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Educating our Clients about our brands, How to?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

"If you are not educating the client as a way of building value (and along with it trust) you are facilitating conditions where customers will make decisions solely on price.  Finally, the O.P. should have discussed her brand"

 

Can we make this a continuation of the thread: Oh no, I didn't...or...Was that out loud? Or...is there an unsend button somewhere? *sigh*

 

I do the best I can to self educate, as I think most of us do. I can't afford to hire professional people to do all the various aspects of my business. If I hired an advertising company, PR firm, web developer and all the countless other professionals I need, I'd be bankrupt before I could open my door.

 

Can we make an educational thread on the topic of building brand with clients from the first moment they contact us (so we get the sale instead of loosing it to the cheapest baker)? I'm willing to embarrass myself in order to learn. I'm going to post a recent email exchange with a potential client and can we see how I should have done this better?

 

(These are the actual emails, but I've deleted the clients info.)

 My name is Carissa M. and I can be reached at 888-888-8888. I am looking for a tiered fondant Princess cake for my daughters 3rd birthday. I did not see anything like this on your website, but would love to see pricing and ideas that you have. The date of her party is October 5th.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Hello Carissa,
 
Thank-you for contacting me! Fondant covered cakes begin at $4.00 per serving. Butter cream frosted cakes start at $3.00 per serving. Pricing greatly depends upon how complex or simple the cakes design is.
 
I can decorate just about any design you'd like. It would take me hours and hours to show you all the possibilities you have with such a cute theme. The best way to find something YOU really like is for you to look at cake photos online for ideas. Here are 3 great websites to find a princess cake design you'll like:
 
 
When you see something you like, copy and paste the photo into an email to me and I can give you a price for that design. In addition, I'll need to know how many servings of cake you want and what flavors you'd like. You can view my menu here: https://wendy-debord.squarespace.com/menus/
 
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.
 
all my best,
Wendy
____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Wendy, thank you so much for the information and the websites. What about something like the one attached? I am looking for around 35-40 people. Thank you again!
cleardot.gif

 

 
 
Princess+Castle+Cake+4+protected.jpg Princess+Castle+Cake+4+protected.jpg
247K   View   Share   Download  
__________________________________________________________________________________
The cake in your photograph will serve 60 to 80 people. To make the cake smaller isn't less expensive, it's actually more difficult to make all those details smaller. That particular cake design (done well) would be aprox. $225.00 from me.

thanks,

____________________________________________________________________________________

Wendy,
 
Thank you so much for your help! Your price was right where I thought! Thank you!

___________________________________________________________________________________

post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 

Sorry about the neatness of my last post....the screen wasn't working as well as usual with my editing.

 

So how would you all whom know how to market your brand, have handled that conversation? Basically, I see that I now need to compose a letter and paste that info. into every business email I receive so I convey the value of my brand. What should that look like, what do you say in your email (I've already conveyed my brand on my website so it's redundant in email, no?)?

post #3 of 25
IMO most of the education should be done proactively, before the customer contacts you in the first place. That's why it's so important to have all your customer-facing material professionally produced (web site, ad campaigns, marketing materials, etc.).

You're not really educating customers about your brand, you are presenting your products and highlighting your competitive advantages. Based on what you offer (and how well you include a coherent and consistent brand in your marketing, communications, and packaging) your customers will make their own inferences as to what your brand stands for. If you do a good job, your brand alone will eventually be enough to make the sale.

As for your email exchange, I would probably have mentioned the amount of labor for each quote. Unless a cake is very basic I never send out a quote without a labor estimate. Other than that it looked fine.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post

IMO most of the education should be done proactively, before the customer contacts you in the first place. That's why it's so important to have all your customer-facing material professionally produced (web site, ad campaigns, marketing materials, etc.).

You did your own website. How many of those services did you hire out for your business? That's just not always possible for the small business owner. Also, sometimes/often you don't know where or how a person got your info.. I don't know if the lady above found me threw my website or if someone I know gave her my name. My closest girl friends and husband always recommend me to people they know, but try as I might, they don't memorize my business details correctly enough to pass the info. on correctly.

 

 I don't personally find your website esthetically pleasing. What's your advertising campaigns look like? What you perceive to be "professional grade materials" I might find to be poorly done. Hiring someone doesn't guarantee quality work. How many bad commercials do you see every night? Most of them............ I don't like all pink websites and literature but you do. It's all just subjective!....so that's not an answer.

post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches View Post

You did your own website. How many of those services did you hire out for your business? That's just not always possible for the small business owner.

Aside from a quick initial consult with an accountant to make sure my QuickBooks setup made sense, I did not hire out any business services. This was because I already had a business background and was finishing up my MBA. I understand that many new business owners may not have that background, that's why your business plan should budget for hiring out when necessary.
Quote:
Also, sometimes/often you don't know where or how a person got your info.. I don't know if the lady above found me threw my website or if someone I know gave her my name.

That's why you should ask potential customers how they heard of you. I included several business cards with every invoice so chances are a referral would have my business card as well.
Quote:
I don't personally find your website esthetically pleasing. What's your advertising campaigns look like? What you perceive to be "professional grade materials" I might find to be poorly done. Hiring someone doesn't guarantee quality work. How many bad commercials do you see every night? Most of them............ I don't like all pink websites and literature but you do. It's all just subjective!....so that's not an answer.

I'm not sure what the aesthetics of my web site have to do with this thread, but I am always interested in feedback so if you wanted to send me specifics of what you don't like I would appreciate it. I don't like all pink web sites either, which is why I chose a palette of pink, black, and white.

While your own personal taste might be subjective, the effectiveness of an advertisement can absolutely be measured quantitatively. My initial advertising strategy was to reach out in person to my target market by attending support group meetings and events catered to that market (with a simple one page letter size information sheet). This was coupled with a Google AdWords blitz for a couple months when we launched the business. No additional advertising was necessary after the AdWords blitz since we were already reaching capacity regularly, but the next step would have been partnering with niche blogs, magazines, and specialty grocers.

You are absolutely right that hiring someone does not guarantee quality work, that's why you need to interview people and get samples of their work, just as you would before purchasing any custom product or service. The fact that a lot of poorly executed advertisements exist only serves to underscore how important the vetting process is.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post



I'm not sure what the aesthetics of my web site have to do with this thread, but I am always interested in feedback so if you wanted to send me specifics of what you don't like I would appreciate it. I don't like all pink web sites either, which is why I chose a palette of pink, black, and white.

 

No Jason, that wasn't directed at you specifically (I don't recall what your site looks like and I wouldn't be that rude), it was a general comment. The point being that everyone has different taste and it's almost impossible to design something that appeals to everyone.

 

Another point, peoples skills are only as good as their current work. You can interview people until you turn green.........their past work isn't a guarantee of their current work being as good (or that their portfolio is their own work).....or meshing with your business vision. Yes, I totally agree, hire what you can and hire out the skills you don't have. But it's definitely not as simple as you describe!

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches View Post

No Jason, that wasn't directed at you specifically (I don't recall what your site looks like and I wouldn't be that rude), it was a general comment.

I'm a little confused...when you quoted me and said "I don't personally find your website esthetically pleasing" that was meant as a general comment that wasn't directed at me?
post #8 of 25

I don't have a business, so fee free to ignore all business-related advice. icon_wink.gif

 

IN your first email, I'd probably have put the price towards the end, rather than first thing. I know she asked for pricing first, but she's shopping for a princess cake for a 5-year-old and wants your ideas. She wanted you to get excited, like she is. Of course, you're not particularly excited, but I suspect that part of selling your service in this case is making your customer feel like you're both in this amazing creative process together: build rapport over the excitement of the party she's planning - then hit her with the price afterwards.  

 

My advice would be to 'sell' your skill and product first up - list some of the amazing sounding princess design things you could do, ask what her precious child is interested in, make some wise sounding suggestions about what flavours of cake little girls love.

 

This particular client sounded like she wasn't really worried about the price - just wanted something pretty, so focus on that first up.

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

"I'm a little confused...when you quoted me and said "I don't personally find your website esthetically pleasing" that was meant as a general comment that wasn't directed at me?"                 Yes, it was in my second paragraph down, away from your quote (I had no idea your website had any pink in it) I was trying to say everyone's taste is subjective. I was a professional artist for about 10 years and one of my biggest take always from that experience is how everyone's taste differs. I'd see paintings where the paint was just thrown at a canvas win 'best in show' over paintings what showed great feeling and skill. You like pink, I like grey. Even when you buy professional services you choose the professional whom you think will do the best work for you. But your judgments are prejudiced by your own taste.

 

One of the wonderful things about participating in a forum like this is learning from others. That's why I'm here. I can hire out professionals for almost everything in my business (if I had the money) but it's more important for me to educate myself so I become better. As I learn more I become a better business owner.

 

I'm trying to learn in this thread how to respond better to pricing inquires. How can I educate my client as a way of building value and prevent "facilitating conditions where customers will make decisions solely on price". How do I discuss my brand in a general pricing inquiry,  "Finally, the O.P. should have discussed her brand"?

 

So I put up a general correspondence with a client as an example of how can I/we all do this better? I'm serious, I really would like to do things better! I'd like to see other peoples emails/interactions with clients (good and bad) so I can learn how to guide the conversation better/more professionally and HOPEFULLY gain more sales through better business practices.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir View Post
This particular client sounded like she wasn't really worried about the price - just wanted something pretty, so focus on that first up.

At first she asks for ideas. But I didn't get into details yet based on past experience, I didn't want to waste my time coming up with a custom design for someone with a Wal-mart budget. I really wanted to find out her budget and if she was worth me taking the time to give her my ideas. I thought her follow up email to me would have shown me a couple cakes she liked and she would have asked pricing on those so than I could talk to her about my pricing and value. But I didn't get that chance. The client responded to me with-in hours with her photograph. She didn't seem like she was looking for a cute cake that worked in her budget. She seemed to be a person who was shopping out 1 specific design.

 

"My advice would be to 'sell' your skill and product first up - list some of the amazing sounding princess design things you could do, ask what her precious child is interested in, make some wise sounding suggestions about what flavours of cake little girls love." 

 

So that's what I'm trying to learn from this email (and I was hoping other people here would do the same online so I/we could learn from their experiences too). What should I do differently for the next email like this? I'm starting to learn some of these skills and get the customers to practice on.

 

This was my opening paragraph to the client: Thank-you for contacting me! Fondant covered cakes begin at $4.00 per serving. Butter cream frosted cakes start at $3.00 per serving. Pricing greatly depends upon how complex or simple the cakes design is.

 

If I could do it over I should have done this?:

Thank-you for contacting me. How were you referred to me? I'm a scratch baker with 25* years of experience baking custom cakes and pastries. (hell, I don't know how to "sell your skill and product first up". If I did I wouldn't be posting this.)

 

urg......

post #11 of 25
Here is my two cents, first, do you always do consultations with clients by e-mail? I'm a got to meet the person cooking for me kind of girl. That being said, if I were the customer I would have liked to have seen some of your similar work to what I was requesting. Then give me websites to look at for ideas. And pricing following your suggestions. I haven't looked at your website (I will, I'm quite intrigued) but is your pricing listed? 
Other than that, I would have been just fine with the message as a customer. 
post #12 of 25
Thank you for starting this thread, as I hope to eventually have a small business myself, this helps me while I'm learning the ropes of a business and baking (for more than just family).
post #13 of 25
Thank you for starting this thread, as I hope to eventually have a small business myself, this helps me while I'm learning the ropes of a business and baking (for more than just family).
post #14 of 25

Here's a word for word example I can share from this morning. I'm waiting to hear back, but here's how it has gone so far. 

 

"Good morning, I was given your name by XXXXX the other day for wedding cakes. I've looked online and think I want something like this, maybe with a monogram worked in somewhere or a saying? Can you give me a quote?"

 

Me-"Thank you for contacting me, and I'm happy to hear that xxxx suggested my services to you, she's an excellent florist, and we do a lot of work together. That's a beautiful cake, and I can think of several ideas just from that photo and your desire for some wording or a monogram. I'd be happy to help with an estimate of cost, but I'll need some basic information to proceed. What is the date of your event, and how many people will you need cake for? I look forward to hearing back from you."

 

Her- "Right now we have about 65 people confirmed, but it will probably end up being about 80. Wedding is on 11-16-2013. I looked some more at the pictures on your page and there is one with the word LOVE on it, don't kow if it's painted or what, but something like that in three tiers with the ruffles?"

 

Me'"Great! I happen to have room for one more event that weekend as of now. What I can do is arrange a consultation where you can sample a few flavors, and look over some sketches that I'll prepare based on the ideas you've given me. For that serving amount, I'd suggest a four tier, possibly even a 5 tier. There are also options of using mixed shapes and half tall and double tall tiers in the mix as well. The cake with the word LOVE hand painted on it, is a good example of that. 

 

Cake to serve approximately 80 will allow for two to three different cake flavors, with a different filling for each tier if you would like. Some people go basic for the whole setup, some choose a different combination for each one, it's completely up to you, and I can make suggestions regarding that when we get together. A good estimate of cost based on what you've described to me would be in the range of $480 to $520 to start with, and could be more depending on what you'd like to see. If you have a dollar amount you need to stick with, that would be helpful for me to know before we meet, so I can make sure my sketches stay within your budget.

 

I am available next week on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday......yada yada yada....."

 

 

"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
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"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
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Birthday Cakes
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post #15 of 25

Since her first email is too vague to give an accurate quote and design, this would have been my first response to her email.  

 

Hello Customer!

 

Thank you for considering a custom cake from Brenda Bakes for your daughter's birthday celebration!  I currently have your event date available and would love to give you a quote on a custom design.  My minimum cake order is $$$ and tiered cakes start at $4 per serving.  However, in order to give you a custom design idea and accurate quote, I will need additional information from you, specifically the number of servings that are required for your event and your budget.  It would also help if you could give me some elements that you would like to see on the cake (colors, tiara, diamonds, flowers, etc.) or a scanned photo of the invitation.  With these in mind, I can give you some great custom cake options with which to celebrate your daughter's birthday!

 

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Brenda Bakes

 

 

I know what you were trying to convey to the customer, but your email just gave a sense that you do not have the up front time to spend on her cake.  From her response, she did not take it that way at all.  That was just my overall feeling.

 

Also, I market myself as custom design.  Since I try to steer my clients into custom cake design (as you can see by my email response), I would never send them off to someone else's website before winning them over with one of my ideas, even though most of my customers come with pictures in hand.  Once I received her serving and budget information, I would give her detailed descriptions of cake ideas (never drawings, just lots of descriptive words in my email).  If she were a visual person, I would personally look online for a cake similar (if one were available).  

 

Just my 2 cents.  

There are times when I think I can help. Other times I think, given an already shallow gene pool, I am doing more for humanity by just letting go...

 

www.brendabakes.com

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There are times when I think I can help. Other times I think, given an already shallow gene pool, I am doing more for humanity by just letting go...

 

www.brendabakes.com

Reply
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