Before getting into craft beer, I owned a small business that competed against large multi-national companies for customers. Like many of you, my business had little funding and no dedicated marketing staff. I learned a lot about branding on a budget. Below are 5 tips to help you market your brewery and stand out in a crowded market.
- Keep a tight brand. Today’s world is marked by an overload of information. Make it really easy for consumers to remember (and support) your brewery by keeping a consistent brand. Colors, fonts, images, tone of voice should be the same across all applications. Your exterior sign should match your business cards which should match your packaging, etc. Choose colors that work well in print and digitally and use free fonts that are common on marketing platforms.
- Manage social media. Social media isn’t free. It is a time suck that most people are not trained in using properly. Social media is also a necessary communication strategy. Focus on one or two platforms rather than trying to be active across all of them. Facebook and Instagram may give you the best return. Devote a specific amount of time to posts each week and use a free scheduling tool. I created and scheduled posts for one hour every Monday morning.
- Always be marketing. You and your staff are the best marketing vehicle you have. Take a few minutes each week or month of educate and inspire all staff on communicating your brand. Business cards are the cheapest form of advertising. Get a ton printed and hand them out to everyone you come into contact with. Wear branded gear when you are in large consumer settings. Consider gifting merchandise to enthusiastic customers or any fans with a large community of their own.
- Tap into other communities. Creative partnerships can advance your brand without requiring a lot of resources. For example, your brewery may have 500 followers but the local library may have 50,000. Consider how you could partner with the library to expand your audience in an authentic way. Perhaps you could knock $1 off the price of a pint for customers who bring in a used books that you’d then donate to the local library in exchange for the library promoting the effort in their newsletter.
- Tell your story. Consumers often care more about you than your product. Focus less on the individual beers and more on the people making the beer, what sets your brewery apart, what you stand for etc. TOMS Shoes took off because of the company mission to provide shoes to children in need around the world and because of the founder who presents himself as sincere and personable. Millions of TOMS shoes have been purchased not because the shoes are anything special but because the company has done a great job inspiring people to believe in the company.