Marketing Question

Business By tootie0809 Updated 28 Aug 2009 , 10:14pm by Motta

tootie0809 Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 3:40pm
post #1 of 17

My SIL has a good friend who is hosting some sort of a boutique party at her home in the next couple months. I'm not familiar with these at-home boutiques, but I guess it means she has various items at booths like jewelry, purses, shoes, etc. that are being sold. She invites friends and neighbors and they come and browse the items and buy them. Weird.....like I said I've never heard of this being held at someone's house. Anyway, my SIL said she was talking with her friend about my cakes and they were looking at my website and they were thinking I could "provide samples of your cakes with your business cards and maybe a few cakes to serve and display your work and people could taste them and see what you do. It would be great advertisement for you because there will be lots fo moms there with young kids and it would be a great way to get your name out there, especially for birthday cakes."

So, I've read enough on these boards about people offering up their venues or events as a place for me to provide advertising for my business while providing them with free desserts and treats. While I see their point, and I do think they honestly think that it would be great advertising, it's at my expense and I'm not sure if something like this would be worth it. I know generally the consensus here is not to provide free cakes for advertising.

I was thinking this though....and please give me opinions....what if I provided very basic cupcakes in my best few flavors and personally manned a "booth" at this party with 2 dummy cakes decorated in a child's birthday theme and maybe a more sophisticated theme for an adult birthday or anniversary. Cupcakes are pretty easy and if not decorated not nearly as much work as a cake. That way, at least I figure, I'm getting my cakes out there but without allowing people to think I'll make an extravagant cake at my expense for them to consume. The display cakes will showcase my work and give me 2 more cakes for my portfolio. I don't know if this sounds good or not. As a brand new business, I want and need to get my name out there, but I don't want to start off by providing a bunch of free cake and have people think I will do that.

Is this a good idea? Dumb idea? Should I just say no and if she wants my cakes at her party she can pay for them full price?

Sorry this is so long, it's just this is the 2nd time someone has come to me asking me to provide something for a party or event they are having and using the excuse that "it will be good advertising for your business" as the excuse to get free treats from me. I need to really start thinking of how to handle these types of requests. (I said no to the other request, by the way! icon_smile.gif )

16 replies
cylstrial Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 10:38pm
post #2 of 17

I think it's a good idea. Lots of people take free samples to offices and leave a card. People don't turn down sweets (unless their crazy). So I actually do think it's a good idea, especially as you said you are just getting started.

I think I would actually take mini cupcakes though. Because if you are going to offere different flavors, people are probably going to want to try more than one. And find out how many people she is expecting. That way you can make a few more than necessary. You could even make a little sign that says 2 per person please. Or something like that.

Have some signs, some business cards, etc. You might want to think about taking a small dummy cake to display.

LaBellaFlor Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 10:50pm
post #3 of 17

LOTS of people have home parties. Let's see there is Princess House Crystal, Pampered Chef, Home Interior, Mary Kay, Candlelight, etc.,etc.,etc. Some people come in and sell jewlery, purses. I think it might be a good idea. But I would not be the one supplying ALL the treats. Find that out first. If they want you to bring all the refreshments, then no. If just a few cupcakes, then ok. The only other thing I can think of is this how you want to promote yourself? Cause honestly, that wouldn't be for me. It's an image thing, and I'm not saying this is ncessarily a bad image, but something you may want to think about it.

tootie0809 Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 10:57pm
post #4 of 17

Thanks for the suggestions and opinions! I really appreciate it. Gives me some good things to think about. Hmmm, never thought about the "image" thing. I guess I need to get specifics on what exactly they are selling, etc. I do know this girl lives in a nicer area of town, so that was the thing that made me kind of consider doing it, as I want to market myself to people who think about having a higher-end item like a custom cake for thier party rather than a grocery store sheetcake. Love the mini cupcake idea too. That would actully give me a reason to use the mini-muffin pan I bought a few months ago that once I got it home I wondered what the heck I was thinking! LOL! Thanks again for the great advice! icon_smile.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 11:03pm
post #5 of 17

I just want to give you a quick example, do you watch "Amazing Cakes"? Okay, Cake Girls say they don't do bridal shows, cause they're not worth it to them, but they did do this one bridal show, cause it was a very high-end bridal show with exclusive vendors. Just to give you an idea of what I was talking about.

Texas_Rose Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 11:33pm
post #6 of 17

It sounds good to me...anyone who doesn't have extra money to spend would steer clear of a party like that, so it might be a good place to find some people who'd want expensive cakes.

I do agree with LaBellaFlor though that you should make sure you're not supplying all the refreshments.

Maybe you could make treat bags with two mini cupcakes in each one, tied with a ribbon with your business card attached. Then they could take it home to try and your card would end up in their house instead of stuck in a pocket or in the trash with the cupcake wrappers. You can get treat bags at Hobby Lobby...$2 for 48 bags...that are the right size, then a single foamcore board would be enough to cut a little board for each bag. Cover in foil or pretty wrapping paper. It sounds complicated, but when I make cupcakes for my kids' classes for their birthday, I always wrap them individually and it doesn't take too long, as long as you don't have to do a million of them.

indydebi Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 1:23pm
post #7 of 17

If the purse lady is giving away free purse samples, and the jewelry lady is giving away free jewelry samples, then I'd be ok with giving away cake samples.

But if everyone is being given the opportunity to sell their wares, why are you being asked to give yours away for free? icon_confused.gif

Remember, if you don't sell or giveaway everything you bring, then you pretty much have to throw it away. The purse lady can sell her purses a month later, down the road. You have more expense involved than anyone else since your stuff is perishable. Doesn't sound fair to me that you are GIVING your stuff away.

Motta Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 1:57pm
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If the purse lady is giving away free purse samples, and the jewelry lady is giving away free jewelry samples, then I'd be ok with giving away cake samples.

But if everyone is being given the opportunity to sell their wares, why are you being asked to give yours away for free? icon_confused.gif

Remember, if you don't sell or giveaway everything you bring, then you pretty much have to throw it away. The purse lady can sell her purses a month later, down the road. You have more expense involved than anyone else since your stuff is perishable. Doesn't sound fair to me that you are GIVING your stuff away.




WOW. That is so true. Our work is personal and perishable and that should add value to it right off the bat but we are often undervalued.

I'd like to know what you decide and how it goes. I have an opportunity to do the same thing at a Mary Kay party in the near future. I'm still mulling it over...

tootie0809 Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 2:50pm
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If the purse lady is giving away free purse samples, and the jewelry lady is giving away free jewelry samples, then I'd be ok with giving away cake samples.

But if everyone is being given the opportunity to sell their wares, why are you being asked to give yours away for free? icon_confused.gif

Remember, if you don't sell or giveaway everything you bring, then you pretty much have to throw it away. The purse lady can sell her purses a month later, down the road. You have more expense involved than anyone else since your stuff is perishable. Doesn't sound fair to me that you are GIVING your stuff away.




Very good points! I initially was absolutely not going to do it when I talked to my SIL. In fact, I got a litte offended at the idea. But after thinking it over and after reading all these great ideas, points of view, and suggestions here, I'm thinking of very small samples and doing 1 or 2 display dummy cakes. I absolutely am not going to just give away free full-sized slices of cake or cupcakes. I think...if I end up doing it....I would do a couple flavors of mini-cupcakes and that's it, 2 samples each person and have a sign stating that. With our products, the visual is only half of the appeal and the other half is the taste. If I end up doing this I will absolutely make it clear to the host that I am not providing refreshments, but merely there as any other vendor, trying to sell my product. If she wants refreshments for her guests, she will need to provide those separately, and I'll let her know I can do those for her at a price.

Such great advice here! I'd be lost in starting this business without my great CC friends!!!! icon_smile.gif

cylstrial Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 5:03pm
post #10 of 17

Very good points! I initially was absolutely not going to do it when I talked to my SIL. In fact, I got a litte offended at the idea. But after thinking it over and after reading all these great ideas, points of view, and suggestions here, I'm thinking of very small samples and doing 1 or 2 display dummy cakes. I absolutely am not going to just give away free full-sized slices of cake or cupcakes. I think...if I end up doing it....I would do a couple flavors of mini-cupcakes and that's it, 2 samples each person and have a sign stating that. With our products, the visual is only half of the appeal and the other half is the taste. If I end up doing this I will absolutely make it clear to the host that I am not providing refreshments, but merely there as any other vendor, trying to sell my product. If she wants refreshments for her guests, she will need to provide those separately, and I'll let her know I can do those for her at a price.

Such great advice here! I'd be lost in starting this business without my great CC friends!!!! icon_smile.gif[/quote]

I think that sounds great! icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 5:12pm
post #11 of 17

Actually, I thik I'd give away a mini cupcake or 2 per person and SELL cupcakes or cookies.

LaBellaFlor Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 5:21pm
post #12 of 17

that is probably the best idea yet!

megmarie Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 5:44pm
post #13 of 17

I would want to know how many are invited. My mom is an in-home sales rep, and she has had some bad experiences with going out to peoples houses to sell to their friends & family. When she first started she found a lot of people would only invite a few people just to make the free cards and no one wanted to buy.

I would ask if you can send out invites, or give her e-mails to add....include some people you know from past jobs, church, and other people in your life that may not know about your business (since you are new). If the list is of good size (figure that at least 70% will not show), I would at least give just this one a try.

Maybe offer a 'promotion' of some kind (something really really small like 5% off (up to X amount) their first order) for orders that come out of this open house so you can track how much money you generate and see if it is worth it in the future.

I would also be very careful about image like others have mentioned, maybe you can meet the host & other vendors out for coffee to discuss details. You don't want to have yourself associated with other vendors who may not be of your quality.

A lot of things like this have door-prize raffles - check that she doesn't expect you to contribute to that!

KHalstead Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 5:45pm
post #14 of 17

definitely what leah said......offer a "bite" to taste and then have some other cupcakes and such on hand (maybe even some little 5" round cakes) to sell that they could bring home that night for their family.
But definitely let the hostess know you are NOT the refreshment provider!

-K8memphis Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 6:05pm
post #15 of 17

What about an amazing purse cake dummy that you retreive from the place afterwards? And the hostess can buy some cupcakes from you.

Maybe take a 'slice' out so it definitely looks like a cake.

I've done purse cakes for silent auctions and I ask my friends if they saw my cake n it's like no because they 'see' the purse not that it's a cake--ha!

Caralinc Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 6:38pm
post #16 of 17

If you have an established business, marketing your cakes would be a write off, correct? If you do go through w/ it maybe just cupcakes w/ simple designs, maybe that match the party, purses, jewelry/? HTHS

Motta Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 10:14pm
post #17 of 17

That's a great idea about matching the purses and jewelery!

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