The MTS Marketing Department is seeking a qualified firm for on-call professional services to develop a variety of marketing, branding, communications and public outreach strategies as part of a five-year ridership campaign to coincide with major service changes scheduled in 2018. The Proposer will provide strategic counsel throughout the term of the agreement and incorporate new initiatives that come up each year into the overall marketing plan. Proposer must demonstrate that they have the personnel, technical, creative and administrative resources in place to develop a highly innovative and comprehensive marketing strategy.
MTS is changing the way San Diego moves. With the recent launch of its new mobile ticketing app (Compass Cloud) and stored value (Compass Cash) along with upcoming account based fare collection system, service change enhancements and the expanding Rapid and Trolley network, the focus of this scope of work will be to create strategies to elevate how the public views public transportation and stimulate new ridership by providing strategies that highlight and package all of the recent and new upcoming improvements and features that MTS has to offer.
MTS operates 95 bus routes and three trolley lines on 53 miles of double-tracked railway. Every weekday more than 300,000 passenger trips are taken on MTS bus and trolley services throughout 10 cities and unincorporated areas of the county. The agency established ridership records in FY 2014 and FY 2015, with more than 97 million trips in FY15. Since then, MTS and transit agencies across the nation have struggled with ridership declines. MTS fell to about 88 million in FY17, which is at the same level as in 2008. Some theories on the decline include:
- Long-term healthy economy and low unemployment
- Regional transportation advantages to owning a car vs. riding public transportation
iii. Lower gas prices, financing rates and availability of affordable cars
- Since the passage of AB60, more than one million driver’s licenses have been issued to undocumented citizens, who previously were dependent on transit
- These factors are evidenced by a huge increase in vehicle registrations and vehicle miles traveled
- Development and increased usage with alternative transportation services including Uber and Lyft has also decreased transit use among visitors
Scope of Work:
A. DEVELOP STRATEGIC AND CREATIVE MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
The consultant will work in coordination with MTS staff to write and develop a strategic and creative multi-year marketing and communications plan for MTS marketing and promotions. This plan should include suggested implementation timelines and outline advertising and marketing efforts over a five (5)-year timeframe so that the strategies and tactics build on each other year after year. The plan should allow MTS to revamp our current marketing strategies and focus limited resources on the best opportunities to achieve increased ridership and awareness for MTS as a viable transportation option.
B. BRANDING AND IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
In addition to the need for MTS to elevate its brand to make transit a positive choice and viable option for travel in San Diego, the consultant will assist MTS in developing a brand and campaign to launch its new fare collection system. All efforts will incorporate our tagline, “Changing the Way San Diego Moves” to stimulate non-riders to try transit.
C. COMMUNICATIONS AUDITS
Provide a comprehensive evaluation of our internal and external communication effectiveness, both strengths and weaknesses, of the Marketing Department’s ability to send, receive and share information with various audiences, such as riders, news media, partners, internal staff, etc. Analyze the current communications vehicles (newsletters, press releases, website, social media, etc.) and evaluate them for effectiveness. Develop a strategic plan, through a series of recommendations, to determine where gaps exists which need to be bridged and identify strategic positioning and corresponding communications plan focused on achieving strategic communications objectives, whether they be to achieve brand recognition, modify perceptions, maximize ridership or increase community awareness.
D. GRAPHIC DESIGN STRATEGIES AND DEVELOPMENT
The consultant will work in coordination with MTS to develop graphic design strategies for in- house production of advertising creative, marketing, and other collateral materials to support MTS projects and programs. These materials may include brochures, newsletters, graphics, fact sheets, print and/or online advertisements, promotional items, and other collateral.
E. ADVERTISING STRATEGIES AND PLAN
The consultant will provide multi-year advertising strategies and recommendations for print, digital, radio and outdoor services and others that complement the overall marketing and communications plans and objectives, which includes English and Spanish advertising. A limited advertising budget will be reserved each year for in-house advertising placements.
F. MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS STRATEGY
Create strategies that allow MTS to garner increased positive media exposure. Strategies to include the delivery of live or taped broadcast print or phone media interviews, radio and television interviews, one-on-one media interactions, and press conferences. Assess our current techniques and offer recommendations on how to improve our public relations efforts. Offer on- call as needed recommendations for crisis communications.
G. MOBILE MARKETING STRATEGY
Develop a multi-channel, digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching MTS’s target audience on their smartphones, tablets and/or other mobile devices, via website, email, SMS and MMS, social media and apps.
H. ONLINE MARKETING AND CONTENT STRATEGIES
Provide strategies for improving our online presence and recommendations for online content.
I PROMOTIONAL AND CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES
MTS Marketing coordinates various promotions and campaigns each year. Some are annual general audience campaigns, while others are route specific targeted promotions. Provide promotion and campaign strategies. Assess current promotions and campaigns to determine their effectiveness. Provide recommendations for new promotions and campaigns that will help elevate the MTS brand. Assure that the promotional message reaches our target audience and stimulates action.
J. PUBLIC OUTREACH PLAN DEVELOPMENT
Define a strategic, creative, and equitable approach to public outreach and engagement. Help MTS create more effective outreach programs, offer suggestions on how to leverage partnerships and community relationships and or build on existing relationships between programs and the community to enhance the effectiveness of public outreach efforts. Critical to the success of the campaign will be the “voice” of other organizations to amplify the ride transit messages. Organizations will include cities, the County of San Diego, major university, community colleges, business improvement districts and more. These groups will be asked to join MTS to encourage their constituents and the public to choose transit.
K. RESEARCH FOCUS GROUPS/USER TESTING
The consultant will develop and conduct focus groups to measure the success of proposed marketing and communications plan strategies and messages. Expertise will be required in focus group facilitation.
L. SOCIAL EQUITY/ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MARKETING STRATEGIES
MTS has Board mandated Title VI requirements that prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities which receive federal financial assistance. Marketing plays a key role in disseminating transit information to the general public related to transit service changes, fare increases, construction or scheduled open house meetings. Marketing strategies should be created to assure that all of our marketing and communications efforts are made available to the many groups in our community and provide recommendations for meeting Title VI requirements and fulfillment tracking.
M. SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY AND TACTICS
Evaluate our current social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Assess content and provide recommendations on new ways to engage with our customers and foster continued growth. Provide strategies to help MTS develop and maintain relationships, promote awareness, create brand awareness, built trust and deliver key messages. Social media activities may be developed for platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, and location services such as Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google Latitude, and gamification services such as Badgeville, Bunchball and blogs. Game mechanics, with elements such as challenges, leader boards, badges, points, rewards, incentives can be used to invigorate MTS’s rider programs; connect with end-users and reward them for their loyalty, as well as provide a means to quantify outcomes. Activities will be integrated with existing agency website, sdmts.com.
February 27, 2018
MTS Procurement Department
1255 Imperial Avenue, Suite 1000
San Diego, CA 92101