Everywhere you turn, people are snacking on cupcakes. What began as a cute novelty is now a bona fide trend that is popping up everywhere. Instead of going out for coffee or a drink, people head to their local cupcake shop to socialize with friends.
Sometimes the next best thing can over saturate the market, but if you’ve dreamed of owning your own cupcake shop for years and years and finally are ready to get moving, the overwhelming popularity of this novelty – or any other product or service that is extremely popular at one point in time – doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel.
If you’re heading into a business that already exists in a number of places, below are a few tips and advice that you should follow before dipping your toes into the heavily populated water. While cupcakes are the focus, all of these tips can apply to any business.
1. Know your product. If you’ve got a killer secret cupcake recipe that was passed down from your great grandmother and you’re often complimented on your skills, then you’ve got a leg up on the competition. There are many that will try to get on board with new trends just because they are a trend, not because they have experience or are experts. But if there are six cupcake shops in a small town, customers are going to flock to the one that has the best product, or the best prices, which brings us to number two.
2. Price your product/services accordingly. You might have your hands on a secret recipe for cupcakes that is to die for, but that doesn’t mean you can charge three times more than the shop down the street is charging for the same product. Sure, you can up the prices a tad to demonstrate you’re confident in your abilities, but you can’t rob your customers blind. Do your research and find out what others are charging, and also figure out how to make the price cost-effective for your business so that you can turn the profit you desire.
3. Offer something new. Do the other stores just offer one product, or do they have cakes and cookies on the menu? What about ice cream or fresh roasted coffee? Maybe there is something else you can offer your customers to keep them coming back for more of your sweet treats.
3. Location, location, location. Opening a cupcake shop in a dark alley surrounded by industrial factories makes no sense, and neither does opening one next door to a store selling the exact same product. Be mindful of your neighborhoods and surroundings. Use a strategy to provide your shop with ample foot traffic, if that is what works for your specialty shop. If you’re opening a small diner with low prices and comfortable seats, perhaps that’s more appropriate for the factory workers to frequent while on breaks.
4. Free promotions get people in the door. In order for people to realize the quality of what you offer, you have to get them in the door. Offer free promotions such as “buy one, get one free” or a free ice cream scoop with a cupcake to get customers interested. If you’re as good as you think, then they should keep coming back for more. You can mail out coupons so that everyone in the neighborhood knows that you exist or advertise a free scoop every Tuesday if you’d prefer. People may be aware that your shop is opening, but a free offering will prompt them to get up off the couch and head out and give you a try.
5. Be visible. Not all marketing requires a large cash flow. Take your cupcakes to your buyers, and next time your buyers just might come to you. Utilize events such as county fairs, farmers markets and other public forums to show your wares. As customers sample your goodies, remind them of the location of your store, then hand them a coupon for a free cupcake. Donate a box of cupcakes to a silent auction at a fundraiser, and you could end up with a whole new set of clientele.
In this day and age, it’s rare to create a business that hasn’t been done before. However, that doesn’t mean your business can’t be a success. Make sure you’re creating a better product or offering a better service than the other guy, and follow the tips above to make sure you’re standing out among the crowd.