Finding The Right Customers

In the great online debates about pricing cakes correctly, someone always says, “If they don’t like your prices, they probably aren’t the people you want anyway!” There are various versions, like “you don’t want people like that as clients,” “people who care about price are not your ideal client,” “the people who want your products will just come to you,” and “your product will naturally attract the right kind of client.”  Is it just me or can someone please show me the golden unicorn that all these ‘right kind of clients’ are riding in on? So…I’m going to stand in the middle of the street with some seriously sexy and really expensive cakes and the sparkly jewel-encrusted carriages filled with the right kinds of clients whose wallets are bursting with cash are just going to roll on up, kay kay?

No.

Yeah.

It doesn’t work that way. Here’s the deal. Attracting the magical mystical ‘right kinds of clients,’ does not happen by accident nor does it happen by just creating stuff and thinking that they will come. This is no Field of Dreams moment.

The way to get the kind of clients you want is a three step process.

Step One: figure out who the heck these people are. Don’t be ridiculous and tell me that they are people who ask no questions, make no demands, hand over a stack of cash and are so happy with what you give them that they go tell people like Oprah to order from you. For real, you need to know in great detail the demographics of your ideal clients. By “ideal clients” I mean the kind of people you want to order from you or come to your store. Are these people women? Are they mothers? Are they local to you? How old are they? What kind of event are they planning? Do they have a lot to spend? Do they care about fancy flavours? Where do they shop? Do they throw parties once a year, or more often? Would they buy their child a cupcake as a snack once a week or more? Are they all about value for money or are they happy to spend more for quality? Write an entire story about what your ideal client might look like. I’m not saying this means people unlike that won’t shop with you – of course they will – but this is about being real about the kinds of people who are likely to purchase from you. You’ve got to know who it is you’re wanting to sell to. This may change a little as your business grows, your skills change and you find your happy place, but overall you’ve got to have a clear idea of who is going to buy what you want to sell. Here’s my hot tip: be realistic. If you hate doing wedding cakes, then your ideal client is not a bride. Similarly, if you’re a beginner and you’re building your skills up, your ideal client may not be the person who is attracted to you right this minute but that’s who you should be working towards attracting.

Step Two: get in their head and figure out how they might find you. If you or someone you know were behaving like that kind of person, where would they go to find out about you? What might they expect when they got there? What would they be looking for on your website – would it be pricing information, beautiful images, information about allergen friendly cakes? You need to get as much detail about your client’s shopping habits as possible. When that ideal client walks in (and they will) ASK them how they found you and keep track of the answers. Do some research on brands that are in a similar bracket to yours (or are in the bracket you are aiming to be in.) If the kind of people who buy from Tiffany and Chanel are the clients you want to buy from you, go and look at how Tiffany and Chanel attract clients. Where are they advertising, how are they advertising, what is their client experience like? Go check out the website of the fanciest, most expensive bakery you can think of even if it’s not in your city. What’s the overall feel of their website? What does their packaging look like? Brands at every level of pricing do things entirely differently – a place like K Mart advertises entirely differently to Macy’s just like a suburban gourmet cupcake store would advertise differently to a chain bakery. All of them manage to be in business so please do not think that your only choice is to be high-end.

The most expensive dessert does not come in a plastic box…

Step Three: actually BE that kind of business in every possible way. So often I hear people say things like, “Why do people think I make cheap cakes? I am not Wal-Mart!” and then you see that their cakes (while nice looking) are photographed on a messy kitchen bench in a cheap box, their website doesn’t exist (other than on Facebook) and they answer client quote requests via text message. I’m pretty sure Chanel does not do ANY of that. Suppose your ideal client is a bride with lots of cash to splash. She’s going to be looking at (and judging) your business based on what the website looks like, what the photographs of your cakes look like, what others have said about you, what venues you work with, what magazines you are featured in, and mostly about the process of dealing with you. Did you give her samples wrapped in plastic, or did you serve them to her on a lovely plate with a nice cake fork and pretty napkin? If you gave her a sample box to take home, was it in a cheap looking plastic ‘oyster’ box, or a glossy white box with a nicely printed flavour guide inside? If you make kids’ cakes and your target market is local mothers, did you have a box of books and toys for her kids to play with while you consulted with her? Did you give her the option of a nut-free cake? Did you provide free birthday candles with every cake?  Did you offer free delivery to save her the hassle? You need to actually be the business your ideal client is looking for.

You’ve got to work at being the business you want to be, 
and actually do things in that manner.

Mystical ideal clients do not just appear at your door – they know to come there because you’ve told them to, and they stay and chat to you because you give them exactly what they were hoping to find.

This entire blog post really boils down to one question and one answer:

Q: How do you avoid being labelled as the cheap cake lady?
A: Stop acting like the cheap cake lady.

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