If you’re a baker and an entrepreneur, then opening your bakery to sell delectable baked goods might be the opportunity for you. Everyone loves good homemade baking. If you are good at baking, you’ll likely have customers flocking your way at the grand opening and for those first few weeks. However, over time, that initial buzz and excitement that comes to a new establishment anytime are opened, you’ll need to find new ways to draw in the traffic. You’ll need a marketing plan that will appeal to your customer’s senses, quite literally, to keep them coming back for more.
The initial steps in developing a solid bakery marketing plan will require you to take a close look at your prospective customers. Moreover, at the same time, you’ll need to keep watch over your competitors.
Steps for Creating Your Bakery Marketing Plan
The steps for your marketing plan need to begin long before you open your doors. If you wait to start marketing after you’ve been in business for some time, then your efforts may be too late. Not only that, but you’ll have missed out on the full traffic you could have had at the opening.
Start by Identifying your Target Market
How and where you plan to reach them. This can impact the location for your establishment, as you will want to avoid building where there is already ample competition (or you will want to ensure that you have one heck of a differentiator). Once you have identified your geography, you can also research your pricing strategy. Make sure that you will be able to make ends meet, and turn an impressive profit. It is absolutely critical that market research forms the foundation of your marketing plan, as this is what you will build off of to ensure future success.
Understand Your Niche and How You will Differentiate Yourself
Once you have determined the type of bakery that you want to open, you need to think of how you will message those unique characteristics to your prospective customers. If you’re opening a commercial large scale bakery, you may wish to focus on messaging that speaks to value. You have to focus on taste so that local grocery stores or restaurants will want to sell your goods.
Prepare a Market Analysis
That incorporates your target market and geographical research. If you have investors (which you probably will), they will want to ensure that you have properly researched your options. Also, be sure that you understand critical demographics:
- Average income level in the community
- The typical cost that is paid for a meal in the area
- What your competition charges for similar products
- The average age of the adults in the community – if you are in an older community, your marketing efforts might be more traditional. However, the younger community will give you an idea of online marketing tactics.
- Typical hobbies and activities that your prospective customers participate in – this can make for excellent future partnership and sponsorship opportunities
Set Your Marketing Goals
Many restaurant and bakery owners wait until after they have been in business for some time before they set goals. However, there is a benefit to setting goals for both the short-term and long-term. When writing your goals, consider the following:
- Who will manage the marketing for your bakery?
- If you will be doing the marketing, how many hours per week will you spend on marketing efforts?
- What is your starting marketing budget, and how do you plan to grow that over time?
- What online and traditional tactics will you leverage? As we said earlier, this will vary based on the age and preferences of your target audience, but your marketing mix should really include elements of both.
- How many social media followers do you wish to have by the end of the first three months? Six months? One year?
- What are your market share goals?
Start Marketing to Your Preferred Customer Base Before You Open
As you consider your grand opening, determine how far in advance that you want to start announcing the big news. And before you decide on your grand opening date, have a conversation with someone at your local city hall. Make sure that your goal date doesn’t overlap with a significant event in the community or some road closure. Don’t make it hard for prospective customers to get to you. Get those social channels up and running and work with your landlord or city officials on what you can do around the community to drum up business.
Determine Your Loyalty Strategy
Customers love to be recognized as regulars, and they appreciate being rewarded for their loyalty. Plus, when you launch your loyalty program right away, it provides an exclusive feeling to those customers immediately. All marketers know that it is more expensive to get new customers in the door, but at the same time, you need to keep those repeat customers happy. Loyalty programs such as loyalty punch cards, online check-in, or even rewards for a positive review on social media can all be meaningful to your customers. After a customer has visited a few times, a nice reward will go a long way.
Ensure That Reputation Management is Part of Your Social Strategy
If you’re not familiar with the concept of modern-day reputation management, you will want to take the time to learn. The simplest way of describing this strategy is to say that if a customer provides a review on one of your social media channels, or if they share a comment or voice a complaint, you need to acknowledge what they have to say publicly. Your customers will want to know that they are being heard, no matter what they say. And make sure your responses aren’t just some canned comment that you say over and over. Make sure you are authentic and meaningful. If you say you are going to something to fix a problem, then make sure you follow through with it.
Design and Order Your Printed Marketing Materials
We didn’t talk about this before, but now is a good time to talk about the importance of a logo. If you don’t have a logo yet, it’s the time to think that through and take some action. Your logo is how your customers will visually associate your brand with what you offer. Logos should make sense in that they properly represent who you are. So, consider the elements of your bakery and how that might be properly depicted in a logo. And, think simple over complicated. Once you have your logo and your physical bakery location figured out, you need to start thinking through some of the traditional marketing materials. You can add it at your grand opening if you want, and possibly out in the community beforehand. Make sure these items are on your list:
Brochures and Flyers
Select various community sites where your brochures can be prominently displayed. And when you open, make sure these are displayed nicely on your front counter so that customers can grab one if interested.
This is a great strategy to let customers within a certain proximity of your location know that you will be opening soon.
These should be on the front counter of your shop, but you should also make sure that all of your key employees have some with them at all times, even when not at work. This may be an opportunity for a random introduction to turn into a marketing conversation.
Any bakery, whether intended for the general consumer or for commercial purposes, should take to the local paper to announce that they are coming to town. And in modern-day advertising, your traditional print ad will likely also be prominent on the newspaper’s website, which means that you can then share the ad across your social media channels. To that end, make sure that you have someone from the local press at your grand opening so that they can write a feature story in the paper. You can promote that online as well.
Online Marketing is Critical for Any Bakery
As we mentioned earlier, you should have a blend of both traditional and online marketing tactics in place. A great place to start is by ensuring that you are active on social media. For a bakery, social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest will provide great opportunities. You can showcase beautiful imagery of your baked goods and even some personal baking recipes that you might like to put online. Facebook and Twitter are also great for you to keep your followers up to date on the latest and greatest.
Focus on Community Events
As a bakery, make sure that you are a part of every community event that you can, whether it be a local craft fair (you can sell cupcakes as a snack), local sporting events, etc. Help with fundraisers in town by donating a portion of your proceeds to a community need or organization. These gestures will go a long way with your customers.
If you take the time to plan your marketing effort upfront and are diligent enough to carry it out, you will be rewarded. A great product that is marketed correctly to the right people at the right time and in the right place is a true recipe for success.