Your mobile food business stays on the move. That's the name of the game. But without new leads, feeds, and customers, you can wind up driving in circles.
Technology and social media have also been on the move in recent years. Their convergence creates opportunities for mobile and location-based marketing unlike anything ever seen before. And the advantages are significant for small-business owners in the mobile food industry.
Launching a mobile marketing campaign takes some effort -- you know too well that nothing in business is effortless. But if you can knock out a little research and commit to investing small chunks of time on a regular basis, the payoffs of launching a mobile marketing campaign can be impressive.
Mobile Food Marketing: There's an App for That
An old battle cry in publishing is "know your audience." Apply that to your marketing efforts, and you've got a leg up on the competition. Let them rely on the tired principle of "if you build it, they will come." If you know your audience, you know precisely where to reach them.
Odds are that most of your best current customers use mobile devices. That goes for your potential customers, too. Time spent on mobile devices is rising fast, nearly tripling from 2011 to 2012, according to eMarketer, a marketing analysis and consulting firm. Reach those devices, and you'll reach your customer base.
So exactly what are all those smartphones and tablets plugged in to? Which apps and sites are your hungry clientele feeding on? That's where your research comes in, but it's a safe bet that most of your customers access more than one of these social services:
The power of those services, beyond their vast popularity, lies in their ability to provide locations in real time. Mobile Cuisine Magazine reported that Twitter is the undisputed leader for food truck marketing. According to the site's stats, more than 100 trucks in Los Angeles rely on tweeting, with anywhere from 500 to 5,000 followers. These vendors serve their customers more than food: clients receive their latest location updates live. Mobile food trucks and other mobile food businesses can also take advantage of this direct contact to thank patrons and to provide special offers and contests.
A quick check on Foursquare is easy. All you have to do is key in the search term "food truck." In Chicago, where this article is being written, Foursquare brings up no fewer than 30 food trucks to choose from at this very moment in time. Each listing can be clicked on for more information, including their current location. The listing on Yelp is even more extensive.
Posts on Facebook can be used in a similar way. Customers can check in for your latest location or your next stop. As a food truck owner, you can also post about specials, giveaways, and contests.
Many of these services can also be cross-linked to feed off each other. Tweets can appear on Facebook, for example. There's no reason your truck shouldn't be listed, too.
Mobile Food Trucks: Where to Start Your Online Marketing Efforts
Reaching the mobile masses via their devices is no different from reaching them in person. If you're going to sell your food, you've got to know where to park your truck. In order to sell your message, you've got to pick your spots, too.
If you're not sure where to begin, talk to your customers. Ask them which websites and apps they use. The idea is to learn what they use in general, as well as any food apps they rely on for food-specific activities. Pass out comment cards. Post a survey on your blog. Find out where your customers go, mobile-wise, and take all the notes you can.
Once you've armed yourself with all that research, the next step is going to take commitment. Keeping up a mobile presence takes more than time – it takes sustained effort. Just as your customers count on the consistent quality of your sushi, cupcakes, or tacos, they're going to count on your information.
If you've been growing your business effectively, you've got plenty of regulars just waiting for you to show up. There are a whole lot more customers out there, potential patrons just waiting to come across your information. Your food truck is portable – you've got that concept down cold. It's time you made your marketing mobile, too.