Hello there! My business il 90% wholesale, but I'm getting my name out there with the farmer's market, weddings, and so on.
Now, my plan for the holiday is to make party platter (I know you are thinking about it too!!), I know what type of cookies I'm gonna bake and the price. My only concern is about dropping samples around: banks, offices, schools..
How should I approach them? Just walk in the bank and say "hey! You don't know me but I brought you cookies!!" It sounds weird, and I'm kinda shy..
Can somebody give me a good strategy?
I wouldn't force it too much. Just start with people you already know/places you're already going. When I first got started, I would take samples in to the bank when I needed to make a deposit or to my hairdresser when I had an appointment. Make sure they're presented professionally and you tuck in several business cards. Good luck!
Well that's my problem, I don't know many places in town. I moved here 2 years ago and focused a lot on my business.
even my bank, I walked in 3 times only!
Why you would not force it? I need advertising, I have a big commercial kitchen and several employees to pay!!! Definitely need more business!!!
Just introduce yourself and your business and say how delicouse your cakes/cookies etc. are and you that would like to give them some free samples today, no one will say no. People get really friendly as soon as they see you with baked goods :)
If your really shy, get someone who is outgoing to go with you :)
Years ago I took sample trays to local office buildings, my bank and hair dress, places like that.
I just took small trays that I had boxed up (I got plain pizza boxes) and made up flyers with each one. I usually just walked in & asked for the manager, talked to that person, showing the sample tray, asked if they had an employees break room and would they mind placing this in that room. I almost never got turned down. Although all contact information was on the flyer I also left business cards. I can't tell you how many orders I got from that! Remember, employees usually don't have time to go 'shopping' around so it pays to go to them.
Before I got into caking I made wall plaques and took a few in to the bank to show off. That lead to many, many orders then when I started doing cakes I told the tellers and offered a free b'day cake for each employee (small town, small bank) if they would let me know name and date. I baked a single layer 8" round for those. That of course shows off what you can do and brings in other kinds of future orders.
Contact and leave samples and brochures with:
Trade shows, special events organizations like SESMA.org; ises.com; na Even.net
Join local chamber of commerce
Ive worked as an executive assistant and office manager to executive directors and CEOs in both private and public sector, and was married to an executive for more than 12 yrs. The average employee has no say in vendor selection for company events. I know when I organized company events, I selected vendors of my choice, unless the executive director requested a specific vendor. most executives will delegate event planning to chief of staff, who in turn delegates to staff. Walking in cold turkey with a platter of goodies is probably not an idea strategy.
I would suggest doing some organizational research of the companies you want to target. Then reach out to executive assistants, chiefs of staff, department heads, and office managers. Most companies have a directory on their website. I received many cold calls from vendors waiting to reach the CEO/ General Manager. My husband's assistant and chief of staff received cold calls too.
many companies have done away with the holiday party, so consider management meetings; board meetings, seminars, etc. I know in the public sector, food is frequently provided to board members and executive staff at board meetings. One non-profit I worked for ordered food for just about every meeting. Don't overlook non-profits--non-profit is a misnomer. Board may meet 2-4 times a month. executive staff usually meets weekly. The board secretary, chief of staff, and executive assistant to CEO would be the persons to contact.
dierct marketing to the employees can be difficult. Most employees don't want to do business where they work, and employees are often not inclined to distribute marketing material to employees for several reasons: 1. They have a business to run; 2. They don't want employees to think they are trying to influence how they spend their income; 3. They don't want to be liable
Well said NorCal. I'd like to combine the information provided above, with one thing:
absolutely be forceful! Like you said: "why not!?" If you're giving them something for free, own it and sell yourself! Exude confidence, and they'll believe you. You are running a business, you have a cool, unique service to offer, run with it and don't be afraid of anyone. They can only say no. And if that's the worse that can happen, you have nothing to fear!
I am focused on the page title...."dropping samples around", yes, I know... that is the idea, sort of. Many good points made above, but don't discount the importance of "selling" your products.
It is a professional marketing opportunity and should be treated as such. It costs you time and money. You find the right person (decision maker/ influence), present it well, offer a short few marketing lines, contact info, smile, and leave.
BTW, early meeting snacks (think muffins) are also a good product line.
Thanks for the tips!! Very helpful!!
@TheItalianBaker thanks for posting as I was also getting my game plan together to do the exact same thing I look to open my in home commercial kitchen very soon (3 weeks or less fingers crossed). I do go lots of places and I'm really friendly with a lot of the staff at the places we go mainly due to how much they all like my kids lol. I had been wondering if my kids being with me wouldn't be a good idea but we homeschool so I'm a package deal. Where I go they go for the most part ;) what are your thoughts on that?
I think the kids are a no-go. Not very professional, however nice they are. I had 4 boys in 5 years, all men now and very well behaved( I demanded good behavior) BUT I would never want to miss a business opportunity because they were "in tow". What if someone really does have an event or meeting soon and wants to chat a few minutes?
Really...I love kids, and have plenty but... it just not appropriate for them to be everywhere an adult may be.
Put on a chef's coat, get everyone thinking, "Who got us food?" and wow them with your samples. EVERYONE turns around when a chef's coat comes in. :)
i agree with johnson6of us -- chef coat --- no kids -- you need to be viewed as a business proprietor not a mother hen -- nothing wrong with mother hens i was one myself just not when you want to inspire peeps to order costly specialty food from you -- and on that subject you could hire a babysitter for a few hours which of course you will be needing to do from time to time as you work the business too or should i say as it works you --
Unfortunately babysitters are hard to come by here. However a friend of mine and I do a kid swap every week one week her kids come to my house for the afternoon then the next mine go to her house. It's wonderful!! I trust her my kids have tons of fun and it's free for both of us lol I actually am able to work and get a lot of work done when the kids are even at my house. I'll probably do a lot of my business promotions (delivering samples) when my husband is off work as well. I'm not really targeting the people at our most frequented places anyhow simply bc they aren't my target market but I've made good repore with them and can still certainly plug myself to them when I'm there with my kids. I really don't know how much sample delivering I'm going to do until after we open to better guage how busy we will be.
Yup.. that kid juggle is something many of us have lived through! Glad you have a free "swap".
Just to sneak away for a hour or two and make a few sample drops may help. Further, I would try to treat it like a "real" sales cold call and follow up. Ask for a card or contact info and start building a data base. Could you email XMas specials for clients or parties? Can you follow up with "nice to meet you", "hope you enjoyed them", "can I offer you services in any way"? Don't expect them to follow up with you, as you should follow up with them.
Pics of the place look good on the other thread. Best of luck!!!