Lizzy Caston Founder of FoodCartsPortland.com: Rules of Marketing For Food Vendors | FTE Episode 040

Lizzy CastonLizzy Caston is a successful marketing consultant that’s been active in the specialty food industry for years, helping to start both FoodCartsPortland.com and ROAM Conference. If you’re a food vendor in the Portland area, no doubt you’ve probably know about Caston.

In today’s main course, Caston shares her hard-won marketing advice for food trucks. In this interview, you’ll learn marketing tips that can be leveraged online and off. Get a pen and paper handy to take notes with this one.

Quotes from the Show

The number one rule of marketing is go where the crowds are. That’s both in person and online. – Lizzy Caston

Marketing should be ingrained in everything you do. – Lizzy Caston

PR is all about relationships with media so get to know them one on one. Don’t just send out a press release three days before an event. – Lizzy Caston

Treat it seriously. Treat your business like a profession. Treat it like you’re a top level chef and you will be noticed. – Lizzy Caston 

What You’ll Learn

  • How Caston identified the food cart trend early in Portland when vendors began to parking near her office in 2007.
  • Why Yelp.com is an excellent example of online word of mouth advertising. This is an extremely important website for restaurants.
  • Marketing tactics available to specialty food owners: Going to community and charity events so new people see you, having a truck that stands out and is a moving billboard. At the end of the day, you want to be noticed and have people remember you.
  • Why you need to take the operations and marketing of a food truck seriously.
  • If you hate doing social media, why you need to hire it out or get a family member to start responding to people.
  • Why the most important element of social media is getting started and being consistent. You don’t need to do everything all at once and you probably shouldn’t.
  • Why you should be paying attention to successful competitors in your city. Watch. Listen. Figure out what to do.
  • The most important elements that need to be on every food truck’s website: hours of operation, menu, contact information, current location, and photos of the vehicle and food.
  • If you don’t have one already, get a smart phone. It’s an easy and fast way to publish out locations and specials on social media accounts.
  • When customers speak to you (online or off) and get to know you. That really starts to build the relationship with customers.
  • Tips for dealing with customer service issues. Including taking a step back and not being defensive about negative feedback.
  • The importance of being interesting or having some type of angle prior to seeking out press for your business.
  • Tips on writing a press release, including how to view a pitch in the eyes of a journalist or reader.
  • Ways to leverage charity and community events to generate press for your business.
  • A specific way you can use a “secret word” to
  • How to target local Yelp elite users to start building buzz early for a business. This will begin the influence.
  • The benefits of aligning yourself with a food truck association.

Mentioned During the Show

LizzyCaston.com – The official website of today’s guest.

Food Carts Portland – This is the website Caston founded about food carts in the Portland area. Caston is no longer associated with this website, but the blog continues to cover new and exciting vendors in the area.

ROAM Conference – A mobile food conference that was co-founded by Lizzy Caston. Follow this website to check for updates on the conference in 2014.

New York Times Article – Article referenced during the podcast that features Lizzy Caston.

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