How multi-marketing helped this EV startup rev through its first month
It's been a hectic and busy February for Mark Long, founder and CEO of electric vehicle airport shuttle startup, Driven. The firm is nearing the end of its first month of trading, offering travellers the first ever dedicated airport shuttle service from a fleet of luxurious Tesla Model X SUVs.
Having reported the launch of his company, we were keen to find out how he’s spreading the word about this unique new car service, who’s using it and why?
How do you effectively market a new concept like Driven to people in a hurry?
It's part raising awareness and part education. We have focused most of our initial efforts on medium-large business travel companies, as this enables us to use a sales team rather than rely on marketing.
Doing so has meant we can cover the awareness and education on a one-to-one basis. However, targeting the leisure market is also important.
We have found in our early days that non-digital marketing has generated results; people's attention span is longer with traditional media and marketing techniques. Furthermore, eye-catching material and visuals is key for a new concept.
Existing electric vehicle (EV) enthusiasts are excited by our service and are providing a large percentage of the initial bookings from leisure customers. So, early adopters and advocates are crucial when marketing a new concept.
Where do you expect to concentrate your marketing efforts and why?
We want to target people living and working in specific towns and cities. So whilst we’ll employ a wide mix of channels, PR and media, radio, telemarketing and leaflets are where we intend to focus in upcoming weeks and months.
What makes travellers want to choose Driven over a conventional cab?
There are several benefits to Driven. First, of course is that fact we are zero-emission.
Secondly, our customers can travel in luxury vehicles every time. There’s also the serenity of the journey thanks to our fleet’s electric propulsion.
Driver security and trust are vital. All of our drivers are the most professional highly-skilled road drivers available, as they are all ex-Emergency Services trained drivers.
And finally we are airport specialists. We base our cars at airports rather than in towns and cities, which means we’re designed with airport journeys in mind, including the option to ride-share.
How are customers finding the Tesla Model X SUVs?
Yes, they are a massive attraction. They are cool, comfortable and spacious. The large tablet display is a major talking point and it’s very easy to access and egress because of the Model X’s electronic falcon-wing doors that lift upward.
There is great forward visibility thanks to the panoramic front windscreen. If you haven’t been in one of these cars yet, you can’t fail to be impressed!
How is Driven using new technology as a business tool?
We have created some proprietary technology for booking, pricing and scheduling rides. However, these are just enabling features.
Our focus is on providing a fantastic zero-emission service to and from airports. This is where our primary efforts are.
How are you spreading the word from a marketing point of view?
We are trying to use as many channels as we can. This includes accessing digital and social outlets, and also utilising valuable PR and media channels.
Additionally, we’re plugging into EV and rideshare advocates and networks. But we’re also promoting via traditional means such as telemarketing, telesales, direct sales, exhibitions and leaflet drops
What are the major challenges you’ve found in marketing the Driven concept?
Reaching people cost effectively, as with anything new. Although, the concept is new in the UK, it is well established in many other countries, so many potential customers are familiar with it.
The key challenge is encouraging people to book their shuttle as soon as they book their flight, as for most people, the journey to the airport is the first part of their trip, but the last thing that they book.
Our pricing works similarly to most perishable travel products, in that best value is obtained by booking early.
Who is most likely to use the service and how are you targeting them?
Those who live and work in the UK. We are focused on this domestic audience initially, and we’re very pleased with the early response.
Our primary focus is also on companies, because signing up large chunks of business enables us to plan resources effectively and manage growth.
Of the leisure audience, we have had a mixture of customers across multiple age ranges. Early twenties, however, are under-represented, but we believe that that is mainly due to our initial marketing mix.
What kind of help are you getting from the airports you are serving?
Until now, our focus has been on setting up the operational aspects of the business and on-boarding some key corporate customers.
We have just moved into our new Stansted unit, and have had good and welcoming support from the Electrical and Environmental teams there.
Hopefully, this is indicative of the support we can expect from other airports where we operate, when we look to enhance our presence and provide better operational conditions and efficiencies at the terminals.
It’s only been a few weeks since launch, but what’s proving popular among customers?
All our services are door-to-door and riding ‘Exclusive’ is the most popular option. This is primarily because most of our current customers are companies, which is a result of our marketing & sales focus.
Some of them are opting for our ‘Premium’ sharing service, which is still even more spacious than a First Class train journey.
For leisure customers, sharing is the most popular option (60%) with a mixture of uptake on both our ‘Eco’ and ‘Premium’ offerings.
Premium simply ensures that you get an empty seat next to you, a window seat and you can take a piece of standard-sized airline hold luggage as well as a standard-sized airline cabin bag.
This is how we expected the splits to be, which is reassuring.
How important is social media in spreading brand awareness of the electric shuttle service?
Once we turn our focus towards marketing to the leisure market, which is circa 6x larger than the corporate market, we think that social media will be extremely important to spreading awareness.
We expect to use all major social channels, particularly YouTube and Twitter.