Keep on Truckin’

Here in Edmonton—as in most cities across the U.S. and Canada—we’re enjoying a food truck revolution. During our (all too short) summer, the What the Truck food extravaganza shows up to offer a host of mouth-watering dishes and extremely long lines.

Standing in one such line for over an hour, screaming toddler in hand and sweating profusely, it occurred to me (okay, it occurred to me later after my blood pressure had dropped to more human levels) that food trucks were an apt Web content metaphor. Here’s why.

1) High Value

It’s telling that despite the heat and my rambunctious child, I was willing to wait so long for a large helping of fresh-made poutine. For the non-Canadians, this is fries covered in gravy and cheese curds and in my case smoky, delicious bacon. And again, the wait was worth it.

The same has to hold true for Web content to stay relevant—readers have to feel like consuming the entire article or blog post or news feature was worth it. Add in the fact that users online have far shorter attention spans than those lined up for food trucks and it’s easy to see why ‘tasty’ content matters.

2) Reputation

Of course, part of the reason I waited was because the La Poutine food truck (and restaurant) has a great reputation. I can make poutine at home with a bag of frozen fries, some grated cheese, packet gravy and a healthy dose of self-loathing, and I don’t have to stand in line while being kicked in the face or watching my two-year-old try to disappear in the crowd.

Reputation, however, made the difference. Not only have I eaten this particular dish before and enjoyed it, but public consensus is one of value and enjoyment. So too with content. Write well, write often and people will talk about your work, come back to see more of it, and even check back to see if you’ve written anything new.

3) Mobility

The final comparison? Mobility. Food trucks go where the business is, where they generate the most sales and positive word of mouth. And if something isn’t selling on their menu they move it off, replacing it with a more appealing alternative.

Web content, take a good look. It’s easy to leave stale content on a site because it’s simpler, keep a blog running the same direction even when interest starts to wane. Food trucks do it right—move quickly, move often, and don’t be afraid to cut out what doesn’t work. Otherwise, you’ll get bumped out by that wicked Greek sandwich guy down the street.

Note: This guy actually exists, though he doesn’t have a food truck. He makes fantastic Greek fast food but has no patience if you don’t know exactly what you want when it’s your turn. Oh, and substitutions? Get out.

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