Green programs have much to offer chauffeured and charter transportation companies. They make employees feel good about helping the environment, strengthen the company’s image, and increase opportunities for marketing and favorable media coverage.
Econation, a Los Angeles-based chauffeured transportation provider, has learned lessons through building its brand identity and a marketing program that opens doors to corporate decision makers.
Online Marketing Fundamentals
When you visit the Econation website (www.econation.com), the first thing you’ll see is a scenic landscape of greenery and flowers surrounding a highway heading downtown. At the center is a black car that changes from one to the next: Town Car, Yukon and Prius. Visitors will remember the site and get the basic information they seek: services offered; hybrid and alt-fuel vehicle fleet choices, amenities, and markets served.
Promoting green vehicles in its fleet has been important, especially as many transportation companies resort to what Econation managing partner Ben Bloch calls “green washing.” Green washers are companies that promote green programs but actually don’t do much. “Some operators say they have flex-fuel ethanol vehicles, but then you find out they’re not buying any ethanol. Our company keeps receipts when buying it and requires this of our partners,” he says.
Telling the story about your green program goes well beyond the fleet. Econation will help clients measure their overall carbon footprint through an automated tool being developed, and will get the word out once it is in place.
One of the marketing tools that has driven traffic to the Econation website and increased brand exposure has been regular e-mail blasts to clients and prospects, he says. “This differentiates us loud and clear,” Bloch says. “We messed up at the beginning. The message was confusing. People asked us about rental cars and used car sales. You have to make it very clear what you’re doing.”
Bloch also warns that writing a weak subject line in the email will hurt your efforts. “The subject line should actively say something,” he says. “That’s what they see first.”
Getting media coverage also has helped Econation build up its client base and affiliate relationships. Most recently, the company benefited from being mentioned in a Hotels Magazine article on Viceroy Santa Monica’s green program and services provided by Econation and GreenBliss EcoSpa. The hotel created a press release and received input from Econation and GreenBliss before sending it out, which resulted in industry magazine coverage.
Along with building strong partnerships, Bloch recommends creating positive working relationships with media writers. This means reading through articles and finding out who writes about the subject you’re trying to pitch. “You can’t just blindly pitch it,” he says, “and it needs to be something the readers would find interesting.”
Marketing, media coverage, and word of mouth referrals have allowed Econation to build sales with corporate decision makers, Bloch says. Building that brand image means that “buyers will see your differentiator, and may take your call,” he says.
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