Module Six is all about marketing. I’m going to share with you my experiences and what I’ve learned from running a thriving business. Nothing is a more powerful marketing tool than knowing who you are. That gives you a sense of confidence that is infectious. Your cake style is basically your business truth. It’s who you are. These days with so many gimmicks, being an open and honest business is more important than ever. So don’t fake your style. Don’t copy someone else’s style. Find your true business self, and the right clients will find you. In todays wedding and cake world, everyone’s looking for the right way to advertise. And everywhere you turn someone is asking you for money to advertise with them. These days it’s magazine, newspapers, websites, directories, groups, expos, as well as donations, giveaways and discounts. Honestly, it’s enough to send you broke. Then there’s the free stuff. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Plus the blogging world and of course the never ending networking. I have to be honest, I got really tired of people asking me for money. Cake decorators are not made of it, nor is anyone else, and it can not only seem daunting, but downright exhausting!
Let’s get one thing straight. Nothing is free. Why? Because your time isn’t free. Every time you spend time on something that is “free”, you are not being paid for working. Depending on your financial situation, you might be able to handle working for free more than handing out cold hard cash, but it’s still costing you something. Time you could be working. Time with your family. Time you could be relaxing. So let’s just agree that nothing is completely free. Now, I could just get there and tell you what worked for me, and what didn’t, and be done with it. And I will. I’m going to share you most productive ways to get work. But I’m also going to dispel some myths, tell you what to look out for, and give you a method for deciding if something is worth it. First, lets start with the things that cost money; Magazines. They can be good, and they can be trouble. It depends on the one you are in, and how you are showcased. There’s a bit of a myth that if a bride buys a magazine, and everyone is in it, and you’re not, she will think that means you are not good enough, or big enough. Not true. You should never go in something just because everyone else is. You should check out their stats. Try talking to businesses who have been in it for a while. Magazines are fairly expensive. Also, you generally have to create new display cakes just for them. At least two or more. Plus you have to deliver them and collect them. On top of that you have to have an ad made. Some will do it for you, but you really are best to hire someone else if you want to have something edgy and original. Based on how much it costs, both time and money, you really need to be getting at least 6 orders or more from it just to make it worth your while. We have been in them, and not, and I have to say, overall they just make the cut, and make them worthwhile to be in. But not all of them. So do some recon work, and then do a once only trial to be sure you are in the right ones. So what about newspapers? I have to say, if they do a free article on you and come for a photo shoot it’s worth it. If you have to pay, then I’d have to say no. They are here one day and gone the next. The next big area to spend your money on is expos. My advice, go big or go home. We only did the huge expos in the end. They cost the most in fees, but they all cost the same in prep work, display cakes, making tasting cakes, and spending the day there. Plus you need to do either one big dessert table with multiple wedding cakes, or around ten to twelve cakes. That is a huge amount of work before the event. I say go for it, but remember, you need to get at least 10 sales to make it worth your while. So do everything you can to get sales on the day. Give samples freely, have a sheet where people can book
an appointment date with you for later. Ask for people’s names and numbers. Be proactive. You are there to sell your business, so sell it, and sell it well. Expos provide one more key plus, as well as sales. Networking. I’m going to talk about networking a little more later, but it’s a great thing. My advice, be nice the everyone, including the other cake people. New allies and friends come in all shapes and forms. Especially when you are new, being friendly and a team player is never a bad thing. Now lets look at what’s online. Directories, and groups. Large directories have gotten extremely expensive. Just as expensive as a magazine. In our experience, they are absolutely not worth it. Not even close. I do think they are a brilliant idea, and I really wish they would do well, but sadly, they just never made the money back. The big plus with them, and groups is that you don’t have to make any display cakes. So there’s one tick for them. Now groups are a new concept. Cake groups where you pay a small amount, and then they share only the work of members, or generally so. You get featured on their Facebook page or website. It’s really too early to say whether they work or not, but just bare one thing in mind. They generally do not use the funds to promote the group to the outside world. It basically just keeps them afloat, and so all that you achieve is to be seen by other cake members, aka your competition. So on the surface it doesn’t look good for them. However, given the right people, it does provide a chance to get more credibility from the cake industry, and you may make some new cake friends. That is turn may mean referral work. Now we move on to discounts, giveaways and all that jazz. I’ll be brief. Discounts do not in my experience bring the right type of client. They aren’t choosing you for any reason but price, and nine times out of ten they are a headache. Giveaways, they don’t work either, as you only get married once. But if it’s for a good cause that you are passionate about, heck, that’s what life is all about. Giving and receiving.
Let’s tackle social media and websites. I’m not going to tell you that you have to “do” social media, or have a site, but I highly recommend both. Customers see a website kind of like how people used to see a shop. It means you are serious, and legit, and whilst that may not always be true, it shows determination. Get it, then use it. Facebook is a crazy beast. One that is constantly changing, and the pendulum swings between brilliant and dismal. Don’t worry about the likers, worry about the image. So far in this module we haven’t talked a lot about image, and that’s about to change. On Facebook your image and the quality of your likers are everything. Don’t buy likers. Why? Because you end up with the wrong ones, and then you are stuck with them. Here’s what I am talking about. When you advertise with Facebook, even though you can select all these different targeting options, you still don’t always end up with the people you want. Particularly for wedding couples. Instead use your Facebook to inspire and create devotion in your clients and interested parties. Have a link to your Facebook on your business cards, at the end of your emails, and on your website. Get the people that already know about you to fall even more in love with you. I can hear the question on your mind. Isn’t more people better? Sadly no. Facebook shows each post you create to approximately ten to fifteen percent of your fans. It’s totally random, but it’s certainly not all of them. So as you grow, if you have all these likers that are not in your area, or are just other cake decorators, you are sending every post out to a sea of people that aren’t going to buy. Instead, try to put up interesting posts, that get shared, or noticed by other wedding businesses. If you go to a venue, and take some photos, tag other businesses that worked on the wedding. Show your sharing, networking nature. Pretty soon you’ll have photographers tagging you. The best photos are where you and a few other vendors all worked on a real wedding. Brides love that. They want to see you in action. Not sure what to post? Put up your recent display cakes. Show your style. This is a page and so is your website, where you can be completely you. Make everything colour co-
ordinate. Put up cakes you’ve made that are signature you. Ask questions, share in progress shots of weddings, do things that cause people to comment. Comments on your posts help your stats to go up, and mean subsequent posts are seen more. That’s a positive step. Try to post at least 3 times a week to keep up your engagement. Once people stop talking about your for a few days, your next post barely gets seen at all. Post congrats to your couples on the weekend. Let clients see that you are working and happy. Speaking of happy, I have one word to the wise. A lot of businesses think it’s okay to share that they are struggling with a design, or something got ruined, and they had to re-make it. Even forgetting an order altogether. They think it’s a sign that they are true and real and flawed and therefore approachable. Let me just say, you might warm to hearts of other decorators, or people who’s weddings are over, but no future bride is comforted by knowing you failed in some way. It’s okay to say that you are tired, or swamped, or working late. But it’s not a good business move to create doubt in the minds of present and future clients. Keep that to yourself. As far as a website goes, do it well, or don’t do it at all. Not everyone has one, but it you are going to, make a gallery that’s easy to navigate, a menu, and a price sheet, or rough outline. Do a frequently asked questions page, and a terms and conditions. Get all that boring stuff up, as it just might save you down the track. Make sure you have a bit of everything. Your style, and your legal covered. And make sure your galleries are filled with only cakes that match your style. Better to only have 8 on there and for them to be totally you and totally stunning, than 5 pages of a mish mash of old stuff, new stuff, and what was I thinking stuff. Image it up!Pinterest and Instagram are fun, and powerful business tools, however in order to secure local work they are just not terribly effective. They are however great for branding, promoting yourself to magazines and stylists, so do it if you enjoy it.
Networking is the one area made the most impact on our entire business, yet it took barely any time and no money whatsoever. Now when I say network, I don’t mean call every wedding business in the whole city. I don’t mean join a networking group, although they can be great. I mean form alliances, make lifelong friends, build relationships, give and receive. For a cake decorator there are three major businesses that you should forge alliances with. Number one - Venues. By far the most productive relationship of them all. Venues have a huge say in which vendors are used, and if you make the right connections it can make your business. Write down every venue you know, have been to, seen in a magazine, and heard of. Look through magazines and directories to see who is out there. Try and find out what it looks like, and what couples tend to go there. Look for real weddings. Does the venue suit your style? You will have a much better relationship in the long run, and a much better chance of being taken seriously if your style meets theirs. Next get some flyers made up, and mail them out along with a card, or better yet, make a time to visit them. Wednesdays and Thursdays are great, as most co-ordinators don’t work on Mondays and Tuesdays. Ring ahead. Be professional and respectful of their time. Explain that you want to touch base with them, and build a great connection. Every now and then even a cake decorator gets a say in which venue a couple uses, so they are generally happy to have another caker on their side. Also, you have to realise that having a great cake arrive for every wedding means once less stress for them on the day. They love honest, reliable, trustworthy vendors. Number two - Florists. A great partner in business if there ever was one. Florists were once who people booked their wedding cake through. Years ago my sister even booked her cake topped with fresh flowers from the florist. That’s because cake and flowers go hand in hand. The great thing about flowers are they are generally booked at about the same time, so you get to refer each other just as much. That’s key from a networking point of you. No one is looking for another business to take and take and never give. Also couples often
value cakes and flowers in the same way. They might have a different budget for each, but it tends to be in line. A large budget for flowers usually means a great cake budget to work with as well. Look for one florist in particular that matches your style and price point. Reach out. Offer to meet for coffee. Talk about their business and find out how you can work together. You can create mock wedding photo shoots or help each other with finishing touches when you are at the same wedding. My preferred florist was not only responsible for at least 20% of my work in the end, but also became one of my dearest friends. We helped each other gain work, and pushed each other to strive for new heights and new trends. We kept each other on our toes. Number three - Photographers. These guys, and gals, love cake. Why? It’s simple, a good cake makes for awesome photos, and they have to eat it at the end of the night. It’s really that simple. Finding one or two photographers is a godsend and really gets results. And even though photographers usually get booked way before cakes, occasionally you get to refer back to them, and when you do they love it. For them, one couple can be worth $2000-10,000. So just a couple of those each year, and you have the makings for a happy networking relationship. Now of course there’s lots of other businesses to connect with, invitations, event hire, celebrants, and make up artists to name a few. All great networkers to align yourself with. But what I will say is, try to just choose one in each of these smaller fields. Why? Well, how would you feel if someone asked to share your business cards, and website, and then you turned around next week and they are plugging your competition? A bit gutted. It doesn’t mean you cant be nice and friendly, and say nice comments about other businesses, but remember most wedding businesses are small sole traders who have feelings too. So don’t play one person against another, or you might end up with none. Be honest, and be fair, but choose one to network with.
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