by Matthew Reynolds, assistant editor
The Sweet Shoppe's newspaper ad
Promoting your bakery's anniversary is a perfect way to thank your loyal customers and attract new ones. The Sweet Shoppe, High Point, N.C., has a lot of experience in anniversary promotions, having celebrated its 50th, 55th, and most recently, its 60th anniversary.
Judy Cagle, second generation owner, used the three week anniversary celebration to let people know that the bakery is as good as or better than when it opened. She also introduced her son, Ken "Cakes" Cagle Jr., one of the bakery's cake decorators, as the future face of the bakery, letting customers know that the bakery her parents started is remaining in the family. "People have a perception that when there is a turnover of management, things are going to change," she says. "We try very hard to let our customers know about our continuity."
An anniversary offers an opportunity to acknowledge that continuity and promote the bakery for future growth. Getting the word out about a celebration requires advanced and appropriate advertising. "We are in a town with 80,000 people, so local newspapers work well for us. In larger towns, this might not do well," Cagle says. The Sweet Shoppe ran two full page ads on an insert in the newspaper promoting all the events it had planned for the anniversary.
For one of the events, customers selected paper baker's hats for chances to win free products. Items included everything from individual cookies to $15 cakes. About $100 worth of products were given away every Thursday, the only day of the week the bakery ran the promotion. The key to promotions like this is getting the hats up on the wall early, Cagle says. "People who come in throughout the week are curious, and ask what the baker's hats are for," she adds. "We tell them that they'll have to come back with their kids on Thursday to find out."
Another promotion the bakery ran was lowering all the prices by 30 to 35 percent so they ended in 60 cents. This reinforced the bakery's anniversary with the customers, and price tags that highlighted the number 60 made the point hard to miss.
The timing of promotions also needs to be carefully planned. "Last time we did a celebration, we ran a special on our original donut for one day, a Saturday," Cagle says. "It didn't do very well because nobody was at work. During the week people would have bought entire boxes for their offices."
Short-term goals of any celebration should involve increased cash flow and foot traffic, but Cagle emphasizes that planting the seeds for increased profit in the future is just as important. "We probably didn't make any profit, but we really made ourselves visible to people who haven't shopped with us before," she says. "It's a nice way to thank the regular customers, and regulars might be tempted to try something they normally wouldn't. We made enough to cover expenses. Next month, we are going to try to make some money."