Q&A with Michele Gorham: How giving back can grow your business - SmartBrief

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Q&A with Michele Gorham: How giving back can grow your business

4 min read


Michele Gorham is the proprietor of Cookie Central, which makes and delivers fresh-to-order baked goods to Essex County, Mass. and southern New Hampshire. She also leads Team Cookie Central’s participation in Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, which raises money to combat child hunger in America. SmartBrief interviewed Gorham about how being a part of the Great American Bake Sale helps her business and how she uses social media tools to spread the word.

What are the benefits of having a Great American Bake Sale team associated with your business?

Our Great American Bake Sale campaign has become an invaluable addition to our marketing strategy, which I see as our greatest benefit.  Because the Great American Bake Sale campaign serves a need that is so prevalent across our country, the reception our fundraising (online and otherwise) receives is overwhelmingly positive.  The return is an influx of online traffic to our site, blogs and social media platforms, as well as an increase in customer traffic throughout the year. We have also grown our network significantly.  The Share Our Strength community is  full of very passionate people who are constantly helping us to promote our events and specials.

How does being a part of the Great American Bake Sale affect your business? Do you get more orders during the bake sale season (March-October)?

There has definitely been a significant increase of sales in correlation to our fundraising efforts.  March typically marked the beginning of our slow season, which bottomed out around mid-August.  Over the three years we have been campaigning for Great American Bake Sale, our sales have seen a steady increase though early spring, with an unprecedented increase in the late summer months.

How does the use of social media, such as your team’s blog and Twitter, help you promote your team and get donations?

By the end of our 2011 Great American Bake Sale season we will have run four different online promotions marketed primarily through our various social media platforms.  While the concept of each promotion varies, they are consistent in that each is inexpensive, easy and fun.

Our most successful promotion to date has been the online raffle.  The feedback we received before, during and after this promotion was astounding.  Surprisingly, we found the biggest draw to our raffle was our YouTube video of local children actively involved in our campaign drawing the raffle winner.  We are also awaiting the start of our most anticipated promotion, Cookies With Care, which will incorporate a prominent anti-hunger/homelessness organization in our community.

Where do you hold your bake sales?

We try to host our main events at larger town events for two reasons:  First, the additional marketing done on behalf of other event participants and the town event itself are valuable assets;  secondly, visitors are more likely to attend a larger event for longer periods of time, as opposed to briefly stopping by your individual bake sale.  We’ve actually had people stop back by our table several times over the course of an event like this.  In addition to these main events, we host a handful of mini events as well, again in high foot traffic areas where other vendors are participating.  We will also be hosting a golf tournament later on this fall with the intention of adding one more annual event to our yearly campaign.

In addition to the employees of Cookie Central, who else is a member of your team? Has the Great American Bake Sale inspired friends, family or customers to get involved?

Team Cookie Central encompasses such a broad spectrum of families, individuals, businesses and organizations.  The neighborhood children play such an important role in our campaign.  Their creativity inspires quite a bit of what product we sell, what promotions we run and how well we market our events.  We also have the support of many wonderful local businesses who participate by offering raffle donations, product donations or volunteer hours.  Many of our volunteers are visitors to past events that were thrilled to learn about Great American Bake Sale.  Team Cookie Central does not stop at state lines, either.  Our team has included people from Missouri, Ohio, California, Minnesota and Nevada.

Image credit Michele Gorham.