Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Spread the word about Amtrak Illinois service: Catch An Illinois Train

How can you help build a high-speed rail network in the United States?

Get more riders on Amtrak.

The better we do with Amtrak (and the more trains we sell out), the more it makes sense to invest in a better network with more frequencies, faster trips and new trains.

And the best way to sell more Amtrak tickets?


Emanuel Rosen (who is speaking tonight at 5 pm in Racine, right off the Sturtevant stop on the Hiawatha) wrote a fantastic book called The Anatomy of Buzz. His central point is that the most effective way to reach a potential customer is not with a television ad or a newspaper story, but with word-of-mouth. That penetrates all the noise and marketing clutter, because we trust our friends and colleagues more than we trust an ad or a billboard.

That's an opportunity for all of us to use this powerful weapon -- word-of-mouth -- and tell our friends and colleagues about Amtrak service.

The Association is working on a word-of-mouth marketing project for the State of Illinois right now called Catch An Illinois Train. The site is, as you might imagine, and it includes a page for every one of Amtrak Illinois' 29 communities (as well as St. Louis and a few Wisconsin communities too).

The campaign is designed to give all of us -- passionate advocates of better trains -- the tools to spread the word about Amtrak service.

You can direct people to the page about their community with community-specific timetables to download. You can ask your library or city council or community college to include a link on their home page to the community page on Catch, or you can bring the flyers with the timetable to the lobbies of these organizations and ask if they will distribute them.

Let's spread the word. Once people try Amtrak, they tend to stick with it, especially with these convenient schedules.

Your thoughts on how to spread the word are welcome. (For more on the marketing side of the project, see


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