How to write a food truck marketing plan, 9 highly effective food truck marketing ideas and trends
November 30, 2021 • 17 minutes
A marketing strategy is one of those things that business owners know they need when starting food truck business. It could be the key to reaching key areas of their target market, ensuring they can fill in gaps or slow periods, and ultimately boost business. But where do you start? Have you clearly defined your target audience? Do I need to pay for social media exposure? Is print marketing for food trucks still a thing?
To answer these questions, we made a comprehensive guide on crafting a food truck marketing plan. Check out all of our ideas, tips, and trends to help you along the way.
How to understand the target audience for a food truck business?
[Food truck business increased 7,5%](hhttps://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/food-trucks-united-states/#: ~:text=There are 26,228 Food Trucks, increase of 7,5% from 2020.) in 2021 because the demand dramatically increased. While the demand has gone up, it doesn't mean that every food truck customer wants your truck or your menu. That's right; it's not worth trying to attract everyone who might be interested in food trucks.
A food truck’s target market depends mostly on its location and concept. Finding your audience is more science than creativity, and it can ease some business owners' minds to know that their marketing strategy has some analytical foundation.
Here are a few insights into the general food market audience:
● Millennials make up 47% of food truck customers
● Unique experience and new food pull in 80% of food truck diners.
● Diners will continue to frequent food trucks for their convenience, quality, and speed.
Now, to find your target audience! As a food truck, you're already in a niche, but you need to drill down further. Follow these steps to find your target audience:
1. If you have customers, then identify their common characteristics and interests. If you are working on your food truck business plan, you need to scope out your competition. Who do your competitors target, and are there niches that they're missing?
2. Consider key demographics. It can seem disconnected or overly logical for marketing, but it's exceptionally useful.
Here are seven factors you should answer so you can create an effective marketing strategy:
● Age — Millennials make up the largest diner base, but you may attract older customers.
● Location — Where will you serve? Uptown, downtown, or residential? Who frequents this area?
● Income level — Upscale or economical? People on a budget or those willing to spend extra for add-ons?
● Marital/Family status — Will you need a kids menu? Would couples entrees make sense?
● Occupation — Food trucks are a part of the outdoor work culture. What occupations will you serve?
● Ethnic background — Will you serve people from backgrounds that want cultural comfort food or something out of the ordinary?
● Interest in food truck dining — Are your diners here for convenience or because they’re looking for a specific experience?
3. Evaluate the psychological aspects that make your customers who they are.
What makes your ideal customers tick? Think about these things:
● Shopping or spending behavior
● Interests and hobbies
It might seem like this is a bit much, but businesses will often dedicate their time to building customer personas around these psychological factors.
Famous Detroit-based sandwich truck Hero or Villain names their menu items after beloved heroes and villains such as Captain Planet, Deathstroke, and Starlord. They base their marketing strategy on their concept and customer's common interests.
You might consider running a customer analysis for the food truck marketing plan every quarter or six months. This analysis can help you ensure you’re targeting through the right platforms, engaging your audience, and not accidentally missing out on key contact points.
How to set up a marketing budget for a food truck
The question business owners want to know understand is: how much is this going to cost? There isn't a one-size-fits-all budget, and a bigger budget won't guarantee a more successful campaign. You can have a huge budget for content creation that ensures you upload a blog post every day, but there's no promise that it will see more traffic or conversions.
Mobile Cuisine acknowledges what [food truckers have used as a rule of thumb](hhttps://mobile-cuisine.com/marketing/food-truck-marketing-budget/#: ~:text=The general rule of thumb, with hold those figures tight.) for years. Food trucks should use 3 to 6% of sales for marketing purposes.
Scheduling a food truck ad campaign isn't free, but you can get much mileage out of bootstrapped budget. Set your food truck annual budget for marketing based on your recent sales figures. Then break down that spending into clear channels for print, social media, events, and other digital marketing efforts.
Your food truck marketing plan structure
Food truck marketing requires structure, or else it can seem like you’re putting in all the effort without seeing any of the results. You need a plan that addresses your specific audience offline and online while helping to draw people in to keep your truck busy.
1. Tips for creating a strong brand for food trucks
Branding is where it's at. Everything comes back to branding. It's the foundation of any good business and can set the stage for every marketing campaign. What is your brand? It's a combination of your logo, name, values, aesthetic, and presence.
Some of your values and aesthetics will already appear in your logo or name. Take our Heroes and Villains example earlier. Their name says it all. Then, their aesthetic is built around traditional comic pop-art. They use all of these elements for every marketing campaign, and it produces a degree of trust, loyalty, and familiarity.
Here are a few tips for building a strong brand:
Keep everything consistent! Consistency is key.
Use a single visual identity — use the same font, color palette, and logo every time.
Write a tagline — a 3 to 5-word summary or quippy declaration of what you do and why you're great!
Need some tagline inspiration? Dollar Shave Club uses, «Shave time. Shave Money.» And who can forget M&M's famous, «Melt in your mouth, not in your hands.»
2. Digital marketing for food trucks
Searches using «near me» and «where to buy» jumped by over 200% between 2017 and 2019; we're sure that the next round of data will show continued growth as people learn how to control their search results better. Everything from website development to PPC falls under the digital marketing umbrella, and it's a lot to take in.
Let's start by saying you don't need to be a digital marketing expert. There is a whole new vocabulary, and the sheer volume of information is overwhelming. We're going to dive into what you need for your website, your social media presence, apps, and brand loyalty.
Your food truck website
Building your food truck website is possibly the most demanding part of digital marketing. You don't want to cut corners, but there are very good services available to make this process much easier. Wix and Squarespace both offer drag-and-drop website design, but having a website that looks good isn't the only thing to worry about.
When designing your food truck website for a marketing plan for:
● Pagespeed — Don't overload your site with large video files. Users aren't patient when it comes to page loading times. If your page doesn't load in a few seconds, then you'll lose a fair amount of visitors.
● Keep your website consistent with your brand and all of your other marketing materials.
● SEO or Search Engine Optimization — keywords and phrases that your audience will likely use when looking for a good food truck.
● Adwords — a Google service that helps you research and even purchases SEO keywords for Google promoted results (ads).
Your website will do a lot more for you than just exist online. Here are a few tips to get the most marketing impact out of your website:
Host a blog on your site to post meaningful content. You don't have to post every day; just post things that people want to read related to your brand and business.
Use your website to build an email list then you can utilize email marketing! Send out newsletters with your updates, locations for the upcoming week, and coupons or information for loyalty club members.
Connect with influencers to funnel traffic to your site to beef up that email list, and connect with more of your target audience.
Best practices for food truck social media marketing
Food truck social media campaigns can cover a lot of ground and help you connect with your target market. Best practices for social media marketing for food trucks include:
Use multiple channels such as Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Focus your efforts toward where your target audience gravitates.
Post regularly, but post informational content such as your location, menu changes, and upcoming events.
Use paid ads for campaigns, and other methods to prompt engagement such as hosting raffles or giveaways through Instagram, or Facebook.
Don't ignore online listings! Yelp! Google My Business, LinkedIn Company Directory, Apple Maps, and Bing or Yahoo are great online listings. Register your business and contact information with them so people can always reach you.
Get engaged — respond to customer questions and comments.
Keep your brand voice consistent across all platforms.
Food truck apps — everywhere you should be!
There are many food truck apps for both sides of the window. You can have a slew of apps that process payments, track shifts, and more. But where you want to be is on the apps that customers use to find food trucks!
Sign up with these mobile apps to ensure that your food truck is listed and easy to find:
● Roaming Hunger
● Food Truck Fiesta
● Eat St.
● TruxMap Lite Food Truck Map
● Road Stoves GPS
Branded loyalty programs
Email marketing for food trucks is a great way to build up your branded loyalty program. Another way is to use your customer base. These loyalty programs are part of your digital marketing strategy, but the costs largely tie into what you’re already investing in your POS.
With an all-star Point-of-Sale system, you can make it easy for your cashiers or guests to access discounts and bonuses from your loyalty program. Poster POS helps owners and management teams build a customer base right in the food truck point of sale while also importing customer sign up from your email list.
3. Print marketing for food trucks
Print marketing is far from dead. Flyers, car wraps, and loyalty cards are still excellent ways to attract customers. Although the majority of your food truck advertisement happens online, you can't ignore print marketing.
Common types of print marketing for food trucks:
● Printed menus
● Business cards
● Brochures or flyers with catering information
● Printed coupons
● Loyalty stamp or punch cards
4. Launch your food truck offline events with flair
What can your food truck do offline that can bring in more customers and have a long-lasting effect? Everything from tasting sessions, prizes, and food truck festivals! There are nearly countless ways to get involved with your community and cultivate a following.
- Food truck events might seem like a long shot because you're surrounded by competition. But, people go to food truck events to taste food and explore new food trucks.
2. After you've tapped into all of your community food truck events or festivals, you can start looking at hosting tasting sessions. Tasting sessions have gained popularity, and it's a great way to gain exposure with lower costs.
Food truck festivals and tasting sessions are great ways to reach many people. All they need is that first bite! To get that bite in, many will choose to cut down their menu or reduce portion sizes (with prices to match) so people will be more inclined to taste or sample your food.
5. Food truck partnering and cross-promotion ideas
Use your food truck customer demographics to learn more about your clients and connect with partners or brands that fit your customers too. Food trucks have a unique position where they are not necessarily in direct competition with many other businesses.
Food truck partnerships and cross-promotions can work in a few different ways. The first is partnering with complementary food trucks or restaurants. For example, a food truck that focuses on loaded fries might look to partner with a food truck that serves specialty lemonade or boba drinks. The two aren’t exactly competing, and both would benefit.
The other way that partnerships can work out is to pair up with local businesses and secure lunch-time availability. If you reach out to local offices, construction companies, and shops such as auto repair shops, you can schedule days to park nearby. The scheduled partnership offers a few benefits:
Employees of that location know you’re going to be there and can make lunch plans around your presence.
Employees might choose to stop at the lunch truck instead of heading out for fast food somewhere else.
Appearing on location gives employees more use of their lunch break given they won’t be driving away from their location and then making time to return.
6. Ideas for providing additional food truck services
Food truck market trends change all the time. Keeping up with them is impossible, but you can embed additional services into your operations.
In the summer of 2021, many COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines were loosened, but most in-door dining remained closed. When people needed something for a small group, food trucks were a great solution, but many cities didn’t allow them either. The solution? Food trucks were offering catering services for small groups, outdoor weddings, and other small and outdoor events. Foodservice will always come with busy and slow periods.
When things are uncertain, it’s always good to have your other services. You can easily implement:
● Catering for private events
● Catering or service for corporate events
● Delivery services
Merchandise can provide a substantial income stream, especially if you incorporate your branding. Five Oars Coffee Roasters, a world-famous Singapore coffee roaster, encourages its customers to always have the best brew. They sell coffee grinders, silicone drips, drinkware, and more.
7. Tips for сhoosing the right location for a food truck
Your location might not seem like a marketing effort at first, but people have to know where to flock to. Geo-location hashtags and using local photos in your marketing can help people know when and where to find your truck. Here are a few outstanding tips to help you choose the right location:
Look out for opportunities to stop near public parking or public transit stations.
Ensure the location allows for food truck parking.
Place your truck in high foot traffic areas.
For example, if you park on famous Alameda Street in Los Angeles, you can accomplish everything listed here. The street has food truck zoning, is near the Metro Station for Little Tokyo and Chinatown, and has multiple landmarks along the street.
After you dedicate some time to finding the right location, be sure to market it!
Use social media to boost your location awareness by:
Posting photos of your truck near landmarks or well-known buildings.
Tag your posts with the geo-location
Share pictures of the nearest cross-streets
Upload screenshots of a GPS app with directions from the nearest major street, freeway, highway, or public transportation stop.
8. Keep marketing with food presentation
Food truck advertising isn’t successful until happy customers start telling people about your great food. Use fun, fresh, or quirky presentations as part of a food truck advertising strategy because chances are you'll see plenty of customer and influencer photos of your food on social media. Your food presentation feeds into your marketing strategy because everyone from professional food writers to everyday social media users is happy to snap and post a photo of their food or drinks.
Use the presence of social media and people's excitement to share images of their food as a way to enhance awareness of your brand. If you can, use disposable dining materials that have your logo or brand name. That way, every image that makes its way online has a high chance of including your brand as well!
Get started with your food truck marketing plan
Take your time creating any marketing plan for a food truck. You might want to keep the scope within a 12-week timeframe or focus on one campaign at a time. Just keep in mind that you want to think about more than just your menu.
Creating a food truck marketing plan template is a tall order because the concept, location, and target market can all dramatically change your marketing strategy. What you can do is use this rough outline to help guide your approach to building your plan:
Set a budget.
Clearly define your brand image.
Identify (and find) your target market.
Determine key points for digital marketing:
Food truck website and blog
Apps or loyalty programs
Layout print advertising efforts:
Loyalty stamp cards
Schedule offline marketing events
Connect with other businesses or food trucks for cross-promotion
Raise awareness for your other services such as catering, delivery, and merchandise.
Follow through with consistent branding and merchandise to keep your brand image going!
Learning how to write a mobile food truck marketing strategy calls for both time and effort. It's a vital investment for any food truck that wants to stay busy, build a following, and have enjoyable and profitable events. Good luck with getting started with your food truck marketing plan today!