So, I'm relatively new to the cake biz.. (thank god for those Ohio cottage food laws!) And so far I've only done cakes for friends, family and a few others. I'm REALLY trying to get my name out there and have gotten some wonderful ideas from the forum here. I do have a question about a specific advertising tactic though...
I've talked to a few people on here who have mentioned making a simple but eye catching sheet cake for buisnesses, nursing homes, teachers lounges, etc... I guess they deliver a cake to these places with some buisness cards.
This sounds like a great idea to me.. and very personal too. But my question is in what kinds of places would this be appropriate? Surely, I can't just walk into a school and drop a cake off in the teachers lounge? lol, wouldn't that be awkward?
Also, someone mentioned other businesses as well... but again, what types of places could I just show up with a cake and not be looked at like I was crazy!
I specialize in cakes with all (or mostly) organic ingredients... what could I do with that?
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
Honestly...I've found that that tactic works better when it's highly targeted. For example, to hotels, wedding planners, birthday party places, caterers.
Those are the people that come into contact with potential clients on a regular basis and will spread the word. However YOU have to maintain the relationship. Get to know them, find out about their businesses, get to know them.
Just dropping a cake off might just result in a lot of free cake given away with nothing that comes from it.
I found that giving people free cake only makes them want more free cake.
Your best advertising will be at events like birthday parties or showers. Most of my business was built on referrals that stemmed from a single baby shower - where one of my PAID cakes was served.
I would have to agree. When you give ppl. free cake, they want more free cake and dont seem to mind hinting around. I stopped giving free cake, it didnt seem to bring any business.
the way that I started out getting orders and stuff was
1. put up a website with good keywords so people find you on a search engine
2. don't just "give away" cakes for no reason, give elaborate cookie bouquets or cakes (if you have the time) to people that you would normally buy a gift for, especially if they work in an environment with LOTS of people (you could deliver a cookie bouquet to your BFF when she's at work so everyone can ooh and aahhh and think about people THEY would like to buy one for)
3. Cakes for friends children (if you want to) especially when lots of other kids are going to be at the party
I did a first birthday cake and have had 8 orders resulting from people that were in attendance at that party....3 cakes came from 1 person (who happened to be a 10 yr. old girl) she wouldn't stop talking about how good the cake tasted and how it wasn't "regular" cake, it was "special" and her mom has now ordered 3 cakes from me all because of this 10 yr. old's rants LOL
I have had great success from displaying decorated fake cakes in bookstores, beauty salons, and dry cleaners. People are surprised to see a cake there, and it really gets their attention. I offer the owner free cakes for family birthdays, or for bookstores, for their author's book signing events.
The trick is target a place that has lots of women going there. Men just don't order cakes as much.
Naturally, there's a big stack of cards by the dummy! And i switch t5hem around a lot, seasonally etc. HTH
If you want to focus on the organic ingredients angle, consider asking the local organic grocery store (someplace small, without a bakery) if they would let you set up a table with mini-cupcake samples. You could spend a Sat or Sun afternoon chatting with your prime audience and reach a lot more people.
I know people talk about taking cakes to places and leaving them, but in this day in time I would have a hard time eating something that was dropped off by a stranger. I know that schools in our area don't allow food from home to be brought to the class rooms for safety reasons so I could see them not wanting to eat a cake that someone dropped off for their teachers. There are just too many crazy people out there!
On the flip side of that, mentioned above, free cakes won't get you anything but people wanting free cakes.
Why not make up a little flyer with a couple of cake pictures and your pricing information on them and hand those out instead? This will get your name out there, and will save you the cost of ingredients for cakes that may get thrown away or not eaten.
I'm not giving cakes away for free, not even to the vendors I network with.
Hmmm, sounds like some of you have had some bad experiences with giving away cake as advertising... I certainly don't want people to think of me as "the jolly cake man".. lol who just brings free cake.. I would only do it with then intention of drumming up buisness and getting some exposure. I would want everyone eating the cake to know that this is a sample of my work, if you'd like to order a delicious cake such as this one for an event please let me know.
I'll have to think about that one I guess.
Thanks everyone so far for your wonderful input! You're the reason I love CC.
It's not that it's bad expierences, it's just not a good business move. Think about it. If your not a bakery and at home, how much free cake can you really give away and it be a sound business move? Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
I too am just starting out. I have had decent success with baking some cupcakes and mini cakes and taking them to a flea market and yard sales. My local community has a giant yard sale (5 miles long). I rented a space and sold cupcakes and mini cakes. I also handed out lots and lots of business cards. I also had my portfolio with all of my pictures in it. I got 3 orders from it. It cost me $25 for the booth and about $20 in ingredients. I made $75 that day. I didn't give away my cakes but I still got my name out there. Plus they got to taste my cake before they shelled out all the money for a huge decorated one. Win-Win all the way around.
I gotta tell you, last year, at the new year, I wanted to figure out if the cake division of my catering business was going to pick back up or I was going to drop it.
I made very simply decorated 6" cakes and took them to the local businesses who, after 14 years, still might not know I exist (I don't have a store front, only commercial kitchen). It worked like a charm.
People were so happy to see me. I introduced myself, explained more about my business and made some friends. My cake division has grown exponentially. I can't give you exact percentages because I'm too busy to run numbers during the holidays, but all of my business has increased and shows no signs of slowing. I'm currently taking orders for March.
Part of the key is to keep your name and presence out there. Get involved in the community. I also Facebook, market ceaselessly and send out an e-newsletter. Don't just drop off cake then drop off the face of the earth.
It was much cheaper and tons more effective than any advertisement.
Hmmm, sounds like some of you have had some bad experiences with giving away cake as advertising... I certainly don't want people to think of me as "the jolly cake man".. lol who just brings free cake..\\
For some reason, this made me think of that "Friends" episode where Monica makes candies, and everyone in their building starts clamoring at her door day and night for more candy ... Chandler finally goes crazy and says, "You don't even know her name, do you?!" And someone says, "... Candy Lady?"