For bakeries looking to stir up new business during slower periods in the year, limited-time offers (LTOs) provide a way to generate excitement and bring in non-regular customers.

Market research consultant Technomic reports that over a five-year period where it analyzed new product trends in the foodservice industry, limited-time offers tallied an incredible 63.9% growth on average. Customers are looking for these innovative products, and while holidays can be an excellent source of inspiration, you can keep your eye open throughout the year for special events that allow you to time your product releases.

An excellent example of this occurred earlier this year. NASA announced that its Perseverance Rover would be set to make its landing on Mars on Thursday, February 18. In preparation for that day, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts announced that it would give fans a unique opportunity to celebrate with its limited-edition Mars Doughnut.

The Mars Doughnut was made to look like the red planet, featuring a Chocolate Kreme-filled doughnut dipped in caramel icing with a red planet swirl and sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs. For one day only on February 18, the doughnut chain gave a free Mars Doughnut to those who showed a NASA-issued Mars 2020 Perseverance “boarding pass” that they could register for at NASA’s website.

When Perseverance landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater, it had traveled 292.5 million miles since lifting off July 30, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It contained the first-ever helicopter to be deployed on Mars and numerous other technologies to seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples. The rover also carried the names of nearly 11 million people who participated in NASA’s “Send Your Name to Mars” program.

LTOs work by energizing your customer base to act now. They can boost immediate sales by 10% or more and make a lasting impression that brings customers back for more. In the case of Krispy Kreme’s Mars Doughnut, guests only had one day to act, which motivated them to take advantage of the one-of-a-kind offer.

In order to truly maximize the potential of these special products, utilize the power of social media. Visual-heavy platforms like Facebook and Instagram are built to showcase enticing images, so plan on posting about your special products ahead of time. Make sure the product shots are well-lit and framed, to better display their deliciousness.

If you’re promoting a product that will only be around for a short time, such as those done in coordination with special events, you can even ask customers to post about them on social media and tag your bakery, furthering your marketing capabilities.