Build My Business: Growing a Hungry Following for Your Food Truck Business

How to Grow Your Food Truck Business

Editor’s Note: Everyone at LeadPages is an expert in some area of marketing, but most of us also have expertise in other fields—or know and care about people who do. This post is part of our Build My Business series, in which our in-house experts, hobbyists, and insatiably curious marketers show you how they would use LeadPages to launch a campaign for a very specific—though hypothetical—business purpose. This week, Jeff Wenberg explains how he’d use LeadDigits™ and several other simple tools to keep a hungry crowd following his food truck.

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As LeadPages’ Head Product Educator, I’m always looking for different use cases for our features. When LeadDigits™, our text-message-based list-building tool, was launched a while back, my coworker Jack was noshing on some gourmet food truck concoction when he remarked, “I bet LeadDigits™ would work great on a food truck.”

That really got me thinking. These trucks often don’t have apparent marketing strategies. It seems like they just show up where they think the people will be, which leaves a lot up to chance.

Personally, I love food trucks, and I’d like to see more of them succeed. So when Jack raised the idea, I knew I had to outline what I would do for marketing if I owned a food truck business.

The strategy I came up with is pretty simple. I’d use LeadDigits to build an email list so I could then communicate with my customers via email and keep them coming back. I’d pair my email marketing with social media to always make sure I had a line at my truck.

To get a detailed breakdown of every tool I’d use in this post, click below. You’ll get a free one-page guide geared to spark great ideas not just for food-truck owners, but for anyone whose business isn’t tied down to bricks and mortar:

Download the Free Food Truck Marketing Stack Guide

If you have LeadPages™, you don’t need to download this template – it’s already available to you inside your LeadPages account. Just log in and you’ll see how super easy it is to customize this page in seconds with no technical knowledge or skills, make it mobile responsive, integrate it with your email service provider or CRM, run A/B split tests, and publish it to Facebook, WordPress, or your own server.

Here’s my hypothetical recipe for a successful food-truck marketing plan.

Step 1: Build an Email List with LeadDigits™

First, I would get my LeadDigit™ set up. If you’re not familiar with LeadDigits™, it’s a simple but powerful tool that lets you collect leads offline through text messaging.

The process starts with selecting a keyword that people will text to the LeadDigits™ number. To start, I would just grab the name of my truck. I decided to choose the keyword “MashedUp” . . . to go with my food truck called Mashed Up, where I mash up various food items into delicious mashups. Naturally.

Next I would decide what I was going to give away in exchange for people’s email addresses. I decided to create a coupon for something that I could make easily and inexpensively: a free side of mashed potatoes and bacon. It would cost me only a few bucks for a whole pan of bacon mashed potatoes, but a free side would have a high perceived value. Here’s how I’d set my LeadDigit™ up in LeadPages®, with a preview of the message new leads would receive:

ld

From there, my LeadDigit™ would go on everything I gave away throughout the day. I’d have it printed on menus, flyers, on the truck itself, on the pick-up window, and even on my plates, napkins, and paper cups.

On everything, I’d use a message like this to promote my LeadDigit™:

Text MashedUp to 33444 to get a free side of bacon mashed potatoes with your next Mashed Up order and keep tabs on our route.

To reach people who hadn’t already stumbled across my truck, I’d include it in other forms of media, too.

For instance, I’d contact local blogs and other media in hopes that they’d want to interview me about my new food truck concept, and I’d mention my LeadDigit™ as a way people could follow me there. I’d also consider printing it in an ad in the local alt-weekly, or making flyers to drop off at businesses near my regular stops to get their employees to come by on their lunch breaks.

Once someone texts MASHEDUP to 33444, I’d use LeadPages®’ automated Lead Magnet Delivery system to send the coupon to their email. That person would also be added to my email list.

What would I do with that email list? That comes next:

Step 2: Keep Customers Interested with an Email Follow-up Sequence

I’d use Active Campaign for my email service provider, because they allow very detailed tagging and campaign-building for a very affordable cost.

First, I would set up a welcome email introducing myself and what subscribers can expect to receive. I’ll let my subscribers known that they’ll be hearing from me occasionally when we are at special locations, have new menu items, or have any promos that our VIPs on this list will get access to.

Next, in the same email I would ask them to hit reply and give me a review of their lunch. Whether good or bad, I want to hear about what they thought of the food.

Welcome Email

This would do two things:

1. Start a conversation and get customer feedback right away. All they have to do is hit reply, so it’s very easy.

2. Make sure my email address is white-labeled by that customer’s email service. When someone has replied to you once, it’s much more likely that your future emails will go to their inbox and not their spam folder.

Step 3: Use LeadLinks® to Segment by Location

People who reply to this email would get another automated email thanking them for replying and letting me know how they enjoyed their food. It would also contain another coupon or giveaway to thank them and give them even more of a reason to return.

The real ninja tactic here is that I would then ask them to select the location they’d like to redeem the coupon. They just have to click on their favorite neighborhood or intersection to get it:

Segmentation Email

To set this up, I would create separate web forms in Active Campaign for each location. Then I would create a LeadLink™ to use with each form.

Now, when someone clicks one of the LeadLinks™, they’ll be added to whatever location-based sublist they click on, and they’ll get their coupon and then receive updates only about the parts of my route that are relevant to them.

Step 4: Build My Following on Social Media

While preparing my email strategy, I would also create a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account for the truck.

Why these three platforms?

Twitter is perfect for a business on the move, since it lets me broadcast quick messages on things like location updates and flash sales based on the inventory I have at any given time.

I’d use Instagram because food isn’t just edible—it also has tons of visual appeal. I’d use this platform to post great shots of my creations, my customers, and my truck.

And I’d use Facebook because . . . well, just about everyone’s on Facebook. It’ll also help me expand my audience with Facebook Ads down the line.

I would get initial followers to these sites by first sending an email to the people that responded they liked my food. I’d send something like this:

Tweet To Pay Email

In order to ethically bribe them to Tweet or share a Facebook post about my business, I would use a nifty little social media tool called Pay With A Tweet. (It works for more than just Twitter.) This would entice them to tell their friends about my truck, encourage them to follow me on social media, and offer them something free to redeem on a return visit, all at once.

The first thing my customers would see when they click on the Pay with a Tweet link in my email
The first thing my customers would see when they click on the Pay with a Tweet link in my email
How to Pay with a Tweet, Step 2
How to Pay with a Tweet, Step 2
How to Pay with a Tweet, Step 3
How to Pay with a Tweet, Step 3

Step 5: Keep My Audience Engaged on Social Media

When your business doesn’t have a fixed location, you want to make sure that people don’t forget about you between visits. To get people to engage with me when they’re not at my truck, I would regular post content like the following examples:

Promos/Engagement Campaigns

I’d encourage followers to post a selfie at the truck or eating my food on Instagram or Facebook, and make sure to tag us in the photo. Here’s the kind of content I’d hope people would post in response:

Selfie FB Post 2

At the end of every week, I’d pick the best selfie and award the winner a free lunch at the MashUp Truck.

Social-Only Giveaways

New Mashup Post

Social Coupons

Social Only promo post

All of these activities would drive people to the truck and then back to social media, creating a flywheel effect that builds my audience every week.

Between social media and my email list I’d have our audience covered no matter where they hang out.

Step 6: Expand My Audience Using a Lookalike Audience with Facebook Ads, Plus a Custom Landing Page

So far I’ve focused most of my marketing on turning first-time customers into regular customers, and getting those customers to spread the word to their friends. But I’d also want to reach out to people who aren’t connected to that existing audience, and to do that, I’d use Facebook ads.

Once I have a healthy email list of people who like my food, I can use it to tell Facebook what kind of people are most likely to become customers and target my Facebook ads only to them. To do that, first I’d use Active Campaign to download my list of email subscribers into a CSV file. Then, I’d go into the Custom Audience builder and choose “Customer List.”

custom list

Once I upload that file, Facebook will look at the email addresses I upload and see if they match any Facebook accounts. It will decipher their demographic information from those accounts and create an audience of new people that are similar to the people on my list, but who haven’t joined yet.

This would allow me to create an ad that I could use to attract more people like the ones that are already coming to my food truck.

For the ad itself, I would use a interesting picture and compelling copy . . .

Retargeting Ad

. . . to bring my lookalike audience to a landing page where I’d give visitors a coupon for a free mashup in exchange for their email address. Here’s the landing page I created in LeadPages® for my Facebook Ads traffic, using the Business Landing Page Minisite template (available in the LeadPages® Marketplace):

Facebook Landing Page

Once people opt in on this page, they’ll be sent the coupon, and will see a similar email welcome sequence. Only instead of sending them an extra coupon and choosing their location to redeem it, I’d simply use LeadLinks™ to ask them where they’d like to redeem the coupon they just downloaded. That way I could quickly add them to a targeted list, and market to them when we’re in their preferred area.

Even though this plan is simple, it still uses a total of 10 different tools. I know that’s a lot to keep straight, so I’ve created a free one-page reference guide that covers what you need to know about each one. Download it now below:

Download the Free Food Truck Marketing Stack Guide

If you have LeadPages™, you don’t need to download this template – it’s already available to you inside your LeadPages account. Just log in and you’ll see how super easy it is to customize this page in seconds with no technical knowledge or skills, make it mobile responsive, integrate it with your email service provider or CRM, run A/B split tests, and publish it to Facebook, WordPress, or your own server.

Food trucks are a new frontier of food consumption. They are fun, innovative, and tasty. I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of food-truck marketing.

I’d love to see a food truck business implementing any of these strategies. I’d also love for you to comment below and tell me anything you’d add to this food-truck marketing strategy.

See you at the trucks!

  • Daphne Sidor

    Hi, Jessie—sorry to hear you’re having trouble with the download. I just tested it and it seems to be functioning normally on our end, but I went ahead and emailed you a link where you can download the course at the email address you have registered with Disqus. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with!