Nietzsche must have been hungry when he said “out of chaos, comes order.” Or perhaps he was waiting in line at his favorite food truck, flicking away on his cellphone to see the specials of the day. He would have been one of many who were happily engaged, via digital marketing, to his or her favorite meals on wheels vendor.
The food scene has been a leading incubator for innovative uses of digital marketing techniques, most notably the use of social media as a lead generator and location-aware information. Out of a sluggish economy, would-be restaurateurs dreaming of opening a three-star Michelin joint, instead went the entry-level route by converting trucks, vans and carts to mobile food wagons. Given these movable feasts are…well.. on the move, these chefs on the go began to tweet their locations and daily specials to their fans. Some mobile foodies began to send coupons to their followers and others took advantage of the power of Foursquare’s location-based check-ins to hand out special deals. In keeping with starting up a business on the cheap, the digital marketing expense for these efforts was minimal at most. The key takeaways here is perhaps the number one lesson for marketers—know your audience. And that audience profiles as young, on a budget and attached to their mobile devices.
The story gets more interesting when we learn on one Austin-based BBQ place that started out as a small food truck underneath the freeway. By developing, through social media, a fairly over-the-top buzz and following, this truck evolved into a good-sized restaurant that launched with a socially driven large (and growing) customer base.
There are many other examples of how the food universe is using digital marketing to sell. Whole Foods, for example, uses Pinterest to promote recipes, in particular for the Engine 2 Diet (carefully listing ingredients and where to find them in store). And as we get ready for the start of another baseball season, we point to Bypass Lane, a mobile app that allows you to order garlic fries and footlongs from your seat. It doesn’t get any better than that.