How Did You Get Your Clients?

Business By duchess1120 Updated 10 Oct 2009 , 5:08pm by cownsj

duchess1120 Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 6:37pm
post #1 of 20

When you started your business, what did you do to get your clients? I live in a small town 50,000 I think. I don't expect to do alot of business here because grocery store cakes tend to be just fine with most. There are some who do like custom designed sheet cakes.

I want to make the jaw dropping cakes that I see here and on food network lol. I also want to make enough to support myself and my child eventually but right now to supplement my income so I can quit one of my jobs. I'm going to work as hard as I can and am willing to sacrafice.

What did you do and what do you suggest?

19 replies
spicymustard2 Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 7:24pm
post #2 of 20

Having just started myself, I'm in no way an expert, but I have a profile on Facebook. For months, I've been posting pictures of cakes and cupcakes I've made for fun. I just finished the Level 3 Wilton class on Monday night, and when I got home that evening, I posted the picture of my 2-tier cake with fondant roses immediately. By Tuesday night, I had received requests from my contacts to make a 50th anniversary cake in a neighboring state, a bridal shower cake for this Saturday, and a boy's birthday cake. I didn't want to start a cake decorating business until after I graduate college in a couple of months, but it looks like I don't have to wait that long.

dsilvest Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 7:37pm
post #3 of 20

I agree, you need a place to post pictures. Facebook, your own website, Kijiji etc
Search the internet for free places to advertise you work, pictures included.
If your child is in school send a free decorated cake once in a while as advertisement along with some business cards.
There are many ways to promote your business that don't cost a lot.

egensinnig Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 7:40pm
post #4 of 20

I agree with spicymustard2 - Facebook is amazing. I post my cakes and cupcakes there and people email me orders all the time. Then they tell someone who then gives me a call and so on. I always leave a small pile of business cards when I deliver a cake as well.
You could call a local paper and see if they are interested in doing an article about you and your business.
Get in touch with caterers, people within the wedding industry and so on to see if you can cooperate.
Also you can do some pro bono cakes for charity and make sure your business name is displayed
Good luck!

indydebi Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 8:06pm
post #5 of 20

Uh, BEFORE you call the paper and get your face all over the front page, find out if it's legal for you to run a cake biz out of your home and/or what it takes to get licensed.

I did chuckle at your "small town of 50,000" comment, though. I grew up in small towns. We called them one-horse towns. Then we had to quit calling the town that because the horse died! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif One small town near me had their stop light taken down. They petitioned the state house to give them another because they couldn't give directions anymore. All directions started with "Well, you go to the stop light and turn ...." icon_lol.gif

A town of 50,000 is a metropolis to me! icon_lol.gif

Word of mouth is the absolute best advertising that exists. It seems to take forever to get the word out, but once it's out there, it just snowballs!

Beckalita Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 8:09pm
post #6 of 20

Obviously, if you are not licensed or baking legally ~ you have to be VERY careful about how you advertise. Most people start with co-workers, friends, neighbors and get orders via word of mouth. Then as they become legal; they can use business cards, bridal shows, websites, yellow page ads, etc.

bisbqueenb Posted 7 Oct 2009 , 11:05pm
post #7 of 20

I had to laugh when I read "small town of 50,000"! I don't think we have that many in our whole county! My CITY has a grand total of 6200 and the only good advertising is word of mouth!

FierceConfections Posted 8 Oct 2009 , 5:43pm
post #8 of 20

I started out doing cakes for free for a friend here and there, and bringing an occasional cake or batch of cupcakes to work. The word of mouth brought in a lot of business after a few months. And, of course, Facebook has brought me more clients than I could have imagined.

cownsj Posted 8 Oct 2009 , 6:03pm
post #9 of 20

Every bit of my cake orders have come from word of mouth. I do post them on photobucket.com so I have a place to direct people to see what I've done. I share with my friends too on facebook and did have an old classmate from across the country contact me to do a cake for her grandmother who was 101. That was just an honor to be able to make, and her grandmother just lit up when she saw what her granddaughter got for her.

KHalstead Posted 8 Oct 2009 , 6:32pm
post #10 of 20

aside from word of mouth (best way) I also do what I like to call "reverse advertising" I use google and they have where you can sign up to get alerts whenever people google certain words. So I type in "Wedding cakes in Conneaut, Oh" which is where I live, and I get an alert every time someone googles that. Then I go to whatever websites they were looking at for wedding cakes in Conneaut, Oh and more often than not they have a section to advertise for free and I do just that. Put my info on that site, it works really great! I've found out about a LOT of wedding sites that I never heard of before and now my name is on them. I also did an alert for birthday cake, custom cakes, carved cakes, etc. all with my town or the next town over on the alert.

cownsj Posted 8 Oct 2009 , 7:30pm
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by KHalstead

aside from word of mouth (best way) I also do what I like to call "reverse advertising" I use google and they have where you can sign up to get alerts whenever people google certain words. So I type in "Wedding cakes in Conneaut, Oh" which is where I live, and I get an alert every time someone googles that. Then I go to whatever websites they were looking at for wedding cakes in Conneaut, Oh and more often than not they have a section to advertise for free and I do just that. Put my info on that site, it works really great! I've found out about a LOT of wedding sites that I never heard of before and now my name is on them. I also did an alert for birthday cake, custom cakes, carved cakes, etc. all with my town or the next town over on the alert.




WOW< WOW< WOW. Thank you so much for this information. I had no clue, and I've already started the process of signing up for it. thank you again.

HarleyDee Posted 8 Oct 2009 , 8:10pm
post #12 of 20

Word of mouth really is the best kind of advertising. I know that's hard to hear when you're starting out because you're like, "If I'm new, how do people find out?"

Like everyone said, Facebook helps. Also, make a blog for your business. I use Blogger. It is my website, just because it's not in the budget right now to pay for web hosting and all that stuff. So Blogger is working really nice right now. I also have links on there to my Facebook and Flickr pages, so that people can see my pics.

Also, Google "wedding directory website" or something like that. You'll find lots of sites that will let you list your site for free. Some make you put a link to their site on your website. But this helps when a client goes to a search engine online and types in "cakes in whatever town you're in." I can't tell you how many phone calls I've gotten just because people say, "I found you on the internet."

Bridal shows help too, or any kind of fairs where you can set up a booth.

saberger Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 2:31am
post #13 of 20

Forgive me for this, but how does Facebook actually get you business? Do you have the ad on the side that people would click on? Or just the fact that you are on Facebook? Sorry, just a bit confused about that.

There are some great ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

Mindy1975 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 11:05am
post #14 of 20

I too had to laugh at the small town of 50,000. I live out in the country between three small towns of around 5,000. What I did was called the county health inspector. Got my liscensed kitchen going, got all legal, etc. And then started small. I think one of the most common mistakes people can make sometimes is that they don't give themselves the time it takes to let their business grow. Or they spend all this $$ on advertising, in the very beginning, when they may not even be ready for it, or need to even go that route to begin with. I think you should grow as your business grows. Especially if you are just starting out part time, and if you are just getting your feet wet. And to see if this is really what you want to do! After you find out if you are legal to do it out of your home etc., ( because you won't be able to advertise, if your not legal), then the best way to advertise is to go hang up flyers with cake pictures and business cards everywhere you can, at laundry mats, gas stations, restaurants, etc. It's free and everyone will take a number. Believe me, people get tired of buying cakes at the grocery store. The very first month I did this I made more cakes that month than I did in the last 4 years. And usually once you get a customer, they keep coming back. And they will recommend you to their friends too. But it does take some time for you business to build up. I think someone on here told me it took her a couple years for her to build it up to have a substantial income. Weddings are definetily a great money maker. And you really get to show of your talents! Once people get to see some of your work, then it usually gets spread around from there. I'm starting to get people call that I don't know. So that tells me I'm doing something right. Best of luck to you.

suzylynn58 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 11:56am
post #15 of 20

Mine started word of mouth. Did a cake for someone, someone else saw it and then it started. I never really intended to have a cake biz either. Then it got to the point I had to either get legal or get out. I got an awesome opportunity for a commercial kitchen space and took it. But I digress, because that is what is going to happen to you. It snowballs!

Anyway, Facebook is awesome FREE advertising. It works because not only do your friends see your pictures, but if they post under your pictures, then their friends see them too. Or they post one of their pics of your cakes on their page, etc, etc.... Then you start getting friend requests, just so they can see new pics you post! I've got hundreds of friends! Dang I don't even KNOW that many people.

saberger Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 1:56pm
post #16 of 20

I guess I have the wrong friends?! Even though I have had picks up for the past year, and some friends have posted comments, I haven't gotten one order from it. icon_sad.gif

When you hang the fliers around town, do they call and then balk at your prices being so much more than the supermarket? I don't think my prices are high and a lot of people are shocked at how much it is (which is comparable to competition and even slightly lower!).

Mindy1975 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 4:23pm
post #17 of 20

yes, you will get a few ppl. who will balk at your prices. And just let them go. DO NOT ADJUST YOUR PRICE JUST TO GET A SHEET CAKE ORDER! I've probably lost about 3-5 orders out of 50 orders because of price. And they've tried to talk me down on price and I just send them elsewhere. It won't be the last either. You will always have that. Honestly, most people are thrilled to be able to order a cake from someone they know. Or the fact that they can get a nicely done cake that tastes homeade, and not store bought. THink about it. When I was growing up, we always had a cake lady in town we got cakes from, and I'm sure most ppl. on this forum grew up with some sort of simliar situation if they lived in a small town. I guess you won't know until you try. I've also said on here before that the cake shows have somewhat helped our business but hurt our business at the same time because it has caused that uncomfortable confrontation that now has to happen when people call wanting the types of cakes they see on t.v. They see the cakes on T.V. but they never get showed how much Duff charged for that cake. They don't realize how much they are going to be charged for it, or how much the person on t.v. actually charges for it! And god forbid one of us actually charge something like that! Can you imagine! What frustrates me is that I know there are people on this website that do remarkable work and probably can't get the compensation they deserve because of the area they live in. SO, we also have to educate the public, and hold their hand at the same time, explaining to them just how long it takes to do certain types of cakes and reason with them on just how long it can take to do them, so they understand just why it cost over $100 for that sheet cake they ordered. You won't always have to do that by they way. Some people get it, and some don't. And remember that you are offering something better than the supermarket. I found out from my health inspector that all the other places around me get all their cakes in frozen. THey don't even bake their own cakes. Why would I price my cake the same as theirs? I have to constantly remind myself that my time is worth something and that is where most of the cost of my cakes are factored in. I hope some of this makes sense and that I didn't get too far off the topic for you.

indydebi Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 4:43pm
post #18 of 20

Mindy, to combat that, I went websearching and did a cut-n-paste job to create a document that includes pics, links and data on what the big name cakers charge for cakes. when I send my introductory email to brides, they also get this document entitled, "HOW much are those cakes on TV?"

When they see a Toba Garrett price of $60/serving or a Cake Boss cake price of $8000, then my little 'ole $3.50/serving or $500 cake doesn't seem so bad! thumbs_up.gif

If anyone wants a copy I'm happy to share. Send me an email (EMAIL ... *NOT* a PM) and I"ll get it to you.
------------------------------
I also use Duff's minimum to thwart the tire kickers. At the first mention of "oh I love that Ace of Cakes show!" I interrupt them with "Oh so do I!" (drop voice to a conspiratorial whisper) "Did you know .... that Duff has a $1000 minimum for his cakes? And I guarantee you the cakes you see on TV are nowhere NEAR a lousy thousand dollar cake! THe good news is that I'm not QUITE that expensive. Now .... what were you looking for?"

Works every time. icon_wink.gif

BakerzJoy Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 4:50pm
post #19 of 20

I have to say that facebook has given me lots of business too. Imagine you have 100 friends and each of your friends have 100 friends. When your friend comments on your picture or decides to share your photo with their friends then you get exposed! Then I start getting friend requests from people who just wanna see my cake photos and business has doubled. It's pretty cool, never thought it had that much of an impact!
Plus I have a website on myspace.....I know cheesy, but I started there and had no money at the time to start a real website. Of course now that I do have money, all my cards have the myspace website. So, i've just left it alone!
Also, I think the best way to get clients is by doing amazing work and people seeing it at the event. They wanna know who did it and lots of times that's how it will start...word of mouth.

cownsj Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 5:08pm
post #20 of 20

I've gotten 5 orders in the past year because of facebook. All from old classmates in high school. Two from the same person who needed cakes at different times for her girl scouts, and one from a friend on the west coast, (I'm on the east coast). She wanted one for her grandmother who was 101. And I got 2 from a friend of a classmate on facebook for her daughter's birthday, and while talking about that cake, her husband took a look and ordered one for his brother on the same day. Oh wait, and another for another classmate who ordered one for his sister's 40th birthday.
Sheesh, I started out saying I got one order, changed it to 3, then to 5, now I'm up to 6. I don't know, there could be more, but I'll leave it at the 6. icon_confused.gif

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