Marketing Craft Beer

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Welcome back. Today, we are talking about the marketing of craft beer. It’s a consideration for us as a brewpub in planning at Augustino Brewing. It is a concern of everyone who is planning to open up a brewery or already has a brewery open, particularly in a much more crowded marketplace than even existed five to seven years ago. The first question is why in the world do we need to worry about marketing craft beer when the market is growing still at double digits?

If we look around here at Wichita craft beer establishments, we certainly see a case where it is becoming difficult, and has been for a while, to keep the beer that is produced here in town in stock. Many of the craft breweries are having to rely on guest taps in order for them to be able to get their product out to the public and to control some of their flow of goods. Why in the world would we want to market craft beer when we already are having trouble keeping our beer stocked for our customers?

Really, in short, while we’re still in the boom time for craft beer, it’s not going to last forever. The days of craft beer effectively selling itself are numbered. We already at Augustino are looking at this that it’s not going to be a situation where if you brew it, they will come forever. I think that some of the breweries here in the Wichita area may be already starting to feel that a little bit. Even beyond the Wichita area, and looking nationally, there are parts of the country that if you do not have an outstanding product, you are not going to break into the market at this point, at least not until there’s a shakeout about other competitors.

Marketing your product is also important because it helps develop your brand, and it helps to distinguish yourself from the other competitors in the market, whether it’s a city like Wichita, which really, relative to the rest of the country, has a fairly low number of breweries per capita, to a highly saturated place like, for example, our neighbors to the west of us in Colorado. They have well over 200, probably approaching 300 soon, breweries in the state of Colorado. At some point, how are you going to establish what you are versus what everybody else is in a meaningful way that’s going to carve out your niche and keep your customers happy and coming back?

Really, lastly, in terms of why market your craft brewery is there’s a lot of fun ways to market craft beer. If you love craft beer as much as I love craft beer, which I’m sure you do or you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast, there are some really cool ideas out there that have been done. If you sit down, especially if you’re sitting down with some great Augustino craft beer or your neighborhood craft brewery’s beer and have a couple of pints, you’re going to come up with a lot of really fun ideas that are inexpensive and help get your name out into the marketplace.

There are some considerations that you want to have when developing a brewpub marketing plan. The first thing about us in craft beer and the fact that we’re all craft beer nerds out here is that we really don’t want to feel like we’re being sold. That’s true in all markets these days, but even more so I think in craft beer. Being marketed to is almost the anthesis of what we want. Now, as brewery owners, it’s exactly what we need. We need to be constantly reaching out in creative ways to our customers and potential customers in order to make sure that they come in our doors and that they keep coming back to us. If we don’t develop a solid marketing plan that reaches out and fosters that communication, we’re going to lost in the dust.

Another thing that is I think utilized pretty well by many breweries, but it’s certainly something that is worth looking at for your craft brewery … We certainly are looking at it for ours as well … Is the power of sponsorships. Sponsorships are wonderful especially if you can find the right type of event that is a community event that brings a lot of people together, especially those who are in your key demographic as a brewpub. Giving $500, $1,000, maybe more in larger events cases, can get you some exposure and provide you with some opportunities to leverage the event and some promotion that you’ll get from the event organizers and look good in the public eye as being a partner with the community.

One of the passions that I have about entering the brewing industry is the the fact that not only can it be a lucrative business if you manage it well and you manage your numbers in a very smart way and just produce really good beer, but it also provides an opportunity to be a partner in the community. Through sponsorships of community events, especially philanthropic events, if you can leverage that power of sponsorship, it can lead to wonderful things for you. I highly recommend that. It also gives you a greater chance to get into the media. You want to think about ways in which you can get your name out into the media and to do it regularly.

You want to be able to ideally, as a brewpub … In some markets this is easier, and in some markets, it’s harder … To come up with hooks. Anywhere from two to maybe six, maybe even more, opportunities to get hooks out there for the media that is going to get them to cover you, your events, your brewery in general. You can’t really market to the media because they’ll just blow you off and they won’t talk to you again, but if you have wonderful events that are supporting local charities, in particular, you’re going to get the media to cover you. The wonderful thing about public relations is that usually, the best advertising is the free advertising that you can get from being featured in the news.

Another thing in terms of your brewpub, tap room, what have you, is you really want to try to make every day that you’re open special. You want to schedule as many events and promotions as possible so that people come back for more, especially those who are signed up for your Facebook page, Twitter accounts. If we’re going back to more traditional forms, email for those who use that, that is really key. I’d make sure that I get that out there often with your customer so that they know, “Hey, today is an exciting day at … ” In our case, Augustino Brewing.

Once you’ve thought through what your plan is going to look like, you want to execute a marketing plan and follow up with it. In short, this is a fairly easy thing to accomplish. You want to create a list of events throughout the period of the promotion, the period of the plan that you want your customers to attend. If you don’t know what they would want to attend, survey your customers, especially your regulars because they’re the ones who are going to give you the best information as to what you should offer in order to continue to bring people into the doors.

You want to make sure that your events also appeal to various different audiences. You’re not going to get the same people in your doors every single day for the most part. You need to be aware of how you can get different portions of your target market in the door on different occasions. Lastly, you want to make sure you calendar your events throughout the year. You want to create checklists for each event so that you can prep for it well in advance. That’s the basics of marketing craft beer. I appreciate you listening to this. Tune in in the future. Thanks.

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