What Are The Best Ways You Have Advertised Your Business?

Business By aprilcake Updated 28 Mar 2008 , 5:31pm by vickster

aprilcake Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:28am
post #1 of 31

I am trying to get my cake business up and running...i just finished my cake classes ( although I want to take more in the future by Maisie Parrish and Colette Peters) and I am trying to figure out for now while I am still in my home...the best ways to advertise my business and get my name out there. SO far I have thought about doing cake dummies and sitting in my window with a sign saying custom cakes by appointment only so they know its not a walk in bakery, my uncle in law is going to build me a better website with my own domain name not like the one I have now, I want to get business cards and brochures with pics of my cakes on them to friends/family to pass out and I would like to get into the phone book...do any of you know how much that costs? anything that you have done that has seemed to really help?

thanks,
april :0)

30 replies
indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:53am
post #2 of 31

My best method has been my referral program. As a M.O.M. (Mother Of a Marine), I also give 20% discount to active military, police and fire ... that is also working very well for me, especially since I live 3 minutes from the former Fort Benjamine Harrison, which still has a good size military population on it.

You mention "out of your house". Legal? If not, I'd stay away from things in your window, yellow page ads and anything else that has a high visibility.

Erdica Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 11:12am
post #3 of 31

Word of mouth is always great.

If you don't have an advertising budget, I would try and take samples to schools, neighbors, doctor offices, banks, etc. I did a cake for my daughters cheer banquet last year and ended up going into business with a couple that owns a couple limo companies. I was also contacted by our local Childrens hospital to do a cake for nurses week. Donating cakes (within reason) can really get your name out there to a lot of people.

If you have some money to put into advertising, I'd really do your research where you want to spend that money. My first year I spent over $1000 to advertise in a book that brought me $0 in return on investment.

I've also had good luck with bridal shows too. I don't know where you live, but out here they range from $100 - $1000/show.

Indydebi is right about making sure you can legally sell cakes from you home in your state and city.

GL!

yummymummy Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 11:29am
post #4 of 31

I brought some "practice cakes" to my children's school for the teacher's lounge. They were more than happy to receive them and I made sure I brought business cards and flavor chart w/ a price list. I just got 2 orders from my son's teacher for a communion cake and a 50th anniversary cake! icon_biggrin.gif I also had my hubby drop off cards at our local pizza place that we frequently (maybe too frequently icon_lol.gif ) order from and I got 2 orders from them. I went from a bone dry business to 5 cake orders in less than 4 days! I'm in total shock, but thankful! icon_wink.gificon_smile.gif

MichelleM77 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:12pm
post #5 of 31

You are in Ohio, so legally you can as far as the Department of Agriculture is concerned, but I've read on here about some cities having a problem with it, so you have to check with your county and/or city to make sure there aren't zoning laws that override the DOA/state laws. I know of one person who has to deliver every order so as not to bother her neighbors (I think that is the reason for it).

Back to the question........ icon_smile.gif All of my customers (that I've questioned anyway) have found me on the internet by just doing a search. Make sure when you have your website set up, that the meta tags (hidden words that the search engines pick up) are really, really good and you will come up in most searches. Just think about what you would search for if you were looking to order a cake and put them all in there. I used Homestead for my website and there was a place to list all of the meta tags, not sure how other website hosts do it.

I advertised wtih a local newspaper that has an online thing, but I've only had a few click-throughs from their website to mine and no orders from it and it's going on 9 months for that.

I'd say word of mouth is your best bet. I was always jealous of the ladies and gents on CC that take samples into work. I work from home and the "office" is in Georgia! Wah! I finally got hubby to take a sample cake into his employer's office (he works construction and only goes into the office to pick up paychecks, etc.) and came home with 5 orders that same day and another one a few days later! I think I need to whip up more samples! icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:41pm
post #6 of 31

cross reference as many businesses on your website as possible. "Photo by ABC Photography" .... a bride found me when my site came up in the search for "ABC Photography".

"This reception was held at XYZ Banquet Hall"...... another bride found me when she searched for XYZ Banquet Hall.

You're piggy-backing onto other websites when they get searched.

Link-exchanges, favorite vendors, all of these types of things help you piggy back onto other seaches.

MichelleM77 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:49pm
post #7 of 31

Oh yes, good one indydebi. I started swapping links with a few vendors and I've gotten a few click-throughs, but no orders yet, but I'm a little impatient. icon_smile.gif

bashini Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:54pm
post #8 of 31

I started doing my cakes for my friend and family. Word of mouth is a good way to do it. Then I got my web site done. And then added my advert in the to the free listings on the google.

I registered my business. I did loads of cake sales during the Christmas time. And also whenever there is a fair or something in my son's school, I donate cake with my contact details on. I also have put my advert in my son's school notice board. Last year, I donated a cake for the school's christmas raffle ticket. Whenever I get a chance, I don't think twice. I just grab the oppotunity.

So now lots of people know that I'm doing cake business. It will take time.

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:57pm
post #9 of 31

well, they say patience is a virtue, but I can't see it! icon_lol.gif

We are in a unique business. Unlike a bookstore, or Victoria Secret stores, where they throw open the doors and start ringing up sales immediately, we have to wait until there is a special occasion for people to need us. People only have one birthday a year, and if they pick up our card 2 months after their kid's birthday, then it will be another 10 months before they need a cake from us.

A couple of events coming up that you might start marketing for:

Administrative Professionals Day (Secretary's Day): April 23
Mother's Day (May 11)

Ro40 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 12:59pm
post #10 of 31

I started out by bringing treats to the teachers at school also. However, I find that the best advertising is the internet. I get the majority of my business through my website and after that word of mouth. I have never paid for advertising and don't think it is necessary if you have a good website. Good luck!!

Crazy-4-Cakes Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:00pm
post #11 of 31

I don't have any advise as I'm trying to get started myself but I looked at your web-site and I really liked your referral program. I think it's a great way to get your regular customers to work for you to advertise. Just a thought, is there any way that when you give this discounted cakes to your "advertisers" can you write this off as your advertising expense? If so, remember to keep good records of that!
P.S. You do a great job on your cakes, based on that word will get out! Good Luck.

foots2 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:20pm
post #12 of 31

I started out by making brochures. Then I made my own business cards. I still use the brochures, but update the pictures every now and then. I have Publisher so Its easy for me to do it. I have gotten most of my business (as little as it is) by word of mouth. I think that is the best way. Put out a good product, taste and price wise and people will tell people who will tell people...... It has worked this way for me. I now have connections with the NBA.Hopefully that will lead to other places. Keep pluggin along. It will happen for you. There is a post on making brochures on CC. Thats how I started mine. Good luck to you.

aprilcake Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:24pm
post #13 of 31

thank you...and thanks for whoever said i am legal in ohio...i will have to check for sure about zoning but I know in my neighborhood there is a local hairshop and another type of shop that is with housing so I am guessing it will be ok! i really need to figure out how to advertise well on the internet and make for sure search engines pick me up! Also...i noticed that many wedding planning sites or such have bakeries listed...do I have to go to each one and sign up to get on their list?

mqguffey Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 1:40pm
post #14 of 31

I would suggest clipping a few business cards to the inside of the box of every cake you sell. That way, when people at the party rave about your cake -- and you know they will! --, they can take a card right away.

nicolesplace Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 2:45pm
post #15 of 31

I am also in the process of starting up but my plan is to sell baskets of minis to real estate agents for their open houses - great advertising for people moving to the area. I am also going to sell wholesale to local restaurants. I have already donated a few cakes to my daughters school & preschool.

I am in a small, close knit community so I will be randomly choosing friends & relatives and take samples to their places of work. I know at least 2 teachers in all 10 schools, we are good friends with salespeople @ both local car dealerships (I am going to do sample tray for them & then approach them about wholesale)

Another good way while I've been recipe tweaking & working on my business plan is to do my friends' children's b-day cake for next to nothing with the understanding that it is one shot deal.

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 3:04pm
post #16 of 31

Some have heard this story before but car dealerships are a great source of income! I have one that uses 26 dozen every single day ... these are divided up among 4 of their locations (and they are considering adding 3 other locations to the order.

I try to spend one day making all the dough balls up ahead of time and putting them in the freezer, then it only takes me 30-60 minutes baking time.

So yeah ..... car dealerships!

Next week, my plan of attack is to hit this one major street that is 15 minutes from me .... there's about 10 dealerships lined up in a row!

aprilcake Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 3:12pm
post #17 of 31

ok...im stupid here so help me...what do I say when I walk into the dealership and what exactly am I selling them...cupcakes? mini cakes? sheet cakes? please tell me more info and details...thanks!

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 3:31pm
post #18 of 31

"Good morning!" I need to speak to the person who is responsible for your snacks and refreshments in your customer lounge........

Hi, my name is Debi (hand them card) and I'm with Cater it Simple. I'm here to give you this box of sample cookies and talk to you about Cater It Simple providing the cookies for your customer lounge."

Take it from there .... they usually ask for a price sheet, and they want to know if it's pick up or delivery. Is there a volume discount.

Here's the bad part of me surfacing (ok, ok, so that part of me hovers close to the surface anyway!). Went to a Mercedes Benz dealership and the woman was pretty snotty. "We don't DO cookies ... we put out doughnut holes." Since I saw that she was pretty much blowing me off anyway, I said, "They pay how much money for a Mercedes and you serve them DOUGHNUT HOLES??? Oh honey, here. ..... you need to sample some GOOD refreshments for them!" I handed her the box and left. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

aprilcake Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 4:49pm
post #19 of 31

i dont do cookies...do you think they would do cupcakes or cut sheet cakes?

MichelleM77 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 8:41pm
post #20 of 31

OMG doughnut holes? So they have a Mercedes, but walk out with powdered sugar all over themselves?!?! LOL!

ccr03 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 8:55pm
post #21 of 31

I think has been mentioned, but definitely try to form a relationship with other vendors. I totally lucked out. My sister has a party equipment rental company so we CONSTANTLY promote each other! Whenever I mention her busy customers say all the time - oh, she rents tables/chairs/tents/tablecloths/etc...?! That's great to know! And it helps boast their business to promote me by saying that they having a 'bakery' service too.



TOTALLY OFF TOPIC, but....
MichelleM77, I think I am going to start stalking you. When I look at your avatar I forget what the post I'm reading is even about.....aww......it's like he's looking right at me!

Jenn2179 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 9:04pm
post #22 of 31

Well I have been talking with reception places and caterers in my area. I just made oversized postcards and ordered them from vistaprint.com. Gave them and samples to a caterer who told me to get the postcards. He loved them and my cakes and will be giving them to all his brides and telling them, "She's the woman." His own words. The postcards turned out amazing. Today I dropped of samples, the postcards, and a box of 4 cake truffles (thinking favors) to area caterers and reception sites. I had 2 emails before I got home, one about wedding cupcakes and one about a 50th anniversary cake.

MichelleM77 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 9:42pm
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccr03

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC, but....
MichelleM77, I think I am going to start stalking you. When I look at your avatar I forget what the post I'm reading is even about.....aww......it's like he's looking right at me!




NO, He's looking at ME! icon_lol.gif LOL!!! Oh Prison Break, how I miss you so.

aprilcake Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 10:39pm
post #24 of 31

thats a good idea about giving samples/cards to caterers and reception sites...i guess I am figuring most caterers and reception places already have their cake person lined up...but I should still call. How exactly do you go about asking to do business with them...like "Hello, my name is April and I am the owner of Cake Bliss custom cakes and I was wondering if you would like to sample my cakes and take a brochure/card and maybe do a swap where I refer my clients to you and you to me?" i am so bad with wording...HELP! do i go to the places or mail them to them or what? what type of samples?

Jenn2179 Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 11:08pm
post #25 of 31

I took my samples to them. Just because they may use a person does not mean they aren't open to using other people. Once the caterer a couple of weeks ago tasted my cakes he said, "yours are better than xxxx." These a phenominal and he would send people my way. Plus they may have more receptions than their cake person can handle. I took mini cupcakes and I took 6 flavors, 2 of each and a box of cake truffles. If there were a lot of people in the office I left 2 containers of the samples. It never hurts. I just said, "I started my cake business about a year ago and am giving some samples and these post cards to local vendors." Plus I am going to a networking lunch next week. They may not be happy with their cake person or didn't know there was anyone new in town.

huckitvt Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 11:28pm
post #26 of 31

I've just done a search for as many local inns, etc that host weddings. If they have vendor lists, email them and say you would like to be added. I have sent tons of brochures this way and I've been getting quite a response. I've just started tackling my list of caterers in the area that I know don't do cakes.

peacockplace Posted 27 Mar 2008 , 1:46pm
post #27 of 31

I've been thinking about sending an email to wedding reception sites around town to introduce myself and my new website. Do any of you, especially Debbi (cause she seems to have great advise in this area) have any suggestions for how to word an email like this? Do I ask to be put on their vendor list or just introduce myself, then let my work speak for itself?

peacockplace Posted 27 Mar 2008 , 11:33pm
post #28 of 31

I'm hoping to send out emails over the weekend. Do any of you have any ideas on the best way to go about it?

MichelleM77 Posted 28 Mar 2008 , 1:21pm
post #29 of 31

I sent out a few emails to local reception halls and never got a response. Maybe it was just me though or they didn't like my stuff. icon_smile.gif I think you would have the best luck if you showed up in person with brochures and samples, or called and talked to someone. The contact listed on the website to get more info might not be the same person who you need to talk to about being a vendor. I'm hoping that's what happened to me and not that they didn't like my cookies. icon_sad.gif

Mandica12182 Posted 28 Mar 2008 , 1:40pm
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccr03


TOTALLY OFF TOPIC, but....
MichelleM77, I think I am going to start stalking you. When I look at your avatar I forget what the post I'm reading is even about.....aww......it's like he's looking right at me!




MMMMMMM! I agree I absolutely loooove Wentworth Miller...he's gorgeous!!


About the original topic though....try craigslist...you must post in the small business/services section, but I get almost ALL of my orders from there!!

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