The other night, we were invited to an event for a well known bakery that produces wonderful breads and pastries. I won't mention their name because they have a terrific line of products and I respect them immensely. In one corner they had a small table dedicated to their modest wedding cake business. It's not where they make their money, but they offer it. We've talked about the need to ABR, "always be researching," so I snagged one of their brochures to examine later. I love 'em, but it was terrible.
Brochures in our industry today are universally awful. Reva came home from a bridal faire with a handful a few weeks back and they put me to sleep. Let me ask you a simple question. Why would you spend a nice chunk of change on printing up full color tri-folds and load them up with nothing but words? These things had, on average, three photos of their work.
Rule #1: Brochures don't sell cakes, you sell cakes!
You have this great opportunity to showcase who you are and you waste 60 to 70% of the available real estate on eye blurring lists and text? No! Bad business owner!! Add another photo, make your logo bigger, but don't spend all this money to give them all the information one can stuff into a brochure only to have them toss it on the way out of the bridal faire.
They want to know if you're cakes look good. You run a business. You've made lots of cakes I can assume. You have photos. USE THEM! Wow them with the visual, peak their interest, then sell them yourself. Which brings me to...
Rule #2: A brochure is the chance to start a conversation, not end it.
Nothing can stop a conversation from happening faster than the list of flavors. I saw one brochure that had 28 flavors listed for cake and another 18 for fillings. Then they listed the same flavors under cupcakes! It was a full page of information that your client doesn't need until the consultation. There is no bride walking around today that believes a bakery cannot reproduce the flavors she wants. None. We all make the same flavors, so instead of the list of chocolate, french vanilla, white, champagne, red velvet..... and on and on and on, use that space to show yourself off!! All you need is a line like "all popular flavors available," or what we like to use "ask about our specialty flavors!" Think about that sentence. "Ask us." Now you're pushing the conversation, you're giving your brochure new life because it is no longer a slab of redundant information, it is a calling card. It will connect you to the client, not distance you.
Remember Rule #1, you have to sell your cakes. There is no website, Facebook, nor piece of paper that replaces you.
Rule #3: A brochure is not a menu!
This rule is two fold. First, leave the numbers out of it. Adding prices to your brochure can and will turn off clients. It will also lock you into those prices. What if supply costs change? What if they want something not covered in the brochure and they walk out because they think you're trying to rip them off? People see stuff in print and they think it's law. Leaving out the financial will also make your marketing money go farther. I've had to reprint brochures to replace outdated information which means I've had to throw valuable marketing materials in the trash. Money down the drain.
Secondly, there are too many variables to what we do as cake decorators to possibly list in a brochure. If you try, you end up with a list of 15 or so combinations and the client will think that's all you do. I mean, they took the time to make the list, so that must be their limitation, right? I don't need to talk to them then, so... end of conversation.
Rule #4: It's a fancy business card!
I mean it, a brochure is nothing more than a fancy business card. It's a means to enhance your contact information to a targeted audience, usually at bridal shows or from visitors to your shop. It should have phone numbers, web links, even a QR code to lead them to the places where it is more appropriate to load them up with information. Use the rest of the space for visuals. As the old adage says, "a picture is worth a thousand words."
Rule #5: It's a bio, not a biography!
I have also seen huge sections of brochures dedicated to bios about the baker that read like Russian literature. If you want to put a head shot in the handout and a few lines about your training or a funny sentence about your hobbies or pets, great. It humanizes you and you never know what might spark that connection to a client. For Reva, I always love to put "after she's done baking, Reva plans on becoming a cheesemonger." A) it's true, don't make stuff up, and B) countless people have said "I love cheese too!" There you go, now we've separated ourselves not by some lifeless list of fillings, but by being the cake decorator who moonlights as a cheese enthusiast.
All these rules point back to the simplest rule in the world, K.I.S.S. Keep it simple sucka! (I always like "sucka" more than "stupid," but you know, feel free to substitute your favorite "S" word) Avoid redundant information. Don't repeat yourself in the brochure or in your consultation. If you want a list of all you do available, print it up on simple legal sized paper and make them ask for it. It's all about the conversation.
Well, I hope that helps a little bit as you count up your marketing budget. We've made all these mistakes. We've had too many words, too many options, lead the reader down conflicting paths of cake and pastry. Like in anything, don't expect brochures to do all the work. You have to earn your clientele. Always remember, anything you put out there should be a conversation starter and you'll do just fine.
Next week, we talk more shop;)