It is never too early to start promoting your food truck business. Starting food truck events, teaching cooking classes, etc—these are all great ways to showcase your culinary expertise and build your local customer base. Another way, believe it or not, is to have branded merchandise.
You might think that you need to wait until you’ve got a big name or customer following to start ordering branded merchandise for your food truck business. Here’s a truth you’ve probably already started to realize: the number of customers you have is never going to feel big enough. You’ll always appreciate them, no matter how many you have, but you will always feel like it could be grown just a little bit more.
So why wait?
Here are just a few ways that branded merchandise can help in promoting your food truck business:
Sell it for supplemental income
This is particularly helpful if your food truck brand has a great logo or tag line. Musicians are a great example of people who use branded merchandise to make extra money.
Use it as prizes for contests that you hold
Sure, you can use a free food giveaway, but people love to enter contests—and when the prize is a tangible one that will last longer than the time it takes them to eat a free side dish, you may get a lot more interest and entries.
Give them away as promotional items to build goodwill
This works really well at food truck events and street festivals. Giving out your business card works too but giving out something that someone can actually use puts your food truck brand in front of them every day.
Use them in marketing campaigns
A popular method of guerrilla marketing is leaving pens printed with your truck’s business’s name and URL in locations such as the bank, library and grocery store—where people are likely to pick up a pen and toss it into a bag or take it with them.
How you use promotional items is going to depend largely upon which items you choose to brand with your food truck’s logo and URL.
Clothing: Clothing is always a crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t want a free t-shirt or sweatshirt? Who doesn’t happily buy the t-shirt or sweatshirt of the brand they love? Once upon a time, giving out t-shirts was prohibitively expensive. Today, thanks to online t-shirt merchants, it’s easy to have a bunch of shirts printed up in all different sizes and colors.
Office Supplies: Coffee mugs, notepads, pens, pencils, mouse pads, etc—put your logo on all of them and use them as promotional items at events and as prizes for contests. Some things, like coffee mugs and mouse pads you can sell for supplemental income. Other supplies (writing utensils, sticky pads) are best given away and used in marketing efforts. Getting these materials branded for your food truck is simple. You can order most of these things through Office Depot and other supply stores.
The question, as you can see, isn’t “is my food truck big time enough to need my own shirt?” The question is “what kind of shirt do I want to use to help build my mobile food business?”