how did you advertise to attract clients? Also, was or is your business successful (keeps you busy to whatever level you want to stay busy)?
Methods of advertising I've seen include:
Magnetic/ painted sign on van, car or truck
Wedding shows (how do you get invited or can you just sign up?)
Delivery of cakes to schools (put in teacher's lunch room with cards and brochures) and larger area businesses
Listing in the Phone Book
Have I missed any potential methods of advertising? Did any of you do all of these and still not find success?
I thought this might be a helpful thread for those that are just starting out or need to bring in more business.
I am NO where near being an expert on this, but my number one way to get business has been WORD OF MOUTH!
Secondly, I have a Web site, but have yet to get one order off it it. I mostly have it as a resource to send people who have already contacted/know me.
The next biggest way of advertising for me was a wedding show. We (my sister and I) signed up and that's already brought in 7 orders.
I have a degree in Communication, so I am big on establishing a good, solid marketing and PR campaign. The only reason that I haven't fully unrolled that is because I still have many kinks to workout in my operation.
I'm going to assume you're legal, otherwise stay away from bridal shows, print ads, or any other loudly obvious ways for the HD to find you.
Word of mouth is the best. I give a 5% referral credit (Alice sends Betty to me; Betty spends $3000; Alice earns $150 credit). This turns every customer into a salesman for me.
I give a 20% military/police/fire discount (I'm a M.O.M. ----> Mother of a Marine!). Once this word gets out, you have a very loyal clientele!! Word of mouth.
I gave free boxes of cookies to all the shops in my strip mall. Wow, talk about the best word of mouth! One store asked for my biz cards to keep by their register! They are telling their customers "Just wait until she gets that cookie counter open!!" My neighbors are promoting my biz for me! Word of mouth.
I took a free box of cookies to the bank branch across the street. Next day, the branch manager came over to introduce herself and thank me for the cookies. She said her staff told her, "There a new bakery opened up over there!!!" They are VERY excited! Word of mouth.
90% or more of my biz comes from the internet and/or my website. I have ads on The Knot, Respond.com, Decidio.com, Eventective.com and lots of free wedding websites.
I belong to two networking groups where the purpose is to give and get business referrals. Yes, there is an annual fee to join, but in less than a month, I've already made back the cost of the annual fees. Made back my membership fee inside of 2 weeks with the first group I joined! Went to the 2nd group as just a visitor and picked up two cake orders that day! Word of mouth working for me here, too.
I shouldn't be surprised, but the dummy cakes in my display window is a BIG advertising asset! Word of mouth ... one person sees it, tells another, tells another (that's how one bride found me).
I've only done one wedding show and it was a small one in my hometown (75 miles away). I spent less than $400 on this show and I've booked over $5000 in biz from it.
I don't have brochures because I do most of my info-sending via email. I did make up some quick pricing/info sheets (just in word with some pics and basic menu price info) that I keep in the shop for walk-in's. I can't ever remember mailing anything to someone ... it's all emailable.
Thanks for the information everybody. I think a few of us will find this invaluable.