Hey all! I'm still pretty new to all of this but have learned so much with the help of all the wonderful CCers and the great resources on this site! Right now I do feel like I'm at a little bit of a turning point in my business. Although, I have a decent local following and a handful of people know my work I really feel like I need to get more exposure in order to get more business.
If you advertise your business what have you found that has worked or hasn't worked? I'm currently looking in to advertising in a local magazine where I would split the ad with another business and then we could also pay the publisher is gift certificates and such(which is a great deal!) but I wasn't sure of other sorts of advertising methods you all have found successful.
I'm also out of my home right now (its legal in iowa) and don't have a huge capacity but would definitely like to increase my demand to the point where it would justify getting a physical location.
Any ideas? suggestions??
I can share that a thread discussion on Wedding Wire revealed that most wedding vendors find newspaper ads a total waste of money. They found magz ads were much better if the magz was targeted to brides. Radio ads were a hit or miss, depending on the area.
Websites are a must in this day and age. there's a few threads in here about optimization which may be helpful to you. I had my website listed on 21 different wedding sites (the knot, brides.com, etc.) I only paid for 2 of them.
But hands down the best advertising is your formalized networking groups. BNI, Rainmakers, local Chamber of Commerce and any local wedding networking groups. These are focused word of mouth promoters of your business.
don't forget facebook! i'm just a hobby baker, but i do "follow" several local cakeries on facebook and they are just wonderful about posting pictures and announcements of what's going on with them.
That is a excellent topic Stephy. How about Bridal shows in your area? I often if they are worth investing in. They can be costly but I will get your name out there. I would love to hear more about it if anybody had any experience with them and any tips you may like to share. Thank you all for your time .
Thanks for all your replies! There are some bridal shows and the salon I recently hooked up with wants to share costs by sharing a booth at some of them so that would be good cost wise. And I didn't even think about Chamber of Commerce but thats a great idea!!
Any tips on how to go about effective networking with planners in your area??
I am listed on every free wedding website there is. I pay for the Knot (only advertising I pay for), and for me it has worked really well. I have 10 weddings booked for next year and 7 are from the Knot.
I am going to bite the bullet (because my husband is making me) and do the large bridal show in my area this January. The show averages 900 brides each year.
I agree with doing the bridal show... you not only get to meet brides but local vendors as well. Someone on here said bridal shows are more for networking with venues and vendors than the brides, and it is true.
Besides doing a show, I recommend making sure your business is up on Google Places. That is where most of my non-referral business comes from.
Google Places is great. People can also leave reviews for your business there.
Hi Stephy! I'm in Iowa too!
I'm sure you are already doing this, but if not, make sure you are handing out business cards. You can get them for next to nothing and my business grew by leaps and bounds after I got the cards. Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe it wasn't. I only do cards and word of mouth and am happy with the size of my side business.
When we first launched our business we bought Google AdWords, they really jump-started our business very quickly (and we only spent ~$300 on AdWords over the course of about 6 months). Now that we are more established, the majority of our customers come from word-of-mouth referrals, Yelp, and Google Places.
ditto on the bridal shows ... the REAL benefit is getting to know the vendors. Brides are a side benefit.
I would hand out business cards to anyone wearing an engagement ring! I've even given them to young ladies thru a fast food drive-thru window!
The August 2010 issue of CC magz had my article on how to get "in" with wedding vendors and includes an interview with a wedding planner on what she looks for and what impresses her.
My wedding association just did a bridal panel, and they said that shows were too overwhelming, nobody used the newspaper or the yellow pages at all, they all used wedding guide magazines, and every single one said that word of mouth was the most important factor in deciding whether to hire someone. They said that if they saw someone at a show, then heard a bad review from a friend, they wouldn't hire that person even if they liked them at the show. They tended to follow other brides on facebook to read their reviews, but hearing recommendations from other vendors and their freinds was the most important factor.
I get a huge amount of business from bridal shows. For me, the vendor networking is great, but I find that the majority of the brides I book are the ones I got to talk to and hand my information out too. I did a bridal show just last month and have booked 12 cakes so far from it and they keep coming. I have even recently booked one that I met from a show back in January who is just now finally ready to book her cake. I love the bridal shows. I put a huge chunk of my advertising budget towards them.
Just starting my business, I baked a few doz cookies and a few doz. cupcakes. I decorated them with my colors, logo, etc. and packaged each one in the clear celo bags. I put a business card on each package with the little twist tie. I then placed about a 1/2 doz of each onto a pretty platter, had my box of business cards in the center of the platter and started around to alot of the local businesses. I would carry my platter in, introduce myself, tell them that I was opening a cake shop, offer any and everyone a free sample, ask if I could place business cards there and went on my way to the next business. I even went into every office in the court house.
My thoughts were, this way they could actually tell ppl how good my products are, they could see that I was a neat and clean person and it gave me a chance to meet ppl that I may not have met other wise. Plus it is a Very cost effective way to get the word out. Being that I only opened a couple weeks ago, I am very satisfied with the outcome of what I did. I actually had to turn 2 ppl away last week. This may not work for you, but this is just what I have done so far and it has worked for me.
I sent out a press release in July stating that I just finished a new Commercial kitchen construction. The story was covered in 3 papers. From those I have hooked up my biggest client to date. I am actually making a multi-thousand dollar cake for them this week. This Cake is now being covered by another news group (biger than the 1st). I am going after big ticket customers who will spend several thousand dollars on a cake. By daisy chaining the media interest, I am able to get more corporate accounts and high profile work.
Here is the one that started it all off:
The best thing is that this was free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Crustymuffin, that's because your cakes ARE NEWSWORTHY!!!!
1st...sorry for any typos...had rotator cuff surgery day before yesterday so i am down to using one arm
i have a referral plan that works very well for me. i give each customer 10 numbered cards (my business card with
Customer Name Customer Number
When they give a card to a friend, who is not already a customer, and the friend turns in the card with their order, I keep the card in my original customer's file and give 10 cards to the new customer and begin a file on them. After I receive all 10 cards in a file, that customer rec eives a free quarter sheet cake. This has worked very well for me and I get new customers every week.
I sent out a press release in July stating that I just finished a new Commercial kitchen construction. The story was covered in 3 papers.
Good point...I just wrote a book about home based business and sent a press release to a local news service. The story was picked up, so it's worth sending those out. I have a friend who does PR for wedding vendors, and she says that you should send press releases out for anything major that happens, Sometimes they use them months after you send the story out, so if nobody picks up the story right away don't worry, it could resurface months later when it fits into whatever story someone is writing.