My Marketing Thing

What would you do in this situation?


How would you do to promote this….if your life (savings) depended on it?

You have just opened a high quality patisserie/cafe. Your joint is found on a busy street in an affluent suburb, nestled in a small cultured city of about a million people. The suburb is known for it’s ‘old money’ belonging to an aging community who have a white-knuckled grip on their purses. But younger families are moving in. Not quite as well-stashed – but more likely to break open the bank account for a decent cuppa.

The good news is there isn’t another decent patisserie or cafe on this street. Sure, there is a hub of cafes three minutes drive away. And they some have pastry-based deserts, but not quite as ‘oh, my god…’ as yours.

What is the street like?

  • major supermarket just opened nearby
  • pub across the road
  • post office in walking distance
  • butcher who also sells fruit and veg next door
  • on the other side is a bank
  • at a busy-ish intersection with traffic lights
  • primary school nearby

What is so great about your cafe/patisserie?

  • contempory-designed courtyard deck at back
  • seats approx. 15 tables (seating 4 each)
  • open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • high quality food, extensive menu (including wood-fired pizzas)
  • great coffee
  • pasties are to die for
  • reasonably-priced (but not cheap)

Who is their target market?

Before we go too much further, we have to ask this very basic marketing question. Who is mostly likely to buy from here? My first guess: mothers in the area. A primary school is almost in spitting distance. Mums are known to get together over a cuppa and a little treat. Maybe they’re stressed-out, possibly sleep-deprived. Caffeine and sugar? Your place is their haven. If there’s no time to bake a cake for that function, they can buy your uber-pastries instead. These treats are soooo good there is no shame. But will the mums lure friends or family to have meals here? Less likely. The pizzas are family-friendly though. Or maybe meals are more for older parents and the workers in the area – the second tier of your target market strategy.

So how would you go about promoting this fab little business of yours?

This is what I was asking myself as I sat in the newly opened Dolce Classico (pictured) in Walkerville. The city: Adelaide, capital of South Australia. So what were the folks at Dolce doing well marketing-wise? What could they do better?

Over the first few days, the place was like a morgue. How do I know this? As mentioned, the pasties are to die for (daily sampling was imperative). But others in the area hadn’t cottoned on. You could tell the owner was a little uncomfortable about it as he reported the news to someone on the phone (I have no respect for boundaries when it comes to evesdropping). The only decent cafe in the area? People were bound to come like bees to the proverbial honeypot. Surely…

But I wondered if they had over-extended their service range and hours a tad, given the limited space and the staffing required to sustain it. They could be jam-packed, but would they still make enough for it to be financially sustainable? The Parisan-style cane woven cafe seats are pretty darn comfy. You could stay for hours. That affects turnover. Or was I worrying too much? (yes, I am well aware this place isn’t mine…per se)

Looking at the outside (ref. photo at top), what were ‘DC’ doing well?

  • great idea in a great location
  • building signage: white lettering on dark colour (easier to read when driving past)
  • sandwich board with chalk area to feature specials and highlights
  • attractive front counter area with eye-catching chandelier
  • table on street to indicate cafe service
  • pushing the patisserie end

Why push the pastries?

Given all the investment in the cafe side, why have such heavy signage for the pastries? Here’s my guess: takeaway pastries will probably be the big financial bonus to this business. As a product, they demand less space and staffing. But they are also perishable, so you really need them to move dem babies.

Plus the hand-crafted pastries are the unique proposition of the business. No one else in the area has these pastries. It’s what makes Dolce Classico special. It’s what people will talk about. And – as we know – there is no better marketing than word of mouth.

What bugged me about the outside

This is going to sound nit-picky, but some things that bug me about the outside of Dolce Classico:

  • It took several visits before I noticed the name of the business (and my research indicates I wasn’t the only one)
  • It would’ve looked ‘schmicker’ if the business name was painted directly on the building rather than on gloss backing which cheapens the look a bit for this up-market enterprise
  • The logo design could have been more interesting while still appearing refined
  • HAND CRAFTED FINE PASTRIES & QUALITY FOOD appearing on the awning is ALL IN UPPER CASE which makes it hard to read (‘Hand-Crafted Pasteries & Cafe’ would be better – ‘hand crafted’ indicates ‘fine’ already, and ‘quality food’ doesn’t mean much)
  • Sandwich board has branding on a white background with some red in it whereas all other branding is white on black – mistake not to have branding continuity
  • Find a way to have ‘courtyard cafe’ somewhere as it’s not clear that it exists even when you are standing inside at the front counter (the staff had to point it out to me)

As the first weeks passed, people began to trickle in. And then more people. By the time I left Adelaide after five weeks of visiting this little gem of a place, Dolce Classico was swamped with happy pastry/coffee/pizza lovers. Word had got around.

Note: My mother lives on the same street and never received any promotional material about it, or saw any ads or editorial in the local rag…or anywhere else.

But what if it wasn’t doing so well?

What would you do marketing-wise to give Dolce Classico a kick-start? How would you reach those mums from up the road? The older parents? The workers in the area? Maybe the locals who frequent the cafe hub three minutes away? Those from outside the area who are searching for the perfect pastry? Any ideas? Share it in a comment, per favore – bellissimo!


This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing coach/swashbuckler who has a weak spot for cannoli, those little tubes of joy… Find out more about Megan.


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