mahoganyauquasha asked: I bake cupcakes. Cliche, yea I know. But I also bake macroons and stuff like that too. My mission statement is "mature pastries for the mature palate". I offer flavors like chocolate covered bacon, orange cream, turtle and raspberry mousse. How do I advertise other than business cards. Right now, I'm home based and working on my site. I just wanna get the word out there, no one knows so I can't sell. Oh and I have a facebook (creampatisserie)
So there are some clear answers, then it teeters into the gray from there. It depends on if you have a marketing budget, but I’ll assume not as you’re a new business and you don’t have a physical storefront yet. The key for you being to be seen in as many places and venues as possible, to people who would be interested in your product.
Get listed in the white pages.
Get your site up. In the beginning it doesn’t need to be deep or garishly designed like most sites - it can just be one page But it will need to be clean, informative and professional. Follow this cadence: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/restaurant_website
Get listed on Google maps.
The fundamentals done, you need to start a very long, very arduous ground war of marketing. Without a media budget, you will instead be investing time. The best thing for you to do is actually do pick up as much material on account (rather than marketing) as you possibly can. Everything you do from here on out is to become profitable (you make more money than you spend).
First, determine your audience. Consider where they go. What they do. How they behave. And be willing to accept, if over time they don’t show interest, that you were wrong.
See if you can sell product to similar food venues of that audience. Pitch them your product. You’ll get that guilty “I’m bothering people feeling” but that is sometimes what you need to do to survive. One or two key businesses can lift you up. If you do get one, never assume you will have the business a month from now. In the beginning, you will likely be in a position of weakness in bargaining.
Show up at appropriate food festivals and venues. Test out which generate profit for you.
In your case with cupcakes, consider alternative audiences that other might not be going directly after, like wedding planners. Have materials.
Try to craft excellent stories or story hooks, pitch them to local newspapers or local websites. Pick up a book of PR and learn how to draft press releases and a book of reporter contacts.
After that, you can test internet orders, try creating Facebook ads from your Facebook page and targeting local business owners and consumers. Run Google Adwords for niche terms that you have no competitors for (so they are cheaper). Pick up some guerrilla marketing books. They are usually pretty solid in the beginning.
But realize that because you aren’t running ads in the beginning, you’re paying in time - you need conviction.