Marketing Eating on the Street: Food Trucks

07/13/2011

Food Truck _Yum Yum I love eating on the street! Really I do.

 A hip urban "Indie" alternative to a traditional restaurant meal is (literally) hitting the streets. From the City of Angels to Hot'lanta to cities across the United States food trucks are validating our less formal life style with a unique sense of fun. (Photo of Atlanta pink food truck Yum Yum cupcakes)

However, don't think for one second these food trucks are like the old corner prezel stand. They're part of a growing luxury food trend. Ray Choi, owner of the Kogi (which draws an almost cult following in LA), was awarded the Food & Wine 2010 Best of New Chef award.

In our tight capital investment economy, entrepreneurs are getting creative with parameters of limited cash flow and investment dollars. Food trucks have become one of the hottest small business ventures.  

MSN's News On Main video highlights a few of the approximatley 600 (!) food trucks in Portland OR. As Chris Cashman reports, "Every food truck owner has a unique story." One of my favorites from is Ziba from Bosnia who sells pitas based on her family's 100 year old recipe. 

This is not a cupcake walk nor for the faint of heart. Developing a successful food truck business takes more than passion and talent. It takes as much hard work and savvy as any company plus add to that the challenges of a roaming location. Oh sure, at the end of the day it still has to be all about the food but .. 

As you would expect, social media marketing plays a huge role in not only creating awareness but in building the brand and a loyal customer aka fan aka like aka circle base. For food truck owners it is especially critical for their customers to feel they are part of the entire experience. Here are a few ideas (many can be used in any business setting).

Six Food Truck Marketing Tips

1. Concept On The Tweet Street

The concept must be easily understandable without a lot of explanation. If people find you through Twitter the first (and sometimes only) introduction to your culinary point of view is your name. Does it confuse or hinder or intrigue?

2. The Truck

The "wrap" should support your brand concept with unique visual interest. In addition, the cleanliness of the exterior is as important as the interior of your kitchen. Don't forget people can see into at least part of the back-end of your operations. 

3. Pressure Cooker Service

How you and your staff relate to your customers is paramount in creating loyal fans. How will you let your Twitter followers or Facebook likes know you care and appreciate them? Success can lead to long lines = a long wait = unhappy customers. Consider taking orders while people are waiting in line (before they reach the truck window). A few .. "glad you're here" "thanks for waiting" "we promise it will be awesome" .. is a good idea too. 

4. Presentation 

 Do your serving plates reflect your brand or are they just a boring (yawn) white? Boston based Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese uses bright yellow checked paper linings that reinforces the retro and the yellow in their truck. 

Social Media Marketing  

5. Facebook: If your menu is consistent build out a "menu tab;" status updates are great when adding new items to your menu. Photos .. photos .. photos and a few videos too. Encourage your customers to post their photos to your page .. don't forget the tags!

6. Twitter: Talk to your customers .. just don't message out your menu. Make it easy for your customers to find you. Google map link your location. 

 Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

Let's have some fun. MSN Business On Main is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly.  Here's the deal. Let's create a list of marketing ideas for food truck owners. The suggestion that Max & I choose will win 100 dollars.  Food Trucks_BOM Ziba  

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

1. Post your marketing idea for food trucks on this Diva Marketing post And on this post on Business On Main

2. Identify your post on Business on Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight July 31, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section"

That's it .. now it's your turn!

Roxy food truck_james
Update!
Excited to tell you that James DiSabatino, Roxy’s Grilled Food, finalist on the Food Network Foodtruck Race will be our guest judge. Toss a pink boa to Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe for the intro.

Update! Interview with James DiSabatino and announcement of the contest winner!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Comments

Set up a free FourSquare merchant page and let your customers know where your truck will be parked and hours of operation. Attract new customers and reward your most loyal ones by offer foursquare specials - mobile coupons, prizes or discounts which are presented to users when they check in at or near your truck.

Posted by: Robin Lankton on Jul 14, 2011 10:43:42 AM

The internet offers many great avenues for marketing, but I'd strongly recommend food trucks and cart vendors take advantage of one old-school marketing tool--the color postcard. Have a local artist design a high-impact, fun, witty postcard that shows off your truck or cart as well as your food and makes it clear that eating here is a unique experience. Then invite your customers to use the postcards to tell their friends that "We eat at The Taco Bus!" (or wherever.) For a brand new business, I'd set a budget and give away, say, $1,000. worth of postcards. ( I have been very happy with http://www.printingforless.com where I pay $125. for 500 color cards.)As the business becomes established, I'd sell the postcards at cost, producing a new edition each month so they become collector items. The key, of course, is to choose an artist/designer capable of creating designs worth collecting. A starving artist may even trade services for food!

Posted by: Bonnie Boots on Jul 14, 2011 12:12:29 PM

Debra Gaynor - New York
Food trucks are so hip right now, that they should band together and start catering weddings and parties. How cool would it be to have food stations staffed by 10 food trucks, who each specialize in the few things they make (and are therefore delicious). It's also good exposure for the food truck.

Posted by: Debra Gaynor on Jul 15, 2011 12:27:27 PM

If anyone is having difficulties posting here or on the Business on Main site please please let me know via eMail: toby b 1 at g mail dot com

Thanks!

Posted by: Toby - @tobydiva on Jul 17, 2011 10:25:37 AM

Here are a few ideas.

1. INTERN. Owner of truck recruit an intern, interested in the mobile hospitality industry, from a respected undergraduate or graduate business program. That intern can tweet or blog about learning the ropes. Six months of that or more could result in an e-book sold to those hospitality trade schools as well as business programs. It can be routed to business writers in the media.

2. TRUCK KITCHEN. One day a week for two hours, the truck distributes free servings in a neighborhood for the poor and homeless. But there’s more. Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for life. The food truck owner can teach a poor or homeless person to blog about the experience at the local public library. That account could be aired on television. Also, a poor or homeless can be taught to use a video camera and record how it is to be homeless. That could be edited for a documentary.

3. AFFORDABLE LUXURY. The overpriced latte is so over. Instead, entrepreneurs have invented the $2.50 gourmet Popsicle or the macho cupcake which is premium-priced. The truck owner can invent that kind of exotic item. It can brand the truck, as with a $4.50 long cup of soup with ingredients from around the world. The brand could be Planet Earth Pleasure.

4. VOODOO. In changing and confusing times, human beings turn to consulting with other worldly forces. One day a week, in certain upscale neighborhoods, a psychic parachutes out of the truck to give low-cost or free readings. The media can be invited or the citizen media can video tape the readings. This is truly a sign of the times. When the planet Mercury is in Retrograde as it will be around August 5th this year, there can be special kinds of readings for people experiencing confusing. The psychic can do this for free in order to get the exposure.

5. COMEDY ON THE RUN. In certain neighborhoods, aspiring comics can entertain from the truck. The media and citizen journalists can be invited.

6. CHINA ON THE RUN. Given the high GDP growth rate of China, everyone is interested in learning more about this nation’s economy, social mores, legal system, and use of social media. In certain neighborhoods an expert on China from a local think tank or university can deliver a 15-minute lecture, which is put on video for YouTube. The logo of the truck is prominently featured.

Posted by: Jane Genova on Jul 17, 2011 7:09:09 PM

Sandi Solow wrote a nice blog post about the food truck's lack of use of email:
http://isendyouremail.com/2011/07/05/why-food-trucks-need-email-marketing/

Posted by: Joe Koufman on Jul 24, 2011 12:14:15 AM

I saw the video and go through all the content a nice blog post about the food truck's

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Stephen

Posted by: Social Media Marketing on Jul 24, 2011 1:03:49 AM

I think the trucks are missing a large segment of their audience by not using email as a way to market their trucks. Not everyone uses Twitter and/or Facebook, but they could certainly use email to drive social sharing (i.e. post this email on Facebook or Tweet a link in an email).

Email would also allow them to target their messages to reach different geographic segments of their audience.

Posted by: Sandi Karchmer Solow on Jul 29, 2011 11:27:28 AM

I have a client that would be perfect for this if she was in the US - she's done her coffee, tea and sweet sweet treats van up 60s chic style and it has a real Breakfast at Tiffany's feel to it - will send her over to read your post, even if she can't apply! She really does fit all your criteria to the letter!

Posted by: Content Writer on Aug 6, 2011 9:24:43 PM

It sounds that the trend of food on wheels is again on the rise and people are also loving eating and buying food from them. I think we all are now sick of going to a fast food restaurant and eating there, as now we will have choice to buy it from people who have the kitchen on wheels and we can go to some park and eat there peaceful in a fresh green environment.

Posted by: termite control houston on Aug 24, 2011 3:08:49 AM

Perfect! I also love to eat food on the street especially when I am with friends. We always look for the safest and health food trucks sellers.

Posted by: Catering Trucks for Sale on Oct 13, 2011 6:46:35 PM

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