We've been open for about a month. We have a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen in our home. We are now ready to begin the marketing and promotion part of our business. Honestly why I haven't done so yet is because I wanted to get comfortable working in the new kitchen (adjusting to the convection oven has been a major learning curve) and not be crazy busy straight out of the gate.
Business picked up big time the last 2 weeks and we got a lot of positive feedback from customers so now I'm ready to promote and market our business. I've read and researched and plan to take out ads in our local paper which covers many cities and towns around us. I've done the foot work of handing out samples and got orders from that. Our Facebook page has grown leaps and bounds as well but now I want the likes and traffic to turn into paying orders. I'm a little leary of doing coupons because I don't want people to come to expect that from us so what should my angle be to draw in customers and have them place orders. I read the dozen for the price of 10 type of thing but wasn't sure if that really worked.
Any real legitimate advice or suggestions are welcome. please share with me your experience and the best marketing tool you've had with your business. Also foot traffic is not an option we do not have a store front open to customers.
Word of mouth has proven to be the most valuable source of customers for us but we want to expand and touch in areas we haven't yet. Thanks!!
I think you're absolutely right. Handing out vouchers and discounts just gives the impression of you being cheap and/ or desperate. Not the picture you wanna draw I guess :/
My suggestions are any wedding related vendors, (Christmas) fairs, churches and schools. They give you a broad spectrum of potential customers - not sure what and if (yet) you specialised in anything. ..?
We do custom orders really well. Things you can't buy anywhere else. And the quality is definitely there which honestly there is only one other baker whose legal that does good work. She actually contacted us and asked if she could refer her customers to us when she was booked or unavailable and said she wouldn't recommend anyone else. As far as a niche I'm not sure we've necessarily honed in on that yet. We are the only bakery who offers sugar cookies with buttercream everyone else does the royal only. We've already started getting Christmas cookie orders.
What we are wanting is the steady consistent orders now. I've got some booked out into January but november needs a boost. December is probably going to jam packed with Christmas cookies but again we are looking for the custom orders if that makes sense. I think the custom cakes and celebration cakes will be are money makers and I want to capitalize on those. Also some contacts I made will provide us with multiple orders going to many businesses as a thank you to their customers. I guess I'm getting antsy lol. And don't want to sit with idle hands doing nothing but waiting I want to be proactive in reaching people and getting orders.
Yes I get it. Be prepared for a year or so of a sort of slower start. Hardly anyone managed to burst their business from zero to hero in no time. In fact many take years to reach a point at where they have to turn customers away because they are fully booked.
I think it can't harm being proactive and using your spare time for advertising.
Let's face it...The money is in the wedding cake business. In order to get booked for cakes you'll have to go from venue to venue, speak to coordinators, florists, wedding dress shops, makeup artists and hair salons etc etc. Never hurts to leave some tastings of cake - cupcakes are easy to handle- so they could tell their brides first hand experience how yummy your cake was ;)
You could also look into teaching baking classes. For kids and/or adults. Not sharing all your secrets and creating competitors but teach people how to make one (or two) specific things. Like "Petit four class" or "Apple pie for beginners" or "Fondant Lego Fun Factory" Might be a booster for the slower month....
Good luck anyway!
Webake, I think I remember reading that you're in the St. Louis area, right? If so, I am too, and I frequently have to turn people down because I'm already booked (baking is not my full-time job) or someone wants something that is beyond my skill level. I'd be happy to share your contact info if you'd like. Please PM me if you're interested.
@jselle I'm in central Illinois about 2 hours from St. Louis. Bummer though we aren't closer and I greatly appreciate that!!! I know it all takes time to build customers but soooo many business fail here and it's because they don't get the word out fast enough. There were probably 5 businesses that closed and I had never heard of any of them until after they closed. Small business is tough here not many make it our city and state is not small business friendly so I think that's where my urgency comes from. I just got some menus and plan to hand them out with our business cards TODAY lol. I'm a very social person I talk to people all the time so approaching people and businesses is no big deal really just don't put me in front of the camera haha I become an absolute ding dong We did make a short video and it got a lot of good feedback but I think hitting pavement is the best way to do it.
Ok, no problem. I'm sure things will pick up soon for you. Best of luck!
i agree with you and julia the money is in custom cakes especially weddings -- baking a broad spectrum is unproductive in a small facility and will wear you down -- you would do best to define your brand of baking for your advertising/marketing campaign -- it's cliche but you don't get a second chance on a first impression -- tell them what you do -- what you want to do for them --
I'd offer a Thanksgiving pie special and have it be a "limited number will be available so order yours now" kind of thing. Or Turkey cookies or a Thanksgiving cake or whatever you want to make a ton of if you could.
If you can develop a line of cakes that are more or less ready-to go with some basic personalization but mostly decor that can be premade. Chrissie Boone did a couple of Craftsy classes that are really good, and her business model is custom cakes plus some that are cute but have set decorations for last-minute orders. Here's the page on her website describing it http://www.toonicetoslice.ca/main/just-a-slice/ I'll add that if you watch the one where she describes how to price your cakes, she does the profit margin calculation wrong, so don't listen to that, the math is all off. They also offer specialty treats too, so take a look at her website.
@costumeczar So maybe a choice between an 8" round or 1/4 sheet cake semi custom like this but thanksgiving theme market them as our holiday cake option even for those on the go lol As well as offering a limited number of pumpkin pies? Thanks for the link I did check it out :) you are always helpful!!
Exactly...But make sure the "limited number available" is as many as you can crank out! You dn't need to say how limited it is, heh heh heh. Create the idea of scarcity.
I went to a couple of local businesses today actually one place I happened onto by accident turns out the owner is one of our city's biggest event planner (the luck I have lol) and I was asked to be a part of a silent auction of course it would be donated but it's hosted by one of our more upscale restaurants and a lot of my target market goes to those types of events. So something I'm definitely considering. I went to a bridal store and they gladly accepted my cards and menu and placed my cards on their counter. Next time I'm going to the florists, photographers and banquet halls. We've never done a wedding cake and it frightens me to death to do one but one cake could set us up for the month. I went a few other places as well really targeting the types of businesses I'd like to do business with. We'll see what comes of it. Also we are making a 1/4 sheet cake and a round cake two different options both thanksgiving themed on Friday and making a pie to advertise as well. Fingers crossed we start to see the steady flow of orders like the last 2 weeks :)