The way people and goods get from place to place is of interest to almost everyone. That’s both good and bad for those of us who write about transportation. Sure, there’s a huge potential audience for most of our work, but there’s also a lot of content out there to compete with, some of which is about awesome stuff like space elevators and hyperloops.
Standing out in a crowded field means keeping your finger on the pulse of content marketing trends in the transportation industry. I can’t predict the future, and I don’t know how the dizzying pace of change will affect every little corner of the massive transportation industry. Instead, I’ll do my best to tell you what big ideas are on the minds of people concerned about transportation, why they matter, and how addressing them in a content marketing piece can make it sizzle.
Here are the topics that are generating buzz in today’s transportation world.
Self-driving (or “autonomous”) vehicles are on the tip of every transportation tongue, and for good reason. The widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles is looking increasingly likely and will affect every aspect of the industry. Believe me when I tell you that businesses and consumers alike are thirsty for guidance on when and how those changes will play out.
If you’re in logistics, you want to know if driverless trucks will become available that can operate all night without rest (unlike truck drivers who are legally and biologically obligated to take breaks). If you’re an advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, you want to know whether autonomous cars can make the streets safer for walking and biking. And if you’re a consumer…well, who wouldn’t want the chance to get some work done on the morning commute? (Or go ahead and binge-watch Top Chef! It’s up to you what you do in the privacy of your own robot car.)
Of course, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding autonomous vehicles. When will they really be available? What will they cost? Will traffic be reduced (because self-driving cars can safely drive closer together), or will roads be clogged worse than ever (because people will make more trips when they can work, sleep, or play in transit)? While no one can say for sure what the self-driving future looks like, content marketers can help audiences wrap their heads around the possibilities.
You’ve probably seen a Tesla or two on the road, but soon it may be gasoline-powered cars that are the rarity. Many car manufacturers are betting big on an electric future. General Motors, for example, has said it plans to eventually become an all-electric car manufacturer, and plans to introduce 18 electric models by 2023.
Of course, the popularity of electric cars will depend on many things, including happens with the battery technology, the availability of charging facilities, and renewable energy. Every one of these topics has its own transportation-related promises and pitfalls which content marketers can and should explore if they want to provide value to potential customers.
Every one of these topics has its own transportation-related promises and pitfalls which content marketers can and should explore if they want to provide value to potential customers. Tweet This!
It’s always the internet.
American trucks are moving record amounts of goods, thanks in no small part to the megapopularity of online retailers that ship products directly to consumers. The increased demand for shipping parcels has led to all manner of new ideas about how to deliver packages, including slickly computerized pick-up/drop-off centers at fancy grocery stores, private couriers dispatched by intelligent software, and even peppy little drones that wheel packages to your door. The extent to which online shopping continues to grow, coupled with the development of new systems and technologies for delivering packages, may play a big role in determining how transportation happens in the future.
A related issue is telecommuting. The demand for rush hour transportation, not to mention office space, could change drastically if more workers stop bothering to go to the office. How might that affect a particular industry? Or a region? Anecdotal evidence from my life suggests that sales of frozen pizza and sweatpants may increase considerably, but there could also be other consequences. People who telecommute might have less need to own vehicles, or they might have more need for services that require travel to the home.
It’s always always the economy.
As a country, we spend a lot on transportation. The transportation and logistics industries account for nearly $1.5 trillion in annual spending, making up about 8% of the U.S. economy. That makes it almost as big as the Laurel/Yanny thing (it’s very clearly “Laurel,” what’s the big deal?).
Investment in transportation comes from every little nook of the economy. Private companies pay to move their people and products, while public agencies invest big league in vehicles and infrastructure. At the consumer level, buying an automobile is as spendy as it gets for many of us.
There’s a lot that goes into the cost of transportation, but there are four biggies: vehicles, fuel, labor, and downtime (while people or goods are in transit). This means that economic factors like wage growth, the price of oil (and other energy sources), and marketer’s measures like consumers’ willingness to wait (“Ugh, I ordered those napkin holders HOURS AGO”) all have an impact on the cost of transportation. Content that is sensitive to how an audience perceives each of these costs is content that pops. For example, if you’re trying to reach potential car buyers, it might be helpful to know that interest rates on new car loans are near all-time lows.
These are exciting but uncertain times for the transportation industry and for the people who rely on it (i.e. everybody!). When flying in foggy conditions, it’s important to have an experienced, informed pilot. Content marketing for the transportation industry means helping clients and customers see through the uncertainty and make a safe landing!
Benjamin C is a researcher by day. He has published academic papers on a variety of topics including survey statistics, public transportation, and lightning safety. He also frequently contributes to published non-academic reports. In popular forums, Ben has written articles about transportation, politics, and sports, and has a growing interest in speechwriting and communications.