Running a bakery business is very rewarding, especially when you see the delight on customers’ faces when they tuck into your delicious products. However, there are still a lot of challenges which you will encounter.
A common problem is building a marketing strategy for your bakery. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely aware that you need to have a bakery marketing plan, but, like me a few years ago, don’t know where to start!
If so, no worries. If you already run an existing bakery or are planning to start a new baking business, this post will help you out! And if you want to bend my (or other reader’s) ear about your bakery marketing plan, drop a comment at the bottom of the page.
To build your marketing strategy, you’ll first need to decide whether to target wholesale customers or sell directly to consumers.
There are two kinds of campaigns that a bakery can do: wholesale marketing and consumer marketing.
Wholesale sales cater for large-scale clients like farm shops, cafes and restaurants.
While marketing to the consumer involves attracting (and retaining) customers who will purchase and consume your baked goods.
Attracting wholesale customers won’t work if your bakery business is designed for consumer marketing.
Attracting the wrong sort of customer for your business becomes a timewasting experience, whilst attempting to sell to both leads to problems in costing, delivering, production planning and availability.
I speak from experience here, as it was a key reason my first bakery went bust!
Note: You may have concerns if your bakery will ever get enough sales to earn a living. I answer this question in the article, is a bakery business profitable?
If you have a shop in a central location, you’ll be likely to be targeting consumers to buy one or two items as regularly as possible.
If you have a wholesale bakery in a more industrial area, you’ll be looking to attract larger orders to maximise economies of scale, filling your delivery van (or maybe vans) to capacity to deliver big batches to fewer customers.
We’ll first cover selling to consumers before I highlight a few points you may include in your plan when selling to businesses.
Selling to consumers marketing ideas:
Branding is an integral part of a business, so, of course, your branding needs to stand out. Your logo should be clean, bold, and easy to recognize.
But it’s not all about a logo.
The language you use in your social media posts, menus, and signage have to match your brand.
Being cheeky and “one of the lads” in one communication, to then be serious and high-end in another, will confuse your customers.
You should always be consistent and clear with every message you send. This is integral to any bakery marketing plan.
Photos and videos on your social media channels should highlight your brand too.
People will know the character of your business and what makes you so special. It will help you get noticed by consumers, gain word-of-mouth recognition, and build a fanbase for your company’s style.
Generally, there are three avenues most bakeries fall into when building their brand identity:
Yet if neither of these suits your ambitions, incorporate your own personality into your brand.
If your bread is special, the ingredients you use are top-notch, and the techniques you use are unique, shout about it!
It’s the most simple concept to appreciate in a bakery marketing plan but often gets ignored in the strategy
Customers are also much more likely to return if they discover a fantastic product. Keeping your standards up, so your range is perfect every time is vital.
The variety of products is also important.
Some customers may want something fancy, such as a rosemary and honey sourdough one day, and a basic bread like my beginner’s bread recipe another. You’ll need to decide if you want to cater for all occasions or really niche down and be the best at one or two things.
Bakeries lose customers often because the other staff don’t put as much passion into the product as the owner does. Reliability is so important. If consumers know when they purchase something from you that it’ll work or taste as it always does, expect your bakeries sales to rocket!
It’s all about the socials in 2021! Which channels will you use? You need to be where the people are, whether on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. It’s best to stick to one or two and be aggressive instead of touching base sporadically on all of them.
Regardless of which platform you’re on, you want to mimic the appeal of your brand.
Think about what you want to share, such as the delicious treats you make or informative videos about baking.
Understanding how to grow on your chosen platform is essential. You’ll need to use hashtags on Instagram and TikTok, Search Engine Optimisation for YouTube and your website, and become integrated into local groups if using Facebook or Nextdoor to grow your following on social media.
You want to keep your messaging consistent, so you can strengthen your brand and increase your following.
Do you need to learn some photography and editing basics?
Taking a great photo or video doesn’t automatically require a professional camera. Nowadays, the cameras of smartphones are good enough to create fantastic content, good enough to capture fresh bread leaving the oven, which you can use for Instagram or Facebook Stories.
But if you want to up your photography game, invest in a quality camera. These will allow you to take crisp and clear images, which will help you to tempt your customers even more on social media!
There are plenty of food photographers out there, so making lots of bread one day and hiring one to create a portfolio can really improve how you come across.
If it’s a delivery service, you’ll need to order online through your own website or team up with a delivery partner such as Just Eat or Uber Eats.
You should have a strategy in your marketing plan for how you will get your product descriptions written, photos taken and website designed.
Your website is perhaps the most important since it’s how most customers will purchase from you. Include your contact details, product listings, and purchasing options. Making your website easy to use and navigate will help customers figure out what baked goods you have for sale.
To save costs, you may be tempted to do this all yourself with a website builder like Wix. The issue here is it can take several attempts to master, which absorbs a lot of your time. Hiring professionals to build your website, edit your images and write salivating product descriptions can save you money and increase your conversion rate (more sales).
If you are selling from a physical place, you’ll want an efficient POS system to track sales.
You’ll also want to train staff if you’re not doing the selling yourself. They’ll need to know about the production process, the ingredients and be able to convey your brand values in their interactions.
If you have a shop window, how will you lay it out?
What do you want to be the focus product in your bakery? Can you tempt customers to buy a delicious cake or pastry alongside the loaf of bread they came in for?
People walking past will only have a few seconds to take in your bakery, so you’ll need to be clear.
Let things stand out, whether it’s a few pieces of bread scattered around the counter or some delicious-looking cupcakes in a glass cabinet!
You want customers to see something that will make them wonder what it tastes like.
After opening day, you don’t want to throw away lots of bread as no one knew you were open. What advertising can you do? Newspapers, radio, social media ads?
You can use all of the organic methods of advertising, but there are also paid adverts that you can do to get more exposure. There’s nothing wrong with spending some money to get your bakery out there!
But what’s important is it’s got to be something that gets people talking about you!
Today, social media ads are synonymous with engaging local foodies. Facebook, Google Adwords, and Instagram ads can all target ads to specific areas or demographics that could be interested in your products.
Building up your social media presence is crucial. It’s almost become a given today that you have to have a following on Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat.
Use this as a way to build the brand and show people your delicious offerings. Participate in online communities and events to become a trusted source of information about baking.
Partnering with other local businesses is also great, especially if they complement your bakery. You can get an agreement to have them do a promotion for you or give special deals if customers show the bakery’s posts.
You can also co-host or co-sponsor events with them, especially if there are ‘for a cause’ events in your area.
Local social media groups are also great to get involved with. These can be Facebook groups, online forums, and even LinkedIn groups. These are great for showing how your bakery is a part of the community and helps others.
Getting involved in the local foodie community is great if you want to build up your bakery’s reputation. This will also help you get to know prospective customers, suppliers, and other businesses around your area.
If you have the space and the capability, consider getting a stall at one of these farmers’ markets. Sell some of your bread, cakes, or pastries, and get talking to people.
You never know who will be the next big fan of your bakery!
People love rewards! So what’s better than having a simple gesture to show appreciation to your regular customers?
A simple loyalty card can go a long way in building up customer retention! Implementing a simple loyalty program by giving hand stamps or punch cards can help you build up a great buzz.
How do loyalty cards work?
Customers who come in daily, buying a small product, can get their eighth or tenth one for free. Those who order more will get bigger discounts, like having something for half off. You can adjust the rules to your liking.
Make sure you create a program that works for you and is easy for customers to understand. It would be even better if you give special offers to those who sign up for your loyalty program or have them refer their friends.
This will help you get more customers!
People love to know about your environmental sustainability! It makes you look great when you have a bakery doing its part in making the world a better place.
Show people that you care about the environment and do your part to make a sustainable business. Let them know about your green initiatives.
You could include some of your green energy sources, what you use to keep the environment clean, or even details on how you recycle!
The number of people moving to a vegan diet is continuously growing and is projected to continue in upcoming years. So it would be great if you could cater for vegans, even if you aren’t one yourself.
You could include vegan-friendly pastries, create some interesting vegan sandwiches, or even have vegan-friendly items by default.
There’s no harm in having some special vegan dishes if it gets more customers to buy your products.
For every customer, it’s pleasing if they’re welcomed right from the beginning as they enter the bakery. Stand at the door and greet them with a smile. This small gesture can go a long way in making someone’s day!
They will feel more appreciated and welcomed. If you’re too busy to do this, consider having someone else stand at the door to greet customers as they arrive.
Always have a good engagement with your customers. Ask them for feedback about your business. It can be about how you can improve it, what they like, and what they don’t. This will help you develop a great list of ideas to grow your bakery.
Letting your existing customers feel like they’re the most important people in your business can lead to them becoming even more dedicated to you.
They will feel appreciated and respected, knowing they mean a lot to you and your business. It will also lead them to recommend you to their other partners or friends, which will help your business to grow faster.
People love free stuff.
There’s a reason why a lot of companies give out freebies. It’s a great way to introduce your business to new customers and let them try your product.
If samplers like what you’re offering them, then they’ll be more likely to buy from you. If they don’t, then you can ask them why and try to improve on that. Either way, it’s unlikely to be a waste of your time.
You can also do this to your existing customers. If you’re planning to launch new products, give away samples. Make sure you monitor their feedback and use the information to improve them before you launch.
Wholesale bakeries can also use this method to lure additional sales on existing clients’ next orders.
Marketing tips for a wholesale bakery:
When dealing with wholesale orders, you should always make things look professional.
It’s important for customers to have a simple and easy-to-understand price list with your items. Time is a massive resource in the commercial world, so the more organized and streamlined your onboarding process is, the better.
Create your price list to work best for both parties.
You can include promotional offers or different variants. Listing terms and conditions, such as payment expectations and delivery arrangements, will avoid confusion later on.
You might want to offer lower rates for bigger orders, or you even bundle extra services to increase the sale value.
For a slick sales meeting or even an unprompted phone call, you need to know your figures. This shows professionalism whilst it can also help you to close deals quickly.
You could include your delivery costs on your price list or have a separate document for this.
As deliveries are going to different locations, delivery costs will vary. You may offer a flat rate for every business or be able to calculate the delivery cost for your bread. Delivery cost is usually computed per mile.
Costing expenses in a bakery business is very challenging. I have a full guide on costing bread which you might like to read.
A professional-looking website filled with informative content is a great way to help your new customers.
You can list your hours of business operations, have a map of the area where you’re located, and have an FAQ section for them to get quick answers.
List all the important details of your business on your website to help them understand everything they need to know.
Make it easy for your potential customers to find you.
Whilst also allow set up existing customers a communication channel to get hold of you at short notice. It’s common for a cafe to have a spike in orders and need more bread for the following day or an issue with their bread.
If they don’t get an urgent problem resolved, they may find another supplier soon.
If you’re going to run a successful bakery wholesale business, you should get on the phone!
Call, speak to local businesses, attend networking events and get to know the local “players” in your area.
Just get in front of people and tell them what you do and how you can help them succeed.
You might find yourself pitching to the wrong person, but don’t stop. They might recommend you to somebody who is the perfect fit.
Spend a day a week actively targeting businesses to buy your products. Call it your marketing and sales day, or whatever!
Just plan the time in and stick at it until you’re making so much dough that you can’t keep up!
Once you know what you need to achieve to bring potential customers in contact with your brand, you need to plan how you will do all of this. Here, take a pen and a diary to organise a time to work on these elements. It can get very daunting if you try and do it all at once!
Once you’re happy with each goal, you can move on to the next. What works for one bakery might not work for another.
The idea of a new bakeries marketing plan is to keep reviewing it and seeing what worked well and what didn’t. You can then apply yourself to focus on the areas that matter most to your business and build your brand.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and wish to treat me to a coffee, you can by following the link below – Thanks x
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, lecturer and bread fanatic. My goal is to help you become a better baker.
Suite 2646 Unit 3A,
34-35 Hatton Garden,