Advertising is a funny thing, you start a business and then you have this whole taboo that is advertising to deal with. Many of you will be thinking the same thing “I just want to bake. Why does it have to be so complicated?" Realistically it doesn't have to be complicated. You just need to get savvy with what adverts you take out.
From the onset of starting your business you will get calls offering you all these wild and wonderful deals as I've talked about before. These are often something I would say to avoid. They rarely pay out in customers and sales and you will be out of pocket too. Instead get savvy with your advertising and ignore those calls and go for the listings you know will work.
A good place to start is the free adverts, after all these may bring in the work to help you fund any paid adverts you want to do in the future. The best place to start is everyone’s favourite and that’s Yell.com. You will get a free line listing usually ( although they may have changed this since I last advertised with them) However you will get calls from them trying to sell you further space telling you all this blurb about you not being seen etc. Ignore it and stick to your guns. They are simply trying to hard ball you into paying out cash.
Some other great places I have found are Free index and Cylex. Both are online listings although out of the two I prefer Free Index. Your customers can leave reviews and it’s a great advertising strategy for your customers to see your work alongside other bakers and compare reviews. As long as you work hard and ask your clients to leave you a review after they have tried their cake then your quality will show through.
Facebook as always will be a good choice. Some businesses run solely on Facebook and do well with that. I personally think you should look at having a website though. It shows you are a trusted brand who can be taken seriously when you have spent the time building up a website to show what you are all about. Often people worry about buying from someone solely on Facebook as there is a tendency for the odd company to do a moonlight flit with customer’s money and not produce anything for it. If you are looking at wholesale suppliers they will look for something more than Facebook before they will take your custom too. There are some free website programmes you can use so this doesn't have to cost you anything more than your time.
OK let's get onto paid advertising. Now this is where I stress you should be cautious. Every man and his dog will have a wonderful deal that’s just for you and for a limited time if you let them. Instead look at where you would look if you were buying a cake. Most people’s first instinct is Google. They generally look at companies on the first page too and a rare few will go past the 4th page of websites on Google. So one way or another, this is how you want to gain your sales.
Look at a company called Cakeory I have personally listed with them so I have first-hand experience of their service. They generally rank on the first or second page for every term I have typed into Google when checking my site and believe me I'm very thorough when checking so that’s a lot! Since taking out my advert with them they have been really helpful and I have had a lot of work come through on the referral link you get on your listing. I was incredibly surprised when I first joined their directory as it was a first for me to actually get anything from an advert. I like most had been suckered into many other paid listings and got nothing for my money so this was a novelty for me.
They not only host your web details and contact info but photos of your work too which is nice and saves your customers hunting here there and everywhere for things. I would say that is a listing which is well worth its money.
Another way of getting word out about your cakes is wedding fairs. These are hosted mainly in January to March and then again from September to October and are a great way of being personal and interacting with the potential customers. Stands are usually chargeable and you can often opt to offer something for the goodie bags or prize draw too. I would recommend doing both if you can as some brides go home and find it hard to remember company details and a little reminder in their goody bag could just be what they need to get in contact with you and book.
Always go for fairs close to your area and that you can service easily when the booking comes through. It makes more sense financially for you and will ensure when the brides book they will be most likely to be getting married close to you and there will be no added delivery costs to add on which could sway them not to book.
Book with a reputable firm, always vet the fairs first, go along with a friend and speak to a few vendors see how they have found it. Have a chat with the event planner that runs the fair you will find them very friendly usually. Look around is it busy with brides and is it well sign posted. Did you hear about it in the local press? Quite often I am told of fairs which have 2-4 brides arrive and which has had no promotion in the run up at all. This would be money wasted on your part especially as you will have to consider the costs of the dummy cakes you make and sample cake for the brides ( always advisable it keeps the men happy whilst the bride browses)
Another way to advertise which doesn’t actually have to cost you money but a box of thank you cupcakes wouldn’t go a miss, is your local paper. Most news desks are keen to hear of local people who have something to tell. How did you start your business? Were you made redundant and decided to go it alone. Have you got over something and come out the other end with a great business. Are you a keen supporter of a local cause and helping with an event? These are all good places to start; you just need something to set you apart. First of all call or email your local newspaper's news desk and say who you are, that you run your own business and give them a bit of background about you and why you think it'd be great for them to do a story on you.
Most will want some cakes in a shot with you for the story so do your best and have something which really stands out in the photos. It's your chance to shine so make the most of it!
There are so many other ways to advertise but these are ways that I have tried and tested myself. Rather than keep them all secret I thought I'd share so you can all hopefully avoid making the mistakes we all make and diving in to all those wonderful deals we get hooked into.
I hope you have found this blog helpful, please do come back for more and let me know any comments you have too.
Until next time,