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Increasing the number of customers who visit your bakery and buy your baked goods requires a variety of marketing strategies. Marketing budgets are often tight for small bakeries. That means you must find ways to make your bakery stand out in your customers' minds so they know exactly where to go -- your bakery -- when they need a dozen muffins for the office, a few pastries for the family breakfast or some cupcakes for their next party.
Create a Niche
Start increasing your customer base by creating a niche for your bakery. Creating a niche doesn’t mean you have to limit your selection, but it does require you to create branding that helps people remember you for specific items. For instance, a bakery that sells brownies and other baked treats may best be known for selling fresh-baked bread. When people think of buying fresh bread, they head to that bakery, and once there, they buy the other baked goods the bakery offers. Add in a strong dose of customer service and free samples of your signature items so people want to come back for more.
Sell to Local Food Venues
Look for other food-based businesses in your area that need baked goods. Make up sample platters of the baked products you offer as a way of introducing your bakery. For instance, put together samples of coffee cakes and muffins to alert coffee shops that you can sell them the bakery items they need to go with their beverages. Bring samples of different pies and cakes you bake to restaurants that need desserts for their menu. Make contact with caterers in your area to determine if they need help getting their dessert menu together or if they need fresh rolls or bread for the events they manage.
The cost of advertising in large newspapers gets expensive, so look for small community papers that focus on specific neighborhoods or towns, as these ads are much more affordable. Use your ads to mention special events, such as birthdays or weddings. Focus on seasonal desserts, such as pumpkin pie or special cakes for holidays. If you have competition from other bakeries in your area, point out the features that make your bakery different. For example, encourage home-based business owners to meet with clients in your bakery if you have a sitting area.
Businesses buy baked goods for employee meetings, birthday parties, employee anniversaries and retirement parties as well as putting out goodies for customers or prospective buyers who visit their offices. One way to get in front of these bakery-hungry customers is to create small trays of samples of your best selling muffins, pastries or cupcakes, and take the samples to nearby businesses. Leave the goodies with the office manager along with a flyer. In the flyer, list the baked goods you offer along with beverages you carry. Mention any delivery services you provide and how much notice you need to put together a tray of baked goods for an event. Leave a pile coupons, for example “buy a muffin, get an espresso for half off,” to encourage their employees to stop by.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.