Follow this cake business guide by the founders of The Cake Professionals, to learn how to find your customers and connect with them, using a variety of marketing techniques.
In part two of the cake business marketing series, the founders of The Cake Professionals, Phil and Christine Jensen share their tips on how to get the right message to the right person at the right time. Learn how to find your customers and how to connect with them using traditional and digital marketing techniques.
Running your own cake business: Part two – how to find your customers
Phil and Christine Jensen – founders of The Cake Professionals.
In part one of ‘Running your own cake business’ we talked about how marketing was getting the right message to the right person at the right time, and we focused on the 'marketing message’.
In part two, we’re turning our attention to the other two vital ingredients. Getting your brilliantly crafted marketing message to the right person at the right time.
This article also builds on a previous blog about developing your brand, 'Top tips for naming your cake business'. So, if you like to join the dots of business, we’d recommend you have a read!
The right PEOPLE – how to find your customers
In thinking about your brand, the job is to develop an idea of who ‘your people’ are. These lovely people are the slice of society who’ll connect specifically with what you’re selling and your business’ brand. They’re your customer.
Remember. Not everybody will be a good fit. None of us wear all the clothes sizes! It would be weird if we did.
As businesses, we’ll connect with our own distinct flavour of customers. We can’t sell to ‘everyone’. Each one of us has 100% permission to do our thing, for our own specific market. This means, ridiculously, that we aren’t actually competing with the cake maker down the road. They have their people, we have ours, and everyone has cake. Result!
To have a viable business, all we need is a big enough slice of our right kind of people to love what we do. But do we know where they are? We’ve got a brilliant product, amazing branding, a fantastic marketing message… but how do we get that into the hands, heads and hearts of those ‘right people’?
Well, the first question has to be… where are these people physically and virtually?
Marketing techniques - how to reach your customers
Physically – traditional advertising
Our ‘right people’ are going to be reachable in different ways. The key point is to get them to see and understand our message so they can fall in love with what we do and want to buy from us.
That might be:
- a flyer on a notice board
- an advert or article in a magazine
- a leaflet in the hand of a friendly supplier or venue
... These are all ways of being physically in front of them, without actually being there.
For weddings that might look like:
- bridal shops
- wedding fairs
- bridal magazines
- local newspapers
- recommendations from event hire companies
- wedding planners
… Think like the kind of bride you want to meet!
Birthdays can be marketed in spaces that the market you’re after hang out. When it comes to children (who tend to get celebrated a little more than grownups) think about:
- day-care centres
- sports clubs
- community events
- local newspapers
… Think like the kind of parent you want to meet!
It’s not entirely physical but it does get you into people’s homes, it’s surprising how far a good local radio interview will travel. If there’s good news to share, particularly if it’s current or on trend, the local media is often interested.
Never miss out on top tips, inspiration, tutorials and techniques by subscribing to the Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft magazine. See our print and digital subscriptions offer here.
Virtually – digital marketing
Get a website, get found!
So much of life now takes place online. Love it or loathe it, that is a reality and if we don’t have an online presence, we’re going to be missing out A LOT.
Successful businesses need a good online presence. Facebook and Instagram are a good start, but we’d recommend that any serious cake business has a website. It’s the shop window. It instantly makes a business feel more real, more official, more trustworthy.
AND THIS BIT IS REALLY IMPORTANT SO IT'S ALL IN CAPITALS …AND BOLD… AND UNDERLINED
YOUR WEBSITE WILL FEATURE IN GOOGLE SEARCHES
90% of all online searches are made using Google. If we’re serious about our businesses, we need a functioning and up-to-date website. A website doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. There are lots of companies out there that provide simple templates.
People have their favourite ways of communicating, so with a website, Facebook page and Instagram, there will be a variety of ways to reach potential customers.
It’s important to understand that people will find you online in one of two ways – organic search or paid search.
Organic search traffic
How are people finding you? Is it organic or paid searches?
Free advertising – how does that sound?!
Organic traffic means people will find you without having to pay for them to find you. With a website this will mostly come through people searching for their specific cakey need. If you have a website, you pop up in the results. There are ways (Search Engine Optimisation – SEO) that enable us to climb the rankings but we‘ll deal with that another day. With Facebook and Instagram, the visibility of your accounts and posts are directly related to how engaging your posts are, and how active you are in engaging with other people’s posts.
Paid search traffic
Paying can help you get to the front of the queue, and just as importantly, specifically target the people you want. Imagine if you could put an advert in your local paper but only had to pay for it to reach the people interested in your products! That’s roughly what paid online advertising is. You can choose potential customers based on things like their location, interests, their age and many more characteristics.
Here's an example of how we use Google adverts for our own cake business...
We became aware after years of working in Cornwall, that destination weddings to our area were typically spending significantly more than local weddings. So, we set up adverts which only appeared to people outside the area who were looking to get married in Cornwall. We crafted a message just for folk planning a destination wedding in Cornwall. We pay £300 a year for those adverts and they typically bring in £6-7,000 of business. Targeted adverts can be a savvy way to bring in the right kind of orders.
Another aspect of online advertising is email. It's really important that you get permission to gather people’s emails. That list is incredibly valuable and free for you to use effectively. This is something that we’ve covered on our Monday night Facebook lives under Digital Marketing, if you’re interested in finding out more.
Reaching your customers at the right TIME
It’s all about the right timing!
You need your marketing messages to find people at the time when they feel a need for what you’re selling...
Selling wedding cakes to newlyweds and Christmas cakes in March is not a great way to spend our time or money! Some events, like birthdays, are fairly evenly spread throughout the year. For these events our marketing will follow that pattern and so will be spread throughout the year. Others, like weddings, vary much more throughout the year with most weddings in the UK taking place between May and October.
We make every effort to get our message to the right people throughout the year, but we ramp up our paid advertising in August and January because we’ve found that September and February-March are the peak time for wedding enquiries in our area.
A great way to find wedding customers at the right time is to connect with other suppliers, planners and venues. Cake is quite often one of the last things ordered. So, if we can build positive relationships with fellow suppliers who are seen before us, they may well recommend us to their clients. This means we know our marketing is reaching people at exactly the right time.
Now you're ready to start connecting with your customers, now's the perfect time to get to grips with your finances to ensure you can run a successful cake business! Check out the founders of The Cake Professionals four step guide.