Your bottom line, image, and customer loyalty depend on the success of your marketing plan.
Taps are a vital component of marketing.
In the fast paced and ever-evolving world of social media and marketing, every brewery has to be on their toes. From the startups to the veterans, and as breweries rise and fall, no one is immune to the sting of ill-planned or non-existent marketing. Your bottom line, your image, and your customer loyalty depend on the success of your marketing plan. There are a few key overview points to consider, including your branding, use of traditional and social media, your website, public relations, and grassroots marketing. Let’s take a quick look at each:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s in your name? Is it memorable, and does it resonate with consumers, particularly in your market? If it’s simply your surname or geographic location, how will you set yourself apart in the midst of other brewery names? In the quest to make a statement, be careful not to pick an offensive or overly trendy name. Remember, like a tattoo, it’s pretty permanent, and you want to be proud of it ten years down the line.
- What is your tagline, color scheme, logo and design? Here you can set yourself apart, with the incredible amount of fonts and graphics available. But, be careful with fonts. Your selection should be impactful, yet readable, printable, and classic. Taglines are incredibly difficult, and should only be used if they support the brand. Think of Nike’s “Just Do it”, and if it’s just a line of words, don’t do it! For colors, open up a Pantone book and find tones and hues that speak to you, then go out and do a random test of those colors to the public. Finally, is your name and logo design something that will look good on a bottle, a growler, a hat, a shirt?
Media (Traditional and Social)
Simply put, you must do both. With the lines between the two blurred, it is essential to see your bases are covered.
- Traditional: While TV ads are largely unnecessary and cost-prohibitive for the craft brewer, newspaper and magazines are still major goals. Being covered in your local publications is a great start, with a consistent aim for the big national magazines. Think outside the box to culinary, sports, men’s and women’s magazines as well.
- Social: Don’t be stubborn and refuse to engage in social media. Make a Facebook page, Instagram page (but make it interesting and beautifully photographed), and Twitter account. Consider Snapchat and record fun moments in your brewery and tasting room. Your consumers will love it.
Website, Blogging, and Email Campaigns
- A good websiteis critical. It is often the first place people go when they hear of you for more information. Make it polished and easy to navigate. Remember, most consumers will access your site via mobile phone, so have easy links to your phone number and Google maps for directions. If you have a clue about websites, but have little budget, sites like Squarespace allow for you to build your own website for small fees. If money allows, hire a reputable and experienced designer. Do your homework and ask for definitive deadlines and examples of their other successful websites.
- Blogging yourself can be hit or miss. With 2 million blog posts published per day, it’s a daunting sea of information. Your best bet is to connect with craft beer and drink bloggers, and let them write about your beer. Invite them to beer dinners, openings, and events. For national bloggers, reach out to them personally via email or social media, and look for them at conferences and festivals.
- For email newsletters, pick a day and time and stick with it. Generally Tuesdays and Thursday mornings at either 10am or 2pm tend to be most successful, with Wednesdays following close behind. Being consistent allows your customers to look forward to your newsletters and plan their weekends with you in mind each week.
PR (Public Relations)
As a writer, I highly recommend the services of a PR agency. The majority of my stories and content come from publicists and marketing managers letting me know what their clients are doing. We writers can’t give you press if we aren’t aware of your calendar.
Look for a reputable and respected PR agency that works with breweries, like Bay Bird Inc for instance, a PR firm that represents the San Diego Brewers Guild. They will know the best writers to contact, the best publications to pitch, and the ones you shouldn’t waste your time and money on. Bay Bird founder Peyton Robertson, believes it is paramount to market specifically what sets you apart from other breweries, “be it creative, thoughtful social media content, targeted press releases, strategic traditional or digital advertising, events or a combination of all four.” But she warns to maintain respect and courtesy, “The key is to avoid disparaging fellow brewers, you’re all on the same team and working together helps everyone meet their overall marketing goals.”
Never, ever underestimate the power of your customers as your biggest marketing segment. We all know the phrase word-of-mouth, but how can you take that a step farther? Here are a few ideas:
- Reward your regulars with hats or t-shirts. They are your walking billboards, and will undoubtedly wear them to beer festivals and while traveling.
- Capitalize your local environment with regional wear. If you are located in a cycling community, consider sponsoring a team or having jerseys made. If you are located in a warmer climate, think water bottles and tank tops. Be creative. One of the best examples of clever marketing I’ve seen was Sierra Nevada’s bottle opening cell phone cover. Think about your customers and their lives (not yours).
- Consider an ambassador program. I’ve seen companies both in and out of the brewing world successfully do this. Two examples: Saint Archer Brewing and Skimm. Give them a clever name if you want, but empower them to be brand ambassadors for your brewery, through a reward and promotion system.
As you can see, marketing can be an intimidating mountain range of peaks and valleys, and you will need your savviest social compass to navigate it. Be patient, dig in, and with persistence, you will see a difference.
If you liked reading this article, you may also like: How to Build Your Craft Brewery Brand.