Almost certainly you have a website and most likely you have a Facebook page, but how do you, as a small business, make the most out of the time and energy you have put into creating these business tools?
Use Tech to Target Your Local Customers
You don’t have to be a tech wizard to go beyond simply having a website and a social media platform and promote your bakery in a targeted way by using mobile apps that target consumers in the vicinity of your business. Groupon, Living Social, FourSquare and ThinkNear, among others, let you post information about your latest offers and limited-time deals to consumers within a certain distance of your business. You can also schedule deals to get picked up during key hours, for example, if you’re looking to boost foot traffic during off-peak times.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Your sites should also have many tantalizing photos of all the great baked goods you have to offer. As a bakery, you must take high quality images, even if it means hiring a professional photographer. It is incredibly cheap to do these days and it lets people see what you can deliver and gets them excited. Top-notch, high-resolution pictures, properly displayed on your online and social media sites, such as Instagram, can draw in potential customers. By the way, Instagram isn’t just for pretty pictures: you can upload videos, contest giveaways, and bakery menu and updates.
Provide a Consistent Online Presence
Did you know that the latest research studies show active Internet users spend anywhere from 15 to nearly 25 per cent of their online time on social networks? This means that you should be consistent in putting out your online content, and you should consider hiring a specialist or delegate responsibility to your staff, or take time in your weekly schedule to provide excellent content to your patrons.
Consistency is the most important characteristic of quality products. Just as customers expect excellent products every time they enter a bakery, they expect a consistent flow of content from you online as well. You should consider posting content on social media regularly as well as consistently having wonderful bakery products and great customer service.
Get Customer Reviews
Contrary to popular belief, review sites like Yelp are not just for the vocal negative majority bent on destroying company reputations. In fact, most Yelp users leave four or five stars, meaning bakeries should focus less on quieting the haters and more on pleasing customers. A Barista Magazine survey found that sites like Yelp and Google were the third most popular way customers discovered new coffee shops; after seeing the physical location and word of mouth.
The survey also found that coffee shops could increase the number of reviews they received by simply asking customers or leaving reminders around the shop. Those who asked for customer reviews had an average of 40 per cent more reviews on Yelp than those who did not ask. These extra reviews came at no cost to their star rating, meaning those who asked for reviews ended up ranking higher than those who didn’t ask.
OFFER OUT-OF-TOWNERS THINGS THEY NEED OR WANT
Offer potential out-of-area customers something that they might need, like Wi-Fi. Most people travel with their smartphones and need to keep up to date with their emails, but many do not want to pay the exorbitant roaming charges that telecommunications companies like to charge.
Show that you are tech savvy and encourage greater use of your social media platform with your own free Wi-Fi. More than this, some Wi-Fi services direct users to a website page immediately after logging in. By using this type of service you can decide which website the customer sees, and this can be used as a chance to ask customers for an online review and so improve your online reviews.
Offer a Deal
An online or mobile presence doesn’t change the fundamentals of business. Your potential patrons are still out there looking for a deal and now with mobile apps, Yelp, YouTube and SnapChat, there are simply, more, easier and faster ways to find those deals than cutting out coupons – that is, if your prospective patrons can even conceive of the concept of using scissors to cut a piece of paper from a newspaper!
With Facebook or Twitter or any of the above mobile apps, you can generate a following by offering special social media deals. It would be best to offer weekend specials and send this out before the weekend to all existing customers, especially if there is any kind of event going on in your area that weekend. Offering a 10 per cent reward to followers who bring their friends in to your bakery could make you the destination of choice for someone going to an event in your area with their friends.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She is recognized as the industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or
, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com
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Owners of independent bakeries surely have been told how important it is for them, as small businesses, to have an online and social media presence.
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