Successful bakeries build their business though a balance of regular customers and big-dollar, higher-profit special occasion orders. Whether the bakery focuses on cakes, cookies or ethnic specialties, a strong marketing plan can increase sales and profits. The best marketing ideas for bakery products entice potential customers to try your goods, turning them into regular customers and boosters of your high-quality offerings.
The Nose Knows
If you're building your storefront from scratch, arrange to vent the warm smells from your kitchen into the customer area -- or better yet, the sidewalk outside -- where the sweet scents of cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate can tempt chance visitors to indulgence. If your product is good, you can convert an impulse buyer into a long-term client.
Offer customers an inexpensive sampler filled with bite-sized versions of your signature goods. Better yet, offer samples anywhere you can: at the cash register, on the sidewalk outside your bakery, or even at local fairs and farmer's markets. Never miss an opportunity to introduce your goods to a potential customer's taste buds.
Be Visible Online
A visible online presence is arguably the most important form of marketing you'll do. If you can't afford a website in the beginning, take advantage of the free tools Google and Bing offer for small businesses. You'll invest just a few minutes in setup for each search engine, and then anyone in your area who searches for "bakeries" will see your name, location, and even photos of your signature products.
Facebook and Contests
Setting up a Facebook page for your bakery is another no-cost marketing option that lets you cast a wide net. Offer your customers incentives to "Like" your page, or hold regular contests so they'll be inspired to share it. Challenge your customers to suggest a new product, for example, and reward the winner and runners-up with daily or weekly treats. Not only does that yield great exposure, it converts occasional visitors into regulars.
Tweet Your Treats
Quick one-line updates on Twitter provide another method to connect with your customers, with an immediacy that other marketing opportunities can't match. Tweet your daily specials each morning, or use the service to let customers know when their favorite bread comes hot and fresh from the oven. For even more impact, post mouthwatering photos of your baked goods on Instagram and then tweet the pictures.
Approach the food and business editors of your local newspaper to write a feature article about your bakery, especially if there's anything striking or unique about your business or products. Alternatively, if you have a way with words, look into writing a recurring column or feature for the paper. Offering recipe tips, or explaining classic baking techniques in a way that lay people can understand, is a fine way to build your profile and credibility in the area.
Encourage frequent purchases with a card that rewards customers with free bakery products after a designated number of purchases. Turn the card into a marketing tool by emailing participants extra promotions and specials to encourage large orders or to help launch a new product. Consider offering a calendar that has monthly features or specials for your best customers.