Food trucks have been rising in popularity since around 2008 when these small scale food businesses became a viable route for people looking to break into the food industry.
Food audiences are also keen to try new food experiences, and food trucks are no longer associated with anonymous roadside burger flippers but are places that offer boutique food experience for friends and family.
Average revenue from a food truck is around £300,000. There are over 4,000 food trucks in the US, and nearly half of all millennials have eaten from a food truck.
But their popularity also means there’s plenty of competition. Only the savviest food truck owners are going to make it.
That means that your food truck marketing strategy could make or break for your business.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to market a food truck
- 1.1 Successful food truck marketing has a community appeal
- 1.2 Your food truck marketing plan should focus on photography
- 1.3 Promote your food truck schedule
- 1.4 Improve your food truck social media marketing
- 1.5 Food truck marketing with Instagram
- 1.6 Track your food truck social metrics
- 1.7 Food truck promotional hashtags
- 1.8 Keep your food truck active on social media
- 1.9 The secret to food truck marketing: location, location, location
- 1.10 Apps
- 1.11 Create an email strategy for your food truck
- 1.12 Food truck marketing in a nutshell
How to market a food truck
We’ve analysed the food truck marketing strategies of some of the most popular food trucks to find out exactly how you can take your business from strength to strength.
Successful food truck marketing has a community appeal
Successful food trucks are ones that are seen as part of their local community. Building customer loyalty in your area is therefore very important. Popular food truck Kogi have a marketing presence that is all about their connection to their area: Los Angeles.
Take a look at their About page on their website:
They feature a prominent, poetic message that is about having a sense of connection to the LA scene. They’re creating an emotional link between their food and their audience’s sense of belonging to their community… and that’s very powerful.
If we jump on the homepage of the Streetza website we again see they place a big emphasis on their relationship to Milwaukee, where their food truck business is based.
Notice the images they feature on their homepage carousel. In the pic above we see a newly married couple posing outside the Streetza food truck. This signals to customers that people in the Milwaukee area see their food truck as an iconic establishment; the kind of place you’d pose for a wedding photo for. This kind of emotive, community focussed elements helps successful businesses create memorable and effective food truck marketing strategies.
Your food truck marketing plan should focus on photography
Food photography should be a big part of your food truck marketing plan.
Some people have a negative association with the idea of buying food from a truck. They’ve probably bought questionable food from roadside trucks in the past or have concerns about how food truck food is prepared and stored.
You should focus on featuring lots of high quality, well-lit and colourful food photos and feature them heavily on your site and social media pages.
Kogi have large, healthy and tasty looking food photos pride of place on their webpage.
Promote your food truck schedule
Your food truck schedule is an important aspect of your online marketing. The mobile nature of food trucks means you need to keep your customers constantly updated to your schedule.
Make sure you design your food truck schedule in an attractive and easy to read way as Kogi do:
Improve your food truck social media marketing
No food truck marketing strategy is complete without a strong social media presence.
When you create your social media profiles make sure they are colourful and characterful.
Here’s Streetza’s Twitter:
Notice how they make strong use of the cover photo at the top of the page? It shows off their reviews and awards and features a shot of their truck on location.
It’s important that you have an appealing logo that shows off your brand’s personality. Streetza have a fairly whacky, over-the-top image, and this is reflected in their logo:
They have a no-nonsense approach to their profile copy, but it still makes their offerings look appealing:
“Streetza creates gourmet pizzas in a tuck in milwaukee, WI.”
Twitter bios are all about conveying your usp in very few words, so make sure you check out how popular food trucks do it to help inspire your own social media copy.
Food truck marketing with Instagram
When it comes to food truck marketing, Instagram is a biggie.
It’s a way to not only post appealing images, but keep your followers up to date.
It’s no secret that food fans LOVE Instagram and the best food trucks tap into this.
The Kogi food truck has over 21,000 followers on Instagram and their posts get TONS of engagement.
Their posts show how popular their food truck is and they regularly keep people up to date with their latest schedule and activity.
Track your food truck social metrics
Take a look through your existing social media posts and monitor how your customers are interacting with you online.
You can use a free tool like Tweetreach to find out how many other Twitter accounts your posts have reached, analyse your exposure in terms of impressions, and see which accounts are your biggest contributors.
It will show you the handles of people who engage with you the most and let you know how many impressions they have contributed to your exposure.
But there’s no point analysing your social media engagement if you don’t do anything with that data.
When you identify major contributors you should tweet back to them. Thank them for their support, offer them a discount or coupon, or shout them out on your feed.
Food truck promotional hashtags
Check out what sort of hashtags people are using when they talk about your food truck. Take a look at the social media accounts of other food trucks and see what hashtags they use.
You can use a site like Best Hashtags to discover popular hashtags to promote your food truck business. Just head over to their site and enter a subject to find relevant hashtags.
Their algorithm is constantly updating so you’re sure to find the tags that are most relevant.
Keep your food truck active on social media
It might sound obvious, but you need to be very active on social media.
Take lots of photos and videos, post updates, highlight new additions to the menu, dishes of the week, rave reviews you’ve received and so on.
Importantly, every time you arrive at your next scheduled stop tweet to let people know where you are. Tweet local landmarks to help people find you and let people know how long you’ll be around for. You can use a site like Foursquare to check in to your locations and give your audience real time updates about your whereabouts.
It’s a good idea to have some scheduled posts lined up so you don’t have to worry about posting live when you’re in the middle of setting up in your next location.
Schedule posts using free tools like Facebook Pages Manager, Buffer or Hootsuite. If you get organised you should be able to manage your social media account with just 30 mins a day or 2-3 hours a week, if you batch similar tasks together.
Your food truck social media strategy should involve a wide range of different types of posts.
Here’s some pointers:
Use well-lit, interesting photos in your posts, they’ll get more engagement.
Start up conversations about topical or fun issues, local events or national holidays and so on.
There are loads of World Food Days you can use to start up conversations, like Pie Day (January 23rd), World Pizza Day (February 9th) and Pancake Day (March 5th). Why not serve relevant meals on these days and post on social media to tell your fans about it?
Run competitions – offer coupons for the best food photographs or selfies with your truck or enter people into a prize draw if they share your post with a friend. You can use tools like Woobox to run social media contests across all platforms.
The secret to food truck marketing: location, location, location
When it comes to marketing your food truck business, location is everything.
People will be searching for food in their local area and you want to make sure you show up in search.
Make sure your Google Business account is properly set up. Here’s what you get when you search for “food truck London”:
Notice how the trucks that come up first are clearly named as food trucks, they have lots of 5 star reviews and a clear picture that highlights their food or trucks/sites.
Make sure your address and opening hours are kept up to date and upload load quality pictures that show people how popular your truck is… and how tasty your food is.
And make sure you encourage people to leave you a review… you can do this by entering their name into a competition when they leave their feedback.
Building an app for your food truck can help take it to the next level.
Customers want access to services at their fingertips, and that means mobile will be a big way they will want to interact with your truck. Put up a sign on your truck telling people about your app and post about it on social media. If you have an email list message people about… basically get the word out as far as possible.
These days it’s easier than ever to build an app. You can use a free tool like AppInstitute to create an app, pulling branding info from your website and Facebook page to ensure it’s consistent with the rest of your online presence.
Here’s how your app can improve your food truck marketing plan:
It can be a place where all your contact details, address, website and social media accounts can be easily accessible for your customers.
You can communicate with your customers via in-app messaging and send push notifications with updates about menu changes, new schedules, contests, special offers and so on.
You can create mobile coupons that don’t just encourage your users to buy from your food truck, but will also incentivise more people to download your app. And why would you want more people to download your app? Because it increases loyalty by boosting engagement and providing responsive customer service.
For example, the Wired Cafe Bar built an app that saw mobile orders increase by 22% within four months. The owner of GuitarBar saw newsletter and promotional notification sign ups increase by over 80%, all thanks to their app. It also boosted event sales by 32%.
A food truck app can be used to create mobile loyalty stamps to keep customers coming back for more and it’s a great way to upload photos, videos and other content to share with your audience.
Create an email strategy for your food truck
When it comes down to it, if you want to get information from your business to your customer base, email is the most effective way of doing it.
All the most successful food trucks know the importance of building email lists.
Research by Disqus found that over 70% of people subscribe to email newsletters, and they do so for some of these key reasons:
- To learn more about a topic of interest (36.2%
- To keep up to date with website content (35.81%)
- To get special offers or gifts (14.84%)
This means you need to generate interest in your food truck.
Write website and email content that tells your story and really sells your brand. Whether that’s because you use authentic recipe’s you inherited from your grandma or make experimental hamburgers, find ways to tell your story. There’s something romantic about the notion of life on the road, selling food to a range of interesting characters. People are attracted to the idea of food trucks, so make sure you appeal to that sense of interest.
You can develop your brand story with your emails, but make sure you have a range of content.
You can create emails that give people special offers… this is a great way to incentivise more people to sign up.
Food truck marketing in a nutshell
We hope this post has given you plenty of ideas to create a dynamic and powerful food truck marketing strategy.
Marketing strategies aren’t built in just one day, but they evolve over time. You can’t do everything at once, so start with areas where you feel the most confident.
Maybe start with Instagram and share food pics (#foodporn) every day.
If you keep a food truck blog, start sending your post out to your email lists.
If you want to focus more on customer service and developing brand loyalty, an app would be the best place to start.
As long as you are always thinking of interesting ways to create and distribute content, from blog posts, to social media posts or emails, you will soon start to see your following increase and your sales go up.
So good luck, and keep on trucking! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist).