I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of my adult teeth are actually “sweet.” Unfortunately it’s not possible for me to physically be at all the bakeries I’d like to (and there are so many to choose from around here), so that’s why I follow them all on social media.
The benefit is that I get to see delicious cupcakes and other goodies on a daily basis, even if I can’t physically make it into the store. Another benefit, which we’ll get into more in a bit, is that I’ll sometimes make a special trip to a bakery if I know in advance that they’re going to have a certain goodie there.
Based on some of the bakeries I’ve seen online, I’ve noticed a few things that bakeries do in their marketing to get people in the door.
Online Order or Inquiry Forms. One simple thing bakeries can do is set up a form on their website to take orders. For instance, if you get a lot of pie orders around Thanksgiving, you can create a simple form to let people know what your flavor options are. You can also use it as a way to filter out what you do and don’t offer (i.e. you only do chocolate, vanilla, and carrot cakes and nothing else) as a way to cut down on inquiries. Obviously, for those that do custom ordering, it’s difficult to implement a form to cover the infinite options, so instead you could do a general, initial contact form so that you know the person is looking for a marble cake for their cat’s 5th birthday. Sweet Sensations Bakery/3 Dogs Café has a good system on their Specialty Cakes Page.
Galleries/Albums. I remember going to Hannaford and flipping through their birthday cake album that they had on the stand by the bakery and planning pretend birthday parties (…for myself). While it’s a little trickier if you do a lot of custom work, you can offer galleries of your past work to showcase what you’re capable of doing so potential customers can get an idea. For instance, Cakes Downeast showcases cakes after they’re made on her Facebook page.
Price Points & Offerings. Another idea for offering people as much information as possible before they contact you is to create a page of price points and offerings on your website. 3 Dogs Café is a great example of this on their website. For instance, on their bakery page they have a table of cake flavors, sizes, and the prices (with information about how many each size typically feeds).
Marketing Scarcity… “Limited supply” is one way to make people flock through the door FAST, especially when it comes to cookies. One thing that I’ve seen bakeries do (that totally works on me) is announcing when they’ve made something that they don’t usually make, AND letting people know that there is a limited supply (i.e. one batch/one cake etc). It also works as a way to test a new product. For instance, after seeing this cake, I considered driving to Bangor to grab a slice (tragically my schedule didn’t allow it).
…And Regularity. Most places have at least a few staple products that are always available, like coffee, bagels, etc. While getting people in the door for goodies you make occasionally is a good tactic, it also helps to let people know what they can expect on a daily basis. Of course it can be hard to keep up with posting social media while you’re also trying to run a business. A Slice of Eden in Bar Harbor has an interesting solution-by posting their soup and bagel of the week, and anything else to expect.
Speaking of regularity, making sure business hours are up to date on social media is key. Many bakeries are early to open/close, and people are more likely to stop in on their way to work if they know you’ll be open during their commute.
And whatever you do, remember to have fun, like our friends at Mount Dessert Bakery!
Whether you run a bakery (or just stalk them online like I do), here’s hoping this post gave you some ideas… and maybe an excuse to get your favorite carb at your favorite local bakery.