Emerson College’s PRSSA Chapter took chef James DiSabatino off his cooking duties for the night when he came to speak to PRSSA members at his alma mater. DiSabatino, founder of the wildly popular Boston food truck, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, competed with his food truck on the second season of Food Network’s TV show “The Great Food Truck Race.” Competing on the show created an opportunity for DiSabatino to gain a firsthand approach on how to represent and market a product.
“We finished the show and came back to Boston and weren’t just a truck anymore,” DiSabatino said. “We were a brand.” Running his food truck business requires both entrepreneurship and social media skills. Below are the four top tips from DiSabatino on building your business and brand.
While DiSabatino believes that social media is a simple and effective tool for communicating, he stressed that his business uses it to engage people with the brand. On Roxy’s Twitter account, everything about the food and the people who make it is documented with tweets and pictures.
“I don’t mind if people come up to me and know me and my staff. That is what I want,” said DiSabatino. Getting people involved with the company and product is the best way to engage customers.
DiSabatino said one line from a book he read in a college marketing class will always stick with him. “No matter what you do, you have to connect with the people you are serving.” Creating a brand personality, being expressive and being yourself on social media will help form a company culture that will get customers to connect with your product.
While DiSabatino appreciated the fame that came along with him and his truck on a TV show, he did not want to “just be that guy on TV.” So he used his time spent on one form of media to create other media opportunities, including developing ideas for another TV show and possibly writing a cookbook.
DiSabatino emphasized the importance of letting “one opportunity snowball into something really big” — from one thing you can create multiple facets of your brand identity.
In a very heartfelt way, DiSabatino said that when he goes to work, “the excitement every day is still like the first day.” He still works with the same core ideals and entrepreneurial spirit he had when he first started the truck.
“We are still a little food truck with a bunch of friends working together,” said DiSabatino. “If we keep those ideals, then it works.”
What do you think is important for building a reputable brand? How can entrepreneurs use new media to strengthen their brand?
Sofia Nasr is a junior at Emerson College studying marketing communications. She is vice president of the Emerson College PRSSA Chapter.