While getting my degree in marketing, not once did I think, “Marketing for the parking industry is where my future will be!” I attended many career fairs and networking sessions for all types of industries, but parking was not one of them.
Little did I know I would find a gem of a career in an industry that has surrounded me my whole life! As my coworkers began to explain the inner workings of this industry, I was surprised at how little I knew about what goes on all around me. Now, when I am out and about, I look for all the different parking systems and what technologies they have in place.
It’s as if I possess a hidden knowledge that adds an extra layer of fascination to my everyday experiences.
As my fascination for these “hidden” activities that keep our society working grows, my understanding of how people (even inside the industry) perceive parking (and many other areas) has become clearer: People just don’t think about it, they take it for granted. It’s weird to even think about mixing the terms “Marketing & Parking.” Is it even necessary?
What often comes to mind when thinking about marketing (again, even for Parking professionals!) is Super Bowl ads and influencers. In reality, advertising is only a small part of what makes up marketing.
This is where I stand! Even in traditional technology-centered industries like parking, there is room for innovation in marketing strategies, especially if we remember that this business relies heavily on human interaction and customer service.
Customer as the Center
As the primary interface between the company and its audience, marketing is key in shaping a brand’s initial impressions; marketers bear the responsibility of conveying a customer-centric approach, even in the absence of one-on-one interactions. As I have met and talked with professionals who have been in the industry from 3 to 30 years, they have all have one thing in common: a clear customer orientation.
This shared commitment emphasizes the timeless importance of understanding and meeting clients’ needs, regardless of the ever-evolving technological landscape. As marketing continues to evolve, maintaining a steadfast focus on customer orientation remains a cornerstone for building lasting relationships and fostering trust. This is a constant motivation for every marketing decision.
Data: The New Gold
One of the newest players in the marketing game is the use of data-driven insights. As the world is fully digitalized, human behavior is leaving a thick river of information, precious for those with the wits and technology to ask the right questions and obtain valuable answers.
It is no longer about just “creating an ad” and waiting for a response (or not); now we need to know “How many people saw it? How long did they stay watching? How many clicks? How many leads? What other things are my audience interested in?” Etc!
In the same way, I am constantly asking my team, “How fast is the system now compared to before? What is the system’s efficiency with our solution? What are the quantitative benefits? What problems are we helping solve? Etc!
Our technical team has become expert in analyzing the raw data from our cameras to obtain useful insights for sales and support, and now marketing! When I walk over to my technical team, they know I will put them to work on finding me data. Though they are often tired of my prying, they have come to understand how valuable this information is.
AI-powered insights from data collection in marketing is a trend that is here to stay. As powerful tools are arriving daily, the parking industry is (or must be) realizing they have a gold mine in their hands: lots and lots of data!
Everything is About Information
I am constantly on the lookout for trends and how others want to receive information. Something that everyone has to adapt to is accessibility: We all want all the information that we can get right now. As systems grow faster, customers grow impatient. We must be ready to do everything in our reach to make information fast, simple, convenient, and useful.
Yes, this is especially true for both Marketing and Parking.
As a marketer living in the big data era, I am always thinking about how to optimize information: what I need, consume and produce, what others need and how they use it. The same goes for parking solutions; this industry is fascinated with speed, and there is a lot of attention on “how fast systems and mechanisms are.” No one wants to wait in lines or for gates to come up, so we are constantly trying to improve, even if it is only by a fraction of a second.
As systems grow complex, a barrier is not only a barrier anymore. It is a piece of information, part of a much more complex system that involves many other aspects related to the system itself, external systems and users’ behavior. In both marketing and parking, every penny spent on optimizing information is a penny well spent.
I foresee parking operators who think this way about their businesses will have a mighty competitive advantage over those still attached to the traditional way.
Ways to Connect
I have reassured my team that they will not be dancing for TikTok; there are better ways to stay relevant. We are always looking for better ways to interact with our audience: more effective sales pitches, more valuable content, and so on. Sometimes we want to be disruptive or emotional, but also want to stay true to our values (and to our core business).
Being a parking-related company, we have found many ways to improve communication between customers, providers, and us. My favorite is a video my team made of children using our smallest camera to enforce parking from their bikes and little cars with the tagline, “Mobile LPR? It’s child’s play.” The video is simple, funny, and yet it explains exactly how the camera works.
I know this new era of friendliness and smoothness is coming to all industry colleagues since it represents a huge leap in customer relationships and business productivity.
Creating value is providing something with the power to impact your audience positively. Marketing is about giving the customer real value through information in order to get their attention. That is one of our core marketing strategies, and we just love it.
This special journey makes us develop stronger relationships, firstly with our entire audience from which we enjoy a wider receptiveness and more productive exchanges, and secondly with our craft itself.
Our company has drastically evolved in how we communicate with our environment (even internally), the results have been significantly positive… and it came from the marketing department!
Real Solutions Worth Selling
I have sometimes received comments on how marketing’s purpose is to trick people into spending money. Though this may be partly true for those who use data to give you the perfect ad when you’re most vulnerable, this exploitation does not need to happen with a product that truly offers what it promises. This makes my job easier and motivates me to find ways to show how good the solution is.
Being surrounded by a team and industry that truly believes in the value of their job inspires creativity.
This has been one of my favorite aspects of the parking industry. Every conversation I have at a tradeshow or in the field is so valuable to me, because I know we are at the beginning of something great. At the Florida Parking & Transportation Association conference this past year, someone I was meeting told me, “You work for Survision? Everyone is talking about you right now.” That is the best compliment I have received because it means what we have going is working!
As an industry that serves so many people, hearing everyone’s experience helps me close the gaps in communication and visualize an exciting future of collective knowledge and improvement. I look forward to seeing what’s next in parking.
Sofia Kuhn is a Marketing Assistant at Survision. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org