Bakery, Cake, Dessert

Case Study: A Maryland Bakery’s Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

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Bakery, Cake, Dessert

Merchant: Capital City Cheesecake
Location: Takoma Park, Maryland
Platforms: Belly, Facebook, Groupon, Instagram, LivingSocial, Pagemodo, SinglePlatform, Yelp
Bottom Line: SMBs’ marketing strategies should include both social media and loyalty components.

Never underestimate the power of social media. That’s a lesson that Capital City Cheesecake co-owner Meaghan Murphy learned the hard way while trying to get her Maryland-based bakery/café up and running in 2010. She thought word of mouth alone would be enough to build a sustainable business and quickly discovered that wasn’t the case.

“We thought once people tried the cheesecakes and loved it they would bring their friends along to try it the next time.” Murphy says. “Although this happened, it did [not] happen as fast as we would’ve liked it.”

Like many new business owners, Murphy quickly discovered that she’d need to create and implement a new marketing plan that relied heavily on social media and hyperlocal marketing platforms. She started using platforms like Groupon, LivingSocial, Yelp, SinglePlatform, Pagemodo, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and she eventually switched to a digital rewards platform called Belly to better retain the customers who’d already come by her bakery.

“Social media is like a big red button that blasts to the world every time your customers love your product, customer service, ambiance, et cetera,” Murphy says. “By having a marketing strategy in place, you’re able to utilize social media platforms to generate measurable results in a short period of time.”

With her marketing strategy hammered out, Murphy was able to start directing more resources toward hyperlocal platforms. She now spends a minimum of $100 to $200 a week on marketing, and five to 10 hours of time each week on marketing-related tasks.

“We spend a lot more money than we do time marketing,” she says. “By using different platforms, such as Groupon and Belly, we’re constantly being marketed without us having to spend time daily doing it ourselves. It’s like we have an invisible staff team recruiting customers for us daily.”

Frustrations with Social
Social media also has a prominent role in Capital City Cheesecake’s marketing strategy. The bakery is popular on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with behind-the-scenes photos, menus, and event announcements posted on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been hiccups along the way.

“We have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Facebook has become so overwhelmed with news stories and ads that it has become harder to have your posts stand out. However, Facebook has made it possible for your business to ‘Boost’ your post, and we have had a great success using this tool to gain new followers, engage and retain fans,” Murphy says. “We go back and forth with Facebook. Sometimes we post a lot content and other times we take a break.”

Tracking Successes
Murphy is willing to return to Facebook, despite frequent changes to the algorithm that make it tougher for small businesses to get noticed, in part because she knows that customers are discovering Capital City Cheesecake through the social platform. She frequently analyzes reports generated by Belly, Groupon, Yelp, and others to measure ROI and decide whether to continue investing in certain channels.

“Most marketing platforms provide you with daily, weekly, or monthly reports that show you how much interaction you’re having with customers through their platforms,” she says. “If you see a decline in interactions, they send you e-mails full of different ways you can use their platforms to re-engage customers.”

Since she launched her digital rewards program, Capital City Cheesecake had more than 3,000 customers and 49,000 visits. Visit frequency rates are up, not just because customers want to win rewards, but also because of the customer win-back tools that are included with Belly’s platform. Murphy can pinpoint customers who haven’t stopped by for a period of time, and she is able to send those lapsed customers email offers to encourage them to return.

Belly also provides Capital City Cheesecake with marketing opportunities such as promotions, store locators, and social media links.

“The benefits of switching to a digital rewards program go beyond just making it easier for the consumer … Belly [has] allowed us to set up rewards easily, manage them from the backend, and interact with our customers as we felt needed,” Murphy says. “The only feedback we’ve consistently gotten since launching Belly is Belly users would like to redeem their points with their e-mail versus having to use the Belly Card or Belly App.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.