Tags Posts tagged with "Marketing"

Marketing

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food truck marketing plan

Here are four time-saving tips to help you develop an effective food truck marketing plan while working on it less than 5 hours a week.

How much time do you spend each week growing your food truck business as opposed to running it? If you’re like 99% of mobile food vendors, your answer is probably, “not nearly enough.”

Running a food truck is a huge job that can keep you busy from the start of your day until late into the night. So it’s no wonder you can’t find the time to focus on marketing strategies that can help you grow your mobile food business.

The good news is, an effective profit-generating marketing plan doesn’t have to take weeks to plan and execute.

Today we’d like to share four time saving-tips to help you set up an effective food truck marketing plan that will help grow your business huge – working less than 5 hours a week on it.

… And yes, you DO have 5 extra hours a week to spend on your marketing, and we’ll show you where to find them.

Planning: 1 Hour a Week

The best time to do this would be every Sunday evening or early Monday morning, when most food truck business is slow. This allows you to create a schedule for the week ahead that identifies all the important tasks you need to accomplish and blocks off times when you can work on them.

We suggest that your planning hour is set at the same time every week, this way you’ll create a rhythm that maximizes your productivity.

Marketing: 30 x 3

In order to effectively market your business, you are going to have to stay on top of regular marketing communications tasks such as:

  • Updating your food truck website/blog
  • Responding to positive and negative reviews of your food truck on review sites such as Yelp
  • Creating graphics/posters announcing your upcoming special events
  • Creating press releases to promote upcoming events

The best way to manage this process is to schedule 30-minute blocks three times a week for yourself to work on these tasks. Again, if you schedule these 30-minute blocks for the same times each week you’ll  create a rhythm that will help you to be more productive.

Facebook and Twitter: 30 Minutes a Day

Facebook  and Twitter can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for your food truck. Best of all, they’re free. It only takes a few hours to set up effective Facebook and Twitter pages for your mobile food business – and once they’re in place, you can rapidly grow a local audience and establish a strong connection with them.

The best part is you don’t have to spend more than 15 minutes a day on each.

We recommend you schedule your 15-minute social media break for the same time every day – maybe early in the morning when you first get to your commissary, or in the afternoon once the lunch rush is over.

During this time, here’s what you can do:

  • Send out a status updates or tweets telling everyone about your specials and locations for the day.
  • Respond to any comments, messages, or Friend Requests you may have received.
  • Write a status update letting people know how preparations are going for your next upcoming event. It personalizes your business at the same time as it reminds people about your event. comment that everyone can relate to, say, about the weather, or an upcoming holiday.

Have a Notepad and Pen With You

As a food truck owner, you spend a lot of time in your truck, dealing with your staff and customers. And all that time is time you’re not spending working on your marketing plan…or is it?

The truth is, when you’re in the thick of a busy day, the time listening to your customers and overseeing your staff can be when some of your best marketing ideas can come to mind. You might suddenly think up a status update you’d like to share with your Facebook followers. Or maybe you’ll come up with a great idea for an upcoming promotion or special event.

If you jot your ideas down as they occur to you, then you don’t have to bang your head against the wall trying to remember what they were when you finally have a moment to sit down.  This will save you a lot of time and aggravation and will help you maximize your efficiency.

By implementing these tips, you can get an enormous amount of marketing work accomplished every week. All you have to do is create a regular schedule for yourself and then stick to that schedule. You’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll see results.

Related: 5 Essential Pieces Of A Food Truck Marketing Plan

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facebook likes

If you’re managing your food truck’s business Facebook page, how are you gauging the success of your efforts? If it’s simply the number of Facebook likes your page has, the following article is worth reading.

Facebook Like

The value of measuring what is and what is not working in your mobile food businesses social media marketing strategy cannot be overstated, especially in areas such as website SEO conversion where goals can sometimes get muddy. So when it comes to evaluating the success of your Facebook strategy, we want to be sure that you’re measuring those efforts correctly.

Why Use “Likes” as Your Default Metric

Why? That’s simple…it’s easy. For many food truck owners using organic (not bought) Facebook likes as the key measurement is a no-brainer. And on the surface, it does seem like the right answer. But your Facebook’s success shouldn’t be boiled down to simply how many people have “liked” your food truck’s page.

What Else Can You Measure

Revenue is certainly the one that should interest you most. Granted, it’s not easy to calculate revenue when it relates to social media. However, social media can be used as a way of driving traffic to your website where some food truck owners sell products, show upcoming parking locations and provide contact forms for catering opportunities; all of which can add to your mobile food company’s bottom line. These actions, by the way, can be accurately measured against your Facebook page as a referral source of traffic in Google Analytics.

Conversions that happen on your website as a result of social media traffic, though, are just one good way to measure success. Other metrics include time-on-site, pages viewed, return visits, and participation on your Facebook page.

Are Facebook Likes Important

It’s not wrong to want to have your food truck to be liked; we all want more Facebook likes, the same way we all want more visitors to our site, more customers at your service windows and more subscribers to your email list. But getting hung up on a single number is never good for measuring all the different kinds of work you put into your food truck business, social media included.

With all that said, please feel free to “like” Mobile Cuisine…we do use our likes as a metric of our social media strategy.

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food truck brand marketing

Conventional wisdom says building a strong brand for a food truck requires creating a cool name for your mobile food business, getting the word out about your truck, and enforcing brand message consistency in all of your future customer interactions.

However, conventional wisdom is wrong. Branding doesn’t create, build or strengthen your brand. Your food truck’s brand will always be a reflection of the quality of your menu and service. There are really no exceptions to this rule.

To understand why, it’s first necessary to define what is part of a food truck’s  “brand.”  Most people think a brand consists of exterior elements: the truck’s name, it’s logo and the tag line.

To get a general understanding of a brand, think about it in the simplest terms. Take yourself as an example, are you just a combination of skin, clothes, and what you say?

Food Truck Brand Marketing

The essence of food truck brand marketing is not your truck’s exterior elements, but how your customers feel about your menu items and service.

The purpose of the brand elements is not to create those feelings, but to remind customers of them.  If their feelings about your truck are negative, those brand elements simply remind them of how much you dislike the end product being sold from your service window.

The only way to build a strong brand is to create and sell food that delights your customers. If you fail at this basic step, brand marketing is not just a waste of money, but is actively counterproductive to your food truck business since every time someone sees your truck they will be reminded how they disliked the meal or service they last received.

Ultimately, if you want to build a strong food truck brand marketing strategy, put your time and money into creating and selling the best menu items as possible.  Once you have invested in this area use additional brand marketing to help spread the word.

A question to food truck owners: How long did it take for you to find the essence of your food truck brand marketing? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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relevant twitter following

Is Twitter working for your food truck business the way you thought it would? Are you looking to grow a larger and more relevant Twitter following for your truck?

Early on Roy Choi discovered how powerful Twitter was for finding and engaging an audience for his Kogi BBQ. Not only was it a low cost marketing tool, but the speed it delivered his message and its viral nature made it a favorite tool for advertising his next stop.

Yet when some food truck owners jump on Twitter for the first time, they wonder why they don’t get an overwhelming response to their initial tweet. Soon they learn that they must develop a following.

They see other trucks with followings of 500, 5,000 or 50,000 and they want some of that. So they head over to Google “how to get more followers on Twitter” or falling for tweets advertising different ways to buy followers.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it can be very easy to build a following on Twitter if you’re willing to try tactics such as following and un-following people, creating fake accounts that follow you and retweet everything you say or even buying followers.

Although you may be able to build up your food truck’s following quickly using these shady tactics, very few of those followers will provide your business any value.

So the basic premise of this article is to let new food truck owners know that it’s not how many followers your food truck has, but how many relevant followers you have. Having 1,000 followers who don’t respond to anything you share is equivalent to shouting from your service window and claiming that the entire city is your audience.

With that said; more engaged followers are better than fewer engaged followers. So, let’s focus on getting your food truck more engaged followers.

Building a relevant Twitter following comes down to four basic principles:
  • Find and follow prospective customers
  • Tweet content that interests your target audience
  • Engaging with your audience
  • Promote your Twitter account

Today I’ll discuss the some tips, tools and tactics to attract relevant followers on Twitter and follow up tomorrow with the other three.

Find and Follow Prospective Customers

The audience you want to be able to convert into food truck sales is out there, it’s just up to you to find them.

Build a Strong Profile

Because most people will check out your profile before following you, it is important to put your account settings in order and present your food truck business in the most engaging way possible.

Profile photo: Make sure you’re using a photo of your truck or your logo for your account. Let people know what type of business you are and what tells them more than showing off your truck.

Background Photo: Use this large area to help show potential customers what’s on your menu…show off a single item or collage of images of the food you serve.

Detailed Bio: You’ve got 160 characters, so get creative. Let people know what type of food you sell and where you sell it. If your tag line explains this and fits…use it here to keep a consistent marketing message across all media platforms.

Location: Because the food truck industry is so hyper local, make sure you include the city you operate in. If you are like most trucks and work in multiple cities or counties, put the general region and state you park your truck in. This can be the make it or break for some people to follow your mobile food business.

Third-party Tools

One of the first places to start your search for relevant people is at one of the many Twitter directories out there. Over the years a lot of these directories have come and gone but these are our favorites:

Use these tools to search your area for your ideal customers.

Leverage other Truck’s Twitter Lists

A great source for finding a relevant Twitter following and new people to connect with is other food truck’s Twitter lists. As long as the lists are made public, you are free to subscribe to them, quickly getting access to dozens or hundreds of vetted Twitter users.

Search Twitter

You can use Twitter’s search functionality to find relevant people and engage with them. For example, let’s say you are launching in Cleveland. Start by doing searches on #Cleveland #Foodtruck on Twitter.

Once you find people discussing food trucks in your area, you can join the conversation by @ (mentioning) them, answering their questions and otherwise engaging them.

Since your truck’s customers will normally be local, run a search to see if you can who’s hungry and close to your next stop. Then reach out directly to those starving members of your community on Twitter and offer them a discount or free drink if they show up to your service window and mention “Twitter” as they place their order.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to retweet it or add us at twitter.com/mobilecuisine. Also, if you have additional tips to finding a relevant Twitter following for food trucks, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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Food Truck Blog Mistakes

We have shared numerous articles on food truck website development and more specifically how and why food truck owners should be posting in their site’s blog.

Simply posting a few short articles throughout the month about the things happening inside your mobile food business isn’t going to automatically bring you the 5-10 new customers a month your food truck needs for continued growth.There’s a bit more to this recipe than just the writing.

Have a food truck blog that isn’t gaining any traction? Feel like you’re wasting your time?

Here are some food truck blog mistakes you might be making:

Speaking to the wrong audience

Look over your content. Do you use a lot of culinary jargon that may confuse your non-foodie knowledgeable customers?

Your food truck customer is your target audience, not your culinary peers, so if this is you, simply try putting those ideas into words that someone who has never tuned into Food Network or taken a culinary class would understand.

Poor speeling

Are you taking enough time proofreading the first drafts of your posts? Are you showing personality in your writing? Just because you’re writing a blog post doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice the kind of quality control you practice in your kitchen.

Boring your readers

Spice up your posts with images, videos, or audio clips. Think about the other food truck websites you and your audience visits, what kind of content do they create? What is engaging to them?

No clear goals

Your food truck blog should reflect you and your mobile food business. What do you hope stand for? Where did you come from and where are you going?

The passion you have for the mobile food industry and your local community is the best way to show your readers who you are. They will sense your energy and be brought back by it.

Focusing on the numbers too much

As I well know, it can be very easy to get obsessed with blogging statistics: how many daily readers we get, the bounce rate, the likes, the comments.  Sometimes it’s best to focus on the actual people we are connecting with, whether it’s five or 5000.  Your food truck blog must be about building your community, interacting online and creating relationships with your current and future customers.

Focus on interacting with your readers, responding to their comments and constantly asking for their feedback and your community will begin growing before you know it and your stats will benefit at the same time.

Poor website and post design

In order for all of the previous tips to work, you have to integrate them with a good looking and functional design.

Check out what other food truck blogs you read and enjoy are doing; find out what kinds of blogs your target audience is reading and what those look like.

Look at your blog and evaluate what changes you can make to make it more appealing to your customers. Most importantly, strive to have a design that is professional, easy to navigate, and easy on the eyes.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any suggestions to get past the food truck blog mistakes, please feel free to share it in the comment section below or Tweet us or post a comment on our Facebook page.

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public relations basics

Most food truck’s across the country lack the cash to invest in an internal press staff, so as usual, this task is just one more job an already busy mobile food vendor needs to take care of themselves. So what is it that journalists want when you send them information about your food truck or an event you are going to be part of?

public relations basics

Check out our public relations basics list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for pitching a story to the press about your food truck.

  1. DO some research and figure out the right reporter before you pitch a story. All reporters have beats and Associated Press also has national writers who specialize in certain areas, including business, entertainment, medicine, health, sports and lifestyles.
  2. DO make sure your story pitch is national in interest and sharply focused. AP is for national and international news. Stories about local food truck events and a new menu items developed by a local food truck aren’t AP stories — but they might be a better fit at a local publication.
  3. DO write succinct press releases, preferably with bullet points noting the time, place and date of the event and a FEW sentences explaining the “what” and “why” of the story. Every newsroom in America receives hundreds of press releases each day by fax and email. Long winded pitches fall through the cracks.
  4. DON’T shop your story around to multiple reporters at once. If one reporter turns down your pitch, it’s likely all reporters will turn it down. If a reporter can’t handle your pitch or it isn’t in their beat area but he or she thinks it has interest, the reporter will pass it along to the appropriate person. Please keep in mind, they talk to each other and pass along pitches all the time.
  5. DO tell reporters that if (despite no. 4) you’re sending a pitch to multiple people within the same newsroom. If a reporter begins a story based on a pitch, only to find out one or two other reporters in other departments or beats have done the same thing, this will make reporters more cautious the next time you pitch something.
  6. DON’T call to follow up on a pitch. If they are interested, they will call or email to let you know.
  7. DO take no for an answer. Nothing drives a reporter crazier than getting multiple pitches for the same story from the same person after they’ve said no once, twice or even three times or having a spokesperson argue on the phone over a “no” response. If you accept a no this time, maybe the next time they will work with you. If you drive them nuts when they are on deadline, that won’t happen.
  8. If you really have a great story, DON’T wait until the day before, or even two days before, to pitch it. The best stories may require a week or more of planning and reporting. Too often, pitches that could have been a good story, but we are first notified of them the day of the event or the day before. That’s just not enough time to turn around a story, alert all the editors, coordinate any video or photo coverage and edit the piece.
  9. DON’T assume you know everything about pitching the media. Media is ever changing and fast moving. With the proliferation of news sites on the Internet popping up daily, news comes in many forms and we can all learn a thing or two!
  10. DO be consistent and send news out regularly. One day your food truck story may be the one that gets chosen to follow.

If you and your food truck follow other rules that would fit into a list of public relations basics, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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food truck catering testimonials

What someone else says about the quality of the catering your food truck provides is far more believable to a customer than what you can say about your own mobile food business. For most people, buying catering services from a food truck is a relatively option and can be filled with anxiety.

Unlike your Yelp listing, there are no “rating” services for food truck caterers for individuals to gain confidence in your catering quality or level of service before they buy.

Food truck catering is a major purchase for most people. A lot of money is spent without any real assurance the catering will be as it’s promised to be. This is why testimonials from previous clients are extremely crucial for the success of your food truck catering especially when buyers fear making a mistake they might regret.

Food truck catering testimonials are important because shoppers gain confidence to buy and then are able to assess blame to others if something goes wrong with the event. Think about why you ask others for recommendations before you buy or don’t buy an expensive or important product or service. It’s because you are in search of the good, bad or inside tips on the product or service.

3 ways to use food truck catering testimonials:

  • Place testimonials throughout your food truck website, not just in a special separate section. Spread them throughout your site and mix them in with your other content. If possible add a photo from the event the happy client is referring to and label it as such.
  • If you use a large photo album or portfolio to show clients your past events, don’t hesitate to place testimonials in this album in such a way that they will see them as they turn the pages in the photo album. Don’t put testimonials in a special section in the back of the album. Mix them in with the photos. Also, take time to talk about them in the same way as you do about the photos. Every testimonial has a story behind it.
  • If prospects come to your office, (if you have one), you should have your walls flooded with framed letters and notes from happy clients. Take time to talk about these testimonials or take one down from the wall for the prospect to read before you start your sales presentation. Also, don’t be afraid to place testimonials you received via email on the wall for all to see.

Do you show off your food truck catering testimonials to sell your catering services? How do you do it if different from these suggestions? We’d love it if you shared your tips with our readers in the comment section below.

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food truck unique selling proposition

A food truck Unique Selling Proposition (UPS) is what differentiates you from all the other food trucks and restaurants in your market – especially the trucks that look, smell and taste like yours. It’s the compilation of things that clearly separates you from the pack.

Defining what your USP is takes some creativity, hard work and soul searching. A USP can be almost anything that distinguishes you from your competition.

Determining your food truck unique selling proposition :

• Unique benefits to your customers
• Great prices
• Special menu options
• Incredible service
• A strong guarantee
• The best of the best
• Exclusivity or rarity
• Excellence
• Following a specific standard
• Specializing

Understanding who your customer is and what makes them purchase:

• Is it low prices?
• Great service?
• 100 percent money-back guarantee?
• Speed of service?
• Something special your product delivers that nobody else does?
• Your qualifications or celebrity?
• Promises you make that no other competitor does?

Ask yourself what makes you unique:

• How are you better?
• What makes you the best?
• Why do your customers dine with you?
• What are your special talents, qualities or strengths?
• What makes your product and or service superior?

With a little work, you can start to clearly communicate what makes you different from your competition. Once you’ve crafted your Unique Selling Proposition start using it! Put it on your menu. Include it in your advertisements. Post it on your website.

USE YOUR FOOD TRUCK UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION EVERYWHERE!

Your USP is much more powerful than your food truck brand. Your brand will help you get recognized, but your USP will help get them up to your service window and keep them coming back for more.

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Good Press for your Food Truck

Have you received good press for your food truck business? If not, keep reading to find out how you can without breaking the bank.

Over time, more and more small business owners have grown skeptical of paid advertising, this has been clearly shown in the food truck industry. Industry professionals understand that what consumers read in their local and national papers is more effective food truck marketing. A news story or magazine article generates far more credibility than any paid ad ever will. Furthermore, for the cost of a newspaper ad, you could host a food truck event or put on a publicity stunt to create more credibility.

Good mediums for exposure include the following:

  • Industry and trade publications *cough*mobile cuisine *cough*
  • Business journals
  • Local newspapers
  • Regional magazines
  • Food truck blogs
  • Local radio stations
  • Local television stations

Remember that press can be both good and bad. If your food product or service isn’t consistently high quality, the press you receive will only hurt you. Before you begin any type of public relations campaign, make sure that your menu and service are in order.

Making Your Mobile Bistro Newsworthy

The best time for your food truck to make the news is at the time of your truck’s opening. However, if you are creative, you can continue to create newsworthy stories long after the hype of your grand opening has faded.

Here are some ways to get in the news beyond your original launch:

Food Truck Events

By hosting or even attending a food truck event, there is a good chance you will get a mention in the “events” section of the local newspaper, at the very least. Good ideas for events include fundraisers, concerts, tastings, competitions, community or school events, parties and classes.

Donate to Charity

Give a portion of your sales to a local charity or host a fundraiser. It is important that the community see your food truck or cart as a positive presence. You should work with the nearby community and consider donating something to local schools, campaigns and charitable events.

Even if the donation does not get you any press, the community will notice, and some of them will thank you for it by following your truck, and spreading a good word about you to their friends and family.

Related: Food Trucks Fight Hunger

Put on a Publicity Stunt

Some of the most famous publicity stunts have created a lot of national press. For example, Taco Bell offered everyone in America a free taco if the falling Mir space station hit their floating target. While you probably cannot pull a stunt of this magnitude, you can use guerrilla marketing techniques to get some press and incite local interest.

Make Creative Changes

Anything you can do to make yourself unique is potentially newsworthy. For example, you could get a lot of press by switching to eco-friendly operations and marketing a green food truck, or by introducing a radical new dish, to your menu. Other changes to consider include adopting a unique style of presentation, redesigning your truck’s wrap with a crazy new theme.

Write Articles

Offer to write a story or give a recipe to a local paper or magazine. Focus on getting in the “food” section.

Create press releases or stories about your truck or cart. For example, a Spanish themed truck operation could promote itself through a story about the Spanish tradition of tapas. Perhaps your chef (you if that is applicable) has an interesting background, or maybe your menu offers a one-of-a-kind experience not seen from any of your competitors.

There is bound to be something unique about your mobile food business, and getting your story out there is one of the best ways to propagate a marketing buzz that will attract both old and new followers and customers.

Related: Submit your story to Mobile Cuisine

Impress a Food Critic

You should make a point to learn about the nation’s most famous food critics as well as any local or regional food critics. Give them a good reason to visit your food truck by offering a unique or especially perfect dish.

If they do come to you, give them special treatment, but do not overdo it. Make sure that you serve them a quality meal. A bad review from a food critic will definitely hurt your business.

Related: Impressing the Mobile Food Critic

Getting good press for your food truck is probably the most effective way to market your mobile food business. Do not make the mistake of spending all of your money on paid advertising, when a good PR campaign will bring a much bigger return on your investment.

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social media update ideas

In a recent email I received from one of our readers (and a fairly new food truck vendor in Orlando), I was asked what a mobile food vendor can do to engage customers and market their food truck business on social media outside of standard location update of Tweet.

Now, we’ve covered this topic over the years but the tone of the message had an air of desperation, so I put together this quick list for them.

Most food truck vendors I’ve worked with in the past have had a tough time finding their voice over social media, so I felt that the response to this question could be a help to other vendors as well. You don’t have enough time in your busy day to have to worry about what your next Facebook update or Tweet will consist of, so feel free to use these 12 suggestions, and edit them for your own mobile food business.

Social Media Update Ideas

  1. City of (your city); tell us why you decided to live in (your city). The best answer gets a free entree from our truck – picked up at their convenience.
  2. This weekend we are going to be (insert location) bring a friend, mention this message and you both get a free gift – there’s no telling what it might be. Here’s a pic from the last time we did this.
  3. Wednesday nights are the slowest time of the week for us, find us on Wednesday night, mention this post for a 10% discount off your order.
  4. Love meeting local celebrities? Visit us Thursday to meet our own – (someone locally famous or popular) – They will be signing autographs for all of our truck customers and we will be providing a free sample of one of our upcoming menu items to each visitor.
  5. Find us on Friday between 11 and 2 to get a free side salad with your lunch order.
  6. Our new marketing program is sending out an email tonight for next week’s summer menu – you have to sign up to get a discount.
  7. We’ll be at the humane society on Sunday to help promote the pets they have for adoption- come on down, they’d love to see you, even if you can’t adopt.
  8. We are participating at the city farmer’s market – come on down to see what we have cooked up special with produce from the farmers.
  9. Save 5% every time you bring a friend to truck with you. Friends get 5% off, too.
  10. When you show up to check in to our loyalty program you’ll start receiving discounts right away; you have to visit to start though.
  11. Monday nights we are not open – We know it’s sad, but we are around town the rest of the week and look forward to seeing you!
  12. The point of these updates is that you have are enticing customers to make a special stop at your truck, this is often done with a special, a free gift, a discount or something else special. The more creative you are with your update, and specific you are, the more likely it is to work.

Other Tips to Make Social Media Work For Your Food Truck:

  • Post updates often; multiple times a day.
  • Keep customers informed, they like to hear about interesting happenings in your business and all of the small nuances of running a food truck business. The more you connect with them, the more they will find your food truck.
  • Build relationships with everyone who comes to your service window, ask them questions, be social and have fun.
  • Stay active; be in their social streams everyday- until they take you out.
  • Be visual. Share pictures, people love Instagram right now, be there, and post pictures often!

I hope these ideas help free up a little time in your day to concentrate on other aspects of your food truck business. We’d love to hear any social media update ideas you’ve had success with, so feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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