Marketing, like every other aspect of a food truck requires money and that requires a marketing budget for your food truck. I know what many of you might be thinking, “Why do I need a marketing budget?” And, “I have Twitter and Facebook at my disposal and those are free.”

While that sentiment might have been true when the mobile food industry exploded in 2008, things have changed. The number of food trucks driving around American cities has blossomed to well over 7,500 in recent years. That’s a lot of trucks!

Coming up with a new concept is getting more and more difficult and unless you adapt to market changes, your food truck can get lost. It is foolish for a food truck to not test the marketing waters these days. You don’t want to miss any opportunities for your food truck business to grow.

Developing A Marketing Budget For Your Food Truck

How Much Should You Allocate To Your Marketing Budget

The general rule of thumb is that your food truck marketing budget should be 3 to 6 percent of sales. While some marketers I’ve spoken with hold those figures tight. I suggest that you look at them more as a set of guidelines. The key is, if your marketing budget is lower than 3 percent or higher than 6 percent, you’d better have a good reason.

Marketing Budgets Under 3 Percent

The excuses I’ve heard from both successful and struggling food trucks that spend under 3 percent of sales usually justify it with their financial situation. The struggling food truck defends this with the weak financial position of the mobile food business.

If that really is the case and you don’t have money for a marketing budget, make sure you put in more time with less expensive marketing strategies.  The food truck owner who is chugging along with great sales numbers often excuses their disinterest in marketing by pointing to the success of the food truck. Unfortunately they don’t realize that their success makes marketing easier.

Marketing Budgets Over 6 Percent

If you happen to be a food truck owner that is putting over 6 percent into your marketing budget you need to start worrying if you are putting all your eggs into the proverbial basket. Some vendors have several proven marketing techniques that have paid off year after year, and it seems like more investment means more business.

In some cases this may be the correct step, however you better have multiple successful marketing tactics to use. If not, by putting in more than 6 percent of your sales into any one marketing method ignores the chance that this success may one day dry up. It happens all the time. Food trucks that top 6 percent also must be able to clearly track the results of their marketing. This helps properly assess if they are over investing and getting diminished returns.

With all that said, the 3 percent to 6 percent is a good rule of thumb for your food truck marketing budget.

RELATED: Marketing Plan Apps To Assist In Creating Your Food Truck Plan

The Bottom Line

Sit down 2 to 3 times a year, to look at the numbers and think over your marketing budget. Marketing is something that should never be put on auto pilot. You need to have a rough estimate of the value of all your food truck marketing moves. This provides you with a way to see the results. It also makes sure that you get at least your 3 to 6 percent back.

Have you set up a marketing budget for your food truck? Does it hit the 3 to 6 percent range and how has it worked for you? We’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section, our food truck forum or social media. Facebook | Twitter