Over the past decade, we’ve all noticed the rise in food trucks — on roadsides, at events, and everywhere in between.
A way to get great food conveniently, and with a clear novelty factor, these businesses continue to grow in popularity. Sometimes trucks are then converted into brick and mortar restaurants, but most often, they attract a real cult following and stay as is.
With low overheads and ease of operation, food trucks make profitable assets. You could be looking at profit margins of up to 40% if you get everything right with food truck marketing.
And now is a great time to open a food truck or to really push food truck promotion. In 2021, the market size of the food truck industry in the U.S. hit $1.16 billion.
In this easy guide, we’re going to run you through cost-effective food truck advertising ideas that will keep the customers queuing up.
The ideal market for a food truck
Before we truly get into how to market a food truck, it’s important to consider the demographic that is most usually drawn to them.
According to research, people aged 18-34 are the most likely group to order from food trucks.
This means that all marketing and branding should begin from the point of targeting millennials and Gen Z. A good food truck marketing strategy will therefore focus on making the food truck into an entire experience, and food truck promotions will use technology where possible.
It’s also important to note that the biggest marketing roadblock you will usually face is generating repeat custom. Any effort to ensure loyalty among this consumer base will ensure success among the competition.
How to market a food truck
The first key pillar of food truck marketing is to craft a solid brand. Without this, any other food truck promotions will be much less effective.
Decide which types of food you will offer first and foremost. We recommend offering a few staple items and changing parts of your menu up alongside this. Over 34% of food trucks experiment with their menu and variety-informed promotions can be a great way to keep customers coming back.
Use our guide to selecting a theme for your restaurant/ food truck to help you decide exactly which foods to sell at which prices.
From here, you can begin to create a strong visual theme for your brand. Hiring a graphic designer is a cost-effective way to elevate your food truck beyond the competition and to ensure that you are remembered. Everything from your packaging to your vehicle itself is a marketing opportunity.
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If your target audience is on social media, it goes without saying that you should be too.
Creating a food truck page on Instagram is a great way to start, and it doesn’t have to be incredibly time-consuming. Aim to post at least 3-5 times a week and focus on high-quality, simple, and clear photography with catchy captions. Be sure to use relevant hashtags, too.
Take a look at the examples below for inspiration.
Make use of influencers
Take your social media strategy to the next level with influencers. If you don’t have any connections with large social media followings, you can find local influencers and food bloggers to reach out to by searching location-based tags on Instagram or Facebook.
Influencers can also form a key part of food truck ads. If you take a paid advertising approach, choosing imagery and ideas that are going to grab people’s attention is key; a well-known face is a great way to do this.
Build a website
Though it doesn’t need to be flashy or complicated, a website is an integral part of a strong food truck marketing strategy.
Build a mobile-friendly site with developers or by using an easy website builder like Squarespace. Share your menus and create a few blog posts populated with relevant keywords focused around the foods you sell and the location you serve in. This is the foundation of a strong SEO strategy and will allow your customers to find you on search engines.
Utilize location-based marketing
Once you’ve set up your site, you’ll also be able to tap into location-based marketing. This will allow people who are passing through the area to find your business more easily and remind local customers to visit you.
Create a loyalty scheme
A loyalty scheme is a great way to get repeat customers. Give out cards that offer a free meal after nine paid ones, for example, or implement a digital reward system via Instagram or Facebook. Research shows that customers spent twice as much with companies that offered loyalty schemes in 2020 Restaurant Dive.
Hold contests and events
You don’t need to have a big budget to create an event that makes a splash. Simply advertise that you’ll be cooking something special on a game night, for example, or hold a competition to see who can eat the most of a certain food. Get creative and have fun!
Get involved with events
Reaching out to events is daunting, but it’s a great way to get your food truck out there. Try to position your website so that it attracts this type of opportunity by keeping it business oriented. Explore food and beer festivals and farmer’s markets. Open-air cinemas and special neighborhood events are also good to look into.
Consider food delivery
Getting into food delivery means that you don’t have to wait for your customers to come to you. With a strong website and social media presence, you can be racking up orders to ship out when the food truck is quiet.
Go back to basics with print ads
Among all of this, it’s a good idea to remember that food truck ads don’t have to involve technology to be effective! Get some high-quality, branded leaflets printed out and take them to local stores and venues.
Work with other food trucks
Though it’s less conventional among food truck advertising ideas, partnering with other food trucks can open up a range of opportunities. Why not find one that complements the foods you offer and refer each other to relevant events?