You’ve taken the leap and decided to start a food truck. Now what? As you prepare to launch your business, you will need to take into consideration how to market your food truck.
The following food truck marketing tips are useful for those just starting out, as well as for food truck owners who want to grow and improve their business.
Market Yourself First by Building Your Credentials
Do you believe in yourself enough as a chef and business owner to market yourself?
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts may be the place to start. Escoffier graduate and food truck owner Nahika Hillery knew that pursuing a culinary degree could help her to feel more qualified and prepared to own a small business. You can be successful as a food truck owner without such credentials, but Hillery can attest to the difference a culinary education can make in helping you believe in yourself more.
“I was a really good home cook, but I lacked the confidence in my skills in a professional setting. The culinary industry is such a respected field, and I wanted to be on an equal playing ground with other chefs that I had an opportunity to work with… So I think overall, just the skill set and training to deserve the title chef was really important to me.”
Nahika Hillery, Escoffier Austin Culinary Arts Graduate & Chef/Owner, Kréyol Korner Caribbean Cuisine
You need a set of skills you feel comfortable counting on. Market yourself by collecting credentials, which may mean obtaining certifications, pursuing education, or something else. Whatever you need to do to feel more competent and empowered, do it.
Flesh Out Your Brand: What Do You Want the World to Know About Your Business?
Branding your food truck and business should be one of the first aspects of your marketing plan. You need an aesthetic and logo for your truck, website, menu, and online platforms, so that people remember your name.
But beyond designing a great logo, you need a mission statement and purpose for your truck. Tell the world your story, and what they will get when they visit your truck.
Your brand goes hand-in-hand with your business concept, or the “why” of your business. Consider the greater impact of your business on the world, and how outside political, economic, social, technological, and environmental factors will present opportunities to and challenge it.
Need mission statement inspiration? When asked what customers can expect from her catering business, Luchal’s Gourmet Catering, Escoffier graduate Chantal Lucas answered: “Great customer service, awesome flavor profiles, great food. Just a great vibe.”
Go to Your Target Customers—In Person and Online
Strategize a few location options that will meet your sales needs and the needs of your customers. Give your customers convenience by parking in busy, easily walkable areas. Attend as many large events such as festivals and concerts as possible, and team up with other trucks.
However, COVID-19 has presented unique challenges to all food businesses, including food trucks. The pandemic has greatly reduced the number of people out and about—the food truck industry’s bread and butter.
Truck owners like Funk Seoul Brother’s B.J. Lofback in Nashville have been forced to think outside the box. “Go where people are,” he recommends. By taking his truck directly to neighborhoods rather than public areas and streets, he has kept his business alive.
You also need to go to your target audience online. What sites are they visiting for restaurant and eatery recommendations? What food blogs do they trust? What type of online presence are they looking for from a business (reviews, menu available online, etc.)?
According to an IBISWorld industry report, 19.7% of food truck customers are under the age of 25 and 43.4% are between 25 and 44 years old. This means that over half of your demographic are frequent Internet users and will expect to be able to find you online. Set up a website and create a listing on Google My Business.
Some food truck lovers even take to websites to find trucks in their area to visit or book. Websites and apps that make this possible include:
Take to Social Media to Spark Interest
And of course, there’s social media. This is going to be one of the biggest components of your food truck marketing plan.
Don’t be afraid to lean on foodie influencers for help. These social media superstars are experts at spreading the word about establishments they love, and they may be happy to promote your business to their followers.
Once you’ve started social media accounts for your food truck, don’t forget to maintain them. Update them often and use them to run promotions. Instagram and Facebook are wildly popular for posting pictures and giveaways. Food truck owners also use social media to let people know where they are located.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai offers a great example of how food trucks can leverage social media to draw customers. This popular Portland, Oregon, truck offering chicken and rice posts drool-worthy food pictures, new menu items, hours updates, and more on its various social media accounts. It has thousands of followers and posts almost every day. Nong’s has grown even more popular than before as previous customers are motivated to return, and new customers are motivated to try it.
Learn As Much As You Can About Restaurant Operations
You may feel like you have a good handle on the culinary aspects of your business—your technique, your menu, etc.—but you need to be business savvy, too, if your food truck is going to thrive.
Escoffier offers an online Food & Beverage Operations degree that can help you feel more prepared for the demands of running a successful business.
In this program, you will be matched with mentors who have extensive experience in the food and beverage management. They can guide you to be the best food truck owner you can be with a curriculum that also covers the business aspects of running a restaurant including:
- Restaurant safety
- Licensing and health codes
- Ingredient sourcing
- Operation costs, and, of course
- Marketing your business
In fact, the online diploma and degree programs offered by Escoffier have courses in entrepreneurship that any food truck owner would find beneficial.
“Anybody can say they are a chef. As far as the management portion, that is where Escoffier is really helping me actually run a restaurant, run a café, or run a business. And that’s what I want. I want my own restaurant.”
Tiffany Moore, Escoffier Online Culinary Arts Graduate & Co-Founder/Chef, Event Hall @ Cascade
Stay Dedicated to Your Food Truck Marketing Plan
Continuous marketing is critical to the ongoing success of your food truck. Maintain whatever improvements you put in place and lean on your network for advice along the way.
Marketing your business is just as important as being a great cook. Contact us for more information about our programs today. With these strategies, you’re ready to run the food truck you’ve always dreamed of.
Want more tips for running your own food business? Give the following articles a try: