I've been making cakes, cupcakes, and other assorted goodies for quite some time professionally, but I moved to an area where I really don't know anyone. How can a get a bigger and better clientele here? I've given local businesses free samples, cards, and flyers. Even went to the police station and fire department with them too. I know I do good work and my treats taste great, but still I've only have a handful of customers. I've been doing this almost a year here. I'm getting discouraged. Please give me your advice or direct me to any great marketing material you have. Thanks guys and gals!
Attend a local Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Networking will give you better results than handing out free samples. Start working your LOCAL social media, too. The reason I say local is that most people get all excited when they get ten thousand fans but they don't look to see where they're from, and if they're not potential customers there's no point.
Do you have any farmer's market in your area? My little town has one every month. This saturday will be my second one to attend. Last month (my 1st), I acquired 2 new clients. Not a lot, I know, but it is a start. I talked to a bunch of people and that will help. Thinking of doing the farmer's market in the next town.
I did break down and did a Facebook ad, with a targeted audience. I spent $5 day for 7 days and I got 200 page likes in that week and they were all within 20 miles. Let's hope they turn into clients.
There are all kinds of groups in Facebook as well. I found about 4 "For sale" groups in my area. I posted cupcakes for sale (under my personal page, as they don't allow businesses). Honestly, no sales from them, but lots of comments - maybe one day.
You can also maybe do an Etsy page. That is free. I am considering do that as well.
With all the technology, the old way of advertising - newspaper, radio and so forth - are just not worth the money. You will have to find new ways of marketing.
But yes, Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start and doesn't cost anything. You have to get out there and meet people and market yourself.
When it comes to cupcakes/cakes/cookies - food - I do believe in samples as people want to see if they like what you are selling. It is not something you can look at and determine if it will be good. I do samples from time to time.
I am very new to this as well, so I am always looking for ways to market myself.
In addition to what others have said, I've also gotten clients through Instagram. Every picture of my work is hashtagged with my #town, #county, #state, #local area, #zip code as well as #birthdaycake #weddingcake etc. etc. etc.
I also just broke down and paid for a Facebook ad. I've been fighting it for 5+ years, but have found that my followers aren't seeing my posts so I had to pay to get them seen. It is the unfortunate cost of doing business these days.
We are selling our home and my husband and I attended an open house in the area we are moving to. (Only a few miles from where I currently am.) When the real estate agent saw the sign on the side of my vehicle advertising my business, he and the lending agent that were there immediately asked for my business card. The agent has already called me to place an order for cupcakes to have at his next few open houses. So, even if you're not in the market, it wouldnt hurt to go check out an open house!
I ALWAYS have my cards ready to give out to EVERYONE!
Thanks everyone for your amazing advice!! I will definitely have to try some of them soon! I appreciate your help so much!
Cake blessed - that is a fantastic idea!!!
DEFINITELY get an Instagram. Where I live, everyone has Instagram and uses it even more than Facebook, although Facebook is still popular. Posting attractive photos of every order you have can generate tons of interest. Invest in a few nice backdrops, cake stands, and other props and start snapping photos! You could take those photos you post on Insta and post them on Facebook too. Also, and maybe you're already doing this: bring up your business to everyone you know. No shame - just talk about what you do and your excitement will get others excited too! Show them photos of past orders, talk about how you came up with an amazing new flavor, etc. All of the business I've gotten so far has come from either Insta or simply telling people about my cakes!
Facebook is losing ground to Instagram in my area, everybody Instagrams and as a few people have observed it costs to get your posts out on FB, I think that might be one of the things driving it.
We hired a graphic designer to design our logo, it wasn't that expensive. Can I make it very clear that I am not having a go at ANYONE, but the difference between a professional person doing their job and somebody coming up with their own logo is obvious. Think like a big business, look like a big business, not somebody having a go and making a few cakes from home, and doing everything, including the look of their business as cheaply as possible - again not having a go, just replying specifically to this OP who is trying to grow her business.
We had our delivery van professionally signwritten and it was amazing how many people noticed that. I even had a customer tell me that she saw our fleet on vehicles on the road all the time - we have one van but clearly it was being noticed, made us lol.
There are For Sale FB pages in my area, one in particular seems larger than the others, but to be honest with you we have stayed away from them as most people on there are looking for a bargain, price point is their main criteria not quality - we call them "but it's just a cake!" brigade - not my customers, don't waste my time on them.