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No orders coming in.. HELP!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone!   I've been caking (legally) for about 5 years now.  I became a legal biz in 2010.  I have a website and a facebook page with 250 likes and growing, but I am getting very few orders recently.  Maybe one a month.  What can I do to attract business?  Not only that but the RIGHT kind of business?  I have people email and call but they have completely unrealistic budgets for custom fondant cake.  I specialize in stacked fondant cakes and custom orders.  People will call or write with a picture of some intricate 3tiered fondant cake that they like and tell me that their budget is $40!!! 

 

I am turning people down right and left because of this and it is my biggest issue.  How can I attract people with disposable incomes to my business?  I realize that not a lot of people can afford to spend $150-$250 on a cake for every childs birthday.  I can't even afford my cake!  lol   But seriously, how can I attract the right type of people to my business?

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

post #2 of 14
Who is your target market, what advertising strategy are you currently using to target them, and how much is your monthly advertising budget?

If you would be willing to share your web site and are open to constructive criticism we may be able to suggest improvements.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

My target is mostly birthday/celebration cakes.  I don't do too many weddings but would love to do more!  I don't really advertise at all although I am listed on google places and yelp.  I would love to know how I can advertise to the right people...

 

My website is www.iheartcaketherapy.com

post #4 of 14

Hi Cakiemommie (such a cute name!), if I were you I would concentrate on the wedding cake business primarily, because most people have a fairly decent budget for a wedding cake, as opposed to birthday cakes generally. Wedding cakes generally are less work than custom novelty/birthday cakes and have a much higher profit margin as a result.

 

The next thing I would look at is your website - is it well designed or staid/old fashioned?  This is often the first port of call for potential wedding customers so it's one of the most important elements for a cake business. If it isn't want you'll like it to be, you can purchase beautiful website templates online for anything from $60-$100 and you can hire a designer on Elance.com (freelancer website) who should be able to do the switchover for you for about $100. It no longer costs thousands to have a beautiful website.

 

The next key issue is the photography on your website - so many people make outstanding cakes but then take terrible pictures of them for their website. Make sure when you finish a cake that you leave yourself time to take a decent pic before delivering it. (Wedding venues are often the worst place to photograph a cake because the full lighting isn't on until just before the guests are seated.)

 

To take a decent pic you need:

(a) to take it in daylight before 3pm at the latest (depending on where you are in the world and the season, shadow can start to develop late afternoon.).  And the brighter the day the better.

(b) make a make-shift "studio" for yourself by buying a large sheet of plywood to use as a background and covering it with a sheet of pretty wallpaper in a neutral colour. (If you have  a bigger budget, buy a selection of different wallpapers for different backgrounds to complement your cake colour schemes....my budget didn't stretch that far when I started!).  Also lay a sheet of cream wallpaper under your cake and background before photographing i, unless you're using a very pretty table.

 

If the pics on your site aren't great, I would consider doing up a set of even just six "signature" designs as cake dummies and photographing them nicely, replacing your old ones with the new set to get you started.  Then as you make additional cakes, get nice pics and add them to your collection also.

 

When, or if, you are already happy with your website, check where it ranks on a Google search for wedding cakes in your local area. If it doesn't rank highly, you might need to work on your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation - this is a whole topic in itself, you can either research it online and do the basics yourself or hire someone on Elance to do it for you.)

 

Finally, are you listed with your local wedding venues? ie on the list of recommended suppliers they give to wedding couples?  If not, ring and request a meeting to introduce your business- bring samples and a portfolio book and dress in business attire. You might not get listed at all venues, but if another one of their suppliers lets them down, they'll replace them with you.  That's what happened with one of my biggest local venues!

 

All of the above might be entirely not the issue and therefore irrelevant, if so, let us know and we'll have a brainstorm!

post #5 of 14
I'm not sure how well your specialty of stacked fondant cakes meshes with your target market of birthday/celebration cakes. It's great that you offer that, but if you are targeting someone who wants a birthday cake for her kid the budget probably won't be there (as you've seen). There are also a lot of businesses who create similar products. What does the competitive landscape look like in your area? What can you offer that another custom bakery can't?

In my experience there is a lot of demand in major metro areas for custom birthday cakes in the $50-100 range. If you can create a simple product line to fill this demand and still make a decent wage and profit you can capture a lot of new customers, which would in turn provide more exposure to other potential customers who may need a wedding cake or celebration cakes of their own. This strategy will require more of a focus on efficiency so you need to decide if that's what you want.

Your web site looks pretty good. I noticed a link in the top right for special orders (I almost missed the link as it was not very prominent). This is a huge untapped market, and if you can do some work on your process to provide a stronger explanation to customers on how you avoid cross contamination you can build a business on just this market alone.

In any case, you will want to bootstrap by taking out ads based on where your target customers will read them. This could mean Google AdWords, Facebook, partnering with local venues that host birthday parties, etc. localized to areas with a more affluent population that can afford more than a grocery store cake.
post #6 of 14

I think your website looks great, and I love the tie in between Cake Therapy and your psychology degree!

 

I agree you need to forge some personal relationships with event planners, wedding venues, bridal stores, etc.  Get in with that wedding market!

 

Good luck!

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

Reply

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

Reply
post #7 of 14
How do you normally get orders right now? Through your website, through word of mouth, through your Facebook page?

I feel like you need more photos on your site, and they need to be more professional. You can make up a bunch of dummy cakes, without spending a fortune. I do love your website overall though, the style of it and the writing are great.
elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post

I'm not sure how well your specialty of stacked fondant cakes meshes with your target market of birthday/celebration cakes. It's great that you offer that, but if you are targeting someone who wants a birthday cake for her kid the budget probably won't be there (as you've seen). There are also a lot of businesses who create similar products. What does the competitive landscape look like in your area? What can you offer that another custom bakery can't?

In my experience there is a lot of demand in major metro areas for custom birthday cakes in the $50-100 range. If you can create a simple product line to fill this demand and still make a decent wage and profit you can capture a lot of new customers, which would in turn provide more exposure to other potential customers who may need a wedding cake or celebration cakes of their own. This strategy will require more of a focus on efficiency so you need to decide if that's what you want.

 

I agree with the $50-100 people - good market to go after. But my minimum is $150 because working from home I want to deal with fewer customers for the same money and I routinely do birthday cakes for $225-$450.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

@howsweet

 

How in the world do you get birthday orders for that much?  That is what I would love to find!

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakiemommie View Post
 

@howsweet

 

How in the world do you get birthday orders for that much?  That is what I would love to find!

 

You have quite a few tiered cakes in your albums. What are you charging for those?

post #11 of 14
You could try hand delivering some flyers with your best cake pics on to the 'big houses' icon_smile.gif that's what I do now-and-then and it always more than pays for itself. Sometimes I do a limited time offer in a simple signature cake, sometimes I push the 3D side to tempt different people. I find pushing something specific with a clear price on the flyer works best for quick returns, and I use the 'post card' flyer on vistaprint, they're very affordable.

Best of luck!
post #12 of 14

I don't think facebook and websites are enough.  Your market is local people.  

Is there a local church paper, town newspaper, place to leave flyers.  I would do that right away.

Also, please tale my criticism with a good heart.  You are not doing your cakes any justice by taking photos with cluttered backgrounds.  

You have to appeal to people's needed focus which is your cakes.  For example:

 

 

Get your photos made with a focus on your cakes, make up a flyer, and hope that it creates interest.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakiemommie View Post
 

@howsweet

 

How in the world do you get birthday orders for that much?  That is what I would love to find!

I sent you a pm. But most of the cakes on your website should fall in that price range. What did you charge for that 3 tier pink polka dot cake? I'd probably charge something like $370 if it's 5-7-9. When I was quoting it, I noticed the bow could have been a lot cleaner and the rolled roses were a bit thick, so that price is with those things fixed. What material did you use to make the bow?

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yes I agree I need better photos.  A lot of my photos are pictures that the people take themselves.  If I could afford a good camera and lens I could take some great photos..   I love the advice about the backgrounds...  A lot to think about.

 

Thank you so much everyone for your insight and advice.  You guys on CC are always SO helpful!    THANKS AGAIN!

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