Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Lessons of the Magic Curry Kart: Your Local Street-Food Vendor Can Teach Your Company a Thing or Two

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Lessons of the Magic Curry Kart: Your Local Street-Food Vendor Can Teach Your Company a Thing or Two

Article excerpt

AS AN industry analyst, I use the Twitter microblogging service daily to perform work tasks: to keep up with news and trends from the technology vendors I advise and write about, and to stay in touch with other analysts and their opinions, as well as with journalists and others. I also use the service to market my "personal brand" (as Orwellian-sounding a term as I have ever uttered). But my favorite application of Twitter is purely personal: I use it to track San Francisco's burgeoning street-food vendor scene.

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In the City by the Bay, one can get Thai curries, Chambord-flavored creme brulee, handheld fruit pies, and snickerdoodle strawberry ice cream sandwiches--all sold by street vendors. To find out where the vendors are going to pop up next, you simply follow their Twitter streams.

In a recent online review of some of these vendors, one patron said that she liked the food a lot, but she just liked hanging out with them because they were fun.

Fun. That word struck me as an odd choice to describe a business relationship, at least when it comes to large companies. For sole proprietors, though, fun can be a huge selling point. I'm not talking about the half-forced zaniness of Virgin America or Zappos.com. I mean fun: a joy to interact with and putting-a-big-smile-on-your-face fun. Larger companies can learn many lessons from sole proprietors--and remembering to bring the fun is just one of them.

What else can street vendors teach companies that have, y'know, actual employees? Well, here's one thing that will seem familiar to any reader of CRM magazine who has been a customer of a one-man-band operation: In those cases, the customer knows exactly where to go for sales, marketing, or support--each of these crucial functions has a face, and those faces are all the same, because the company is one person. …

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