So you’ve pinned posters on lamp-posts, advertised in the Post Office window, and spread the word about your cupcake business. But you still want more customers. So what’s next? Here are some ideas to market your cupcake business successfully in your local area.
Network, Network, Network
This is a time-consuming method of marketing your new business. But when you’re just starting up, Networking is a very useful way to meet business people who can help you. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend some of their dedicated networking events. Who knows where it will lead? For example, you could meet an event organiser who is looking for something to give away at their stall on a summer fair. You could meet a PR professional who holds frequent meetings and needs coffee-morning catering. Or you might meet a local holiday-home owner who would like to provide cupcakes for their holidaymakers!
Because these events are (quite openly) all about networking, you’ll find that people are eager to chat with you. If you don’t see an immediate opportunity, don’t walk away: you may still make a valuable friend who can sympathise with your new-business worries! And if you’re nervous, why not take a Tray of Cupcakes with you – what a great ice-breaker…
Look for Opportunities
You never know where you might find a great opportunity to market your cupcake business. Keep your eyes open for opportunities in the community. The school bonfire night, a church coffee morning, an NCT sale – there are loads of places where you could make yourself known. Telephone organisers and ask whether you can come along with some cupcakes, sell them for charity or give them away, and give branded stickers to children! They may not be your customers, but their mothers and fathers could be catering managers, events organisers, and publicists in unlikely places!
Hound the Press
Your local paper will probably be interested in featuring you and your new business. A cupcake business is very media-friendly, with lovely picture opportunities. So make the most of it and plan a press release. (Or think sideways and try asking if they’d like an occasional column of cupcake recipes!)
A press release should follow a specific format. (For some examples, visit Pressbox.co.uk and type ‘cupcakes’ into the search field.) Firstly, you need a title – which can be quite long and should give the key message, for example: VOLUPTUOUS CUPCAKES GALORE AT NORFOLK’S NEWEST CUPCAKE PARLOUR! Your press release should be newsy. This means it should be issued to celebrate your launch, or an exciting new commission (VOLUPTUOUS CUPCAKES NOW BEING SERVED AT NORFOLK FOOTBALL CLUB!). The press won’t be fooled into featuring something that is old news. Following the title, put the date of release and “For immediate release”, unless you wish to impose an “embargo”. This means asking the press not to publish the news until the date you provide. You would put “EMBARGOED UNTIL 20.02.2011” if your release is about (for instance) a new client who will not be on your order books until a certain date.
Finally, you’re ready to write the release. Begin with a concise opening paragraph that provides the main message, then go into more details (the who, what, when, and where) in the main text. Don’t pad it out – keep your release short and sweet. Include a picture of yourself or your cupcakes, and finish with “ENDS – For further information, telephone Ruth on…”.
After sending your release, by email or post, to your local papers (leaf through the pages to make sure you’re writing to the right journalist), it’s OK to telephone and find out whether your release has been read. Be friendly, ask for the person you wrote to, and ask whether they would be interested in featuring your new business. It’s far better to be yourself, even if that’s a nervous, chatty person, than to write a script or be pushy. Your local paper will be used to covering new startups and there’s a good likelihood that someone will be interested in featuring you.