Back in the Day Bakery aces ‘socializing’
Customers at Back in the Day Bakery, Savannah, Ga., know that owners Griffith and Cheryl Day are very social people. So do the many friends and fans who regularly follow their tweets, Facebook updates and blogs.
For at least the past five years, the Days have made social media an integral part of their marketing because, as Griffith explains, it provides unlimited opportunities for networking.
“We take a down-home, mom-and-pop approach to our business and find that social media fits right in with our grassroots marketing philosophy,” he says.
Through social media, the Days have been able to build a community of people “who care about who we are and what we do,” Cheryl says. In addition to keeping customers up-to-date on new products and special events, these forums enable the couple to converse with them on a more personal level.
Blogging has long played an integral role in building that community, they explain. In fact, the Days even got a book deal when their blog caught the attention of a publisher. Released in early March, the book, The Back In the Day Bakery Cookbook, has already been named on Amazon’s list of “Best Books of the Year So Far.”
Facebook also has been “an awesome tool for us,” Griffith says. “It allows us to blast out information and photos about daily menu specials, new products and which products are selling best at any given time.”
So far, Back in the Day’s Facebook page has almost 4,700 likes. Often, happy customers, including local businesses, post comments about the bakery and even photos of their favorite products on their own blogs and Facebook pages. In return, the Days will post links to those customers’ pages.
Cheryl and Griffith also make extensive use of Twitter. They have three accounts with a total of more than 2,600 followers.
The bakery’s official Twitter account focuses on news about products and events. Cheryl has a separate account to tweet anecdotes about the couples’ daily life in the bakery and on the road promoting the book, as well as her adventures as a food aficionado, discovering new places and products. Griffith uses his account to take readers behind the scenes in the bakery.
Each account is designed to appeal to a different audience, but when something really exciting comes up, all three accounts might feature it, Cheryl notes. An example is the bakery’s new monthly Saturday Supper Club, which features “pop up” dinner and dessert specials for families dining in from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Days also make it a point to respond to every Facebook comment and tweet.
“Cheryl and I believe that if someone is going to take the time to write to or about us, we should take the time to write back to them,” Griffith says. “It’s good for us and good for our business to keep the conversation going.”
Noe Valley Bakery customizes to perfection
It was a doll that inspired Michael Gassen to create what is now one the most powerful marketing tools for his Noe Valley Bakery in San Francisco.
“I happened to see a website for a doll that allowed kids to customize everything from skin, eye and hair colors to clothing,” Gassen says. “And I thought to myself, why can’t we do that with cake?”
In 2004, Gassen launched Noe Valley Bakery’s online Cake Book, an interactive page-turner (literally) that provides customers with step-by-step guidelines for building their own creations from a wide array of flavors and decorative accents. The 45-page book begins with options for customizing “house” round layer and sheet designs, then showcases the bakery’s more elaborate, uniquely artistic two- and- three-dimensional Signature Series creations.
As customers click and drag the pages to “turn” them, Gassen hopes they will become aware of the bakery’s artistic and highly skilled technical capabilities.
“People tell us all the time, ‘We didn’t know you could do that with cake!’” he says. “They also enjoy being able to take their time browsing through the many pages of options at their convenience in their own homes.”
Prices for each cake, broken down by sizes ranging from 6-in. to a full sheet, as well as customizable components, such as choice of background and/or basic border colors and written message, are listed on each page. Add-on suggestions, such as custom-blended icings or extra-intricate borders, rolled fondant icing, chocolate ganache and fresh fruit also are meant to spark customers’ imaginations. Because each page is a template, Gassen can quickly and easily revise, expand and update the book to continually present fresh ideas and designs.
After making their selections, customers can call in their orders. A sophisticated point-of-sale system at the bakery makes it easy for staff to quickly and accurately input the information.
But, Gassen cautions, introducing the internet into “the traditionally paper and pencil bakery world” can be a tricky business.
“Convenience is great, but too much technology can weird many people out,” he says. “Some customers suffer from analysis paralysis when faced with so many choices, so we think it is important to carefully straddle the line between modern technology and old-fashioned personal customer service.
“After all,” he adds, “the thing that never changes is that we don’t sell just cakes–we sell emotion in the form of cakes.”
And Noe Valley Bakery sells a lot of emotion. During the past few years, cake sales have climbed from 28 percent to 45 percent, and profitability has increased. Gassen points out that while other factors, including the bakery’s more cake-centric focus, have certainly contributed to this rise in revenues, the Cake Book has played a major role.
The website, including the book, was designed by a friend and cost Gassen about $4,000 to produce. The investment has been such a boon to his bottom line that he would do it again without any hesitation.