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Marketing

facebook marketing tips

Recent studies have found that mobile food vendors mistakenly think they don’t have enough time, money or other resources to invest in Facebook promotions. The problem with this thought process is it doesn’t require a full-time social media coordinator nor much of a budget, if any.

The adage “keep it simple” goes a long way on Facebook, and with that in mind, here are ten Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners to us to maximize your presence on Facebook with minimum resources.

10 Facebook Marketing Tips To Maximize Your Presence

Manage your expectations

Set realistic goals for your approach to social media and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t expect to get thousands of fans within your first month, but think more along the lines of a two or three digit number. Then if you hit something larger than you originally anticipated, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and that will give you momentum.

Make the time

Unless you can find an intern willing to plan your media campaigns for free, cultivating a Facebook presence doesn’t have to be a full-time job nor something that eats up all your free time. Try to set aside an hour a day to work on your business’s page, post updates and communicate directly with customers and fans.

Learn as much as you can

Take notes based on your experiences with Facebook’s pages and other business services — at the very least, write down questions about things you don’t understand so you can make a note to look them up later. You’ll find just about anything you’re curious to know within the site’s official help center. Make a habit of reading as much as you can on this part of the site, without overdoing it.

Start with a small budget

It’s possible to promote your business on Facebook without spending anything. At some point you might get the itch to buy advertising, which certainly helps but also presents the temptation to overspend. You’re better off starting out doing small test ads to see what kind of performance you get for your money, and then ramp up when you figure out which demographics and key words you want to target.

Create a page, not a profile

Don’t open a second account on the social network to make a profile for your business. Not only does that go against Facebook’s rules but it also moves you one degree of separation away from the people who are already on your friend list. These folks are the first people you want to invite to become fans of your business’s page.

Post fun status updates

Make your profile work for your page by posting witty status updates that encourage your friends to engage with your business page. Apply that same sense of wit to the goal of one post per day to your page’s wall. If you can phrase it as a question, so much the better, because that will inspire responses from your community.

Have one-on-one conversations

Send a thank-you message right after someone clicks “like” on your page, and make a point of responding to messages and wall posts within 24 hours. Pay careful attention to whatever fans tell you on your page, and try to respond to their needs.

Don’t spam

People have gotten pretty tired of mass messaging and excessive numbers of posts filling up news feeds — don’t contribute to this noise and fans will appreciate it. When you have something to say to your followers, put it on your wall, not in their inboxes.

Create coupons and promotions

Discounts for first-time customers really work toward generating repeat business. But don’t limit the promotions to the first time someone engages with your company, lest they lose interest. Periodically put things on sale if you can, in order to keep people coming back.

Encourage check-ins

Wherever your business parks from day to day, that counts as a place on Facebook. Make a point of checking in to your current location every day even if you’re not planning to hit the streets. This will put your food truck’s name into people’s news feeds every time you punch in.

If you have any additional Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

Food Truck Branding Basics

Every food truck operation is a brand, whether it’s a single taco truck parked on the side of the highway or part of a huge national brand.

The brand is essential for your food truck to survive, it defines everything your truck stands for; it differentiates it and allows all advertising and marketing messages to revolve around it.

Food Truck Branding Basics

Why is it important to have a strong brand?

If you don’t have a brand your food truck is merely an empty shell. You haven’t positioned yourself in the consumer’s mind. If you don’t activate a brand in the correct way you have an empty and meaningless promise sitting out there.

What are the key elements to developing a food truck brand?

Your food truck brand is about every aspect of your mobile business. You have to look at the experience your customers receive when they visit your truck, food, messaging, etc.

When you are branding, or redefining your brand, you have to understand who your primary and secondary audiences are and what the needs and wants of those audiences are.

What you have to find is differentiation.

How does a food truck differentiate itself?

It starts in your tagline. Does your tagline resonate with your market? If you are a pizza truck who promotes fresh products, your tagline must explain that. Does it say you don’t make your sauce from paste that has to be rehydrated in the store but from real tomatoes that have been picked.

What are some big mistakes made when branding?

The big one is a lack of a differentiating position. Sometimes mobile business owners go with the big campaign but haven’t really looked under the hood and looked at whether their campaign really connects with the primary and secondary market with which they want to resonate and don’t ask whether [their brand] is really showing what they want to stand for. They also don’t judge themselves critically.

How do you find out whether your food truck brand and your messaging connect with your primary and secondary markets?

A food truck must look at who is the audience and who is the direct competitive set. Then you do some research. Find out who has the most propensity to eat with you, break the sub groups down, men/women, young/old/middle aged, with kids/without kids, etc.

Then you define your audience. This is absolutely an art and a skill in the world of marketing and advertising. With this information your food truck brand can maximize your reach.

How can you reinforce your brand without overdoing it?

I don’t think you can overdo it ever. If you look at consumers today they are overwhelmed with messaging so if you’re not out there messaging often to your primary and secondary audiences, you’re not resonating with them and your brand will not thrive.

Why is consistency important within a brand?

If you fracture the message you confuse consumers because they don’t know what you stand for.

Become a recognizable fixture in the local mobile food community with careful branding design. Remember to keep your messaging on point with your food truck’s personality. Use your branding to put a positive face on your mobile business and advertise a taste of what customers can expect to enjoy.

Do you have any additional food truck branding basics you think we missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck newsletter

Loyal customers love to keep up-to-date with their favorite food trucks. Mobile food vendors have the unique opportunity to communicate with their customers via newsletters. They show your customer base that care about your employees and customers to go above and beyond when it comes to communications.

First and foremost – decide whether you should implement a hard copy, email version, or both. You can use the same content across both of these platforms. Have in-house copies for customers to snag when leaving your service window. Ask loyal customers if they would prefer to receive an exclusive e-newsletter with special coupons or perks.

10 tips to creating an effective food truck newsletter for your customers:

Regular Communication

In order to be perceived as credible, you must communicate regularly and consistently. A monthly or bi-monthly newsletter is appropriate for most mobile food operations. You can adjust the quantity based on the amount of content you can generate without adding an extra element of work or stress to yourself. However, once you decide, do your best to keep true to your pattern of posting. Consumers prefer to know what to expect, so try your best to cater to their expectations.

Visually Pleasing

Add photographs of events, customers, chefs, or specials of the month. Also consider implementing snapshots of your Facebook or Twitter feeds highlighting customers’ positive feedback or a positive rave about a particular dish on the menu.

Be sure the layout is aesthetically pleasing as well. For branding purposes, utilize the food truck’s colors and logo. Find the perfect balance between content and photos. Content heavy pieces are less likely to be read than those that have a combination of both photos and writing.

Make it Easy to Digest

In addition to the layout being visually pleasing, break up text-heavy sections by utilizing bullet points of subheadings. The content should be readable, using average language and avoiding jargon.

If your readers are overwhelmed, they will bypass these sections, regardless of how rich or engaging the content may be.

Clickable Links

Make your newsletter as user friendly as possible by making your links clickable. For example, always have your Facebook or Twitter accounts linked on your e-newsletter.

Make sure you always add a link to your menu. If there is not enough space to upload photographs from an event, you can add a hyper linked keyword that directly links to an ancillary photo site, such as a Flickr account. If you have been featured on Mobile-Cuisine.com or a local blog, link to it.

Social Media Icons

Always include any social media platforms you are a member of, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and or Foursquare. Even if it is not an e-newsletter, add small icons that represent these sites along with the URL. They will remind your customers that you have a presence on these various social media platforms.

Probe them to interact with you by providing an incentive such as a check-in on Foursquare. For example, checking-in 5 times unlocks 10% off of your meal.

Add Boilerplate Info

Your food truck has a history, even if it be short and sweet. Give your mobile food business a little personality by adding a brief, but interesting background of your truck.

List Upcoming Events and Specials

Dedicate a section of your food truck newsletter – preferably the same location for consistency purposes – that lists upcoming events and the specials of the week or month if you have planned them out in advance.

If possible, include photos to entice customers to join you for the next special menu item or event. Spice up your descriptions and vary your content to keep readers engaged.

Include a “Spotlight” Section

Food truck customers love a human element to writing pieces. Make your star employees and customers feel special by adding a “Spotlight” section.

You can create a Q & A interview, feature article, biography or simply a “Getting to know____” to create a more humanized feel to your food truck newsletter.

Call-to-Action

As mentioned previously, give your readers a reason to not only read your article, but also go a step beyond. For example, if customers sign up for an e-newsletter, they will receive 5% off their next visit or a free meal on their birthday.

Add a hidden code to bring to your food truck for an exclusive deal only offered to those who read the newsletter.

Be Creative

Your customers are your brand ambassadors, so maximize your resources. If you have given them a reason to love your food truck, they will continue to be an advocate for you.
Ask them to forward the newsletter to a new friend and they will receive a free appetizer or dessert.

Customers love to be informed and feel as if they are a part of your family; therefore, the main purpose of your newsletter is to engage with your customers in a different way, while still leveraging it as a marketing ploy. Food truck newsletters are a fairly cost-effective and unique way to communicate with employees and customers alike.

Do you have anything else to add to this list that you include in your food truck newsletter? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

understand marketing

Making great food isn’t the only ingredient a mobile vendor must use to create a successful food truck today.

Here is a short list of why these mobile chefs should understand marketing and how it affects their food truck business.

10 Reasons You Should Understand Marketing
  1. To ingrain your food truck in the community.
  2. To promote your signature menu items.
  3. To stand out and be the consumer’s choice when they go out to eat.
  4. To create consumer-friendly menu items that sell.
  5. To understand consumer’s likes and dislikes and understand trends.
  6. To advertise your special events.
  7. To publicize yourself, your menu, and your food truck.
  8. To communicate what makes your menu and mobile food business unique.
  9. To generate interest and initiate new customer visits.
  10. To build a loyal following of customers that spread the word.

Food truck vendors absolutely need to know how to prepare a fantastic meal for their customers, but at the same time, they need to understand why marketing their mobile food business will help them stay open for the long haul.

Do you have any additional tips why it’s so important for food truck owners to understand marketing? If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

free google business listing
Many food truck operators seem to neglect any type of online business marketing for their truck if it isn’t part of their social media strategy on Twitter or Facebook. Unfortunately, those who do miss out on a fantastic way to be discovered outside of those channels, Google. Today we’ll discuss how to setup a free Google business listing for your food truck.

For those unaware, a first page listing on Google search results is the Holy Grail when it comes to search engine marketing.

Many companies invest large sums of cash to appear on the first page by advertising through Google Adwords. For example, to achieve the top ad position when a user searches for “seafood New York,” the advertiser is paying $2.35 each time someone clicks on their ad. This can become very expensive very fast. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a way to appear on Google for Free?

The good news is, there is, and Google wants you to do it.The Google Local Business Center is designed as a way for local business owners to provide information about their business, so Google Maps can deliver more relevant findings. But in the Google tradition of ‘more is better,’ it goes far beyond a simple location description.

This is an essential online marketing tool that is provided to your food truck business for nothing.Beyond listing your business, you can add important business information including your phone number, website, description, category, payment options, business hours and service area.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can also add photos and videos, and now they also give you the option to provide both printable and mobile phone coupons.

And here’s where it gets really interesting because they provide information on your results – how many viewed your listing, what actions did they take, and where did they come from. And did we mention this doesn’t cost you anything?

Here’s how to take advantage get a free Google business listing:

2. Click on “Get on Google” button
3. Sign In with your Google account. If you don’t have an account, it’s simple and Free to sign up for one.
4. Click on the “Add New Business” button.
5. From there, you start adding your information. It’s as easy as that. We suggest listing your food truck business’ mailing address because at this point there is no means to provide your mobile locations which may change daily.

The results appear with the “Local Business Results” map that you often find at the top of a search. Take the few minutes it takes and add your food truck to Google Local. We promise, it is well worth the time spent.

Do you have any other tips to sign up for a free Google business listing for other food truck owners? If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

customer satisfaction survey

Did you know that it costs three times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer happy?  Customer satisfaction survey cards can help you keep your existing food truck customers.

Very rarely do food truck customers speak with their mouths, they speak with their feet. When they’re unhappy, they simply don’t come back. Why? Could be bad service, price increases or a change in portion size. Most food truck vendors will never know.

Don’t spend big bucks on mass mailers, newspaper ads, and weeknight specials to attract new customers. Focus on keeping the customers who already know and love you. And if something does go wrong, set up systems to intercept unhappy guests before they walk away from your truck.

A well-executed customer satisfaction survey card system gives you the vital information you need, shows that you care about your customers, and offers a simple, hassle-free way to give feedback—good or bad.

Be creative. Design a customer satisfaction survey card that people will want to complete. Include a section for rating food, service and setting. Another section should include a space for short answer, open-ended questions. The last section should ask for customer information. Here’s where you can start building a valuable data base.

Sample Customer Satisfaction Survey:

Please rate the following areas on a scale of:

1 – Unacceptable
2 – Needs improvement
3 – Fair
4 – Good
5 – Excellent

Your server:
Friendly
Knowledgeable
Prompt

Food:
Portions
Taste
Presentation

Cleanliness:
Truck
Line/Queue area

Menu:
Variety
Description
Prices

Other questions to include:

What did you order today?

How often do you visit the truck?

  • First time
  • 1-4 times a year
  • 1-2 times a month
  • Once a week or more

Would you like to be on our email mailing list?

Please add any other comments that will help us improve your dining experience.

Encourage your customers to fill-in the card completely by giving incentives such as a complimentary dessert on the next visit. Birthday and anniversary “treats” are good incentives too.

You’ll increase frequency of existing customers simply by asking these questions and offering a “thank-you” gift to be redeemed at a future date. And equally important, if something goes wrong, you have the chance to make it right…almost immediately. Don’t let that customer walk away from your food truck for good.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips for the use of customer satisfaction surveys? We’d love to hear from you is you’ve got experience in this area. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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

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.

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.

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.

Social Connections