From social media to jumping on the healthy bandwagon there are a myriad of ways for businesses to get their names and products out into the public sphere. Australian Baking Business chats to five business people about their clever marketing techniques.
Technology is becoming increasingly mobile, and the surge of social networking sites in recent years means businesses have the ability to reach a wider customer base than ever before at the click of a button.
Brett Noy, owner of Uncle Bob’s Bakery stores in Queensland, was quick to institute the use of social media in his business and now boasts both Facebook and Twitter pages in addition to the company website.
“A lot of the reason we created these pages is that the world is always changing, and the younger generation are a lot more electronics-based in their learning,” Brett says.
“They will search for your business electronically before they pick up the phone book. Those days of phone books are long gone.”
But Brett says it’s important to keep in mind that for all the perks of social media there can also be some hefty downsides, including customers using the platforms to publically air their grievances.
“The thing with social media is it can work very well for you, but it also has the potential to work against you if you don’t do it properly,” Brett says.
“You really do expose yourself quite dramatically with social media because if people are happy about it they’ll tell you about it, but if people are unhappy about it, it’s no longer someone just walking into the store and making the complaint. If they do it on social media it’s up there for everyone to see for a long time.”
And although these social media sites have the potential to chew up time that could otherwise be spent on other aspects of the business, Brett says the results speak for themselves.
“Today, it’s important to have a good website. It’s an extension of your shop-front and when people look you up they’re going to make an immediate judgment of your business,” Brett says.
“Make sure you update the pages regularly and I think it’s also important to use, where possible, professional photos and to make sure they do your product and brand justice.
“I put up more pictures on my Facebook and Twitter pages than words and they get huge responses. Just the other day I put up photo of salty caramel macrons and within half an hour we had customers in to buy them because they’d seen it on Facebook.
“If we hadn’t put it up there we might have gone days or weeks before people knew they were there, if they ever did find out.”
Brett says on average Uncle Bob’s Bakery would see a response between 400 and 500 per cent greater to the photos he loads onto the social media sites than when he uses ‘status updates’ alone.
“So I think it’s really critical these days for bakeries to have some sort of electronic presence, either Facebook or Twitter as well as their website or a combination of all three,’ he says.
“And we get a lot of enquiries now through all forms of our media whether it’s customer enquiries or orders and even job applicants.
“Doing all these can be a bit time consuming, but anything in the area of marketing will chew up time. However the market is becoming increasingly competitive so you need to make sure you have a presence in as many places as possible.”
QUALITY SELLS ITSELF
From a marketing perspective, andrew says it was important for Sonoma to build their reputation on quality products that did not compromise.
Growing from a regional bakery to a high-powered Sydney-based wholesaler is no small feat. Nonetheless, with a focus on originality and quality, Sonoma Artisan Sourdough Bakers have made the leap in just a few years.
Andrew Connole, his brother Christian and their father originally baked Italian-style bread. However, after traveling overseas in the 1990s, the brothers became enchanted with a popular Northern Californian movement; naturally-leavened sourdough baked on the hearth of a wood-fired oven.
Armed with a small jar of sourdough starter, the pair returned to Australia, restored a bakery in Bellata, New South Wales, and baked their first loaf of sourdough in 1998.
Nonetheless, while their product was unique – to their customers at least – it was no easy ride. Based in Terrigal, the brothers would drive 540km to Bellata each Thursday where they would bake 300 loaves of bread before driving back so their father could take the products to Sydney’s Paddington Markets.
Thankfully, the effort paid off. By 2000, demand for Sonoma sourdough enabled the business to move to Sydney.
“We baked, we slept, we baked. It was always all about the bread,” Andrew said.
From a marketing perspective, Andrew says it was important for Sonoma to build their reputation on quality products that did not compromise.
“We’ve never aimed to be Sydney’s biggest sourdough bakery – just the most respected. A lot of our market these days is inbound, meaning people call our office. Until this year we haven’t had a sales team but the business still continued to grow rapidly.
“We now supply the best restaurants in Sydney, great retail stores and cafes, and the satisfying thing is a great restaurant will choose our bread based on the quality of the product and of the service we provide,”
“Quality is a great way to market.”
The words ‘biscuits’ and ‘healthy’ don’t normally go in the same sentence. However, the rise of the ‘free from’ market is seeing a surge in products being marketed as a healthier snack option.
Byron Bay Cookies were early pioneers in the gluten-free market and swiftly gained a cult following. Chairman Gordon Slater took over the company in 2001 and decided to build on this reputation while also combining it with the idea of a biscuit being a gourmet treat.
“You don’t naturally think of a baked product as being good for you, even white bread is getting a bad wrap these days, but the ‘free from’ section in the supermarkets is really gaining a lot of interest and I think a lot of people just like to buy a product which is free from something,” Gordon says.
“If you see a product which is free from something people tend to think it is that little bit healthier for them.
“And we’ve been using gluten free for many years so we’re well established in that market.”
Gordon says it was important for them to market the cookies as being both high end as well as healthy, and selling the cookies individually wrapped began to play a large roll in that.
“If you’re going to treat yourself then most people want something that is high end but also gives you the emotional and flavour impact that you want,” he says.
“Therefore individual wrapping is quite important for us because if someone is having a few friends around they might open a packet of something, but if you’re by yourself you might prefer something smaller but just as special.
“Single wrapping has been very important to us as a marketing technique even though it’s really just a delivery idea.
“It’s interesting because what you eat shouldn’t be hard work and within your calorie intake you still have the opportunity to have a treat, but just make the treat count.”
Fearless upstart retailer Pie Face has well and truly established itself in Australia over the past few years; which should come as no surprise considering the national appetite for pies. However, the company’s expansion into the super-saturated fast food market in New York last year is arguably more impressive.
Traditionally, American’s eat sweet pies, with flavours like pumpkin, apple and rhubarb often topping the list. So the very fact they are now lining up for savoury, meat-filled alternatives is proof Pie Face has successfully challenged consumer perceptions of the iconic comfort food.
So how did the booming brand break into the overseas market?
For former media and telecommunications banker turned Pie Face co-founder Wayne Homschek, it was all about creating a business model that was different and meaningful.
“I wanted to build a real business with my then girlfriend, now wife. We thought about what business would make sense so we had a designer fashion label which proved tricky, so we then thought about takeaway food. We decided that the meat pie wasn’t being done well so we came up with a retail business model that had the meat pie as the focus,” Wayne told the Wall Street Journal.
And while breaking into a $600 billion restaurant industry is no easy feat, the Pie Face story proves it is possible when armed with a unique product or service.
“We’re a quick service restaurant open 24 hours a day in the US, so we think it is definitely the right market, albeit competitive. The Western culture and high GDP spend made it appropriate for us, and New York made the most sense because it’s the busiest market in the US, with the highest population density and most people are time poor,” Wayne told the Wall Street Journal.
With a solid understanding of the local market, the brand worked hard on innovative marketing campaigns in the US, even landing free airtime on the highly-popular David Letterman Show, which promoted Pie Face’s Broadway location.
“I knew David Letterman sometimes visited new neighbours while on air so that was part of my strategy in picking the site for the store. That worked out better than we hoped!” Wayne said.
The move to the Big Apple certainly shows how serious the company is about spreading into new global markets. Pie Face hope to open up to 12 stores in Manhattan this year, with further sites set on high-density US cities including Miami, Chicago, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Discussions are also underway for expansion in the UK, New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia.
“After that we’ll target shopping malls and drive throughs. We see the US as a market for thousands of stores and it’s a big advantage being a first mover with a flexible business format,” Wayne told the Wall Street Journal.
THE PLACE TO GO
When Tom O’Toole bought and opened the Beechworth Bakery in 1984 he was told he was crazy
Beechworth, an ex-gold mining town, was dying in the eyes of most. What’s more, it most certainly didn’t fit the bill when it came to a hotspot for tourists
Unperturbed, Tom went ahead with his plan of restoring a building and opened what has now become a major daytripper destination as well as a winner of multiple Victorian Tourism Awards, including Most Significant Regional Attraction.
So how did he do it? Tom says he simply invited people out to the bakery.
“When I opened Beechworth Bakery I didn’t know about marketing, I didn’t even know what the word meant, but I was hell bent on inviting people to Beechworth,” he says.
“I ended up placing an advert on regional TV, which was cheaper than radio and I just invited people to come out and visit us.
“Even now I do as much as I can with the media in the area whenever I can.
“Everything is an opportunity.”
His positive attitude must have been infectious, because it wasn’t until eight years into the business that Tom eventually employed a marketing professional to help the business along. Nonetheless, he maintains there are many other aspects to promoting the bakery which have enabled him to keep drawing in the crowds.
“When people come to Beechworth Bakery they aren’t just getting lunch, they’re getting a story,” Tom says.
“Ned Kelly was locked up in Beechworth so we have Ned Kelly Pies. If you haven’t got a story to share about your products or business then just save your money and stay in your comfort zone.
“But even with a good story it’s important your products can still form the foundation of the business. If you haven’t got a good product you can do all the marketing and all the other bells and whistles, but it’s not going to work.”