Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Advertising: What's the best bang for your buck? Part 1

My head is spinning.... every time I turn around someone else is "inviting" me to advertise online or in a magazine, attend a bridal show, or improve my SEO rankings.  While I would love to be everywhere and do everything, it's just not financially possible.  So where should one put their advertising money?  I have no clue, as I am not a business guru, but I can tell you my thought process on my most recent decisions.

- SEO companies - I am starting here because I really have no clue which ones of these are legitimate and really know the least about.  The goal of paying for this service is to improve your visibility on the web by improving the way search engines find your business.  While I feel this is very important, I don't feel like I need to pay to be the top result when searching for cakes... I am fine with being in the top 3-5.

- Online Websites - The Knot, Wedding Wire, Get Married, One Wed... I can go on and on about all the wedding vendor websites.  I don't like the way these websites are set up for my area.  Fredericksburg is half way between Northern VA and Richmond, and most of these sites are setup for general geographic areas, none of which I feel represent my immediate area.  If I was in Fairfax, it would be a different story, but until these website change the way they are set up, you won't be seeing me there (unless it is a free listing).

- Print Magazines - This is where I personally struggle the most.  Local magazines are a great way to get your name out there, but at the same time, they are pretty pricey.  Sure you can pay for 1/8 of a page, but will anyone see that tiny ad?  I have paid to advertise in 3 different print publications... one was inexpensive, so I said why not!  Another one was more of a local bridal guide than periodical, but it was reasonable and brought my name out to an area that I serve, but don't have a lot of presence in.  And the third... well, this is where it went south... literally.  A local non-wedding magazine, targeted at larger household income family was putting out a wedding issue and it seemed like a good idea to advertise.  Well, to this day I am still not sure what happened, but long story short, the magazine went out of business and I believe the wedding issue became a regular issue.  The biggest thing I struggle with advertising in a magazine is knowing whether or not it is worth it.  Sure I have a drop-down on my form mailer letting folks select where they found me, but do most people actually fill this out accurately?  If they found me in "Cool Weddings" magazine but then googled wedding cakes to find my website, which do they put there?  And yes, you can do promos ("Mention this add and get blah blah blah..) or QR codes, but I just don't want to deal with either.

So that leaves me with Bridal shows.  For me and my business, I think bridal shows are a great way to get yourself out there.  Since wedding cakes have 2 components, look and taste, this is the only way for people to do both, and as a bonus they get to meet me as well.  They can be expensive and take hours to prepare and setup for, but it allows you to not only mingle with brides and grooms, but other vendors as well.  Your return on investment is also more easily trackable because you typically get a list of attending brides.  On top of that, I like to talk... I will talk to a spot on the wall until it moves, and I think that helps me too.  Do I think bridal shows work for everyone?  Definitely not, but for right now, that is where I am putting my advertising budget.
What are your thoughts?  Part 2 will concentrate on advertising on the cheap...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's good to have a budget...

Sorry for the delay in my blog posts... for once I wasn't just ignoring them.  As you may have seen... I have been busy... and on top of that, the little one has an ear infection.  While he normally resides on my lap 80% of the time he is awake, with the ear infection, we were at a full 100% of the time and he wasn't sleeping much or very well.  Since he appears to be feeling better and is actually playing on his own, I thought I would try to squeeze in a quick blog post.

Budget... I hate to keep talking the cost of cakes, but this is for customers and potential customers out there.  I had a customer call me the other day, asking for a 3-tier cake with a carved cake as the top tier, fondant, the works.  I quoted her a price and her response was "She's not getting married!"  I giggled on the phone with her and asked her what her budget was.  She politely responded and we continued to discuss some options.  Eventually we came up with a few possibilities within her budget and she set off to discuss it with her daughter.  The next day, she ordered the cake!

Every day I get emails from folks requesting a quote on a specific cake or a cake to feed X amount of people.   I send them the best quote I can, based on the information given to me, and many times, I never hear back from them.  Obviously some of these folks can choose other bakers, but I have a feeling many of these inquiries end up not ordering a cake at all because of the price.  Yes, sometimes budgets and desires are so out of line that it is impossible to offer an alternative, but other times, if folks just asked or discussed their budget, something on a smaller scale could work.  Sure you might not get that life-sized teddy bear you saw on Ace of Cakes, but you may still be able to get something cute and unique and not break the bank.
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