Confused in Cakeland is the series where I answer reader questions. Got one you’d like to ask? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org and your question might get featured in an upcoming post (and yes, it will remain anonymous.)
I know I need to do some marketing, but I’m really overwhelmed by it. I don’t know where to begin. Some people say I should pay to advertise on Facebook, then other people say that’s a waste of money. I’ve heard you say that things like letter drops and local newsletters can work, but I’m not really convinced by that. I want to get my pictures into a wedding magazine, but those ads seemed very expensive and I don’t have a lot to spend. What do you suggest? What’s the best kind of marketing to go for first? I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something if I’m not sure it’s going to work. What are the best marketing ideas you’ve got?
Mixed Up Marketer
Hey there M-U-M,
You’re not going to want to hear this, but I really can’t just give you a “do this, this will totally work” guide to marketing (I wish I could, I’d make a fortune.) The truth of it is that there is no one size fits all solution, because good marketing depends on two very simple principles: 1) Knowing who you are selling to, and 2) going to where those people are. What do I mean by this? If you are not clear about the type of company you own and products you make – are you budget? mid-range? premium? – and the type of people likely to want or need those products – soccer moms? big budget brides? corporates? – then frankly, ALL marketing you are doing is going to be hit or miss.
Nobody likes to hear me say this but it’s true – your marketing choices must come first from those two pieces of information and knowing those is where the confidence will come from. In the Facebook example, sure, you can just hit that “boost post” button and then watch as the random hairy men from Virgin Islands like your page, and then get peeved that you wasted money on people who are nowhere near your business. OR you can use the Ads manager to target those same Facebook dollars to females within 5 miles of your store, who are between the ages of 25-45 and who are recently engaged and who are probably looking to purchase cake or cookies for their event. A little bit of effort into research at the beginning of your marketing makes the rest of your decision-making a LOT easier. While I can’t guarantee it will absolutely, definitely, 100% work – I can guarantee it’s going to be a lot better than if you decide to do things randomly because “everyone eats cake.” Everyone does not eat cake (especially not all those ridiculous “I quit sugar” people….but let’s not go there.) You’re going to be a heck of a lot more confident about your marketing if you know your money will be spent on getting your amazing creations in front of the eyeballs of the people you want it to be in front of.
By the way, I was an epic fail at this in the beginning of my business. The very first place I ever paid to put an ad was in the Yellow Pages. I’m serious. I PAID BIG MONEY (well, for me it was big money) to place a fancy ad in the YELLOW PAGES. Like that big ass book that lands on your doorstep once a year and is equal to like five trees. Seriously, what is this, 1957? In my head it made perfect sense. Everyone needs cake, not everyone uses the Internet (really Michelle?! Umm…Google was around even back then) and I thought that if I wanted to find a local cake store, I’d probably use the Yellow Pages. Yes, because apparently *I* am actually from 1957 as well, and all my customers are too. I wasted a bunch of money and two years of marketing time on the Yellow Pages. Embarrassing but true.
The very best marketing in the world is: planned, targeted, trackable, and most of all, actually doable by you. Don’t get totally overwhelmed with HOW you’re going to do it yet. First, decide who your product is for. Second, figure out how that group of people finds things to buy and where they hang out to do so (live or digital). Third, go there and hang out too! And Fourth, don’t advertise in the Yellow Pages.