The icing on the cake.

It’s been a busy time here at VelvetFig HQ. I’ve had fun fitting in cake demos between baking and decorating my Christmas Cakes and Festive Fancies. Orders are flocking in, I’m putting the finishing touches to my stall for the gift fairs I’m doing next month and it feels like we’re hurtling towards Christmas at high speed!

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to heading off to Cake & Bake London for a day of the best kind of “work”.....eating cake! The show didn’t disappoint (although some of the stalls did, more of that later) and I had a great time checking out new cake trends, bagging some bargains, keeping an eye on the competition and watching cake demos instead of doing them! And yes, I ate some delicious cakes too. My favourite? A salted caramel brownie bomb - a yumtious (it’s not a real word, but I think it should be!) round of moist dark brownie, oozing with caramel filling and dipped in milk chocolate. Seriously, what’s not to love??? (www.browniebar.co.uk)

Cake shows can be an excellent source of ideas and inspiration. You get to catch up with like-minded baking buddies too. Talking about cake is almost as good as eating it.

My personal highlights from Cake & Bake London were:

  • The B Bakery afternoon tea bus - a shiny London Bus kitted out as a cafe with retro seating and fairy lights. They run afternoon tea tours around London - click here for more details (www.b-bakery.com/afternoon-tea/afternoon-tea-bus-tour/).

  • Watching baking stars such as Rosie Cake Diva, Eric Lanlard, John Whaite and Jo Wheatley in action on the main demo stage and in the cookery theatres.

  • Eating cake!

Cake & Bake is BIG and there’s lots to see. As I walked up and down the aisles, I realised that the stands that caught my eye were the ones that were well thought through, with interesting and creative displays presented to a high standard.

Some stall holders did a great job, but compared with previous years too many sadly failed to hit the mark. It got me thinking about what makes a stand really stand-out - so here are a few tips for making your stall a show-stopper:

  • Obvious Offer - If a potential customer glances at a display and can’t work out what’s for sale or how much it costs they’re not likely to stop in their tracks.

  • Professional Presentation - Whether you are showing cakes or tools, the display should look good, clean and well organised. Cakes need to look delicious (as well as tasting great) and the benefits of using specific products or tools should be immediately obvious.

  • Image Impact – Get noticed (for all the right reasons!) by making sure your branding, packaging and presentation are consistent, on message and create the right image.

  • Show or Stow - Think about what customers want to see and what they don’t.....Transport boxes, discarded packaging and your lunch are best kept out of sight!

  • Smiles Sell - A friendly, approachable stall-holder puts customers at ease, so they are more willing to interact and spend some money! Looking like you are having fun (even if you’re not) should pay off in terms of sales!

  • Payment Plan - Make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you. Plan for different payment methods in advance and clearly display your prices.

  • Contacts Count – If it doesn’t hinder a sale or take up too much time, think how you can capture some contact details so you can keep in touch after the show or encourage customers to visit your website with special offers.

Above all, make sure your hard work (and the hard-earned cash you’ve spent taking part in a show) really pays off by being well-prepared and well-presented - and you’ll have the recipe for success!

Whether you are selling or buying in the lead up to Christmas, have fun!

Emma

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