Starting your own food truck is a challenging experience. If you are doing so in Alberta, then you are tapping into a vibrant market. The food truck market in cities like Edmonton and Calgary are still growing. Once you have your truck set up and have all the necessary permissions, you are ready to cook – except that you need customers, and for that you need to market your food truck.
If you thought that setting up your own food truck is enough to bring success, then you need to recalibrate that thinking. You are not just a chef anymore, you an entrepreneur and you need to put on your marketing hat.
Don’t know where to start? Well, don’t worry, this post will help you out.
The Kick Off
Just because you aren’t a restaurant does not mean you can’t have a grand opening. Fresh and new ventures have a better chance of creating a buzz in the market in comparison to established brands. People want new and different – especially when it comes to food.
Select a Date
You can’t have a kick off without selecting a date. Once you select a date, you can begin the preparation. This is a date you must be absolutely sure of. To change the date later on would be a disaster for your marketing efforts.
Create a Buzz on Social Media
The first and easiest place to start creating a buzz is on social media. Your brand should have Twitter and Facebook pages. Create an events page and ensure that your friends and family are talking about it and spreading the word.
Get Noticed by the Media
There are two things you can do under this. Get the media to list the opening of your food truck and get them to attend it.
Email press releases to your the local paper
Reach out to food writers through email and social media
Invite the Local Celebrities
Who are the local celebrities you can call? The internet has created a new breed of food critics. These are people who have a large online following and can help you bring in more people for the kick off. Platforms like Zomato are great for finding and targeting food bloggers.
Give them Something to Talk About
Setting up the kick off is not enough. You have to do something that gets people talking and furthermore creates ripples on social media. Unique food or a unique demonstration is the right direction to go in.
But, the kick off is just the start of it. You have to constantly market your food truck to stay relevant and create awareness.
Do you have an inspiring or interesting story on how you created the food truck? Media platforms are always craving for unique stories. While it may be difficult to get featured by big media houses, look to the local channels. Reach out to channels like Huffington Post and Metro Edmonton. By getting featured through such channels, you can, in turn, create a social media buzz.
Don’t think you have a story to tell? Well, you actually do. Here are a few questions to ask.
Why did you think of starting a food truck
What’s so different about the food?
What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
There is always an angle that a story can be built on. Find it.
Capture an Event
Can your brand relate to any special event? There are multiple occasions throughout the year, is there anyone you can tie up directly through your food or at least in spirit?
Wafels & Dinges, a New York based food truck, does something or the other every Belgian National Holiday. In 2011, they did two things. They handed out free cones of their latest flavor for only one hour and created an event of crowing the “back-up King of Belgium”. Fans and followers were asked to come dressed as royalty and give a small speech on how Wafels & Dinges has expanded the Belgian Empire. And of course, no good competition is complete without a worthy prize. The winner could host a free catering event for 50 people.
Have Email Marketing
Email marketing is a valuable tool to communicate with your customers and stay relevant to them. What can you do?
Monthly Newsletter: A monthly mashup of the new foods and things that your food truck has been up to. Giving your followers a taste of what they missed.
New Foods: Got a new food item? Email is an effective way to inform customers
Email Contest: Social media is not the only way to run a contest.
Email is a powerful medium so don’t miss it.
Start a Loyalty Program
A loyalty program gives customers a reason to keep coming back to your food truck. The entire purpose of a loyalty program is to show fans that you care and that you want them to visit again. This is why it is crucial that your loyalty program does not have too many hoops to jump through for your customers.
Use various rewards, coupons and bonuses to attract customers back.
Run a Food Contest
Running a food contest is an excellent method to create a buzz, reach out to your customers, jump up sales and increase your presence online.
One of the best contests to run is to ask customers to contribute to creating a new recipe or flavor.
BBQ food truck, Mexicue, held a contest where the winner would have his/her recipe featured on the menu.
Similarly, Ninja Snowballs, asked their followers to invent a new flavor for the truck food.
If you have the budget for it, a food public stunt is a fantastic way to grab people’s attention. While there are tons of things you can do to capture attention, it is critical that there is a large focus on your brand.
In 2011, KFC had a man dress up as Colonel Sanders and rappel down Chicago’s River Bend building. Oh, and he also handed out coupons to the guys washing the windows.
Back in 1998, Burger King had a full page ad in the USA Today proclaiming they had come up with a solution for their left-handed customers by creating the Left-Handed Whopper. They did this on April’s Fool Day.
Similarly, in 1996, Taco Bell promised to purchase the Liberty Bell.
The publicity stunt does not have to an actual event. You can make a funny and insane proclamation.
Hand Out Flyers
In a digitally enriched world, it is easy to forget a traditional method that does work. Having a slow day with no customers? Have an employee hand out flyers. Flyers are cheap and easy to make. Tons of potential customers walk by your food truck every day. You want to make sure that they are aware of your brand and your food. A great way to attract them is to have some offer or discount printed on the flyer.
Finally, the last bit of advice is to always keep marketing. Your food truck brand needs to stay relevant in the minds of your customers Utilize this tips and tactics at the right time to generate interest among your customers to keep the food, and money, cooking!