Craft brews are one of this country’s fastest growing markets.
It’s no secret that Americans love their beer, and the past decade has seen phenomenal growth, based in no small part on the marketing efforts of some of our most notable craft brewers.
If you’re looking for marketing inspiration, here are 5 craft beer marketing strategies that can help to turn strangers into loyal consumers.
Tell a Story
Beer drinking is a social activity, and beer drinkers want to talk about the ins and outs of their selections. Give them some information, and keep it interesting. Who founded the company, and what makes him or her special? What’s the secret behind this particular batch, and who’s likely to fall in love at first sip? Give new consumers more than just a name or a catchy graphic to latch onto – they want to feel attached to the brand, and that relationship has to be built on something substantial.
Be a Hometown Hero
Make your brand a part of the local landscape. Tie local iconography – be it architectural, cultural, even spiritual – into your brews. Invoke the flavors of the region, and market those flavors as a point of pride. Maybe you’ve seen, or tasted, some of these stellar examples:
- Portland-based Rogue’s rebranded “PDX Carpet Ale,” (nee Brutal Bitter).
- Long Trail Brewing, out of Vermont, donates its used hops and grains to supplement local dairy cow diets.
- Wisconsin’s New Glarus Brewings’ popular Spotted Cow Ale highlights the state’s farming community by including a “hint of corn,” and pairing suggestions include cheese curds.
Your customers want to embrace local culture, and they want to support local businesses. Give them a chance to do both with your product.
Tastings, tastings, tastings
The craft brewery that wins with the locals – every time – is the one with a welcoming environment that makes them want to bring their friends from out-of-town down to your spot for a couple of brews.
Figure out what folks in your area like, and give it to them. Is it table tennis, or a big screen TV to watch the ball game? How about a nice patio area with a dog-friendly beer garden vibe? Spots that advertise the best beer in town may very well be telling the truth. But if they don’t have a pleasant, congenial environment in which to test out that claim, it’ll remain untested.
Tastings are hugely effective sales and marketing tactic outside of the brewery also. Start thinking about where your audience frequents and develop a plan to actively engage with them with some free samples of your craft beer. Bars, sporting events, liquor stores, supermarkets are all tried and tested venues to capture your buyers attention with tasting events.
Events, events, events
Building visibility in your community has to happen outside of the confines of the brewery, too.
If you start looking around, you’ll find plenty of opportunity to sponsor events, set up tables at festivals, and host fundraisers.
Go one step further and serve on some community non-profit boards. Join civic associates and local entrepreneurial groups, and keep an open mind. Craft beer marketing & building your brand can be about much more than just good brewing; it can be an exercise in relationship-building and community engagement.
Balance innovation with tried-and-true
Although it’s fun to develop quirky flavors, and there will always be a market for your newest banana-split-chocolate-brownie-powdered-sugar-doughnut-IPA (when, oh when, will dessert flavors stop?) your most solid lagers and pilsners will inevitably be your best sellers. They’ll sell in bulk for parties and events, and they’ll be consumed at local restaurants. Strive for balance, and make sure your marketing materials reflect that balance.
There are no perfect craft beer marketing strategies. There is, however, a smarter way to do business. Work these strategies into your current model, and find new ways to move the beer that you love to brew.
If you are thinking about tasting or promotional events we would love to talk to you.