There has been an explosion of mobile food trucks over the past decade around the country. Indianapolis has its fair share, with food trucks serving food to Super Bowl fans in February 2012.
Food trucks are an interesting case study. They were first a spin off of brick and mortar restaurants, revolutionizing the food industry by bringing food to the customers, versus bringing customers to the food like conventional restaurants. Over the past few years, the food truck industry has embraced digital technology to take the experience to another level.
Now food trucks use Twitter and Facebook to engage their customers, informing them of their location for the day, connecting on a personal level via online technology, as well as physical contact when customers come pick up their food. In Indianapolis, you can track food trucks and follow them on Twitter @IndyFoodTruck.
Food trucks are about business after all, but the social aspect is not to be overlooked. They are about sharing experiences with food, connecting people. What they do with FB and Twitter is an electronic version of that share.
The food truck industry is doing marketing 3.0. Marketing 3.0 is the convergence of brick and mortar business (in case of food trucks steel and tires) 1.0, using digital technology 2.0 to create a new marketing/business model 3.0.
I heard in a recent discussion someone talking about digilogue. Digilogue is the convergence of analogue and digital, in other words, brick-and-mortar world 1.0 converging with online world 2.0.
When you think of Google or Apple, I bet you think digital. However, both companies are great illustrations of what digilogue or marketing 3.0 are. 50% of Apple’s revenue is generated from its stores (1.0), the other half from online sales. Apple shaped its customer touch points strategy on the best analogue model, the Ritz-Carlton.
On a different note, Google promotes online advertising via print mailing. It mails vouchers to business and customers who can in turn credit them to their Google adwards account.
Marketing 3.0 is the combination of 1.0 physical/material channel and 2.0 digital channel. Large companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Zappos do it. How about you? Why do you think Amazon customers buy both eBooks and hardcover books? Because they like the convenience of eBooks, but can’t get away of the feeling and smell of a paper book.
People want the convenience and speed of digital, but they also want the physical connection and touch of products or front-line staff.
One challenge online businesses face is the lack of physical interaction with their customers. To bridge that gap, they have to focus on unparalleled customer service to address any questions, claims, frustrations… In a recent article, an Amazon customer expresses his frustration dealing with poor customer service from the online giant. Zappos has adopted a similar customer care model as Apple, taking inspiration for the Ritz Carlton.
Let’s go back to our food trucks. How do they leverage online technology to enhance the customer experience?
Kianta Key shares 4 lessons she learned how to use social media while growing her food truck business.
1.Digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter use geo-location technology to notify followers of your location. At low-cost, food trucks interact with their customers, promote their business and day-specials, and notify customers of their location. FB and Twitter also provide the opportunity to partner with local business and cross-promote products/events… It becomes a community gathering tool.
2.Key to success is customer engagement like any other business. The great thing about food truck is that they bring the food experience to the customers, which in itself is a big step in terms of engagement. You can take the experience further by asking followers to choose what items they want to the menu for the day, offer suggestions. In other words, you personalize the experience and make customers feel engaged.
3.Strategy to engage customers is vain if you don’t follow up and respond rapidly to customers’ claims and requests. Follow-up is key to sustaining customer engagement. Customer engagement is about create a dialogue (two-way conversation), not a monologue where you just promote your business and notify of your location.
4.Emotional and personal connection is essential in developing long-term relationships with your customers. Sharing your story is a way to build that relationship, providing genuine content, not just promotional content. Let customers be part of your story telling.
Content becomes as important as context. Combining business 1.0 with technology 2.0 helps organizations create a new marketing/business model 3.0.
Share your stories.