For those who’ve decided that starting a home bakery is what they want to do to make money for the holidays or for any time, spreading the word about your new business is critical. There are the usual avenues of mass marketing – buying advertising in local publications, on radio, the internet and television. These means of promoting your business tend to be expensive. The home baker who’s just starting out may not have that much capital to invest, or have a relative who works at the local cable channel who will let your ad run free for a week.
People who have always baked for family and friends have the task already half completed. These are potential customers who can already vouch for how supreme your lemon squares are.
People who are new to the baking scene, those who’ve developed a kitchen flair for only one item and doesn’t have that many followers yet, promoting your business may be a little tougher.
Both the well known and the unknown baker must get the word out if they expect to have a substantial customer base. Here are 10 tips to promote your business without spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing.
1. Homemade business cards. Buy a pack of Avery business card sheets and create your own business cards. This is cheaper than taking them to the printers. Start giving out your business cards to friends, co-workers, family members and anyone you meet.
2. Flyers. Your local stationery store or even Wal-Mart should sell designer paper that has a food/baking theme. Even if they don’t, use clip art to create a professional, easy to read flyer to hang in store windows, on public display boards, and at the laundromat. You can stand in a busy outside spot and pass them out as people stroll by. Ask friends and family members to take some with them to pass out. Be sure and ask permission to place your flyers. Take your own tape and thumb tacks to hang them.
3. Free samples. Nothing advertises the home baker’s products better than samples of what she’s selling. Bake up fresh batches of brownies (or whatever your specialty is). Cut the squares small. Leave a platter in businesses you’ve targeted. Also include business cards and flyers so customers can contact you. Don’t forget to check back for feedback, just in case someone wants to order but forgot.
4. Word of mouth. There’s nothing like family members and friends bragging to others about how great your baked goodies taste. By all means enlist their help. Bake each helper a dozen cookies for every ten customers they bring you.
5. Set up at flea markets. Have a baking day where you create a few different treats. Package them as single servings and set up at a flea market. Customers like to buy food at flea markets. Other flea merchants will buy from you, too. Have a plate of bite size free samples. Don’t forget to bring your flyers and business cards, and pass them out.
6. County fairs, festivals and exhibits. Find out where big gatherings are happening in your area, and make plans to be there. Some festivals, fairs and exhibits have a pretty expensive entrance fees. Counter this if you need to by sharing samples with passersby and giving out flyers and business cards. If you do enter, make all kinds of great goodies to sell. If there is a store in the vicinity that will allow you to set up for free, take advantage of that.
7. Volunteer to bake for a non-profit club or organization. Giving back is another way to get the word out about your home baking business. There could be a girls or boys group, a sorority or a fraternity that could use your assistance. As you help them, pass out your flyers and business cards to club members, parents and anyone else involved.
8. Volunteer to do a baking demonstration. These same clubs or organizations may allow you to conduct a baking demonstration. Choose a recipe that’s easy, for instance, a stove top cookie recipe that needs no baking. This is another great way to get notoriety about your business.
9. Conduct a bake sale. Bake sales can be profitable if you set up in a busy location where all kinds of people will have access to you. Always get permission from store owners in advance. Package your baked items neatly and set up a table. Have small bites of free samples. By all means, give out business cards and flyers to everyone; even people who don’t want to buy anything.
10. Some newspapers do offer free classified advertisements. Find out if there is one in your area. Sum up what you are doing and a telephone number in 25 words or less.
Choose to do either one or a combination of these promotion ideas to get your home baking business the attention it needs to grow.