Implementing Switch Campaigns
After all this preparation, your campaign is ready to go “live”.
There are five essential phases during the campaign implementation, to ensure it is clearly structured, well thought through, nothing is forgotten, responsibilities assigned, etc. These five phases are shown in the figure to the right and are all part of the evaluation process. The phases are:
6. Advice Phase
The action list HERE is structured according to these main steps and might make it easier to keep the overview and to track progress of your campaign. SWITCH project partners used the following guideline to plan their activity (this document is adapted to a more general format for easier widespread use).
Another very useful document is the Implementation Plan Manual “How to design a SWITCH campaign”. It contains a concise overview of all phases of a SWITCH campaign and further information, for example, about which information should be provided, what lessons were learned from previous SWITCH campaigns etc.
1. Recruitment phase
First of all – even before the implementation starts – you have to define a clear target group that is in a significant life change situation as explained in the Design pages. The important next step is then to inform the members of your target group about the possibility to participate in your campaign. At this phase you might face either of two different situations (or a mixture thereof):
Personal contact data of target persons is available: You have names, addresses, office numbers, phone numbers and/or email-addresses. This means you can contact them directly and personally by mail, email or telephone. You should make use of this opportunity to inform them about your campaign, provide good arguments to participate, invite them to an information stand, ask them to return a postcard or to register at an online-platform. If you know how you can get in contact with your target persons, try to estimate how many of them you can reach by this strategy and how many of those you expect to become participants. By the way, some of the “marketing” techniques mentioned under 2) can also be useful to prepare the attention of and to remind people whose personal contact details you have.
Personal contact data is not available: In this case, you need to get creative and think about ways how to reach your target audience’s attention through other means. For example, try to identify places, communication channels or situations where you can get in touch with them. Many members of your target group might (almost by definition) share certain interests: Maybe they read the same magazine, maybe they meet at typical locations or they often shop in specific stores. Some groups of people also meet virtually at certain “locations” such as certain Facebook groups. Obviously, real life is not always ideal so you might not be able to reach your target group directly enough. In such situations you have to spread your message more widely through public announcements like press releases, radio broadcasts, even conventional advertisement. Obviously, you can also try to meet people face-to-face on events or strategically selected locations.
Please note there is a helpful checklist for organising the recruitment of the target group here.
2. Contact phase
At this stage in your campaign, no one has yet signed up as actual participant, so you need to get in touch with them, i.e. contact as many potential participants as possible. Do not bombard them with an overwhelming amount of information. Cautiously and unobtrusively attract their attention, only to find out whether the person really is within your target group, to plant a seedling of curiosity and to invite them to participate in a short survey (see the next phase). There are two main options for establishing the first contact to them: A) Indirect and remotely and B) Face-to-face.
A) Indirect / remote contact: In all cases of remote contact, you will need to have some kind of contact information, be it email or postal addresses or telephone numbers, which can be difficult to obtain. Some campaigns simply purchase address data from a commercial supplier, but sometimes other partners can help you (without violating data protection laws) for example by providing census data, or they can send out campaign information on your behalf (e.g. combined with a partner organisation’s newsletter or with its annual report).
This type of contact can be made:
SMS (short text message onto a mobile phone)
Social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) can also be extremely powerful if used well.
Some examples of announcement letters for this type of contact are provided here. The experience made in the SWITCH implementation cities shows, that, generally speaking, it is realistic to assume that the majority of people can be reached through SMS or Email.
B) Face-to-face contact: A completely different way to establish contact is through face-to-face encounters. This is obviously much more time-consuming but – as the experience in all SWITCH implementation cities shows – significantly more effective! One of the reasons for this effect might be the fact that a good number of people tends not to realise or not to admit that they could benefit from further information to a stranger or to an anonymous counterpart. However, when they encounter another human being who smiles at them, who can send and read non-verbal cues, who can move a little closer to understand shyly spoken words, some people do become aware of their information needs and start asking questions.
Face-to-face contacts can include:
generic events such as public gatherings where you can collect voluntary expressions of interest on a prepared card; possibly in combination with a sweepstakes lottery;
group-specific events – for example, the meeting of all parents of 1st graders in one particular school;
it is also possible to try to reach people by knocking on individual doors. This tends to be cost and time consuming but can be very effective. It is even possible to hire external staff for this purpose.
When the first contact is made face-to-face or by phone, the contact phase often comprises also the baseline survey and the motivation phase as many people are more obliged to give agreements in personal contact situations.
The cultural background and dynamic of your community is also very important. A contact strategy that worked in Spain might not necessarily work in Germany. Remember to be sensitive to social and cultural taboos, local dos and don’ts, gender roles, attitudes to children and older citizens and the presence of strangers in private homes.
Some examples of where and how to establish contact with certain target groups:
School children - Contact through parents. A good opportunity to get their attention are induction evenings – they typically take place several weeks, if not months before school starts. Also during the first week of school, many parents drop off their children and afterwards linger on school grounds when they can be approached.
New residents - Some cities agree to send out information to the people who register their new residence.
People who have received medical advice - Waiting room of local doctors’ offices or health centres. The experience in SWITCH implementation cities shows, that this is a particularly difficult target group to reach.
Employees of a large company - Use the Foyer of the company headquarters, the company newsletter or consider an enclosure to payslips.
In all cases, it is good to establish the first contact with a simple message which draws their attention to more detailed information (on a flyer - here is an example from Vienna, or a website). Make sure you are using the right language; not only in terms of writing style but also literally to ensure that people whose native language is not yours can understand what you are trying to tell them. Also think about general readability issues, for example, large font for older people.
3. Assessing your participants’ situation (baseline survey)
Once you have established contact to your potential campaign participants, you should learn a number of things about them to determine whether they truly fit the profile of your target group. You should also find out some details about their current travel behaviour and physical activity level because not everyone, who qualifies in one sense, might also do so in another. For example, you might find yourself talking to a night-shift commuter, who has recently moved (i.e. someone who seems to “fit”) but who is already cycling to work. In order to determine whether your potential participants really are the kinds of participants you want, you should conduct a so-called “baseline survey”. This is not rocket science if you prepare and execute it carefully. Just think thoroughly about these two steps:
This has already been described in the design section - Prepare the measurement of behavioural change (the baseline survey).
Announce and promote your survey through appropriate channels well in advance. This could be local media but also a whole range of allied organisations. This is important to gain attention, recognition and trust.
Deliver the questionnaire through whatever form you consider ideal in your given context. If you choose a face-to-face (interview) or ear-to-ear method (telephone) make sure the timing is suitable and the interviewers are friendly and unobtrusive. An online-survey or a paper-pencil questionnaire gives your participants more flexibility but usually the response rates are much lower compared to the former methods. One disadvantage of paper surveys, by the way, is that you can end up with hardly legible handwriting, which is very problematic if you cannot decipher people’s contact details.
Review the number of responses after regular intervals. You can expect that around 15% - 25% of people contacted anonymously by mail will complete the baseline survey. If the number of responses is too low, you need to boost your efforts to achieve at least 50 (better: 100) responses. This is important because with a low number of respondents you will not only end up with too few participants but your before/after comparison will also not be reliable to draw conclusions from. What is also important to bear in mind is that a good number of people typically drop out during the campaign. For example, if you have 100 responses for the baseline survey, only 80 might respond to the 1st and only 60 might respond to the 2nd after-engagement survey (see evaluation section).
Once you have collected all survey responses you should analyse them for at least three reasons: A) to determine whether a respondent fits your target group profile (feeds into the following segmentation phase), B) to describe the “before” situation so that you have something to compare the “after” situation later on and C) to inform the public, possibly also politicians, local stakeholders and allied organisations about the status quo.
Another intended (side-)effect of the baseline survey is that the questions typically stimulate reflection and make people think about their own current travel habits and physical activity; especially if you include some questions that trigger a though process about possible alternatives.
4. Segmentation phase
Based on the information gathered in the baseline survey, in the segmentation phase you find out whether each of your target persons (potential participants) really can and should become an actual participant. You can do this easily by going through this sequence of test questions one-by-one in the suggested order (see diagram to side).
This filtering process will allow you to identify the “low hanging fruits”, that is, people who are most likely to respond positively to the campaign. These are people, who are using the private car on their short daily trips, but can see opportunities to replace car trips by walking or cycling or who are even thinking about shifting to active modes already. A thorough segmentation process, based on the baseline survey, can help you to identify those and “tip” them over.
The figure illustrates a logical sequence of filtering your participants. However, the order of these steps might require context specific adjustments, which you have to think about carefully. For example, the SWITCH team in Vienna experienced that the majority of people in a certain neighbourhood does not own a car anyway and reported that it would have been better to use the question concerning people’s routine car usage as very first selection criterion.
5. Motivation phase
In the motivation phase, those people who would make ideal participants of your campaign are motivated to become actual participants. For this, you offer them various kinds of information materials and incentives on a so-called “service sheet” like this one here.. This is a visually attractive document like a menu of available advice, support and information such as:
Personalized travel planning talks, that are, literally meetings, where people can discuss their mobility situation with campaign staff that can give feedback on current mobility routines, advice on how to integrate active travel in every-day life and show the individual opportunities for behavioural change;
Personalised travel plans, for example a map showing the cycle paths from a person’s residence to his/her workplace, comparing travel alternatives and their impacts on individual health;
Incentives, like this example here, as reward for a switch to active modes of transportation;
General maps and information on walking and cycling
Information on dos and don’ts for cyclists and walkers;
Neighbourhood maps showing important directions, shops and service infrastructure in the direct neighbourhood with the idea to reduce or shorten trips;
Facts about the health benefit of active travel;
Information about bicycle repair workshop, cycle classes etc.Invitations to side events to test new behaviour, e.g. test days for pedal electric cycles, common walks to explore neighbourhoods, information days;
Smartphone applications and websites that supports active travel by information and/or gamification, e.g. Step counters, activity diaries, online competitions.And much more, depending on your city’s and your target group’s specificities.
And much more, depending on your city’s and your target group’s specificities.
Experience shows that the service sheet concept is best implemented with a letter and an envelope with pre-paid postage to make it as convenient as possible to submit it. Some cities have also offered an online option to submit the service sheet, which can also work well. Of course, it is best to give people multiple options like a paper and an online version. If people, who have expressed their interest in the campaign have not returned the service sheet after a certain period remind them with a friendly letter, or – even better – a phone call.
6. Advice phase
The advice phase is the core of every SWITCH campaign because during this stage, the participants receive the actual advice, information, material, know-how and encouragement they specifically need. This phase can be differentiated into two sub-phases:
What counts in the initial advice phase is that participants are stimulated to at least start and try out new mobility options, to question previously held prejudices against active travel, to familiarise themselves with a new walking route etc. It will be the ensuing “continuing support” to stabilise this new behaviour towards new routines.
There are different levels of intensity and different degrees of individual contact through which this can take place. If participants did not tick the box on the service sheet to request a face-to-face meeting send the information packages[RB1] they ordered to the participants’ home along with a friendly letter without any further face-to-face contact. (However, with some follow up written and/or phone contact of course).
More time consuming, but also vastly more effective, are face-to-face meetings (PTP-Talks) with your participants; at least if they requested such a meeting on the service sheet. Such meetings can take place at a central location (something like a SWITCH “headquarter”, for example in a civic centre) or at the participants’ home; ideally you give them the option.
It is advisable to pre-arrange such meetings so that you or your team-members can prepare and compile the requested information in advance. During the meeting, participants should then receive the requested material. You need well trained staff that can explain this material, provide competent answers and create a welcoming atmosphere of trust. If you are the meeting host make sure you offer coffee, tea, soda etc.
It is also important that the conversation takes place in a safe and quiet space, where a truly private conversation can unfold so that no one has to be embarrassed for asking what might seem like a naïve question. People should feel welcome to discuss any aspect of their current and possible future mobility routines which includes topics such as the best route, safety, health concerns, cultural taboos, social expectations, sweat and showers, the lack of skills, financial issues etc.
To ensure that such conversations don’t have to take place in a rush, you need a sufficient number of helpers. Therefore, engage qualified employees or cooperate with organisations carrying out the consultancy (e.g. mobility centres) on your behalf.
It is good practice to give the participants an additional thank-you present for joining the consultation directly at the face-to-face meeting. The present should be thematically related to your campaign and of interest to the participant.
In many cases, such initial information leads to corresponding actions. People do, in fact, often give cycling or walking “a try”. What matters, however, is that your participants develop new routines. If the new behaviour starts out as an experiment, it has to become “sticky” to the point that it is no longer questioned because it has entered a person’s auto-pilot system. This requires repetition, time, patience and reminders from a well-meaning friend like the SWITCH team. It is therefore important to emphasise that the delivery of relevant information (no matter how personalised and glossy) must not be a one-off exercise. You will need to retain your target group’s interest and enthusiasm during the whole campaign.
To the right is an example of a Give-away gadget for focus group participants in Donostia / San Sebastián.
For this purpose, you can use all kinds of incentives, a friendly reminder letter, an encouraging check-up call or a follow-up appointment. Remember, that people tend to appreciate small gifts, especially when they have the feeling they “earned” them. Such incentives can be fancy gadgets like the step counter with integrated pulse monitor one on this photograph; it was given as a thank you token to participants of a focus group in Donostia / San Sebastian. They do not have to be expensive things, however. They can include safety vests, saddle covers, bicycle bags, bike lamps, umbrellas, USB memory sticks, badges (children – even not so small ones – love them!), stickers, balloons and – of course – bike repair necessities (patches, tools, air-pump, ...).
Incentives do not always have to be things or of monetary value. It can even be a free pass for a gym and swimming pool, for a climbing wall hall, for a rope parcours, museums etc. Even a match against the local football team or a free 3-week rental of a fancy eBike can trigger motivation and enthusiasm. The more creative and unconventional, the more attention you will generate.
Vienna had a great idea for an incentive (actually the prize in a raffle): A pair of hand-made customised shoes, donated by the shoemakers’ guild. Another prize was a 30 minute foot massage.
Feedback about achievements so far tends also to be very effective. ICT tools can be particularly helpful for this if people either voluntarily make their data (e.g. step counters) available to you or if you remind them to check for themselves from time to time. And if you provide them with information about how they are doing in comparison with other (anonymous) SWITCH participants, this can give them a real boost. But be careful, because someone who fares below the average can also be discouraged! A collection of good examples of ways to keep pupils enthused is available here; it also contains a good amount of inspiration about other target groups.