Five Marketing Tips from the Bakery Down the Street

Marketing tips for small business owners can show up even in your local bakery

A stroll to your corner bakery can teach you five marketing tips for small business that will make your products and services unforgettable.

Don’t have a corner bakery?

That’s OK. Take a virtual stroll with me to a cozy, well-lit bakery along a busy street. It’s just a few blocks from your front door.

You make every excuse you can to stop by. You duck into their doorway several times a week, and always leave with a bag in hand.

Why? What’s the big attraction?

Can you get marketing tips for small business from a simple bakery visit?

Yes, you can.

This little bakery does a lot of things right. They’re simple things, really, and they go way beyond flour and yeast.

In fact, none of the marketing tips for small business in this article have to do with the quality of the bakery’s product, which is about the same as what you get in your local grocery store.

What’s their secret? What draws a steady stream of customers through their doors?

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1. Friendly greetings make a connection

You enjoy going to the corner bakery because after a few visits, they know your face, and what you like to order.

It’s a lot more enjoyable to do business with a person you can interact with than with a shelf at the grocery store, right?

Use this marketing tip for your business, too.

Find ways to say hello to your customers. (Not sure who your customers are? Here’s how to find your ideal customer.)

A simple way to do this is to write a friendly welcome message for your email marketing list subscribers.

Get to know what they’re most interested in by segmenting your email list to see what people respond to.

Run promotions and keep a record of who buys what.

Keep the lines of communication open. It goes without saying that you should greet customers with a smile when they come through your door, whether that’s a door with hinges or a virtual door.

And if your business is 100% online, respond promptly to email and queries. Let them know there’s a person on the other side of that website.

2. Always be tempting

The key to fresh, effective marketing is to make sure you’re always tempting your market with something new.

Is whole grain the latest craze? If you’re a baker, you develop a line of whole-grain-based breads, rolls and pizza crusts, right?

Create services and products that meet the needs and desires of the people who frequent your business.

Not sure what they want? Strike up a conversation, or take a survey. Invite your best customers to a cup of coffee, or ask them for 15 minutes on the phone.

The time you spend listening will help you to create tempting offerings that keep them coming back for more.

3. Let them catch the scent

Smart bakeries (like our bakery down the street) open their doors wide when the weather permits to advertise all that fresh-baked goodness to everyone within smelling distance. It doesn’t cost them anything to open the door.

One of my marketing tips for small business owners is to do the same thing. And you can “share the scent” for little to no investment.

Entice your customers by making your company accessible through social media. Let them know the latest happenings, and keep them up-to-date on new promotions.

Don’t sell all the time, though. Social media works best when it’s a mix of conversation, content and promotion.

The percentage will vary depending on your business, but suffice it to say that no one wants to follow an account that’s pure advertising messages.

So talk, share and sell to keep your “scent” in the air without annoying people.

4. Remember to offer day-old bread

Do you have products that aren’t selling? Find a way to move them off your shelves by marking them down. Even better, bundle them with your other offerings and make them into a package deal.

If some of your services haven’t been a hit, you don’t necessarily need to ditch them altogether. Try combining them with other services to make a completely different offering that’s better than before.

That’s what our bakery does.

That day-old bread they sell at 50% off always has takers. And their bread pudding, croutons and stuffing mix are really just unsold merchandise that’s repackaged into something even better.

5. Use the Baker’s Dozen concept for loyal, repeat customers

You’ve got to love it when you buy a dozen of something and the baker throws an extra in the bag.

It wouldn’t be the same if she said “$6.99 for 13.” Somehow “$6.99 for a dozen, plus you get one for free” sounds like a much better deal.

Everyone loves freebies, after all. How can you incorporate this idea into your marketing?

Find a way to add value to your products by adding bonuses that make the product even better.

If you sell services, what can you give away that doesn’t cost much but adds tremendous value to your current offerings?

The Baker’s Dozen bonus will leave your customers with a smile on their lips. And guess who they’ll think of the next time they need to make a referral?


There are marketing tips for small business all over. Notice how you respond to the businesses you interact with and learn from what they’re doing right.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on September 7, 2011 and has been updated with the latest information.

Five Marketing Tips from the Bakery Down the Street
Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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19 thoughts on “Five Marketing Tips from the Bakery Down the Street”

  1. Great analogy Pamela, I can smell it!

    I was recently in Amsterdam and there was a bakery down the street from our apartment which we visited every morning for breakfast treats, so I can relate first hand to your story.

    And of course we always wanted what was still warm, and they gave samples too!

  2. Love the comparison Pamela. It brings marketing down to its most basic form. And Marlene, I visited Spain where they the bakery thing down to an art with the warm welcome, fast service, and delicious (addictive) products.

    Thanks Pam

  3. Alas, out here in rural Western Pa. we have no bakery down the street. But this didn’t stop me from totally enjoying your analogy (and wishing for such a shop!). Thanks. I especially liked the section on “Day Old Bread.” With five kids, I’m a fanatic searcher for it – even at Wal-Mart! But, I get what you mean about marketing material. I do love it when people “throw in” or bundle their old stuff. Always makes me feel like I’m getting an even better deal.


    • I don’t have a bakery down the street, either, Debra. I think I might weigh a bit more if I did. 😉
      That bundling idea seems to translate well from bakeries to marketing. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    • Hi Debra,

      Couldn’t help but notice you’re from my (original) neck of the woods — rural Western PA. I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. Love the photographs on your web site! Brought back wonderful memories (and made me a little homesick for my family). 🙂

      I don’t know how long you’ve been following Pamela and soaking in her awesomeness here on the BIG Brand System blog but …

      You’re one smart cookie and savvy small biz owner for choosing to grab on to her coattails! She really knows her (design) stuff!

      Following you on Twitter,

  4. Something as short and simple as number 1 goes a very long way. Remembering people’s names, something personal about them, what they’re challenges are, etc. is important. It shows that you listened. It shows that you care. And ultimately, that makes people feel comfortable and it makes them want to do business with you.

    • It’s not easy to do, either. For those of us marketing our businesses on the Internet, there’s a much larger potential audience to draw from. It ends up being a lot of names!
      But with social media, the chance to interact is there, and you can start to learn a few details about people. Like you said, Ricardo, if you pay attention it shows you care.

  5. Thoughts:

    1) Smell is such an interesting temptation. Think forward to the day when your computing device (laptop, phone, etc.) has a feature that allows marketers to disperse a smell. How will it change online marketing when there’s an app for that?

    2) I like your point about friendly greetings because in any sort of competitive industry, attention/input from the owner is an advantage vs. almost any contact from Sue in the Marketing department. It’s a double-edged sword, though, since a business owner can get caught in a time trap but it’s an opportunity that small business owners should keep in mind.

    p.s. I like to think of it as The Korner Bakery 🙂

    • Love the idea of a smell app! That would change everything. I wonder if it will really happen?
      As far as the friendly greeting, it doesn’t have to come from the business owner, IMO. If you have employees and train them to have a welcoming attitude, that works great as well.

  6. This post really smells!

    The aroma of fresh-baked goods wafting through my computer screen is downright delectable! 🙂

    I love the simplicity of these marketing strategies, Pamela, as well as the magnitude of their effectiveness.

    The analogy you used is fun and a perfect example of going beyond “business as usual” to exceed customer expectations.

    This was also a nostalgic post for me. There was an amazing little bakery near my childhood home in Western PA called “Keystone Bakery”. They made potato donuts to die for!! Good thing I can no longer get my hands on those luscious little goodies because I’m sure they’d sit on my hips. LOL!

    Gotta run — anxious to pass this one around in cyberspace!

  7. Love this post, Pamela, especially as you combined superior customer service, which I’m passionate about, with marketing through e-mails, social media, etc. to convey the meanings behind your analogy. I want to thank Melanie Kissell for connecting me to you through this post on Twitter…and she really is passing it around cyberspace!

    It’s exciting that I can find something in your post to apply to each aspect of my business – working online, working with offline small business owners, social media, and sales. #4 is an especially good one for sales on and offline 🙂
    #1 is often under-estimated, but it sets the tone for whether the customer will stop by the bakery one time or whether she will become a repeat and loyal customer.

    Thank you!

  8. Before I read your list I tried to guess what the answers might be. My first guess was friendly service from people we know and trust. I think this is how Social Media marketing is suppose to be utilized. Nobody comes to Social Media platforms to buy things. They come to connect and stay in touch with friends. I guess you could compare the smell of the bread to lifestyle marketing. We are all so enticed by interesting people – they are really as enticing as the smell of fresh baked bread. What a great example and it makes me want some fresh buttery rolls.

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