33 ideas on how to promote a bakery with a mix of online and offline

In coming weeks, we are going to take a look at how to promote real life small business using variety of methods as part of Online Business Promotion series.

(I wrote the plan below for a friend whose family runs a popular bakery. See if you can use some of the ideas presented here).

Ideas to take your bakery to next level

1. Loyalty Card – create a loyalty card where users are rewarded for being loyal and making repeat purchases.

2. Happy Hour – everything (or pastries/cakes) at 25-40% (depending on margins) discount after 8pm.

3. If you can get permission from authorities – then run sidewalk promos – like in old world. Put a whiteboard/black board and promote daily deals on that. You can also use a sandwich board – one that can be used to display promos on both sides.

4. Run deals – I am not sure how strong Dailydeals websites are in your town – but try one of the deal sites (They don’t work for everyone but see if it can work for you). You should not spam people. Send email/call your customers a day or two before a special occasion (anniversary/birthday).

5. You can run check-in promos (using Foursquare).

6. Try refueling your FB page – add fans and also engage them in a conversation.

7. Create a virtual hangout where your community can see what you are up to – simplest things to do start a blog – hire a writer – best person – a fresh HM graduate – or somebody who is interning in a hotel. This person need not be from your city/town.

8. Run Facebook promos – with Facebook promote (paid) and offers (free) you can do that very well.

9. Going forward, create an online store front, till then give users a facility to order on phone. For this whenever a user visits hand them over a product catalog.

10. Invite registered/ existing users for a free tasting session.

11. Offer festive season special offers (not discounts necesarily) an run these through email lists, blog, fb, twitter – same content can run on different channels with relevant tweaks.

12. Host small parties – if the space permits that – customer pays for product and gets space free. This will work for executives in close by offices who want to celebrate birthday of a colleague during daytime/early eveing.

13. Try direct mailing – it should not be a pamphlet but a classy invite to come visit “Your Bakery” for a tasting session. Those who visit and taste the stuff are most likely to buy stuff. Print 500-5000 at one go and distribute 200-500 a week. Target specific neigbourhoods. Don’t use the classic newpaper promo. Hire a young boy/girl to personally visit and deliver it by hand. Database procurement can be done on spot. Once the boy/girl is outside home they can write the name from nameplate and deliver. You can also try local yellow pages for info.

14. Every picture – every tart, pastry, cake, croissant that you make has a story behind. Add more words to it… captions and words hook people.

15. Move on to video when you can. It works.

16. Listen to feedback – at least respond when you can. Hear people out as often you can – it will create a special bond. Respond to people’s comments on your blog, FB and twitter.

Invite your FB fans over for a chat, treat them well and take feedback in person about the products YOUR BAKERY should create. Create ones that you can and tell them once you have done it.

Make such people who offer you feedback, your (un)official ambassador, give them some loyalty privileges.

Business should make profits. But good if it makes connections while it makes profits. 1 such connection will become 10 – 100 – 1000 and then you may not need any promo.

17. Focus on aggregating testimonials.

And bring them on your website with user permission.

18. Create one signature item – promote it like hell – and then build on that success.

19. Sell more to existing customers – surprise them when you can. Once a customer has made a purchase of 1000 bucks then offer her 100 bucks off on next purchase.

20. Maintain the right sensory cues.. means is the smell inviting for the customers who enter your bakery?

21. Build excitement around a product/ occasion. Say, for valentine’s day you can promote Cholcolate Truffle cake + with strawberry puree – and sell/promote it as your signature product.

22. Run promos (driven by posters etc.) with local institutions, convents – anyplace where you can find your target audience – keep running them always. Being seen equals being alive.

23. Always ask for user email whenever the user visits your website. For that you need a website, so just get one driven by WordPress – you can find many premium/free themes..

24. Optimize for local search Рtry services like HotFrog with right keywords.

25. Do cross promos with right spaces – shops that sell gift items – like local Archies Gallery, gift shops, small restaurants that do not have their own bakery.

26. Take picture of products with people – keep the ratio 50:50 – products: people with products – this will keep the human touch alive and is a good trust builder.

27. Move to another location within city and then offering franchise in other city [2-3 year horizon]

28. Create events/promos for young moms with kids. Run it every Wednesday morning say around 11am or 4pm – try both the timings and hold on to the one that works out best. offer a one -for-one free treat of these occasions. Similar offeing for other users groups also.

29. Offer coupon love – where you give user a 10 leaf coupon book. This should be for people who buy stuff worth 800 bucks or more – each coupon should enable them for a discount of 100 or 25% of the item value whichever is less.

30. Organize a pastry eating contest. Award the most graceful eater or the regular one – the biggest eater.

31. Put a TV screen running high quality programming related to bakery.

32. Rethink signage – no hassles with name – but make sure that your name and what business you are in can be seen from a distance.

33. More online stuff – you can always run PPC campaigns, online display ads etc. But for small businesses organic search always trumps paid search in terms of trust and lead conversions.

Add to this your ideas and you should be good to go.

Try these, move ahead with those that work and drop the rest.

Tell us how you like them.