Hot Dog Street Vendors: A Marketing Misconception

12 01 2011

Hot Dog MarketingNew York. Chicago. Los Angeles. Pick nearly any big, bustling city, and you’re bound to trip over a hot dog stand or two… or ten. A layperson might understandably assume that these street-side vendors don’t have a single care in the world when it comes to marketing. Business literally walks right up to their window.

But there’s where the misconception is born. Location is marketing, is it not? We already discussed in last week’s post how customer service is marketing, as well. And let’s not forget the signage, fliers, sales pitches and word-of-mouth referrals that those condiment clad businesses-a-la-wheeled-cart generate on a daily basis.

If anything, hot dog vendors are often the most creative marketers out there. They have to be, with their competition just a block away in either direction.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, particularly for “downtown” store owners.

It’s easy, when your business is settled in the “right” location – high visibility, high foot traffic – to think that your marketing work is done.

It’s not. In fact, it’s REALLY not, because you’re surrounded by an entire street or city full of establishments that are competing for that same dollar in your potential customer’s pocket.

You run a bakery? That dollar was just spent on a flashy magazine in the drug store window. Sorry.

You sell handmade scarves? Whoops! That dollar just went toward a steamy cappuccino.

Now stretch your brains even further, and wrap around this concept: Every single one of our businesses is competing in the biggest, most heavily trafficked city of them all… the Worldwide Web. Whether or not you sell “internetically”, or are even internet-savvy, your competition is marketing there. Know that your presence online – or lack thereof – is speaking volumes about your business.

Think like a hot dog street vendor. Your competition is as close as the nearest store – or the nearest computer. So, stay sharp, stay creative and STAY MARKETING!

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday”, that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.

And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.

And, if you planned the whole thing, that’s Marketing!


Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |