By Scott Pillsbury
For the Oregon Beer Growler
“Everything works a little.” This is the mantra I constantly come back to with our customers. Everyone wants to grow their business, and many seem to be looking for that one magic element that will put them ahead of the competition. Bad news: there is no “magic element.” Your business can only grow and prosper with a careful combination of many integrated tools working together.
Yes, your beer must be outstanding! Marketing is never going to make up for a poor quality product -- but if you are reading OBG, you are likely a quality brewer. Yes, you need a fair price in the market -- these are not negotiable. But if you have a great product, being sold at a fair price, then marketing can really make the difference. Marketing can mean many things, but ultimately it is the sum total of the customer experience -- everything but the product and the price -- that make the difference. Here are a few to consider:
1. Your Brewpub or Tasting Room: Is it open, light, friendly and inviting? Do people feel welcome on the first visit? Is your staff the very best you can afford? And do they know how important they are to your business success?
2. Your Website, Logo, and Branding: These days, very few people try your beer or come to your location without checking you out online, even if you were recommended by a friend. Your site has to be visually appealing. Give them confidence that you know how to make good beer and, most importantly, it has to make them feel good about choosing you.
3. Social is Key: Besides a website, you have to engage with customers on Facebook, Yelp!, Google+ and every other social channel. These comments and reviews matter. If someone gives you love, love them back. More importantly, if someone has a bad experience, fix it immediately.
4. Your Merchandise, Menu, Coasters and Swag: This stuff reinforces the message when they leave your location. People want to be associated with brands and products they love. It makes people feel good to be “on the inside” with up and coming beers in the area. Make it easy for them to promote you.
5. Your Bottles and Cans in Retail: Offering your product in the grocery store or bottle shop is another way for people to continue to interact with your brand after they leave the pub. It is also a great way for people to share your product with their friends. Like everything, your labels have to be beautiful, printed on the proper material and applied correctly.
Every touch point for your customers sends a message. Even if you don’t intend it to be a branded interaction, it makes an impression. Unfortunately, one sloppy server or one bad food item can erase lots of goodwill in the mind of your customer. All the marketing messages have to be integrated and working in sync to make the maximum impact. You can’t leave anything to chance.
It can be overwhelming to tackle all of this at once, which is why it is nice to have a strong vendor community to support you, like the B.I.N.G. members that bring you this column each month. Please feel free to reach out to me about labels or about any other service or product you need to support your brewery marketing. If I can’t help you, there’s likely a B.I.N.G. member who can. We’re all here to help. Cheers!
Scott Pillsbury is president of Rose City Label, a fourth-generation family business in Portland. They print for more than 60 breweries and were recently recognized as the OSU Austin Family Business of the Year for 2015. Besides running the company with his sister, Whitney, Scott writes about marketing at everythingworksalittle.com.