MARKETING - GROWING YOUR BAKING BUSINESS ONLINE
One thing that can be tricky when you’re just starting out with your baking business is know the best way to reach new customers. There’s only so many times you can appeal to your Facebook friends for cake orders before you get annoying...or hidden from their timeline!
It’s also a question of where to focus your efforts. Do you spend time online, because that’s where everything seems to happen these days, or do you focus on more traditional, local marketing ploys, after all if you’re delivering cakes you need to make sure they’re within a 20 mile radius!
For me, it’s all about balance and finding that sweet spot between the two, as they are both important.
Today I plan to focus on the online side of marketing and promoting your cake or baking business, next week we’ll tackle local marketing and somewhere between these two posts will be this months Freshly Baked e-post which will summarise the key takeaways from both articles and offer some extra advice for managing the time you spend on marketing - in amongst all those cakes you’re baking!
This had to be tackled first. It feels like nothing important in this world happens without some kind of social media endorsement, hashtag or live streamed video. It can seem very daunting and like a lot to take on. The temptation can definitely be to turn a blind eye to it and focus on what you know. Well let’s break it down together, it’s not all that scary!
WHERE ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Before you channel all of your energies into one particular social media platform, do a little research and find out where all your potential customers are hanging out. Have a look at other businesses that sell the same or similar products to you and figure out where they see the most interaction. It can take a little trial and error to see which platform will work best for your business but I’ve outlined the broad principles below.
If you’re selling locally only Facebook really is your friend. Having a dedicated FB business page that people can mention or share with their followers is a great way to get your cakes in front of your fans and other relevant eyes which will hopefully lead to new orders. (There’s a handy little guide here to walk you through it) It’s also a great way for you to engage with your fans because it’s so easy to upload pictures of your latest cake orders or show them quick snaps to give them behind the scenes access to your kitchen and processes. If you don’t have a dedicated business website (but find out why I think you definitely should below!) it is a simple way to showcase your work and allow people to make contact with you. Word of warning though, following their initial enquiry it is best to move the correspondence to email. This way you can much more easily keep track of your orders and record all of your conversations with your customers.
Confession time. I’m obsessed with Instagram. If I had to pick one social media platform over all other it would be this one. It’s definitely due to my fondness of pretty pictures but I find it very addictive. Despite my love of all things IG though, it’s not necessarily going to be the best platform for you. If you are looking to reach a wider audience with your product - maybe you sell fondant cake toppers or can deliver biscuits nationwide then there is definitely potential here to build up a big following and convert that following into sales. If you’re a cake or baking business supplying local businesses or private customers then it’s probably not a necessity.
Hashtags are your friend on Instagram. Use them to attract people who are interested in what you're selling. Be sure to visit these tags to like and comment on pictures within your area. This will help your visibility and drive more traffic to your account.
Twitter is somewhere between IG and FB when it comes to narrowing down your audience's area. I find it to feel a little more local than other platforms, with the exception of Facebook. It’s also a great, quick way for people to send you compliments on your latest orders - which can be used to show everyone how happy your customers are! Local press will usually have a Twitter representation t, as well as most small businesses (particularly in the foodie trade) so my making friends and tweeting with others in your area or field you will be helping to spread the word about your awesome cakes
Similar to Instagram in that if you want to use Pinterest to promote your business and find potential customers, it is better suited to larger nation or world wide markets, not so much local promotion. It is, of course, an inspiration gold mine so I would recommend keeping your Pinterest account active to keep your creative cake decoration juices flowing because there is a never ending supply here!
GENERAL SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE
BRAND - No matter what platform you chose the key is consistency. You should have a coherent look across all of your platforms, website and and business stationery. You will appear professional but you will also become instantly recognisable when associated with certain colours or imagery.
POSTS - Consistency also refers to how regularly you post updates. Whether it’s daily or weekly, stick to a schedule. You’re followers will come to expect your posts and look forward to them.
PHOTOS - When sharing photos of your products try to keep them looking as similar as possible. For example always use the same background, or at least the same post in your house so people know straight away that’s another of your brilliant creations. Check out Ever So Sweet (not me, another one!) She’s chosen a spot on her porch which looks beautiful and simple. Remember, natural light is always, always best.
Reaching out to local businesses in your area is a great way for both parties to gain exposure to new sets of followers and potential customers. At the very least, share your favourite local businesses pages online. At best, reach out to companies that are relevant to yours and offer cross promotion deal to both sets of followers. For example, a wedding cake business and a wedding photographer could offer 10% off their services when both of you are used?
Obviously as a website designer I am strongly pro websites and think they are essential for all businesses, no matter how big or small. Facebook is hugely popular but the first thing people do when they want to find out more about...well, anything, is ‘Google it’. Your dedicated business website is more likely to show up on a Google results page than your Facebook business page is - all because of some complicated search engine optimisation, which I will definitely expand upon someday. Another thing to consider, although it looks as though Facebook is here to stay for a while longer, what happens when it’s no longer about, or no longer popular? With a website you will always have a space to showcase your work, share prices and allow customers to contact you. It can also reflect your brand and show off exactly what you are about and what potential customers expect when they work with you. If you specialise in weddings your image and brand are going to be very different from someone who specialises in childrens birthday cakes. Of course you don’t want to come on so strong that you alienate certain customers, but appearing like an expert, or the ‘go-to’ baker for wedding macaron towers will allow you to focus on a certain market, increase your prices and your sales.
Oh, would you look at that segue! If you are interested in a shiny new website or brand for your cake, cupcake, macaron or even protein bar business then head on over to ‘WORK WITH ME’ page to get the low-down on all of my design packages, or get in touch if you have any questions.