When most people hear "mobile marketing," they think smartphones. But Big Mouth Advertising is much more literal than that. It’s a fleet of UPS-sized trucks that sport rotating vinyl billboards on their sides. The vehicles target optimal areas for advertising businesses.
Ron Kaminsky, an entrepreneur from New York, got the idea for the marketing solution when he relocated to Miami in the mid 2000s. Because strip malls are especially prevalent in Miami, businesses often get buried in them with little or no exposure. Further complicating that detail, Kaminsky said, is the city’s stringent zoning laws, which don’t allow some stores to erect identifying marquees. Kaminsky started asking business owners if they’d be willing to pay for an innovative marketing solution to get them needed attention. They said yes.
That was five years ago. Now, Big Mouth Advertising has franchised trucks in seven states. Its clients include Citibank, AIG Insurance and IKEA, among many others.
So what makes Big Mouth different? Several companies, such as Citi-Mobile or Truck Ads, offer mobile billboard marketing, and even offer brand ambassadors who can distribute marketing materials during events. But Kaminsky believes recent tweaks he’s made to his business model, from its price point to holistic makeover, make it the perfect medium for the pizza industry.
Another food truck phenom?
Kaminsky started his truly mobile marketing technique before the economy imploded. Back then, his services simply involved deploying fleets of trucks to advertise clients’ vinyl, back-lit advertisements for 50 hours a week along a specific route. Then 2008 hit, and clients had more problems and less money.
Ever the innovator, Kaminsky hatched a plan to make the mobile marketing offering more holistic: There would always be down time, like rest stops, for truck drivers who were hauling messages -- so why not make it work for clients? On their routes, drivers started handing out customized “swag bags” with items such as menus, T-shirts, pens and coupons. Clients that signed up to advertise for a year also would get a monthly e-mail blast in the deal. More important to the pizza world, they’d also get access to the truck eight times a year for special events of their choosing, even for catering or sampling.
Kaminsky thinks this marketing model should appeal especially to the pizza industry, which has long relied on paper menus and other print advertising to draw customers, and which can now utilize the vehicle almost like their own temporary food truck (though in looks only, as none have yet installed kitchens). As a result, the company’s clientele include several local pizza brands throughout its service area, and some larger ones like Pizza Fusion.
And at a $1,500 a month price point, Kaminsky believed there was no reason clients shouldn’t advertise with him instead of the local paper, and get a lot more return on their investment.
Brand ambassadorship is the ROI
So what is that return?
Pizza Fusion founder Vaughan Lazar said one of the brand’s franchised locations used the vehicles for a short spell, but that he had no feedback to offer on the experience.
A smaller chain based out of Raleigh, N.C., has a fairly new case study for review. Cozzalino’s owner Joe Haberern said he started using the service for two locations, and that he’d received excited calls about the mobile billboard from the first day.
“Just in (20 minutes) of the truck sitting in our parking lot and then going to North Raleigh, I had six orders from people calling in and telling us, ‘we saw this truck drive by – where is your carryout location?’”
Haberern said the truck will especially help brand the restaurant’s identity during the many community events Cozzalino’s serves every year. He thinks the annual swim meet Cozzalino’s caters will become a marketing opportunity for the restaurant, since they’re planning on delivering pizzas out of the truck, which will be parked by a busy intersection.
It’s this type of double-duty that Haberern appreciates the most from the medium.
“The truck driver is an extension of our brand, and they’re doing the things we should have been doing, but because we’re so short staffed we don’t have manpower to,” he said. “They act as our brand ambassadors.”