4 Things Candy Buffets Can Teach You about Marketing

Joe Pawlikowski
Joe Pawlikowski is a freelance copywriter with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. Visit his site at JoePawl.com.
Joe Pawlikowski
Joe Pawlikowski
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From Flickr user Natalie Kerschner via Creative Commons

From Flickr user Natalie Kerschner via Creative Commons

I’d like to kick off this small lecture on small business by talking about candy. Specifically – candy buffets. If you aren’t familiar, candy buffets are those decorative spreads of sugar sticks and bon-bons, often presented in apothecary jars, which have taken wedding receptions and other celebratory gatherings by storm recently.

At first, these tooth-racking tables of sweets might seem totally unrelated to running a business –save for that you might feature one at your holiday party. However, if you take some time to consider the sudden rise of the candy buffet, you’ll notice that many of the principles that make these dessert tables so appealing can also be applied to a successful small business marketing strategy. Specifically, here are a few lessons every marketing guru can learn from a simple candy buffet.

1)     Learn to present your strengths. On their own, wholesale candy sticks might not seem all that appealing. However, when you bundle them up in an apothecary jar, they look positively delightful. Nothing has changed – they’re still just candy sticks – but a little dressing up has made them much more appealing.

This is exactly what you should be doing with your company. As a startup, every day is an elevator pitch. You need to present yourself to customers in a way that highlights your best qualities without crossing the line to dishonesty. You might be a bunch of candy sticks at the moment, but damned if you won’t be the most appealing candy sticks they’ve seen all day.

2)     Stand out by embracing the competition. A professionally-made candy buffet often features several “centerpiece” name-brand candies that are complimented by other, more generic brands. Though it might seem like loading a buffet with competitive candies might actually distract from the centerpieces,

the competition actually serves to make the centerpieces more appealing and desirable by comparison.

Research has shown that this principle applies to business as well. The best way to make your company stand out from the competition is to acknowledge and embrace them.  When you pitch to potential clients, don’t focus on yourself but rather your role in the industry as whole. Describe the competitors in your field and explain to potential clients what it is that sets you apart. Maybe you offer a more specialized service or your logistics allow for shorter production time. Explaining yourself thusly will make you more worthy in the eyes of your customers and help you create a more intelligent growth plan moving forward.

3)     Don’t oversell yourself.  Candy buffets aren’t popular because their respective party hosts advertise them to death. They’re popular because they appeal to a desire or need – in this case, partygoers’ sweet teeth – and happen to be available at that moment to appease that desire or need.

This is a basic tenet of entrepreneurship that far too often is ignored by small business owners. Your business should fulfill an unmet need in your industry and your marketing strategy should focus on making your target demographic aware of that need. If you’re relying on hyper-aggressive salesmanship to attract buyers then there’s already a fundamental flaw in your business plan.

4)     Don’t make the candy – make the candy buffet.  There’s an old saying among entrepreneurs that you should work “on” your business, not “in” your business. What this means, in so many words, is that it’s your job as an entrepreneur to push your business forward. Spending too much time “inside” your business, making products or managing employees, puts you at risk of stagnation and ultimately failure.

For example, let’s say you own a candy company. Your employees should be the ones making the candy while you focus on making the candy buffets –because the buffets are what attract attention to your company.  It’s important to focus on the details when you’re just starting out, but your eyes should always be glued on the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, candy buffets and smart marketing have more in common than you might think. So the next time you see a crowd flocking around one of these dessert tables at a party or reception, take a minute to consider why the candy buffet is so popular. Then, apply those principles to your marketing strategy. It might sound crazy – but a little out-of-the-box thinking could lead to some very sweet success. 


  1. Great analogy, Joe. I haven’t seen candy buffetsin the UK so much yet, but I guess it will be the next big trend as we normally import things from the US. They do look lovely and I take all your points about how you can use this for your business. It’s important to come up with simple creative ideas for business to make you stand out from the rest
    Debbie O’Connor recently posted…Unleash Your Inner CreativityMy Profile

  2. I also haven’t seen candy buffets in the UK yet but I’m looking forward to the time we do. I’m guilty of making the candy but it’s going to have to stay that way for a little while longer
    Kyle Cullen recently posted…Should You Wear Earplugs While Drumming?My Profile

  3. Very useful analogy for marketing. It’s not always about the candy but how the candy is presented. The more appealing you make your marketing, the more effective it will be.
    Bill recently posted…Mount Airy Mansion WeddingMy Profile

  4. Yes pretty true a blogger must know his strengths and how to present them…:)
    SAJID recently posted…Gmail Login – http://www.Gmail.com – Gmail Sign InMy Profile

  5. Nice way to teach marketing. Aim must be always bigger but when you start your business you must start with small structure and you must grow regular.
    Nikhil recently posted…MPSC 2014 Schedule Time Table Exam DateMy Profile

  6. Topic name is too interesting means Candy Buffets can Teach Marketing. But you are explaining marketing topic in the right way. Because now days It’s important to do marketing and find out the right peoples nothing but a customers without marketing you never go ahead.
    Anna Smith recently posted…Gmail Account SignupMy Profile

  7. Nice content and points. But I have never seen Candy buffet in my country yet… Rofl
    Ansh Gupta recently posted…30+ Best Pinterest Style WordPress Themes 2013My Profile

  8. Can’t stand candy buffets – they belong at a children’s party not a wedding? Good post though
    goivvy recently posted…Steps To Increase Magento Site SpeedMy Profile

  9. I really like the candy shop example and totally agree with the article. I launched my own website as a 2nd job almost 4 years ago now. I got lost awhile “in” the business and my sales and traffic suffered as a result. I’ve gotten back to being the guy in charge of creating the “candy display” and things seems to be getting better.

    It’s so important to market your business on the web and find different ways to make your website appealing to customers in order to make them “want” to shop with you instead of your competitors.

    I could still use some improvements. This article reminded me of that. Thanks.
    Gary Bowers recently posted…A.O. Smith pump motors on sale nowMy Profile

  10. Great content and Thanks for sharing these tips with us. Yes, we must know about our strength and try to present it to others.
    Sudipto recently posted…Best Android Phone Under 7000My Profile

  11. This is great how you present the the marketing stuffs taught by candy buffets. Thanks for this. Nice article.
    Riya Khurana recently posted…WhatsApp for PC Windows 7/8/MAC, WhatsApp Para PCMy Profile

  12. Wow, i am impressed. Good comparisons.
    look forward to reading more from you,
    Paul recently posted…The Best American Car BrandsMy Profile

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