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How Can Brilliant Ideas, Powerful Marketing Change Customers Behaviors?

April 23, 2010

              Kogi BBQ

Last night I experienced something rare and exciting. My son who is 23 and his girlfriend have been following twitter to locate their new favorite place to eat. Sound crazy?? It is clearly a brilliant idea that Roy Choi, Mark Manguera and Caroline Shin-Manguera have developed. They are the True Grassroots Guerrilla Restaurateurs. They bought a taco truck, combined two cuisines, Mexican and Korean, and are using Twitter to take Los Angeles and the country by storm. This new concept is called Kogi, @kogibbq which delivers high-end food at street level prices.  They use Twitter to communicate truck locations and daily specials to well over 50,000 loyal followers. Currently, Kogi operates 4 trucks and moves geographically around Southern California.

So yesterday morning before my son left for work he asked if my husband and I would like to join him and Erin at Kogi for dinner. After weeks of hearing about how fantastic the food and experience is, we were very excited to have a chance to see for ourselves, so we said yes. Now let me mention that 99% of the time, my son doesn’t have plans for dinner until an hour or so after he arrives home from work, this is clearly not something that he deems important enough to plan or consider earlier in the day. I on the other hand plan my dinners the night before or first thing in the morning and usually want to know who will be joining us at a reasonable hour, so that I can plan accordingly. But this never happens, I usually have to plan and hope that if he and Erin choose to join us one evening that we will have enough food for 4 and have something that they like to eat. The reason that I am providing this background information to you, is to demostrate just how powerful the marketing and branding machine that Kogi has established has become and how it can change human behavior.

My son is not the only sole who follows the whereabouts of the Kogi truck it has become a phenomenon. This brings me back to last night, my son arrived home from work about 5:30, we left our home about 6:45 to drive 1/2 north to the city of Irvine where Twitter said the Kogi truck would be at 8:00 PM. Now this in itself is crazy, since we usually are finished with dinner and relaxing well before 8PM, but we were psyched. The reason we had to leave early is to get on the line that forms well over an hour before the truck arrives. In addition to the late dinner hour,  Southern Ca had an unusally cold weather pattern that brought the temperatures down into the low 50’s. Now to some of you who live in winter climates this may seem reasonable to you, but for those of us who live in CA the low 50’s is our winter weather. I wore my winter coat and scarf, my husband had his on too, plus a hat, Erin had the addition of gloves and we were still cold. We arrived to the parking lot, yes, I said parking lot at 7:20 PM and got on line behind approximately 50 people in front of us. The truck was coming to the University of California Irvine campus. I am not certain who was in charge, but there were roped off lines that switched back and forth like Disneyland. It was very organized. Erin’s parents came about 20 minutes later to join us. We were clearly the oldest in the crowd of approximately 200 people. The truck arrived a little before 8PM just as darkness set in.

So here we were in a well behaved crowd of people waiting in the dark in cold weather to order our dinner.  I have to say the experience was something that I have not had before, the excitement of the food that Kogi would be serving was evident and contagious. Once the truck arrives there is a set up time, they cook the food fresh and most often run out of items before the last in line get to order.  We waited approximately another 30 minutes and then we were rewarded with some of the best food that I have ever eaten. Now in thinking about it, I cannot say for certain that it was the best food, ever, but the anticipation, excitement and energy surrounding the experience certainly made it feel that way.

Now you are probably wondering why I am talking about a dinner concept on my Outdoor Living Blog. The reason is to demonstrate to you that creative thinking, imaginative marketing and social networking can help your business grow. It might take some out of the box thinking and some unusual ideas but clearly marketing and branding works and it is changing rapidly. Just as the population of our current consumers are getting older, we need to attract the younger consumer, so we have to consider changing with the times as well.

It is important  to step out of the old mold and recreate your business. Keith Guidry in Lafayette, LA, from Percy Guidry Hearth & Patio is stepping out of the old mold and creating new and exciting marketing and branding tools through Facebook and Twitter to get his customers excited about outdoor living. He recently created Crawfish Enchiladas on the BBQ and shared the recipe with his fans, he regularly connects with his friends and customers on Twitter and Facebook advertising sales and exciting events at the store. Brad Schweig from Sunnyland Furniture in Dallas, TX, also uses Twitter, Facebook and Linked In to announce special events and sales to encourage consumers to head on over. They have come up with contests where they regularly give away an item from the store to the person who wins.

We are all looking for ways to build our business, to increase our customer base and to establish a brand, lets use this platform to share ideas. Sharing will not take the limelight away from you, instead it may assist you with new and exciting ideas that you did not think of yourself.

Let’s take a lesson from the Kogi phenomenon, what can we do in the casual furniture or in the design industry to be creative, different, exciting and offer something that the customers will want to wait on line in order to get? Share your ideas below or on my facebook page . Let’s work together building Best Practices. What is working for you? I recently read about an outdoor store offering Cooking Lessons on the Grill, what a great idea, women love to take cooking classes and men love to grill, this is a unique concept that appeals to both.

Come on write a comment below with your ideas,

Don’t be shy, share!!

These are my outside views…Marcia Blake