Mobile food carts have made a huge impact on the restaurant industry over the last few years. In fact, there are an estimated 8 million food carts and trucks serving fast, delicious food across the US. For customers, they are convenient, cheap, quick, and offer great variety, and for small business owners they are relatively inexpensive to start and easier to maintain than a brick and mortar restaurant. The trend has grown so large, in fact, that even Costco recently began carrying Bamboo Lane's Korean brand beef "street tacos," which was inspired by the ever-popular Kogi taco food cart craze in LA.
While there is tremendous growth in the number of food carts, food cart marketing plays a big role in the success of each individual mobile restaurant. As with any small business marketing plan, it takes a careful and deliberate strategy to make a food cart marketing campaign successful.
Here are 7 tips to help improve your food cart marketing strategy.
Choose a Regular Location Carefully
Your location plays a big part in the success of your food cart. In many major cities, there are "clusters" of food carts located in strategic areas around town, such as near the central business district, popular shopping districts, etc. If you can snag a spot among these clusters, that will certainly help with your marketing reach.
If you choose your own individual location, be sure you avoid parking close to other established restaurants, especially those that serve similar food as yours. And be sure there is good foot traffic to have sufficient demand for your product.
If you have a permit for a certain location, be sure you attract customers from your direct radius. Smart food cart marketing means getting flyers and coupons into the hands of the workers, shoppers, etc, immediately around you. Especially if you operate in a commercial area, you can attract regular customers. Invite them to try your food for an introductory discount.
Build Buzz Through Twitter and Facebook
There is no better example of social media use than food cart marketing. Through these channels, you can gain a loyal following of customers. Make sure you display your Twitter and Facebook account name everywhere - on your signage, your business card, and email contacts.
Food carts generally have much competition to deal with, especially if "clustered" with a group of other food cart or truck owners. What is the tipping point to make passers-by choose your food selection?
One effective food cart marketing technique is free samples. Give small samples of your signature dish. With a taste of your best food on their palate, it can help sway hungry customers to your order window.
Improve Customer Competition with Foursquare
Don't miss out on the amazing food cart marketing options through Foursquare. Be sure your food cart account is set up. Then offer specials to those who frequent your mobile food business and check in regularly. You might offer the "mayor" to receive a free dish or desert. You can also utilize foursquare to get many people to check in at once, also called a "swarm." If you get a certain predetermined and posted number of check-ins, everyone gets your discount of the day.
Choose to Park in Different Locations
One food cart marketing strategy that works for popular mobile food trucks is keeping your customers guessing. Try showing up at a different location each day. Be sure to use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to publish your location each day.
The Grilled Cheese Truck out of L.A. has had tremendous success with this tactic. Their melted cheesy delights have become so popular that once their daily location is announced, swarms of customers from that area flock to the truck to make orders.
Cater to Seasonal Demand
With any outdoor food cart or truck, seasonal temperatures can have a big impact on your business. Consider offering refreshing hot foods in the colder winter months, and cool or icy treats in the hot summer.
Your small business marketing plan can have big success with the right strategy. Take these points to heart when you form your own food cart marketing strategy.