Updated November 13, 2018
In general, it’s tough to thrive as a small, local bakery. The competition is both multi-faceted and fierce; you need a top marketing plan for a bakery to succeed.
Not only do you compete with other retail bakeries, but you also compete with large grocery chains who’ve increased their focus on providing fresh baked goods in the store. This is in addition to the commercial bakeries with huge distribution networks that pull in most of the profits for this industry.
Chron, in their updated report, estimate that the approximately 3000 commercial bakers in the US sell $31 billion in products, followed by around 6000 retailers who generate roughly $3 billion.
Unfortunately, small bakeries aren’t having it easy as the report confirms that stiff competition from established brands continues to be the biggest barrier to entry, not to mention their unrelenting streak of acquiring regional bakeries and other brands.
Baking industry data shared by the American Bakers Association puts the worth of this industry at $311 billion. That’s roughly 2% of the US GDP.
So, if you are one of those “small” bakeries, how can you compete and seize a reasonable piece of this pie?
How can you stand out from your competition?
While I don’t have any top-secret muffin recipes to share with you, I can share some practical marketing ideas for bakeries that will help your business be more visible in your local community.
1. Stake Your Claim Online
Let’s tackle an essential first – your online presence.
I’m not saying you have to be cutting edge and put out Tweets every 5 minutes and new Vine videos on the half hour!
Having a well done social media strategy can certainly help – but if you feel like that is beyond what you can handle at this point, you should at least do the essentials.
The First Step
First off – you absolutely should have a website that looks professional, so when people are looking for you online, they can find you and you can make a strong first impression. We’ll talk about taking your website’s marketing to another level in a moment…
Assuming you have a website that exists, then the first step is to make sure that at the very least you’ve claimed your spot as a Google Business.
It’s free, and can be done in a few minutes.
The result is that when people look for your business on Google, or when they are searching for more generic things like “bakeries in YOUR CITY” you’ll have a better looking, more complete profile in Google as you see below:
Examples of key terms you’d want to rank for as a local bakery include:
- Best bread/cake/pie/cookies in [your city]
- Bakeries in [your city]
- Best/top bakeries in [your city]
- Where to buy bread/cake/pie/cookies in [your city]
In order to find these terms, you’d need to conduct keyword research. If you can identify the right keywords that aren’t competitive, your complete business profile can easily rank high in the search engine results page.
In addition to having accurate and complete information about your bakery, you can also do things like:
- Respond on behalf of your business to reviews left on Google.
- Add nice-looking photos of your business that will show up in Google’s listing
- Add accurate hours and location information
- Put your phone number and other contact info that people need to know.
Obviously, Google is the top dog in the search industry, but there are at least a dozen large directories, search engines, review sites, etc. that you should be completing your profile on – mostly for the same reasons I mentioned about Google.
Most let you claim a business for free, but may also offer some paid services which you aren’t obligated to buy.
Here is an excellent list of the 20 places your business should be online.
If you take an hour or two and complete all these profiles, you’ll be a step ahead of most of your competition who won’t take the time to do it.
Simple, free, and impactful.
Start staking your claim online today for free.
Bonus Idea: Create an app for your business to make it easier to order & create even more brand awareness.
2. Marketing Plan for a Bakery – Host a Benefit
Judy Crockett is a retail management consultant and owner of Manistee, a Michigan-based Interactive Marketing & Communication company.
She shared one of her favorite marketing tactics for local businesses with us a few months ago, and it’s something bakeries could absolutely take advantage of:
Host a benefit for a local non-profit organization.
In Judy’s words, “Host a week-long pet food drive in your store to benefit your local animal shelter.
Be sure to enlist the support of the shelter to get them to help you spread the word – free – through their sources… Offer a small discount or incentive to your customers who shop that week and drop off a donation at your store.
Be sure to write a short (under one page) press release to submit to your media….they will run the story for free. Include a photo if possible. Send the story one week prior to the event.
Follow up with a second press release sharing the results…and be sure to include a photo of you giving the donation to the shelter. Capture names and emails of those new customers coming into your store and continue to market to them.
I have used this several times with my clients….and it works well every time.
A variation that is fun…if time and staff in the store permits…is to give added incentive to customers who bring in a photo of their pet. If you have room, display the photos throughout the week. Then ask customers to come back in the following week to pick up photo…maybe have customers vote on the cutest pet picture. This engages customers…they will relate you and your store to a good, warm fuzzy feeling…people love their pets! It builds traffic in your store…and you will see new faces.”
It costs you very little to do, and it helps you get new people in the door and make solid relationships with other organizations in your community because you are doing them a real favor.
Judy used an animal shelter as an example, but of course this could be anything that makes sense for you. Maybe there is a food-related charity in your area that would be a better fit – or just something you feel strongly about personally.
Hosting a benefit in your bakery is a true win-win situation for both you and the non-profit organization.
3. Draw People to Your Website
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “inbound marketing”, which refers to pulling people into your business, typically by providing content or some kind of value that they find first, which begins the relationship with your business. Here is a graphic from HubSpot that demonstrates an inbound marketing funnel:
Don’t let this overwhelm you.
I want to focus on the first part – “Attract” – and talk about how you can use that to pull people into your bakery for the first time.
Then, hopefully, your sweet treats can convert, close, and delight!
Answering Questions on Your Website
If you don’t have a blog or an active website today, here is a free set of videos to get you started. If you do have a site, you know that actually creating blog posts isn’t difficult to do.
But what should a bakery blog about?
The simplest answer is that you should blog about all the questions you receive from customers.
Perhaps you do special events like weddings, birthdays, or other types of catering. I’d imagine that those kinds of customers have TONS of questions when they are thinking about purchasing:
- How big of a cake do I need for X?
- How much does it cost to buy 300 cupcakes?
- Creative cupcake ideas for a boy’s birthday.
The idea here is that since people ask you these questions (and probably many, many others) that they’ll also be asking those questions on Google. So, by answering questions on your website in the form of blog posts, you can start pulling in other traffic and leads by giving them the answers they want.
Think of it this way:
If I lived in your area and was in the market for a custom cake and started searching online to learn more about how much it costs, how far in advance you need to order, etc. before contacting bakeries – wouldn’t you like me to find YOUR website when I’m searching for information?
The best chance for that to happen is by you addressing these types of things on your website.
If you don’t, I’ll probably end up on some other site and may never know that your bakery exists.
On the flip side, if you provide honest, helpful answers to your customers and potential customers online – they’ll appreciate it and begin trusting your bakery.
Here are a few other benefits to doing this on your website:
- The traffic is easier to get. By focusing on these long, specific questions with your content – you naturally have less competition. While your little bakery may never be #1 in Google when somebody searches “cupcake,” you might well be #1 when someone searches “What size cake for 30 people?” We call these specific search terms long tail keywords, and suggest that you focus on them early and often with your content.
- It doesn’t cost you money – just time. Assuming you have a website already, we’re just talking about adding helpful content that is going to attract new customers to your site and introduce them to you.
- You build trust and authority with your customers. By delivering well-thought out and knowledgeable answers, you are proving that you are an expert in the field. This helps put people at ease if they are about to place a large bakery order for the first time.
Ready to start finding keywords? Click here to take a 7-day free trial of Long Tail Pro and find out what your customers are searching Google for.
4. Host a Baking Session for Couples, Groups, Children, or Corporates
Thinking of a way to show off your baking skills, interact with your fans face-to-face, and possibly make great customers out of them?
If you said ‘Yes”, this would be a great time to consider hosting a baking session. You can do it regularly or on special occasions. It could be during Valentine’s day or you can reserve it for marriage anniversaries, birthdays, and other celebrations.
Think about this. Couples who’ve been to movies and dinner a lot wouldn’t mind a change and your bakery could be their next choice for a date night.
Bud of Joy bakery in Singapore is a good example, offering baking sessions for couples on a regular basis and on special days like Valentine’s Day.
What if you had fully-booked sessions, wouldn’t that be nice?
But before you go ahead and set up your session, spare some time to learn how to make your baking sessions a success.
First, begin by planning it. Here are a few questions to guide you:
Who in your Bakery Will Host the Class?
If the genius behind your tasty cakes, cookies, bread, pastries, or pies is available to lead the session, leave the spot to him/her.
What Delicacies are Popular at the Moment?
You are likely to attract more people to your session if what you offer is top on their list of what they would like to eat. To figure that out, examine your orders and also those of your competitors. The recipe should a bit easier to cook and fun to follow as well.
How Much Should I Charge for the Session?
To arrive at a convenient price for your session, factor in things like the ingredients you plan to use, amount of time you’ll spend on this, the takeaways you plan to give, and so on.
Once you’ve figured all that out, the next thing is to promote your baking sessions. Here are a few bakery promotion ideas:
- Like with hosting a benefit, you can come up with a short press release and submit it to your media.
- Place the event details on your website, same way Bud of Joy does or, even better than them, if you have some super cool ideas, add to that.
- Spread the information on your social media platforms. Have it as an event and create a post about is as well. If possible, ask your staff to share the news on their social platforms.
- At your premises, advertise the sessions on posters and place them on your windows, table tents, and other places where it can be seen by as many people as possible.
When the time for the session finally comes, remember to keep the participants engaged. As they work together to make a sweet delicacy, figure out ways to make their experience memorable.
5. Set Up a Contest
Contests can take many forms, but regardless of the type, all are an opportunity to reconnect with your existing customers and reach new ones.
Offer them to individuals and groups as well. It could be the nearby corporate organization/any other employees of a business near you, your community, a non-profit organization, you name it.
Give them a chance to enter weekly or monthly contests in which the winner takes away a prize or several, say, baked goods enough for everyone at the office or their place of work.
You can come up with weekly or monthly trivia questions, organize baking contests, or it could be as simple as your customers dropping their business cards to a box in your store after which you hold a draw to find a winner.
Hollywood Bakery pie eating contest held at the University of Auckland in 2018 is a great example. It’s fun, family friendly, and an event many people would love to participate in.
In addition to baked goods, have the winners, especially groups or organizations, take home some brochures, framed certificates acknowledging the win, business cards, and other related goodies.
But before you run the contest, take some time to organize yourself, just as you would when developing any other bakery advertising ideas. Here’s how:
Set The Goals
Decide the performance indicator you want to focus on, then center all your efforts around it. Is it more sales, increasing engagement, more website traffic, or you simply want to kill two birds with one stone?
Go ahead and put all of that down.
Set Aside Interesting Prizes
Whatever the winner gets has to be something that will draw many people to that competition. It could be a delicacy from your bakery, cash prizes, or anything else relevant to your brand, like a baking session for two.
Promote Your Contest
For your contest to be a success, some promotion has to be done. Obviously, you will want your contest to get lots of attention, which is possible if you apply some of the bakery promotion ideas we mentioned earlier under hosting a baking session.
In addition to that, you can write a blog post about it, shoot an email to your subscribers, list the contest on giveaway sites, like the Balance Every day, and so on.
Once you have everything in place, proceed to launch the contest.
6. Leverage the Power of Video
If you’ve never made one, that might just be one of the reasons your sales haven’t hit your target. 2018 saw plenty of companies reap huge benefits from the use of video in their marketing campaigns.
Marketers embraced it like never before, with a whopping 76% saying video helped them to boost sales. And if you are wondering where the consumers sit in this new trend, Forbes published a report a year ago in which 90% of customers admitted that product videos play a huge role in their purchasing decisions.
Set aside the excuses, like “I lack what it takes to make a great video”, “it will consume all the time I have”, or “I have other priorities at the moment” because it won’t be long before your competitor takes away the piece of pie you have left.
Some of the videos you can make include:
Show your target audience how to make some of the good treats you bake at your premises. Identify effective ways to convey the smell and sight of your product. You can make them look as great as their taste and don’t hold back to say how you feel about the aromas and taste itself. Chances are your target audience might want to give it a try, but at the end of the day, many would still find it easier to get it from your bakery.
Record Your Regular Events
Events like those we mentioned (hosting a benefit or a baking session) can easily be the reason a person will want to be your customer. Besides building your credibility, they can be the testimonial a person wanted to hear in order to give your baking products a try.
Tell Your Story
People generally love stories and when it’s about your bakery business, prospects get a chance to know what you are about in a way that isn’t salesy. Beyond telling a story, it would be great to add a call-to-action that will make a viewer to respond to your video in order to make it worthwhile.
Want some inspiration? Check out Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery videos. One of her popular videos is the Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe, in which viewers are let into the process of how to make this sweet delicacy:
Meanwhile, as you create and share the videos, don’t forget to optimize them, particularly those destined for YouTube. Use the right keywords in your title, create an SEO-friendly description, among other YouTube SEO practices.
That way, you’ll stand a chance to gain popularity, create a buzz, and more importantly rake in thousands or millions of dollars in revenue.
Marketing Plan for Bakery Business – Wrap Up
Whether your brand is well established or brand new and trying to make a name for itself – these marketing ideas for bakeries can help.
It’s never too late to do the essentials online like filling out the most popular business profiles and then taking the next step by actually having a website/blog that helps attract new customers and squeezing the most out of video marketing. In addition, doing fun and creative things like organizing a contest and hosting a benefit or a baking session in your store can endear you to the community and further ingrain your business in the eyes of your local community.
So, my suggestion is to stop thinking about it and just get started on your marketing strategy for bakery business.
Best of luck in your business.