by Cynthia Ruchti
Watching the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race is only one of my "let's have fun with this" marketing research tasks. The look of the truck, the truck owners' advertising, the quality of the product they're selling, and presentation of the food all matter. But on a recent episode, what became the deciding factor was something that often becomes an author's deciding factor, too.
Location, location, location.
The food trucks that had set up in a popular spot in a downtown location realized too late that they were parked in that location on a day with a free food giveaway. Hungry customers were less likely to purchase food when they could get it free a few feet away.
Another truck set up business where there were already two other trucks drawing customers. That truck's team sold food products not duplicated by the other trucks, so it wasn't the disaster it could have been.
Two trucks planted themselves along a busy highway. The problem lay in the fact the traffic didn't slow down to look, much less stop to purchase. The area had no foot traffic. Only vehicles in a hurry to go somewhere. It wasn't surprising their day's income barely registered.
Past episodes showed food trucks with messy plating, inflated prices, running out of food before they ran out of customers, cheesy (pardon the food pun) methods of drawing customers, and a host of other misfires in their marketing or customer relations.
The connection to book marketing is worth a deeper look. If our primary marketing methods miss our target audience, look less than professional, duplicate what's already being done, or set us up--beautifully--in locations with no reader traffic, our lack of effectiveness will mirror the losses of a misplaced food truck.
Experts suggest we find out where our readers congregate and show up there. On their blogs. In their discussion circles. on their pages, in their path. No matter how impressive or noteworthy our product--our book--we can't minimize the importance of finding the best locations with heavy foot traffic of hungry readers interested specifically in the kinds of books we write.
What were those tips?
1. Create a quality product.
2. Give it high visibility.
3. Find where readers linger.
4. Match reader needs to what we offer.
5. Present it in a professional and compelling way.
I'm not sure I'll be able to watch The Great Food Truck Race again without considering the comparisons. Before reaching this point in the blog post, an HGTV show host challenged his home makeover participants to consider how they would market their individual condos. What one word described the unique style? How would they present the home to potential buyers? What would make it appeal to those looking for a home?
The next time my husband wonders what I'm watching on HGTV or the Food Network, I'll tell him I'm doing marketing research.
And the next time I stand before an audience hungry for truth from God's Word, I'll remind myself that what God gave through His Son Jesus exactly meets their need, that Jesus parked Himself where the people congregated, and that the message of His heart is the most compelling of all.
What's one memorable marketing tip you've learned from an unusual source?
Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and speaking events for women and writers. Her latest award-winning releases include the novels When the Morning Glory Blooms and All My Belongings, and the nonfiction Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices. This month marks the release of another devotional--Mornings With Jesus 2015. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.