Nashoba Brook Bakery converts virtual presence into real sales
Nashoba Brook Bakery is famed for its artisan breads and â€śslowriseâ€ť technique. Fueled by a homegrown sourdough starter created from the wild grapes of the bakery's Concord, Mass., region, Nashoba's breads clock almost 24 hours from mix to cooling rack. It's a long process that requires trust, patience and a willingness to wait.
But there's one aspect of the business where the pace is not so leisurely. For a bakery so attuned to watching and waiting, it's become remarkably good at negotiating the nonstop nature of online marketing. From its website to its Facebook page, its Twitter account to its Foursquare presence, Nashoba can be found all over the internet. This foray into online is a fairly new development, and is largely the work of recent hire Jessica Berkwitz.
â€śJess is officially a customer representative, but her job description includes helping to build the Nashoba Brook Bakery brand,â€ť explains co-founder John Gates. â€śHer up-to-date, new media savvy has already proven valuable in that regard. Otherwise, although we have, of course, always thought in terms of marketing our brand, we have not had a formal marketing person or a formal marketing plan in the past.â€ť
As a recent graduate with a degree in journalism and business, Berkwitz is well versed in social networking and online marketing, and the potential of these channels seems like a no-brainer.
â€śBasically, keeping an eye on your company's online presence gives you the power to be the voice of your company,â€ť she explains. â€śComplaints that go unrecognized lead to more unhappy customers, whereas gratitude for positive feedback goes a long way. It's as simple as saying thank you for a kind word or apologizing for something gone wrong.â€ť
While the bakery's Facebook and Twitter pages have flourished under her watch, Berkwitz's greatest coup came when the bakery teamed up with collective buying website Groupon. A site that offers daily deals in cities across North America and Europe, Groupon advertised a discount for the bakery in May, netting more than 5,000 sales of the coupon in a single day.
â€śThe overarching purpose of these websites, from a business standpoint, is to implement free, hands-on marketing,â€ť Berkwitz says. â€śIn the past, companies used to rely on direct advertising, which wasn't necessarily cost-effective and usually only reached a handful of customers. Now, businesses can advertise themselves on websites like Groupon at no cost, and then see the direct impact of their actions as new customers come in their door â€” for no reason other than your company's online presence. Marketing as we know it is quickly evolving, and companies will only hinder themselves if they don't adapt to these new techniques.â€ť
Wonderland Bakery turns fantasy into bakery reality
When Wonderland Bakery opens its second full-service location this autumn, the new store will serve as the piĂ¨ce de resistance in five years of explosive growth for the business. Mother-and-daughter team Sondra and Allyson Ames opened the Newport Beach, Calif., bakery in 2005 and quickly carved out a niche for themselves, winning over children and adults alike with the bakery's fairy tale-inspired design and desserts.
The pair work â€śapron to apron,â€ť as Allyson puts it, with Sondra drawing on her business and marketing expertise to build the Wonderland brand while Allyson uses her baking training to produce the bakery's signature treats.
â€śWe wanted to create a very unique experience that didn't exist in the retail area,â€ť Sondra explains. â€śYou can buy a cupcake or cookie anywhere, but you come to Wonderland for the experience.â€ť
This experience is at the heart of the Wonderland brand.
â€śIn my imagination, the concept of Wonderland was that it would be an enchantingly delicious and whimsically fun place to visit,â€ť Allyson says. The bakery's theme is incorporated into its baked products, with elaborate cupcakes and cookies that feature everything from butterflies and baby animals to pirates and princesses. The bakery also sells a line of carefully selected merchandise, ranging from Wonderland-themed aprons to branded mixes. The Ameses are currently working on licensing the line internationally.
Sondra keeps on top of online marketing with active Facebook and MySpace pages, as well as a Twitter account that boasts more than 1,000 followers.
â€śIt's incredibly important to have an online presence,â€ť Sondra says. â€śEverything is so immediate now that you have to be connected to social media. I believe it's actually more important than an ad or traditional marketing.â€ť
The Wonderland brand also receives a boost from its celebrity fans. When Whoopi Goldberg made a ringing endorsement of the bakery's gingerbread cookies on The View, the bakery's website was flooded with orders. After soon-to-be President Obama sampled one of the gingerbread treats, he ordered 6,000 Wonderland sugar cookies for his inauguration. Wonderland maintains its high profile by creating signature cookies for special events, most recently crafting a range of treats for the MLB All-Star Game post-game party.
But what might push the Wonderland brand into national name recognition is an in-development TV show. Their production company is currently fielding offers from networks for a show that goes behind the scenes at Wonderland.
â€śThings have really come together,â€ť Sondra says. â€śThe bakery's growth, its loyal fan base, the opportunities that have come our way â€” it's a great inspirational story.â€ť