Free Samples Given, Now Just Waiting!

Business By joaquinfan Updated 16 Jul 2012 , 6:51pm by LisaPeps

joaquinfan Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 7:18am
post #1 of 15

My cupcake business is very much in it's infancy. So far all my work has been portfolio building with no money made, and I'm still expecting my first official order.

I decided this weekend to bake a couple of batches of cakes, decorate them in wedding styles (one with hearts and pearls, the other with gerberas), gift box them and deliver them as free samples along with a stack of business cards to two weddign dress boutiques in our town.

I was really pleased as all the ladies in both shops seemed genuinely blown away with being given something for nothing, and they were all cooing about how pretty they were icon_smile.gif one even interrupted her colleague mid-sale to show her!

So, now I just have to wait for the phone to ring............... icon_rolleyes.gif

Has anyone else had any experience or luck from doing something similar?

14 replies
FabricGal Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 7:36am
post #2 of 15

How wonderful that your cupcakes were so well received! That's fabulous!

What I've found is that people LOVE "free" and that's a great way to get your name out there.

Something helpful that I've done in addition to business cards is to also have full-color 3-fold flyers available with photos of what I've made as well as deliciously worded descriptions, and a list of cake and frosting flavors options as well as information about contacting, lead time for ordering etc. Folks around here like to take home a flyer and look at it later. I usually order the flyers from VistaPrint.

I hope your phone starts ringing soon!

carmijok Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 8:52am
post #3 of 15

Agree with the flyer. And you should never just wait for the phone to ring. It takes more than just free samples to get steady customers. I've always found that people make a big deal about my cakes at events and how beautiful and really delicious they are...and they ask for cards...but they never call. Why? Because people forget. And they can lose your card and can't ever quite remember the name. It doesn't really matter to me because I'm a hobbyist. But if I were trying to make a name for myself I'd be as visible as possible. Website, facebook...and making friends of wedding planners and venues. Dress boutiques are nice, but to get recommended you need to go to where the brides go first. Wedding shows and expos are good exposure too. Just keep at it! thumbs_up.gif

joaquinfan Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 10:38am
post #4 of 15

That's some really good advice, and I will definitely take it on board. It's tricky at the moment as I've spent a fair amount of money on equipment, certificates, ingredients etc. I am on FB and am lucky enough to have a partner who does website design, so have a rocking website too.

One of the ladies in the boutique yesterday asked if I was going to be going to shows etc, and I said it is something I'm looking at. But yes, I completely agree with people forgetting.

The trouble is is that I work full time too. I'm trying to set up the business to eventually be my sole source of income, but I'm worried about that cross over time between having the time to complete orders with working full time, and not generating enough if I do give up work!

BakingIrene Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 1:57pm
post #5 of 15

I would ask both boutiques if they would agree to display a plate of faux cupcakes in their shops, and the plate would also include a pile of your business cards.

You would do these up in fondant with royal icing piping. You would want to change these up every 3 months so that the display is fresh looking. Use a fancy plate from a thrift shop, and a few fabric flowers on the plate. Yous phone will be ringing off the hook.

carmijok Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 6:07pm
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by BakingIrene

I would ask both boutiques if they would agree to display a plate of faux cupcakes in their shops, and the plate would also include a pile of your business cards.

You would do these up in fondant with royal icing piping. You would want to change these up every 3 months so that the display is fresh looking. Use a fancy plate from a thrift shop, and a few fabric flowers on the plate. Yous phone will be ringing off the hook.

While I totally think this is a great may run into a 'what's in it for me' attitude from the shop owners. It's one thing having business cards and flyers out, it's quite another having a display taking up counter space. It could open a can of worms where soon they'd be inundated with requests to have wedding cake dummies from other bakers, etc. might not hurt to ask! The worst they can say is no...but if they do, you might offer to make cupcakes for any special in-store events they have at cost...or even free depending on how many they would need.

FromScratchSF Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 6:40pm
post #7 of 15

I dunno - brides don't go to a dress shop and think to ask for cake referrals. They go to the dress shop to try on dresses. Generally speaking, if you think about the planning process the dress is one of the 1st things brides do - the cake is one of the last. Although having a standing cross promotional thing is nice, the 2 are not related enough for your cake to come up in conversation at the shop, just as it's not related enough for you to refer business to them.

You'd have better luck seeing if they are having any trunk shows or any other bridal event at their shop that you can give cake samples out at, or even see if they would be open to having a special event at their shop for you to do tastings. Although a lot of shops would never allow food or drink on the floor around the dresses.

I think you'd have better luck baking samples for the event coordinator at your local Hilton or whatever major hotel people have their wedding/reception at.

joaquinfan Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 7:16pm
post #8 of 15

Thanks for your replies everyone.

To be honest, I've never gone through the wedding planning process myself, my partner and I live togother, but who knows for the future?! Anyway, I'd never given any thought to the whole process and what order it goes in, but yes, I can see that, put in that order, cakes and dresses would be fairly unrelated! I'm still happy I did it, even if it was just making the sales ladies so happy! And to be honest I can't imagine that any other cupcake supplier has ever done that for them!

The plate of faux cakes isn't a bad idea, but royal icing scares me a bit, I don;t know why!! No harm in asking them though, but their shops were quite small, so who knows?! I also wouldn't want to find myself in a position where they felt I 'owed' them.

I love the idea of giving samples to wedding venues and co-ordinators too, looks like I'll be busy this week! In the meantime, off to look at Vistaprint for flyers!

Thanks again guys, I really appreciate having your help with this x

cheatize Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 12:19am
post #9 of 15

Am I missing something? You have a cupcake business but the samples you provided were cakes? Will you be selling cakes, too?

BakingIrene Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 3:23am
post #10 of 15

Well, the bridal shops that I have stepped into all had a glass display case near the cash register with related knick-knacks like antique lace, garters, guest books, and even cake knives. It sets up the ambiance.

So a dinner plate of wedding cupcakes isn't going to be out of place in those areas. The business cards will be there but not overtly in view.

joaquinfan Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:03pm
post #11 of 15

Hi Cheatize, by batches of cakes I meant cupcakes, should have been more clear!

Very true BakingIrene, but I went in there with the view that I wanted them to know about me, that me and my company existed, not necessarily expecting them to display the cards (although one would hope that it would be obvious by giving them a stack of them!). I felt that by giving them free samples I stood a better chance of them remembering me.

I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable with asking them if they could display cards, both shops were quite busy and didn't give me much opportunity to see how they were laid out. I very much wanted them to think that I was giving them something with no strings, no favours etc. I wanted to go in with a 'here I am, here's my product' attitude and ask for nothing in return, I think that would take more people by surprise than, 'here's some free cakes, can you display my cards in return'. By eating my cakes I am hoping that they are more likely to recommend personally as you never know how conversations go. Who knows, it may turn from dress, to flowers, then cakes, and who knows?!

BakingIrene Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:55pm
post #12 of 15

Well now that they have had a chance to eat the free cakes, it would be sensible for you to call them back and ask for their feedback. Ask first of all for when is a good time to call them and make a note for yourself.

Keep in touch with them--and offer the display as something that will enhance their business. The issue with business cards is that the bridal shop will find it onerous to provide your contact information. When there is an elegant tray with cards tucked in, they can just direct the customers who ask.

cheatize Posted 11 Jul 2012 , 4:18am
post #13 of 15

Ah, I see! Thanks for clearing that up, joaquinfan. I kept wondering and wondering why you bring cakes and what you would do when they assumed your business was cake and not cupcakes.

bellaciao Posted 16 Jul 2012 , 3:16pm
post #14 of 15

Something that I have seen done up here was a business card sized flyer. The top was a business card and then it unfolded like a flyer. On each page you put a picture or two of your cakes and descriptions of them. I saw this done for someone who sold used baby items but I think it would work really well for the cake business as well.

LisaPeps Posted 16 Jul 2012 , 6:51pm
post #15 of 15

Weddings in the UK and in the US are different, I find that the cake is an after thought in the UK and it's not something that couples particularly hunt around for. You'll find with a lot of venues in the UK that they have their own caters or go to "cake people" and a lot of couples will go directly to them as it's easier. I would say it's best to go to wedding venues in your area (hotels, halls, pubs etc) and make yourself known to them.

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