The Craft Brewers Ultimate Guide to Marketing

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Congratulations! After a great deal of time and effort you have designed an incredible, great tasting, deeply satisfying craft beer. Everyone will love it.

Yes, it is a small number overall, but 6.6% of the total US beer market by volume happened to be from craft brewers last year…good news!

And even with all of this growth, there’s a huge market share out there to tap into. The other 93.4% of beer drinkers (and even non-beer drinkers) are where you will find your new growth. Educating the non-craft beer drinkers on the shocking wonderfulness of a more robust beer is the way that you will gain a foothold and can continue to get more people transitioned over.

There is just one major hurdle — getting the message out to your volumes of potential customers. It is not simply a case of sending out a few tweets and setting up a Facebook page. In the digital age, that is akin to setting up a hand lettered sign on a standard sheet of paper and then taping it to a light pole…on a busy freeway. No one will see it as they rush by.

Yes, most every article on the internet will tell you that you can do this yourself. And that is very true. Please read the previous paragraph again and understand why, after we explain exactly how to do this, you may still wish to talk to experts in the marketing and digital advertising fields. Doing it is one thing…getting response is something entirely different.

Consider this: We fully understand how excited you are about your new craft beer. Let’s see what your competitors look like. Right now, over 2700 different craft breweries are in full operation and another 1700 are in the planning stages. All of them seek exactly what you want. With all of these craft beer makers out there, how do you make your brewery stand out? Even if your beer is absolutely amazing and freaking awesome, there’s a couple thousand other freaking awesome beers and crafters out there, too.

The logical next thought is that you’re just going to have to advertise more than the next microbrewery to get the word out. Seriously? Why didn’t you mention you have an extra $2 million to spend on standard media messaging in advertising? The truth is that you probably have a limited budget to start and all of that money went to producing stock. No, you have no real money to get the word out. If you’re like most craft breweries, you probably are under-capitalized (meaning you don’t have a lot of cash laying around) and don’t have much of a budget at all for advertising. Alright, we’re going to have to get a little creative at how to promote your brewery!

How do you do it? Because you are the experts at beer, we highly suggest you bring in experts in marketing, advertising, digital communications and website building/administration. However, if you still want to do it yourself, let us give you some pointers.

Your Brand Envisioned

Visually, verbally, and even in written form your brand has to stand out. The name should be memorable for any number of reasons. It should not follow trends that come and go. It should stand apart on every level. In other words, your brand must present itself in a clear, concise and consistent manner on every level. Otherwise, it just is another bottle on the shelf.

Take a look at what’s out there right now. Most of the popular themes cover satanic/vampire/zombie names and colors or semi-silly cartoonish monikers they hope will stick with you. Examples: AleSmith Evil Dead Red, Rogue dead guy ale, flying dog underdog atlantic lager, dogfish head India Pale Ale…and the list goes on indefinitely.

So, create a timeless, memorable name. Pair it up with a notable tagline or slogan. Craft a label that stands out from the crowd with a graphic that one would like to frame as a poster and hang in their home. Make the description on the label such a compelling tale that the drinker will actually want to read…out loud to his companions. With that initial impact, customers will come back for lots more of your brew.

Where is your new beer distributed? Do you have some craft beer bars currently serving your product? Are local shops or even the big box stores stocking your brew? Consider how they are drumming up interest and see if they will put your item at the top of their campaigns for a little while. So, you are making product, and it has a good look to it, and it is bustling on local shelves. What’s next?

Create buzz

What interesting and creative ways are you using to promote your brewery? Word of mouth? Digital placements? Traditional media? Events? A combination of everything? Great! Certainly you are brimming with new ideas that hundreds of others haven’t each tried half a dozen times over during the last half decade. Combined with your unique logo, imaginative name and memorable slogan, you are riding right along!

How does your website look? You did build a website first thing, right? How does it compare with your competitors? Is the content truly superior? How are all the SEO elements? Lots of great graphics to allure? Terrific!

With the basics tackled, you can now move forward. Get your press release written up and make sure it is widely distributed. Know which publications your potential clients will read and boost yourself by adding a small display ad to run along with your PR piece.

The next important question is: How will you respond? Surely, you know the public and press will be responding to you press pieces and various ads. Are you expecting lots of response? Who will be handling that deluge of emails, phone calls, texts and more? Are all your people and their replies on the same page with quality answers with the company position?

Make certain you track the data to find out who actually read your press release and where it finally appeared in print or online. When the data is sifted through and targeted, you know where your best ad dollars should be spent.

The next step is to establish a habit of social media content and communications that is fresh and authentic. If you build a habit and remain consistent you will grow an audience. Let others find you by carefully folding in carefully researched and specifically chosen SEO elements that blend seamlessly with your nicely groomed content to set up and run a site, blog, or other social media corner where people can find and enjoy you and your company’s comments every day.

Finally, your opinion is valuable, but strive to give your growing audience a constant stream of exciting news that you share with them. Yes, we understand that you are not IN the news because you are just starting now. What we mean is that you CREATE news about your product and then post it out there for everyone to chat up. As creative as you are to have crafted a new beer, you should be able to generate some intriguing stories about it that the public will love.

Not sure where to start on some these ideas? Ask your business partners, vendors, even customers for ideas on who to talk to connect with. And keep in mind, anyone you’re even remotely connected to is almost certainly going to be up for a conversation that revolves around bartering delicious beer for services.

And of course, I would be remiss not to note that you can always contact us to design a top flight website, campaign and ideas!

Craft beer marketing for your craft beer bar mirrors small business or retail marketing and is a little more fun to do when you integrate social media into the mix!

How do these craft brewers and bar connect with their customers? Many craft beer drinkers search and follow their favorite businesses on social media to keep tabs on their favorite beers or beers that they want to try! This social media search and follow activity is helping craft beer bars be even more successful than their competitors!

Contact Blue Sand Group today for help with your new brew.

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