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 really know where to start!
Well, 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 readers) 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 you are trying to target wholesale customers or sell directly to consumers.
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Wholesale vs consumer marketing plan
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 will lead to problems with costing, delivering, production planning and availability. I speak from experience here as it was a key reason why my first bakery went bust!
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 which to include in your plan when selling to businesses.
Selling to consumers marketing tools:
1-Create a brand
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.
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 that you send out. 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:
- Upbeat, friendly and welcoming
- Traditional and charming
- High-end fittings with grand artisan ambitions – special and expensive
Yet if neither of these suits your ambitions, incorporate your own personality into your brand.
2- Make fantastic bread!
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. A customer is much more likely to return if they discover a fantastic product. Keeping your standards up so your range is perfect every time is vital.
Bakeries lose customers so 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!
3- Start a social media plan
It’s all about the socials in 2021! Which channels will you use? You need to be where the people are, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. It’s best to stick to one or two to start with and be aggressive on those 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, which can be the delicious treats you make every day or informative videos about baking. You want to keep everything consistent, so you can strengthen your brand and increase your following.
4- Master the art of photography
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. These will be 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! Also, there are plenty of food photographers out there! Making loads of bread one day and hiring a photographer can be great for producing professional photos for your menu.
5- Have a slick ordering process
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.
The website is perhaps the most important since it’s how most customers will purchase from you. You should have all of your contact details, product listings, and a place to put your purchasing options. Making your website easy to use and navigate will help customers to easily 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 actually save you money and increase your conversion rate.
If you are selling from a physical place you’ll want an efficient POS system that can 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.
6- Excite your customers with your shop window
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. Allow things to 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.
7- Use paid advertising
After opening day, you don’t want to be throwing away loads of your 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 a bit of 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.
8- Take advantage of free advertising
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 are complementary to 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.
9- Get involved in the foodie community with farmers’ markets
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!
10- Build customer retention
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 does this 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 enough 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!
11- Share your environmental gains
People love to know about your environmental sustainability! It makes you look great when you have a bakery that is doing its part in making the world a better place.
Show people how you care about the environment and how you 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!
12- Cater for vegans as part of your bakery marketing plan
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 can cater for vegans, even if you aren’t one yourself.
You could include vegan-friendly pastries, create some interesting vegan sandwiches, or even have items that are vegan-friendly by default. There’s no harm in having some special vegan dishes if it gets more customers to buy your products.
13- Stand at the door
For every customer, it’s pleasing to them 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 such a long way in making someone’s day!
They will feel more appreciated and welcomed. If you’re too busy to do this, then consider having someone else stand at the door to greet customers as they arrive.
14- Engage with your customers
Always have a good engagement with your customers. Ask them for feedback about your business. It can be about how you can make it better, what they like, and what they don’t. This will help you build up a great list of ideas to grow your bakery.
15- Treat all of your existing customers like they are your best customers
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 that they mean a lot to you and your business. This will also make them recommend you to their other partners or friends, which will help your business to grow faster.
16- Give away samples
People love free stuff. There’s a reason why a lot of companies do it. It’s a great way to introduce your business to new customers and let them try your product. If they 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. It’s still not going to be a loss.
You can also do this to your existing customers. If you’re planning to launch new products, give away samples. Make sure that 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:
17- Have a professional price list
When you’re 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 any confusion later on. You might want to offer lower rates for bigger orders, or you even bundle extra services to increase the sale value.
18- Know your delivery costs
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 delivery expenses in a bakery business is very challenging, I have a full guide on costing bread which you might like to read.
19- Make it easy for new customers to get in touch with you
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 even have an FAQ section for them to get quick answers. List down all the important details of your business on your website to help them understand everything that 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 be able 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.
20- Network your business
If you’re going to run a successful bakery wholesale business, you should get on the phone! Call, speak to local businesses, go to 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 to be successful. You might find yourself pitching to the wrong person, but don’t stop there, they might recommend you to somebody who is the perfect fit.
Final tip #21 – Plan your time
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!
How to put your bakery marketing plan together
Once you know what you need to achieve in order to bring potential customers in contact with your brand, you need to plan how you are going to do all of this. Here, take a pen and a diary to organise a time to work on all of 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.