I started an online cupcake business and have been taking out sample dozens and menus introducing myself to local businesses. People call me back to say how much they LOVE them. So my reviews have been positive but I have only received a few orders. I have a beautiful website with pictures and even offer free delivery locally. I have been told that bakery sales are low in the summer but am looking for ideas on what else I could do to increase business.
Was wondering if you could post your web site or FB page so CC folks could take a look. Lots of very experienced folks here who could advise you on things you may not notice.
I was thinking the same.
I agree with PattyT. Post your website.
Have you tried other means of advertising. Taking out a local add in the paper, craigslist, florists & business offices. Our office use to order cupcakes or cookies on every Friday for the break room. Maybe discount to business's if they have a standing order.
Anyways post your website there are a lot of great cakers on here that might be able to help with a little more info.
Okay here is the link to my website. Any comments I am all ears www.getoncloud9.com
I think the blue lettering is too light and is hard to read, especially the menu right above "Welcome to Cloud 9" (blue on a blue background).
Madagascar should have a capital M.
"Milk Chocolate Frosting Available" - only Milk should be capitalized.
"Our signature cupcake a buttery cake infused with homemade carmel" - there needs to be some punctuation, such as a colon after cupcake, and "carmel" should be "caramel."
"Almond cupcake topped with coconut buttercream, slivered almonds and drizzled with chocolate ganache" - this is not a series, so it should be "...topped with coconut buttercream and slivered almonds and drizzled with chocolate ganache."
"An Almond cake with" - almond should not be capitalized.
Must stop here and get back to work!
I personally like the blue on blue. My only suggestion - other than proofreading - would be to slow down your slide show. I'm a fast reader but there's not time to look at the picture AND read the description.
If you are focusing on delivery your primary product is the delivery experience, not just the cupcakes. You need to give local businesses a clear reason to order from your company instead of sending someone out to pick up cupcakes at a nearby bakery, or ordering a fruit basket or flowers. That reason should not be price alone.
Here is an example of a web site focused on selling the delivery experience: http://www.justdessertsdelivered.com/
I like your website. The blue lettering might be too light but maybe that's just me. Do you have a phone number? I don't see one anywhere. Our business (not cake related) recently revamped our website to increase SEO. Our phone number and address are at the top and bottom of the website in white font against a blue background so it doesn't get lost.
I like to call businesses and inquire about things over the phone. Also, I like knowing that someone is there to answer any questions or concerns I may have.
Also, you mention a Facebook...why is that not on your website? Your Facebook should be tied with your website on your home page or at the bottom or top of the site. You need to capture visitors coming to your site and FB is perfect especially since you have a beautiful product to sell and can remind your readers that you are there to provide yummy treats.
I love the pictures you have...they are really beautiful.
EDIT: You don't mention a Facebook...my apologies. It is a good idea to have one. Connecting with fans is important and puts your name and product out there.
First let me say that your website is lovely. There may be small spelling things wrong, but it's a top notch website.
Pictures are great.
Flavors are great
My one comment is:
I don't ever order from a place that I can't contact. If I click on the contact button and it gives me a form to fill out, without an address and phone, I don't go any further.
My events are important and I feel more secure with a definate contact. I suggest you have a phone number with voicemail if you are unable to answer. The message can be friendly and say that you will return the call or email back (if they clearly leave their email address) ASAP.
European should be capitalized.
I wonder if it should read "we pride ourselves on' rather than 'in'.
Your 2nd sentence is not complete.
'Cloud 9 Cupcakes do not contain trans fats or stabilizers and are best enjoyed on the day that they are purchased however, you can enjoy' -you need a semi colon after purchased.
-'Order any two flavors from our classic, specialty or seasonal menu.' Do you mean only up to two flavors per order?
Your cupcakes are gorgeous, and the flavors sound yummo!
I checked out your site and agree with the above posts- the light blue color is pretty but hard to read, especially with the pictures right underneath, they nearly wash out the lettering all together. Also, under "How to Order" that font is a little too small for me (but that could just be me).
I also would like to see an address (at least a town/state) and a number or direct contact of some kind posted on your heading. I, too, get nervous when a company wants MY information without giving me any of theirs first... Too many scams floating around these days...
One more thing- even though some said that the spelling/grammar isn't important, I disagree. That, also, can be a sign to some that this may be a scam. Too many "red flags" can cause a person to quickly click to a different website. Professionalism can be very important!
On a different note- the pictures of the cupcakes are WONDERFUL, and the overall design of the website is very nice! Good luck with your business!!
Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions and comments. Even though I worked hard on this I obviously missed some important things. Yes - the facebook page is in the works and I am planning to connect it to my site. My phone number is on the FAQ page but I should put it on the order page as well. I will get these changes made.
I believe you worked hard on it, I could tell! It turned out very nice! Sometimes "extra eyes" to proof it all is the key. YOU know where you are and what you want to say but an "outsider" doesn't, so these are things you might have never noticed without someone finally telling you. Even famous authors need a proofreader
I agree with other posters about including a phone number, either at the bottom of the home page, like many websites or at the very least on the contact tab. I don't generally do any business whatsoever if I cannot get hold of them by phone. I think the blue only needs to be a shade or so darker. I actually like the lighter blue. And just make the spelling/grammar corrections as noted above. Otherwise, very nice website. I like the way your gallery of photos works with the notes.
I don't know your area or what types of businesses you have been bringing samples to.
First think of your market. Is it families from the local schools/churches, business clients of the places you left samples, local hospitals and colleges?????
Get your samples and contact cards into the hands of your future clients.
There's one lady in our city that does a lot of business with the local college dorms. College kids can't bake but like homemade cupcakes. She also does a lot with cupcake gifts, sort of like "in lieu of flowers". Those were marketed to the local PTA and church.
I think you have to figure out who your customers would be and get the samples and really clear postcard type brochures in those places.
Your website really does rock. I love it.
One more thing, How are they packaged??? Do they look gift worthy. I mean are they presented in a way that someone could order them as a gift for someone????
I own Just Desserts Delivered, the company Jason linked.
This is my slow time. September will find me too busy again and it stays that way ( slightly slower in January) through June. When people are planning vacations and cookouts, high priced sweets are not as important. My corporate is down now too because of vacations. The wholesale to museums is steady because it is either vacation season or school field trip time.
But when the first busses appear and school supplies are bought, the phone doesn't stop. Of course I still have birthdays, but they aren't the bulk of my business.
This was discussed on another thread in the last few days, but I would be buried in bakeries on the web and never found if not for Google Adwords. It is very expensive but I swear by it. My business would not have grown without the number one positioning. You just need to budget for it. I suggest at least $300 monthly if not more. This means you must be serious about your business. If you are not willing to spend to get business, you will probably see slow growth. Spending the money... even in these summer months... is probably why my business grew so fast.
Another big issue is branding. Notice that every part of my business, from the site to the packaging, looks national, or at least professional. I have found that very little, if not the smallest segment of my business is cupcake delivery. The largest is cupcakes to corporate. Next is wholesale. Next, buffets. This means that you must look the part and your actual product must rival florists and Edible Arrangements. Even my business cards are the best quality and they are beautiful. It makes a difference. But again, this is not a business that will grow itself. The components must be in place.
I didn't paint an easy picture. It is difficult to succeed. But it can be done.
On your site, as others have mentioned, you never sold your cupcakes and you never answered the question, "Why choose your business". The site is your first impression and cute graphics wil only get yoy so far.
Also, and this is a big one... you should have an e-commerce site. The lack of a way to pay for the order looks amateur, like you ran out of money and are not ready to play the game. I'm not being harsh, just realistic. Would you want to spend money with a company you don't know except on the web if they look like they are on a shoestring? No, you wouldn't. Get someone to set you up with credit cards on the site. Very few orders come over the phone. About 90% just show up in my email box paid. Pretend to order something on my site and see how the cart works. Again, this makes you look more professional and polished because I'm sure that you will find, like any delivery company, that the big bucks are in corporate orders.
Good luck to you and if you have any specific questions, you are welcomed to pm me. Susan
I realize you didn't ask for proofreading or editing help. Since others are mentioning it, I thought it might be helpful when finding a proofreader, to give a heads up that I found 128 errors (spelling and punctuation).
My condolences to you and your family for the loss of your sister.
Something that no one else has mentioned and may have a logical geographical reasoning but struck me as unusual - you offer free delivery to three counties but not Dunbarton or Hooksett despite having to go through one of them to get to Manchester. If I lived in Hooksett in the part between Manchester and Bow I'd wonder why I had to pay when other's dont have to.
May not be much of a consideration for corporate customers (I dont know) but as a regular customer it would irk me.
As I said at the beginning though if there is some reason obvious to locals but not me as an outsider just ignore!
When giving out your samples, if you are targeting corporate accounts find out what you need to do to be on their suppliers lists, I know everyone we buy things from must be approved and on headoffice's list of suppilers. Once you get on the list target the people who actually order things for people. Management might like to think they are the boss but when it comes to sending flowers or other small tokens to people it's the secretary or whoever actually does the ordering that counts!
Another thing to think about. My business plan cannot support free delivery. One thing to consider is that one day you may not be the delivery person and you cannot afford to pay another person to deliver for free.
Also, when you consider the commercial insurance (yes, if you are in an accident in the course of doing business, your insurance company does not have to pay if you have not been truthful), gas, wear and tear, and time, this cannot be supported with your pricing structure. I am debt free and I can't do it. That is money straight out of my profit.
In a business that is based on delivery, the only way to do this profitably is to do multiple deliveries while you are out in the same area. We also personally go to my delivery area for shopping, restaurants, supplies, and my daughter's job and school, plus her school sports. So my delivery prices were calculated knowing we were going anyway. But I still make money. With your vast delivery area, this will be virtually impossible. My business does have some outlying delivery areas, but I don't advertise them much and it is mainly research to see if the new area is viable. So far, I have only done weddings and parties in my outlying area (Winchester, VA). The rest of my delivery area is in a neat circle.
If I open my retail store, the outlying areas will be eliminated.
In my experience, I have found the corporate payments to be easy. In every situation, I have gotten prepayment with a credit card. I haven't had to register as a supplier. But this is just my experience. I have schools, hospitals, doctors, retail, and large national offices as accounts.
A good website and Facebook are very necessary to cake businesses. Also, like you, when I started my business last year I tried going around to local businesses with samples and brochures and made sure to tell them I delivered. So, in essence, I was marketing myself just like you and I got the same results! People loved my cupcakes but I only got a few orders from all that effort and the hundreds of dollars spent on the endeavor. So, I stopped doing that and worked harder on networking with my customer base and thanking them and doing extra for them when they refer me. I also began doing tastings for businesses that book events but that do not provide celebration cakes. It took awhile but finally I am getting calls on a regular basis and my website is being found when people search for bakeries in my town. It guess it just takes time to get established. Good luck to you!
I really like your website. Very hip and current. You cupcakes look divine too!!!