You know the scene…the taste of dust in your mouth, the smell of livestock is in the air, the sound of rides, buzzers and bells ringing in your ears.
Yes, folks, you’re at your local fair.
For a few days every year, the empty lot transforms into a festival of noise, cotton candy and empty wallets. Children are running all over the place just out of the reach of their poor parents and the beer tent thrives with inebriated members of the community.
The local fair is an American institution and can provide a true education in marketing for food truck owners. Let the classes begin!!!
Become a Hustler
Hustling is the name of the game for both fair carnies and food truck vendors. Booth and ride carnies have to sell to people walking by – and that’s not easy. They need to attract the attention of people focused on something else, get them to look twice, draw them in, sell them on the fun or the prize, and get them to hand over their money.
The carnies hawk rigged dart tosses, squirt machines, and off-center bowling balls. They need to keep the place bustling and alive. Sound like a food trucker’s life? You bet it does. Replace the games and rides with your food and service and start hustling.
Learn Your Market
Carnies are street-smart to say the least. These individuals know just how to get people interested. Two men? Encourage competition and rivalry for the prize. Two women? It’s time to compliment a shirt or some earrings. Parents? The carnies go right for the kill: they market to the kids. Win the kids, win the parents.
They know exactly who they’re talking to, what rings the bell in that person’s mind and what gets them to slow down and walk over. They know their target market like the back of their hand, honing right in to make the sale. Mobile food vendors should to.
Give and Take
Carnies wheel and deal all day long; anything to lure people in and keep them spending. Three darts for $5. Try a free round. Trade in two prizes for a bigger, better one. The discounts and deals are no skin off their back. Their small tradeoffs keep their customers happy and reels them in.
Not only does it hook, them in, but if the carnie plays it right, the people spend more in the end. That’s a trick right there: the longer they stay, the longer they play. That’s key for the fair and for your food truck business. Not only that, but the carnies make sure their customers are happy, too. The happier they are, the more chance they have in getting the customer to return later on.
Sell, Sell , Sell
Game carnies are always selling. They don’t care about patting someone’s back and making them feel empowered. They have a job to do and they have money to make. They aren’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings, but they also aren’t afraid to pitch their game or ride and attract customers.
Food truck vendors don’t have to bark and shout to sell their products. Carnies don’t either. In fact, the next time you visit a fair you may notice that carnies only call out to people during particularly quiet moments. They are generally polite about selling their games. They watched people for clues, pick up on the subtle triggers and body language, and then they went to work.
Carnies aren’t ashamed of what they do to sell. They’re there to help people have a good time. That’s their job. Sure, the end result is more money in their pocket, but the carnies make sure that every customer leaves smiling and happy that the over-priced prize was money well spent.
That is a lesson in persuasion and good customer service in its simplest form. The next time you visit your local fair watch the carnies work the crowd, they can sell anything to anyone. They understand that if you can’t persuade someone that what you sell is really great, then you definitely aren’t going to make money.
And they make money. They’re real ringmasters at their own show. Everyone wins. No one loses. People leave broke, tired, and dirty; but they leave with smiling faces. The best part…they’ll come back again to do it next year.
Your food truck customers will too if you learn to play the game right.