Give The People What They Want

It's a simple concept. If you're not selling what people want to buy then you might as well hang it up. Unless you can convince people that they want something they never thought they needed you'll be out of luck, and that takes a lot of effort and probably an Apple-sized advertising budget. And even Apple's profits were down last quarter.

Sure, you could always decide that you'll be able to create a demand for a product based on the newness of it, or the novelty of it, or just because it's better. But better is in the eye of the beholder, and unless your strategy is to strike it rich with pet rocks, it's better for your income in the long run to see what kinds of things are actually sought after in your particular market.

I know one baker who refuses to do buttercream cakes at all. Ever. Forget it, it isn't going to happen. Well, she's just eliminated the majority of the buyers in this area, because 99% of people around here don't want fondant. She's facing an uphill battle in terms of having to work harder to convince people that they should get a cake from her. She'll not only have to sell them on the flavor of the cake itself, but also on the idea of fondant.

If she'd just be a little more flexible, then she'd probably make more money and not have to put as much effort into it. The last time I checked, people have businesses in order to make money, but hey, don't mind me. If you want to work harder to convince people that they want what you're selling, then please feel free.

On the other hand, you do need to keep some standards for yourself. Everyone I know has some type of cakes that they don't want to do, for whatever reason. There's a certain type of style of wedding cake that I don't do, but there's someone else who does a lot of them. So I just refer people to her if they call me for that style. There's nothing wrong with saying that you either don't know how to do something, or you just don't want to do that style.

But if people keep calling you for a particular thing and you keep referring them out, maybe you should look to see whether you it's something that you could do. I have a mold set for a beaded Mehndi design in my Etsy shop, and I had three people in the space of two days send me a message about how much just the paisley one would be if they bought that by itself. So I listed that as an individual item, and lo and behold, it sold on its own. If I had insisted that the three items were a set, I probably wouldn't have sold any at all. Sometimes listening to your customers and being flexible is a good thing.

So listen to what people are asking you for, even if it isn't something that you normally do. If you keep hearing the same thing from people you should take that as valuable market research. What you do with that is up to you, but don't ignore it regardless of whether you intend to act on it or not. In general, it's good to know what clients are looking for.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and