Bakers Journal

Q&A with Justine Martin, owner of Guilty Pleasures Bakery + Catering

May 12, 2021
By Bakers Journal

Image courtesy of Justine Martin of Guilty Pleasures Bakery + Catering

On April 19, 2021 Bakers Journal hosted Innovation Day, where industry experts shared their knowledge. We received several questions for our keynote speaker, Justine Martin about how she helped pivot her business during the pandemic.

Q: What kind of financial arrangement do you have with the pick-up locations?

A: While awaiting completion of our new commercial kitchen and pick up location, we’ve been fortunate enough to partner with two local businesses for all holiday pre-order pick-ups. Given the nature of my relationship with both these businesses, I was not charged any fees for the pick-ups. We did setup, staff and manage them on our own, so the only imposition on the locations was a small amount of real estate.

Q: How did you determine the price of your baked goods?

A: While I use my cost of goods to ensure we are always making “enough” on any given product or service, I do not subscribe to the 25 per cent food costing formula. I feel this leaves too much room for overspending on labour, particularly in the case of custom work. I also consider pricing to be an important aspect of my marketing strategy. I have positioned myself as the local go-to high-end bakeshop, not the competitively priced bakery. My target demographic expects luxury, and while this means that my goods need to be luxurious in taste, aesthetic and packaging, it also means that they need to come in at a higher price point so they are perceived as luxury all the way around.

Q: How did you market yourself, (your menus, etc.) to create your reach and success? Did you use social media, local press (i.e. full page ads)?

A: I don’t do any paid media, save for some small Facebook/Instagram ad campaigns. My greatest marketing strength is my public relations background, which allows me to heavily capitalize on earned media. I do have a strong social media presence that contributes a great deal to our overall revenue, but media relations are an equally strong driver for us. While I definitely benefit from being in a smaller market with less competition for media space, I am also sure to take advantage of all possible press opportunities. I am typically in the local media (print, web, radio and television) at least once per quarter—to the point where I am sometimes recognized at the grocery store as “that cake lady from the news”. When I don’t have something newsworthy to write a press release about, I pitch seasonal/holiday content, such as a tutorial for simple decorated sugar cookies around Valentine’s Day or hot chocolate bombs before Christmas. This coverage is also what has led to my television appearances and speaking engagements, because casting agents were able to judge my media appearances before I had professional video reels.

Q: You have the only bakery e-commerce site in Sudbury, but how did everyone find out about it?  SEO? Other means?

A: When we launched the e-commerce site, we announced it on our social media, changed our direct link anywhere pertinent (google listing, yelp, facebook, etc.) and concentrated on SEO so that we came in high on Google listings. We actually aren’t number 1 for popular searches like “bakery Sudbury,” but it’s quickly apparent on competitors sites that there is no online ordering capabilities, so we capture a disproportionate number of searches.

Q: Do you have someone that is dedicated to your social media accounts, or do you do that yourself?

A: I ran the social media myself from 2015 to December 2020. After a massive burn-out induced breakdown in January of 2021, I hired out for my social media and it was my best work-life balance decision to date. Not only did it mean that my social media was actually being tended to on a consistent basis (which lead to more ideal client inquiries, higher closing rate and general revenue growth), but it meant that I didn’t have to expend 1/10th of the brain power I was previously allocating to socials.

Q: How often does your bakery post its social media?

A: We post to the Instagram grid a minimum of 5 times per week and I do my best to post to my stories several times per day. The real key is consistency. If you can only commit to posting one day a week, seriously commit to that and you’ll notice an improvement in engagement!

Q: What is your preferred method of reaching out to your potential or existing clients?

A: We post consistently to social media and that is a huge part of our client communication strategy, but it is not the only piece. We also heavily utilize our email list, sending early bird e-blasts with every pre-sale launch, etc.

Q: How did your bakery find new clients? 

A: From the time I first started, I concentrated heavily on client experience and was able to generate a strong following solely based on word of mouth before opening my storefront. I continue to grow new client awareness mainly through social media, traditional media, word of mouth and google searches, but we also find people discovering our brand through our wholesale partnerships quite a bit!

If you want to see Justine’s Keynote speech, click |HERE|


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