These six key Internet tools will boost your business profile online and offline by making you part of the social-media conversation.
Forget water-cooler gossip about what’s hot. With mobile shopping topping the lists of retail trends this year, it’s time to think about how your bakery is taking advantage of using the Internet and smartphones in your marketing plan. Here are a few areas that you can look into:
Facebook fan page
Create a business fan page for your bakery operation. It costs nothing and is relatively easy to do. Once you’ve created your fan page, you need to get customers to sign up. Make sure you create a link on your website to “become a fan” of your company. Send direct mail or e-mail invitations to your database. Offer an incentive to get people to “become fans” with coupons and discounts.
Once you have established your fan page and recruited fans, use it to entice. Post videos and photos of your delicious breads, pastries, desserts and food; organize promotions and events via Facebook; and allow fans to comment on how much they love your products. You can also update your Facebook status with deals and specials that last for only the day.
Twitter is made for the mobile phone generation, and the possibilities of how to apply Twitter to market your bakery are endless. The immediacy of Twitter allows you to communicate your latest information, deals and updates to a large group of people instantly. Twitter is also a great way to receive feedback from your customers, and it allows you to answer your customers right away. This is a new generation of instant gratification and short attention spans, so there is a great need to reach your customers quickly.
Become a celebrity. Shoot a video of yourself baking bread or decorating a cake, or any other interesting marketing stunt you can think of, and upload it to YouTube. If your video is funny, outlandish or worth watching, you and your baked goods could become a viral sensation!
Write a blog
Anyone and everyone can write a blog, but make sure yours contains useful information that helps build your credibility and brand. The content must be relevant to your business, and must be real. People read blogs to get a sense of the person behind the machine, so don’t fill your blog by trying to sell your products. Instead, write about personal issues like why you think it is so important to buy from local suppliers, what challenges and issues you face as a baker, how you came up with your latest creations and recipes, or real stories of how your bakery was able to help someone out. Be sure to update your blog at least once a week so interest in it does not die down.
Mobile phone apps
The number of iPhone users continues to grow at an exorbitant rate, and more and more brand names are now setting up their own mobile phone applications for promotions, mobile payment, customer loyalty programs and building their databases.
Look into setting up an application for your operation, such as a “Make Your Own Cake” app. Allow customers to select the flavour of the cake, the colour of the frosting, the number of layers, which decorations they wish to put on their cake, etc. Customers would be able to pay for the cake via their mobile phone, and set up a time for pickup. Afterward, users can click on Google Maps to figure out the quickest route to your establishment.
Improve your SEO
Re-evaluate your website to see if you are giving yourself the best opportunity to improve in your search rankings. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO) – in other words, making it easier for people to find you on the Web. Check your meta tags to see if you are using the most ideal keywords, title and description to describe your operation. Make sure you put as many keywords that are relevant to your business as you can in the first paragraph of your homepage.
Try to create as many reciprocal links to your website as possible. Create as many links as you can, whether for within your website, or to related websites. Links help to attract new users, raise awareness and improve your ranking in search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
The rise of next-generation Internet tools such as these has created a bewildering array of options to market your business. Take it slow at first until you get a grasp of the concepts. You can’t afford not to take part, however, because if people can’t find you on the Internet, you’re not part of the conversation, and in the 21st century, that can spell disaster for your ability to build and expand a customer base.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for more than 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 1-416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, e-mail
, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com
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