In his last blog for the year, Gerhard Jenne takes a moment to reflect on the highs and lows of 2013.

Last week we were discussing Easter themes at Cake HQ. Somehow it didn’t feel quite right when one is knee deep in mince pies and nearly drowning in a vat of giandujia buttercream destined to fill a forest’s worth of yule logs.

I often wonder if we should start planning our seasonal campaigns a year in advance. That way, at least one would feel like Christmas during winter, rather than having to engage with it when it’s baking hot.

I understand that large bakery operations, especially those that supply the big shops, have to start their Christmas planning in January. Particularly when there are lengthy supply chains involved that include packaging and everything else that flows from getting a product to market.

As a small to medium sized bakery we are also finding that it is no longer good enough to ‘improvise’ just a couple of weeks before the event. Careful planning has led to better marketing campaigns and in the end to better results.

Quality and consistency of products is important, but as the year comes to an end I’m looking back to a few campaigns that have helped us to keep our head above water. More than that, because we got our marketing ducks in a row early, we enjoyed some reasonable sales growth this year.

When there are so many sad stories around, reporting on the demise of the high street, we at Konditor can give ourselves a pat on the back. We started January with a ‘Feeling Lucky” scratchcard promotion. Every rub was a win for our customers: either a free cake or a tempting offer for a discounted product or meal deal. The top prize was a year’s supply of brownies! This not only made one customer very, VERY happy, but it also provided loads of social media moments. It increased footfall massively and created a real buzz in an otherwise dreary month.

In March we asked our customers to “Spring into Easter”, and created the culinary equivalent of a bucolic country scene. The shops were decked out in flower filled jam jars that blew away any remaining wintery cobwebs, and our cake decorators placed flowers, hedgehogs, badgers, bees and bunnies on every iceable surface conceivable. And, no matter how hard the food press keeps trying to kill off the cupcake in favour of foreign intruders (eclairs!!!), with their pretty bunny and egg nest décor they flew off the shelves yet again.

The summer can be another treacherous period. It’s either too rainy and everyone is depressed, or so hot everyone wants to wear a bikini or show off their six pack and makes a wide berth around carb filled bakeries.

But this year we had our 20th Birthday to celebrate, and following our successful promo in January we launched another scratchcard, giving away 10,000 mini bakes while reeling customers in with half-price cakes and buy one get one free biscuit bags. If that wasn’t enough - a year’s supply of cake!  Bikini lines were momentarily forgotten and the final week in the run up to our 20th Birthday street party was one of the busiest ever as customers beat their way to our doors to redeem their cards.

As a foreigner I’m looking forward to the Queen’s speech this Christmas. It sort of provides a full stop to the year.  It still echoes in my ears when Her Majesty spoke of her annus horribilis and I very nearly wondered why she would so openly want to discuss her bodily functions on TV.  More than 20 years on she can look back on an annus mirabilis and, much wiser, so can I.