The street food business is currently expanding at an 9.3% growth rate in this country, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based think tank. This is despite a relatively high barrier to entry, as a ready-to-roll custom food truck can cost $40,000 to $120,000.
But just because the industry is experiencing rapid growth, doesn’t mean food trucks are immune to failure. On the contrary, the eagerness of many entrepreneurs to jump straight in has resulted in the industry having more than its fair share of new business failure.
Less than ideal food truck marketing has been cited time and time again as a leading cause of failure. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your product is. If customers don’t come to your food truck, then everything else is pretty moot.
Marketing for food trucks involves far more than just tweeting and handing out the occasional flyer. Here are six proven ways to succeed at selling your food truck dreams.
6.) Make the experience “share-worthy”
Simply put, you have to delight your customers. This means going above and beyond the expectations you’ve set. It goes without saying that you should develop a product that helps you do that.
But there are other considerations as well. Plating and presentation can also influence how likely customers will be to share pictures on social media.
Incidental items, such as napkins, plates, placemats, posters, and menus are branding opportunities as well. When they appear on social media, you potentially get more brand impressions as well. Try to design logos that show up clearly in photos, even when displayed on a small screen!
5.) Tell an interesting story
Your brand’s story is what customers will remember long after they’ve forgotten how your food tastes. The power of storytelling not only helps your food truck’s brand make a connection, it helps make that connection that much easier to remember.
It doesn’t matter if the story is true or fictional. No one really thinks the Hamburglar is real, for example. What is important is that your brand is able to make an emotional connection, hopefully a positive one.
4.) Understand Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management is a very wide topic, but the premise is simple. Your business model should work not just to secure one sale from each customer. Instead, it has to be optimized to earn repeat sales from every customer. Not only does it allow you to derive more income from a market with a limited population, it increases the chances of positive word of mouth which ultimately reduces your marketing spend per new customer, since your brand advocates will be doing that for free.
3.) Actively engage with followers
For most brands, being interested is a necessary step to being interesting. It’s pretty tough to improve unless you know what you have to improve on.
Active engagement doesn’t necessarily mean you have to bug your customers about their experiences all the time, but it does mean that you show interest in what they have to say. This can mean acknowledging public feedback on social media, or simply asking your customers or followers how they found their experiences. Even if customers do not respond immediately, your brand would still have left an imprint, and it’s entirely possible they would respond at a later time.
2.) Set your own path
While you want to be able to engage your customers, don’t fall into the trap of falling over yourself trying to please everyone. Especially when this means following every food truck trend out there. This is how your business ends up with no identity and a bloated menu that your crew will have a difficult time mastering.
Consistently good offers and service, and a stronger brand identity, will ultimately be far better for your business than any short-term gains that could be had by following trends you’re probably already too late for.
1.) Use only two or three social media sites.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that the ubiquity of mobile internet connections and social media platforms are the biggest reasons for the present-day food truck boom. You likely need to be on social media, and preferably have your own site or blog in order to be on a level playing field with the competition.
That said, one very common mistake is to try to cover all your social media bases by being everywhere at once. This doesn’t work out well for most food truck businesses because:
- Most new food truck businesses don’t or can’t have a a full-time social media manager.
- Some platforms do not have enough users in your area.
- Many smaller social media platforms do not have effective localization features.
- Content has to be crafted to fit each platform in order for it to be effective
Being active on a few key social media sites is almost always far better for your brand than being on all of them and not being able to grow your audience because you can’t spend the time to develop the content for all the platforms.
At the very least, a Facebook and Twitter account makes sense for most food truck businesses. Instagram and Pinterest are also viable platforms. To save time, you can also look into social media automation tools for cross-posting simple image posts.