/innovation obtained from workshops into other highway projects.
Generally speaking, the MWZWB marketing strategy is to leverage all resources that will aid in delivering the initiative throughout the country. By utilizing experts across the country, as well as the success of states that have advanced work zone programs, other states, local agencies, and consultants will be apprised of how the program can improve their transportation systems.
The two primary objectives of the marketing strategy are to raise awareness of the MWZWB program and to get customers to buy into the concept. If marketed correctly, this program has the potential to have an immediate impact in improving work zone safety and mobility.
Channels of Distribution
One–on–one meetings will be one of the key components to a successful program. 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 Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 23 allows the FHWA representative to probe into reasons why a DOT would resist using a new technology. Whatever the reason, one–on–one meetings are great tools for digging out answers while creating personal relationships. Further, any hesitation to using a new technology can be overcome easier because the FHWA representative is there to reassure and provide encouragement.
While less effective than one–on–one meetings, presentations and exhibits delivered at meetings and conferences are excellent ways of providing the MWZWB message to the greatest number of people. Conferences that should be targeted include:
Marketing communication tools, such as videos, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and websites can be used as vehicles for delivering the MWZWB message. However, while they are excellent tools, care must be taken not to rely on them to carry the message alone. Using them in conjunction with a formal presentation or one–on–one meeting is much more effective than simply delivering it via mail. There is a need to convince and get commitments from the executive level decision–makers.
As mentioned earlier, many DOTs are using consultants to design their traffic management plan, which makes industry an important target of the MWZWB message. The integrated communications campaign will direct releases publicizing innovations and successes to a pre–determined media list that will reach critical audiences in both the public and private sectors. The website will also be optimized using key words and phrases that direct visitors directly to the MWZWB website when they search on those terms.
One of the best ways to market the program is to capitalize on success stories. By developing and distributing a quarterly newsletter with success stories and other pertinent information to the FHWA division offices and DOT contacts, it keeps the value and opportunities of the program at the forefront of their minds.
Marketing Measures of Effectiveness
It is important to measure the effectiveness of the marketing aspect of the program. It is essential to know that our target market is getting the intended message of the MWZWB program.
Projected Program Marketing and Operating Costs
(Suggested activities for consideration)
This page last modified on 04/04/11