This article also appears in the October 2013 Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. Click here to read it there.
Food Trucks have invaded your city. They park on busy streets in prime locations ready to serve their tasty wares, and have become quite successful in the last few years. Food trucks have been around since 1974 when Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into a taco truck and set up in front of a bar. So why have they become so hot today? Their success is that by default, and the factors that shape their daily existence as a business, have forged them into razor sharp marketers. They leverage all the marketing tools available to them in their changing location each day. They have mastered the three tools that help them succeed in reaching their business outcomes through leveraging social, mobile, and local marketing. The following five skills they have learned can help you become a better tradeshow marketer:
Leverage or Overcome your Location It all starts in the planning. Food truck owners study maps of the cities before arriving, they determine foot traffic patterns, nearby attractions, and areas where people congregate during their hours of operation. You have that same ability in assessing tradeshow floor plans to determine where best to place your booth. If you are stuck in a poor location, you must use more tactics to draw your audience to you. You need to have a more disruptive or appealing presence to call out to your audience and draw them closer to your space.
Focus on Just in time messaging and Perfect the Limited Time Offer (LTO) You are in a tradeshow for a limited time. Messaging is best to capture attention or conversions right there as studies have shown that the further the time passes after the event before a sale or conversion happens, the odds of an actual sale or conversion decreases drastically. To a food truck, that means missed profit; what does it mean to your bottom line? If you are making a limited time offer for goods or services, make sure it is the best possible deal to induce the customer to become interested and buy right there. Many food truck operators know that missed sales on a day because of pricing may mean they can’t open their doors tomorrow. Imagine if that was your motivation during the show.
Maximize your presence locally on Social Media Channels Food trucks comb social media channels well in advance just like they would assess a map. They identify the powerful social influencers in the area they are going to be and try to engage and entice them to pass their messaging on to their followers. They follow local trends and keywords and try to leverage those in their messaging.
Align with like-minded businesses that won’t cannibalize your market Food trucks often partner to create their own mini event inside an event. Often creating a team effort to pull off creating a mobile food court. With the premise that a larger crowd of purchasers will be attracted, and that there will be a diversity of flavors and tastes, two or three will partner with the goal of raising the sales for all by attracting a larger group. The same tactic can work successfully in trade shows as well. Partner with synergistic vendors to draw a larger crowd and group of prospects to your area of the tradeshow. Banding together with others to cross promote, or sponsor a speaker or side event at the trade show will help you to stand out from your other competitors and can also allow you to have a larger presence than you may be able to have on your own.
Assess, Learn and Build relationships that will grow your Success Next Time Data is king. Building records and databases of places, vendors, venues and people in each city, will help you build quickly and exponentially each year. This is imperative in tradeshows that are stationary and annual. Learn what tactics worked, and where energy was wasted. You can change or replace these tactics for the next time. Food trucks build fan bases by returning often to locations that are lucrative for them to visit. How can your brand establish a fan base as well? Continue to show up with some sort of frequency. If one tradeshow is good for your company in an area, are there other shows there as well where you could have some form of presence? If so, then building your frequency of appearances in that market will increase your foothold there as well.
The keys to success in these situations is remaining nimble, innovative, and have the ability to strike quickly when the opportunity presents itself. You can use the same tactics of food trucks to maximize your presence and success at tradeshows. You have a limited amount of time to drive as much business as possible, and the clock starts now.