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I’ve been following along a little bit on your threads, and I’m fascinated by this whole affair.
Have you contacted chicagostyledog, the Hotdog Professor himself? He runs Hot Dog University – a series of classes designed for people that want to open a stand. He may be able to help you. If you have the $$, perhaps a short trip to Chicago might be in order. He’ll be recommending Vienna Beef, of course.
As far as “guerilla marketing” – may I suggest you start a Facebook page, as well as a Twitter account? Enlist your friends and family to “friend” you on both sites, and spread the word. Use the Facebook site as you would a web page (and have a website, too, if you can), and offer specials, history of the “New York style hot dog stand”, pictures of your cart and of your customers enjoying your product, as well as of the hot dogs themselves. Use Twitter to announce specials (Twitter Tuesdays) and build a rapport with your customers.
Add your cart location to Foursquare, so people will be able to “check in” there, and make sure to offer a special (free drink or chips) for the “Mayor” of your stand.
Print up a couple dozen t-shirts and give a few to friends and family to wear, as well as randomly give away a few the first week you are open (after the first week, if they prove to be popular, print them up and sell them). Make sure you have your cart name, logo, and especially location – including London – as I can imagine the delight of Americans sending home (or wearing) that t-shirt.
Good luck, and I look forward to reading more about your adventure.
X1 – thanks so much for your post; it really meant a lot to me. I’m so happy you can see the exciting nature of this project. Your suggestions were really superb and went far beyond what I had considered. I will certainly take you up on your offer of help re. the web 2.0 stuff if that’s still ok. Please, please, do chip in with any other ideas or concerns that you have. I really want to do this right and it is likely to be even more fascinating than you imagine!
Unfortunately, as useful as the Hot Dog University would be, I am going to have to use my very last few coins to get this up and running, and if it works it’ll be by the skin of my teeth and with some serious usage of initiative and astute minimising of mistakes.
Btw I just got back from the location. It was the first time I had been there in the afternoon and I must say I feel tremendously positive. I did a few 5 minute tally counts of pedestrians who passed directly in front of my location. It went as follows:
Thursday April 18th 2010
18.55- 19.00 141
My permit allows me only to trade up until 19.00.
Am I right to be excited by this amount of foot traffic passing?