I don’t remember the first time I heard of Georgetown Cupcake. By the time I became aware of the company, it was a part of the baked goods lexicon in the DC area. I chose Yael Krigman for my February profile because that is where her bakery, Baked by Yael, is heading. With my last two profiles, Aviva Goldfarb of Six O’Clock Scramble and Stacey Kane of California Tortilla, I selected established brands that could look back upon their years of business. Yael on the other hand is much closer to the starting line. From her we can learn what it is to start a vibrant web presence in the current environment. Yael left her job as an attorney at a prominent DC law firm a year ago to run her growing business.
The interview started with a cookies and cream cake pop with a dark chocolate coating. I can’t imagine a better way to start an interview!
Starting an online presence is a difficult leap of faith for many entrepreneurs. Was it for you? How did you get started?
For me an online presence is critical. I don’t have a store-front. The only way for a customer to find me is to find me online. It was a leap of faith for me but I started slowly. I didn’t leave my job for the first year and a half while I tested the concept. I was able to do it gradually, I was able to learn through a lot of trial and error what worked.
Do you use any outside vendors to help you manage your online presence?
I worked with someone when I first launched on designing and building my website and I have someone who works with me on SEO (search engine optimization), which has been great! I have more and more people who have found me through Google searches. At this point, I handle all the day to day operations of my web presence including updating my website and managing my social media.
So many businesses I work with have a difficult time deciding where to spend money online. Do you have a process for allotting money to spend online?
The nice thing about spending money online is that you can be very targeted in where you spend it based on what kind of customers you are trying to attract and what kind of attention you want to draw. Also, a little bit can go a long way. If I were buying a TV or radio ad, I would need to spend thousands of dollars. Even then I wouldn’t easily be able to tell if it was working. Online I can spend as little as one dollar and then I can see very quickly if that dollar expenditure is working and if it isn’t, I can change it to something that will work better.
What kind of online promotions are you doing?
With the help of my SEO specialist, I tried Google AdWords but didn’t get the results I wanted. I have had more success with Facebook ads. I pretty much do the bare minimum, a few dollars a day. Sometimes I promote posts. I also promote Baked by Yael on Yelp. I get so many new customers through that! As a Yelp advertiser, I can have a slide show on Baked by Yael’s Yelp page. The pictures really sell my business. I want to get pictures of my cake pops in front of people as soon as possible and Yelp ads has helped with that.
Do you have a written marketing plan you follow for promoting your business online or are you a bit more ad hock?
I don’t have a formal plan at the moment. I am still untangling social media a bit. I might look into hiring someone at a future date to get something more formalized in place.
What advice do you have for a business that is just starting out in creating a web presence?
Be patient.Be flexible.Be creative.Go out of your comfort zone.Remember, it’s your brand speaking and it isn’t a reflection on you personally.
Have you made any mistakes online that still make you cringe?
No. I haven’t taken enough risks yet to get myself in that position. I probably will in the future. Sometimes I am perhaps a bit too careful. Take for instance the Super Bowl. I am near Baltimore and it was a great opportunity to get out there and promote my pops. I had great pictures of my Ravens-themed pops and I should have promoted them but, I didn’t want to alienate 49ers fans.
You have been so successful with getting great coverage online. Can any of that coverage be tracked back to work you have done online?
Yes. Daily Candy reviewed my bagels in September 2011. I believe that article resulted from a member of the Cleveland Park listserv seeing an ad I had posted on the listserv. They wouldn’t have known about me had I not posted. That review put me on the map.