Want to turn your passion for baking into a business? Need ideas on how to market a bakery? Here 5 bakery marketing ideas, tips, and strategies that will help you get established and build a strong customer base.
#1. Create a Business Plan
Before you do anything else, establish just what kind of bakery you want to operate. Depending on what you decide to do, your business plan will be completely different. There are four basic types of bakery business models:
- Wholesale bakeries that service customers in the food service business, local independent restaurants, corporate dining rooms, hospitals, schools, or other organizations.
- The bakery/cafe that offers a full meal menu and dine-in amenities.
- Cake specialists that only bake custom cakes for special occasions.
- An artisan bakery offering specialty and gourmet bread through retail sales.
A lot of people who love to bake and who have traveled to Europe dream of doing number four, but the reality is that in America this is a difficult model to succeed with. Profit margins tend to be thin even when you price based on the value of the artisan production. Retail bread sales also have to compete with grocery store chains, which increasingly offer artisan bread at prices a small, independent bakery can’t match.
If you want to try to open an artisan bakery, do it in an urban market where there is an affluent “foodie” customer base you can tap into. You’ll need a sufficient customer base who appreciates your products and are willing to pay a premium for them.
Wholesale bakeries require an investment in commercial space, staff and equipment. The marketing strategy is unique because of the commercial client-base.
The bakery that also functions as a cafe/restaurant is certainly a viable and popular business model, but it also turns you into a full-scale food service business. Depending on what you serve, you may need additional skill sets with chefs, line cooks, and wait staff. You also face stiff competition in the restaurant industry in general, which is always challenging.
Cake specialists can often find a niche in a community and have the best opportunity to operate with good margins. Many cake bakers run their business as a sole proprietor, keeping overhead low by renting commercial cooking space.
The way you run and market each of these businesses varies a great deal. Make sure you know what you’re trying to do before you get started.
#2. Develop a Business Website
As you get started, the focal point of your marketing will be your website. Today, a website is a calling card, brochure, educational forum, and gallery. It’s often the first impression you’ll make on potential customers.
A bakery website should have strong visual appeal, using images of your products. This is particularly important for cake bakers, who should have a gallery of work on their website. If you’re a local retailer, make sure your location and contact info are clear. Here’s an example:
Provide information about your menu and the types of specialty cakes you prepare. Be sure to have a call to action that motivates people to contact you.
If you’re a small, independent baker, you might think you don’t need a website, but there’s no good reason to skip it. You can use a template to get a website designed for a nominal cost, and it gives potential customers a way to get a feel for your work.
It’s also valuable for search, which is a great way to attract new customers.
#3. Master Search Marketing
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for bakery searches in your area. There are three ways to dominate the search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an advertisement for wedding cakes. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer. You can even target the ad so it only displays in the areas you choose.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews.
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog.
If you do each of these tactics effectively, you can show up in three places on page one:
#4. Earn a Local Reputation
For local bakeries and in particular for cake specialists, reputation and referrals are vital. If you’re a cake baker who isn’t getting a large percentage of your business through referrals, you’re going to struggle.
If you are running a bakery/cafe, then you are subject to online reviews as a restaurant. Having a strong review profile really needs to be part of how you set up and run your business. This includes getting reviews on Google, Facebook, Top Rated Local, and Yelp.
The thing to understand here is how much the quality of your work and the value you provide impacts your marketing. Many cake bakers live on their reputations. The cakes they create are themselves their most effective marketing material. This goes for people who see and eat the cakes at events and for the gallery on your website. Better yet to have positive online reviews and testimonials to go along with those gallery images.
Also, consider your service when it comes to reputation. Make sure your pricing is fair and accurate. Deliver products on time. If you’re a local artisan bakery, make sure your product is fresh and flawless.
Earn the great reputation you deserve. It’s one of the most important steps in marketing your bakery.
#5. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing lends itself to bakery marketing, particularly cakes for events. Social media is visual, so Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all work well for getting your message out and displaying your work.
Be sure to create a Facebook business page and add videos, images, and updates about your bakery. Every cake you bake should be included on each of these platforms.
This business creates Instagram stories for the different types of cakes they bake:
If you run a local bakery, send out special deals and updates on new daily bread. Encourage people to follow you on these platforms and include content such as recipes that go well with your bread.
Included in social media marketing is YouTube. Create a promotional business video as an introduction, and optimize it for search (YouTube is the second most used search engine). Then include videos with baking tips, testimonials from clients, and even videos of you making cakes. Share these videos on your social media channels.
Also be sure to connect with businesses that can give you referrals on social media. Friend local event planners, venue operators, catering businesses, and florists. Set up a referral agreement so you can help each other at events where you can both work. Share content from their social media and they’ll return the favor. This is a great, inexpensive way to generate qualified leads.
If you operate a wholesale bakery, also used LinkedIn, which is powerful for making business connections. Follow restaurants and organizations in your area that you’d like to do business with.
If all of this sounds like a bit much to handle because you realize you know a lot more about baking than marketing, give us a call today.
We specialize in marketing small to medium size businesses like bakeries, and we’ll help make sure you spend your time tending ovens and helping customers rather than trying to figure out Google and Facebook.