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Food Truck Marketing Ideas for 2021

Austin Chegini
17 Sep 2023

Many hospitality businesses have struggled to stay profitable during 2020. From full-service establishments to walk-up counters, the Coronavirus pandemic has affected all sectors of the industry. 

However, food trucks have seen some success in the past year. Whether this success is due to great food truck marketing ideas or increased demand from consumers, business leaders have noticed. Some existing food truck chains are expanding their operations, while other traditional restaurants have opened food trucks this year for the first time. 

Why food trucks are poised to succeed in 2021

With the harsh restrictions placed on brick-and-mortar restaurants, it is not surprising that some have had to close for good. And while takeout restaurants don’t require seating, they are often located in cities. With many people relegated to working at home, city streets don’t have enough traffic to sustain these quick-service restaurants.

Conversely, food trucks require no seating and can meet customers where they are. Whether they sell from gas station parking lots, community parks, or at local events, these trucks make it easy to get good food fast. 

While the pandemic will hopefully lose its might during 2021, experts don’t expect the United States to return to “normal” until mid-fall. Restaurants may still have to seat guests outside and operate at lower capacities. 

Food trucks, however, are in a unique position to grow. With more outdoor weddings and open-air markets appearing across the country, the demand for catering will increase. These trucks are the perfect solution to this problem.

That said, none of this is possible without marketing. 

Best food truck marketing ideas

Below are some of the most effective ways to build interest in your food truck and reach a larger audience. 

Invest in signage

Many people don’t plan to visit a food truck. In many cases, passersby will see an interesting truck and impulsively buy something. While your truck is practically a mobile billboard, you should use other marketing tools to capture attention. 

To start, place a sidewalk sign a few feet in front of your truck. A chalkboard with your daily special or a few enticing offers is usually a good choice. If you use a chalkboard, be sure to draw something or include a fun quote. If it is witty or fun, people are likely to snap a photo and share it with others. 

Next, buy vertical flags to promote the type of food you offer. Since flags are colorful and move in the wind, they will naturally catch people’s attention. If this happens to a hungry walker, and they see the word “Tacos” on your flag, it might prompt them to pay you a visit.

Get online

Any business should have a digital presence. Not only does it help you get the word out, but it gives you a professional image. 

Most food trucks should focus on the following online marketing channels:

  • Business website: A website helps customers learn about your brand, hire your services, and see where to find you. On top of this, it gives you a polished look and shows guests that you invest in your business.
  • Google My Business: This free listing places your business at the top of search results pages. Google My Business allows you to share company details, collect reviews, and add your contact information. 
  • Facebook and Instagram: Your guests spend tons of time on social media, so make sure to interact with them on these sites. Facebook is ideal for sharing business information, updates, and responding to feedback. Instagram is best for sharing photos of meals, stories during your day, and promotions for events you’ll be at. 
  • Yelp: Foodies love to leave reviews on Yelp, so make sure you are on this site. Not only do you need to respond to reviews to provide customer service, but you also need to make sure your profile has updated information. 

Get press coverage

While easier said than done, appearing in your local paper helps you connect with audiences who don’t frequent the internet. More so, you can frame the newspaper clipping and show it off in your truck. All of this adds legitimacy and professionalism to your business. 

How can you get press recognition? 

  • Host a press event: Much like restaurants host soft openings, food trucks can plan invite-only events. Send invitations to local reporters (or their food critics) offering a chance to try your food and feature your business. You can even stop by their office to make it easier.
  • Write a press release: While it is best to write a press release when you first launch, you can run one at any time. You can do it yourself or hire a writer to explain your business, success, new menu, or other unique aspects of your food truck.
  • Donate to charity: Local news channels love to feature businesses that give back. While they might not cover your food, they will share your name with their audience.
  • Sign up for Help a Reporter Out: Journalists are always looking for quotes and feedback from industry professionals. Help a Reporter Out connects you with a reporter to give your input on a news story. This service can put your name and brand in front of thousands of people on sites like Wall Street Journal and Time Magainze. 

Share photos on food-focused social pages

Foodlovers have carved out special places online to share their passion with others. These channels are perfect for posting photos of your prized dishes to build hype for your food truck. 

Here are a few places to consider:

  • Reddit: The “front page of the internet” has endless food-devoted communities. Post images of your creations on some of these subreddits. 
  • Facebook Groups: These groups are perfect for highlighting your mouth-watering meals and detailing the ingredients.
  • FoodGawker: This site features images of delicious creations and provides links back to the source. It is perfect for gaining more traffic to your website and brand.
  • TikTok: The social media platform has exploded in popularity, but it isn’t just for kids. TikTok is the perfect place to share videos of you preparing and plating your dishes.

Start a loyalty program

It costs more to find new customers than to retain your existing patrons. So, the best food truck marketing ideas should include this group. 

Loyalty programs are perfect for showing customers that you value their business and encouraging them to visit you again. By retaining only 5% of customers through loyalty platforms, you can increase revenue by 25% to 95%!

Luckily, technology makes starting a rewards program easy. For example, if you use an Epos Now point of sale system, you can integrate your loyalty program directly to your device. All sales and customer data will be tracked for you, automating much of the process. 

With a loyalty integration, you can then remarket to your existing customers. Whether you send emails with discounts or give free away free items after a set amount of visits, these actions will improve sales and make customers feel special.

Connect with influencers

Organic content is the way of the future. People are tired of seeing ads, so many companies are turning to sponsoring influencers. 

Influencers are social media experts. They create great content and know-how to share it. 

While you may be thinking your food truck is too small for influencer marketing, that’s nowhere near true. Some influencers only request a free meal, while others might want a few hundred dollars.  

People want to support small businesses, and even a single post by a user with a small following can gain a ton of traction. 

For example, a Twitter user shared a post about her dad’s food truck having no business. The next day, it was shared thousands of times, and there was a line of guests waiting for it to open. 

Likewise, there have been countless viral food truck videos on TikTok and Instagram. 

Network with event planners

As we mentioned earlier, events will increasingly be held outdoors in 2021. The pandemic is still affecting all businesses, so parties, community functions, ceremonies, and more will need to be side to accommodate crowds. 

Even planners will be in demand to coordinate affairs. Part of their job is planning food and catering. By connecting with these professionals, you can learn about upcoming events and be invited to cater weddings and other gatherings.

Visit popular websites, such as TheKnot and Eventective, to find event planners near you.

Give back to the community

By supporting your community, you are not only doing good, but you are marketing to locals. 

A Fortune poll found that people prefer companies that give to charity. Likewise, a Red Egg Marketing survey found that 82% of people prefer to shop small than at a large corporation.

Here are some ways your food truck can give back:

  • Feed those in need: You donate to a food bank or serve meals from your truck at a food pantry. 
  • Sponsor a sport team: Get your brand out there by sponsoring community stadiums or teams.
  • Donate money: Local media loves to features businesses who give back. You can even make it a community effort and ask patrons to contribute to your donation.
  • Participate in fundraisers: Schools and other groups often sell discount books to raise funds. Joining these programs helps participants and sends more business to your truck.