Marketing, with a side of mac and cheese

If you want evidence of how much social media has changed marketing, look no further than The Southern Mac and Cheese Truck.

This glorious van of cheesy goodness pops up around downtown Chicago during lunchtime each weekday to dish out a few varieties of gourmet macaroni and cheese. To the delight of everyone in our office, it stops right down the street from our building on Tuesdays. The truck’s employees post updates to Twitter and Facebook to let hungry customers know when they’re on their way — leading to some pretty frequent late-morning screen refreshing around here.

Although the truck usually comes around the same time each week, its plans can change. Some days, the truck makes an unannounced stop somewhere else first to test-drive a new location; other days, a lack of parking might leave the truck circling the block for a few extra minutes. Luckily, all we need to do to find out exactly when to head downstairs is glance at the truck’s social media sites.

The mac and cheese truck is the kind of operation that would have been nearly impossible to pull off before social media. A lot of things can crop up at the last minute when you’re driving through Chicago, and Twitter and Facebook allow the truck to communicate quickly with customers. These sites also give the truck a low-risk way to try out new markets. What’s more, the truck can use the customers who visit the truck’s Twitter and Facebook pages for schedule information as a sounding board for other business decisions: “Would you rather eat andouille or chorizo mac?”

The takeaway for b-to-b marketers? Take advantage of the unique — and often low-risk — marketing opportunities available to you through social media to build your brand and boost sales. If you want feedback on your product’s latest update, ask your fans on your Facebook page. Is there a last-minute schedule change at the conference where you’ll be speaking? Post a quick message on Twitter. Whether you’re selling mac and cheese or widgets, the results can be huge… and delicious.

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