Food trucks serve up authentic, local, convenient treats across the nation. What started as a fad has now become a viable market segment. The estimated revenue of the U.S. food truck industry is now over $2 billion. Not only are independent food truck businesses servicing customers but established restaurants are also jumping on the bandwagon and offering satellite food truck locations with more limited and casual versions of their menu.
If you have a food truck business, you face similar challenges as traditional restaurants. But, given the unique presentation and mobility of your business, you might find yourself wondering whether or not your marketing strategies are on target. Fortunately, a fairly straight forward marketing plan should do the trick.
You need to find new customers for your food truck while simultaneously looking to increase sales to your current customers. You want people to come back on a regular basis and to bring their friends and family to eat with them. You also want to encourage your customers to recommend your food truck to their friends and to tell everyone that you offer the most amazing food in town. Here are some tips to help you attract more customers, bring in more money, and grow your business.
To experience success in the food truck industry, you have to find a specific niche that no other business is covering. The last thing you want to do is become the tenth or eleventh truck in your area that offers barbeque chicken. Take a look at the menus and different offerings of other food trucks in your area and figure out what is missing. Finding and filling the voids that exist will be key to creating and offering a unique food truck encounter for your customers.
Establish a strong, memorable concept because you not only want people to appreciate your food, you want them to remember your brand and the experience you offered. A clever name and cohesive design will ensure your customers are talking about your brand and telling others to give your food a try.
There are a number of ways you can reward the loyalty of your frequent food truck customers. You can establish a loyalty program that rewards your customers for repeat visits. Your system can be as simple as a buy 10 get 1 free punch card or, if you want to build it into your POS system, as complex as a points system. You can encourage customers to bring friends and family members to experience your food with buy one, get one half off type of deals.
You can offer “bouncebacks” which are promotional offers given to your customers to encourage them to come back soon. (Think of the specials offered from time to time at Starbuck’s where you can come back later the same day for a highly discounted afternoon beverage.) Bouncebacks could be a basic discount, time- or product-specific offer, BOGO (buy one, get one), or whatever your creative team comes up with.
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter offer amazing opportunities to utilize the power, reach and low cost of social media marketing. Get creative with your social posts – use images or videos to show behind the scenes action, happy customers interacting with your food (with their permission, of course), and encourage your customers to post their own content with a brand-centered hashtag.
Use your social media accounts to announce daily specials and to keep regulars in the loop regarding any menu changes that occur. Offer specific social platform-based discounts. Reward your customers for interacting with your brand on social media accounts and offer them exclusive discounts. Post a time-sensitive code with the content to encourage people to take advantage of the offer NOW.
Leverage the power of email marketing for a no-cost means of reaching your customers. Utilize catchy, concise, and enticing subject lines. Don’t be tempted to use clickbait tactics. Keep your subject lines relevant, short, and to the point of the enclosed information.
Your email campaigns can include a weekly or monthly newsletter that includes the content you’ve pushed out on social media. Make sure it also links back to your website, blog, and social profiles. You can use email messages to communicate any upcoming holiday specials and events.
To reward people who actually open and read your emails, consider running an email contest that can only be entered via an email invitation. This will also encourage customers to open future email communications. You can also use your email list to push out customer surveys. Asking customers for feedback can provide insight on everything from service to menu options to food presentation and more.
First and foremost, make sure your brand’s website offers to mobile users a high level of user experience. A mobile friendly website is considered the bare minimum mobile design strategy any brand should have for its website. That being said, these websites were originally designed for desktop users and while they may be functional, they don’t provide the highest level of user experience for mobile users. Mobile optimized websites are more advanced than mobile friendly websites as they allow users with smaller screens to easily navigate and engage with the sites. To read more on this subject, see our blog article: What You Need to Know About the Mobile Version of Your Website.
List your food truck on mobile apps like Eat St. and Roaming Hunger to make sure that potential customers can find you. If you have either the technical know-how or budget, you can create your own app specifically for your food truck. Offer mobile ordering and payment to keep your food truck business at the forefront of restaurant technology.
Food trucks are becoming an increasingly popular wedding trend. They are a less-expensive dining option than traditional wedding food service and offer a fun and unique alternative to a sit-down catered meal or buffet. Large parties for all occasions and office events are also a wide-open market for food truck entrepreneurs. Be sure to research the market before putting together this part of your marketing plan so you can clearly outline the types of events you will target. You’ll also want to fully understand any state and local laws regarding catering businesses. This article from Food Truck Invasion has some helpful tips.
Your food truck is, after all, a truck. So, why not take it on the road? Maximize your visibility and ensure large crowds of potential customers by having a presence at local fairs and festivals. Know that you will most likely be charged a fee for participating in such events and will need to be aware of and follow any local regulations regarding food service. Do your homework to fully understand the investment it will take and what the typical attendance is for events at which you think you might want to have your food truck.
The key to a successful food truck marketing plan is to make sure you consistently present the personality and values of your brand. Marketing strategies need to be tailored to each individual food truck to help you maintain your uniqueness, draw new audiences, and keep your loyal customers coming back time and time again.
Strategy Driven Marketing currently works with some amazing bar and restaurant owners to help them make the most of their marketing efforts. We know that real results are your ultimate goal and can share real campaign statistics to show how SDM can help you establish strategic marketing efforts that will grow your food truck business. Contact us today to talk more about what SDM can do for you!