I am new to the business. I only have so much resources for marketing and I want to know who/what market I should focus on first (prioritise):
kids birthday parties
What is the pros and cons of focusing on each of these markets? Thank you.
Market to whom you want to sell to. And don't forget to hand out your cards/samples to planners/florists too.
AA business plan will answer all your questions. Do your own market research.
AGuess it depends also on the market in your area. Have you done some research on that? In the beginning I wouldn't be too fuzzy. Many new bakers are happy for any business at all. Once your order book is filled to the rim is when I would suggest you start specializing...
Weddings probably have the highest profit margin, but getting into that market is a political minefield. Get ready to schmooze and kiss some butt. Birthdays give you a bigger customer base, but people don't want to spend as much for them even though they still want all the bells and whistles. The first birthday mothers are the craziest customers I've ever had, brides have nothing on the first b-day mothers. I don't do corporate but they tend to want sheet cakes and take forever to pay you because they usually work on a system where the department that ordered the cake submits a request for payment and has to wait for the check before they send it to you. So with them there's no payment up front to buy ingredients etc.
Thank you ladies, especially costumedzar. It's very valuable. I am thinking focusing on local moms for birthday party because I feel the weddings are very competitive and will take a long time to build relationships with florists, hotels, planners and so on. Good point about the corporate customers. I have a portfolio of some popular designs, like pink princess or train, and so on for the moms to pick. I will of course do custom designs upon request. Do most moms want a unique design rather than picking from a portfolio? Anyone else have different experience with these customers? Thank you.
AMany of the moms which order birthday cakes from me choose cake pictures they find online - unfortunately :( They basically come with the picture and say "I want this one".
For me, I would rather do 2 wedding cakes a week than 10 party cakes. It's so EASY to find the brides--bridal fairs, social media, networking events with other vendors, etc. Venue open houses, etc. I don't find it too competitive. Hey, no one baker can make ALL the wedding cakes. I'm just completing my second full year and I'm turning away business because I'm booked.
If I was doing party cakes, I wouldn't know where to start marketing--well, word of mouth, obviously. I do party cakes as well when I'm not too booked with wedding cakes. Actually I like doing cakes for people who ordered before I started advertising to brides, and I like doing shower and birthday cakes for my brides, and former brides and their families.
Of course advertising to brides can be expensive, but I have found many opportunities that are cheap or free. The marketing is VERY targeted, which is what I love about it.
However, I know people who hate the pressure of wedding cakes and the consultations, etc. and would rather concentrate on party cakes, or cupcakes.
There's no wrong answer. You want to do what you love and/or what pays the bills. Good luck!
Original message sent by julia1812
Many of the moms which order birthday cakes from me choose cake pictures they find online - unfortunately :( They basically come with the picture and say "I want this one".
I find this to be true too, for the most part. Or they want one piece of a cake put with a piece of another cake. What I'd recommend is that you have a minimum order amount so that you screen out the people who want a three-tiered fondant sculpture of their child's head for $40. I find that for party cakes people will ask for an elaborate design then say "It's only for 8 people", and they think you'll charge them for 8 servings. Yesterday I had one person email me a photo of one of those pregnant belly cakes covered with a zebra print dress, then she said that it didn't have to be very big since it was only for 9 people. I wrote back and told her I have a $150 minimum so that's how much it would be...Amazingly, she hasn't written back.
The wedding market in my area is very competitive just because of the sheer number of cake businesses here. It's a different kind of marketing because it is targeted, but it's also very referral-driven. For me the wedding shows worked okay when I first started out, but part of that is that I was using them to meet other vendors, not just sell to brides referrals are the lifeblood of weddings, whether it's from other customers or from other professionals. I don't do shows now, and there are still generally at least four or five cake businesses at each one.
If your market is saturated with wedding cake providers it will obviously be more difficult to get a decent share of the market...I know a couple of people here who have either gone out of business or who look like they're very successful but who don't have much business because of the number of bakers in the area. The cottage food laws make the bar to entry lower than it was when they get passed, and depending on how many competitors there are you may or may not have an easy time finding customers. I had to start charging for appointments recently because brides were going to five or six places for fun. Once I started charging my no-show rate has disappeared, and there are a couple of planners who stopped sending people to me completely. I figured out that they were sending people to me to make it look like they were giving them a choice, then pushing them to the vendor they work with who gives them kickbacks. Charging for appointments eliminates those kinds of shenanigans. It depends on your area and what kind of competition you have, but weddings do pay the best. I'd prefer to do one wedding cake instead of four party cakes too (which is what I do anyway, I only do weddings) but if that isn't feasible in your area then you could position yourself as a high-end tiered party cake provider and go that route.
Excellent question catkoko! And as always, great answers from costumeczar!
I applaud you for asking and trying to develop your "business end". It's the best phrased question I have seen for a while. Best of luck!