You are ready to start your home bakery business. You understand and are following your local cottage food laws. Your menu, policies (read my post about How To Deal with Friends and Family Asking for Discounts on Your Cakes), high-quality photos of your products, and pricing are all set. But, you need a marketing plan to reach customers.
This post is for beginner home bakers who are starting to market their business. Based on my marketing experience combined with owning a home bakery before I opened my retail bakeshop, here are five key strategies to begin to build connections and customers within your community.
1.Tell everyone you know that you are now a licensed home bakery and accepting orders.
Yup, pull together a list of all your friends, family, former colleagues, neighbors–anyone you know. Share with them what you are doing and specifically ask them to help you spread the word about your fledgling business.
Give them business cards and menus to pass around. Ask them to share your social media posts and like and comment whenever possible. That juice can be valuable to signal to social media algorithms.
Word of mouth is an incredible asset for any business–but especially a business starting out. If you knew someone who personally recommended a local baker, wouldn’t that carry weight for you?
It’s a common fear to be wary of selling. Push aside your worries and remember, you are providing a valuable service to your customers who will pay you for your effort and time. Check out my IGTV, where I talk about selling vs. serving.
2. Treat every customer like they are your only customer.
Customers are the lifeblood of businesses. Your customers are the foundation of your business. Never lose sight that you are in business to serve.
Check out my blog post, 4 Easy Ways to Provide an Exceptional Customer Experience. In this post, I detail how vital the totality of the customer experience you provide is. Also, I did an Instagram Live (which is now saved as an IGTV) about following up with customers to check in on their orders. While that may feel very uncomfortable, it is much better to hear from a customer why they were unhappy so you can rectify it and fix the issue for future orders.
In marketing, there is a mantra: “It’s cheaper to keep her.” As business owners, we often are focused on bringing in new customers, which is a healthy part of any successful business. But, it is also essential to retain your customers and try to get them to come back and place their next order with you. Previous customers are the best prospect for the next order.
Ask customers for testimonials and reviews. This is known as social proof and can be a valuable way to show folks who are not yet your customers why they should choose you. I have a blog post about How to Ask Customers for Reviews and Testimonials.
3. Network within your community and give products away for free.
The people in your local community are your potential customers. Explore if your area as a Chamber of Commerce, festivals, community days, or walks where you could participate.
Think about all the businesses you frequent–hairdresser, dentist, your favorite bookstore, or where you get your car serviced–ask them if you can drop off a platter of treats (or individually sealed samples) and some business cards. Nervous about asking? All of those businesses recognize how hard it can be as an owner getting started. The worst they can say is no. So what? Ask the next person.
You are in business to make money, but in the beginning, you may want to give away your delicious treats to help spread the word about your business.
Networking doesn’t necessarily mean always giving away products. You could attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting and chat with folks about what you do. You never know where your next customer will come from. It’s up to you to be out there talking to people and sharing what you do.
4. Choose one social media platform and start there.
You can always add more platforms after you get your rhythm on this first one. It’s tempting to try to be everywhere, but your best bet is to go slow, especially since you will also be figuring out many business-related issues arising as a startup.
I recommend reading my post on building a visual identity for your bakery. Creating your visual identity is important but don’t go down a rabbit hole of spending way too much time on your logo or colors.
Focus on sharing high-quality photos of your products, introducing yourself and your business, and building authentic connections.
5. If cottage food laws allow, participate in farmers markets or pop-ups to introduce yourself and your products to the community.
By appearing at these places, you are leveraging their traffic. If an option, have lots of samples available for folks to taste your product. Smile, be friendly, and talk to people about what you do and why you do it.
Give out your business cards and menus, make sure there is an easy way for customers to get in touch with you.
Please read my post, How To Sell Baked Goods at Farmers Markets, for in-depth information about finding a market, applying, planning your day, and what to do once you are there.
As I said above, this is for the beginner home baker. As you get all of this down and get more experience under your belt, there are other marketing efforts you could think about, like starting an email list or expanding to other social media platforms (two more posts on this blog).
Don’t get bogged down worrying about sales. It takes time to build a thriving business. Your goal should be to make long-term connections and relationships with people. Be authentic, offer a quality product, and show every day that you care about your customers.
When I started my home bakery business, determining my pricing was a struggle. So, I’ve created a freebie that takes the guesswork out of pricing products. Get the formula you need to determine what you should be charging for your cakes and cookies. Snag my Five Essential P’s for Perfect Product Pricing cheat sheet now by signing up for my email list.