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Craft Beer, Crafting Creative

Plato, the Classical Greek Philosopher, once said, “He was a wise man who invented beer.” It seems that Americans wholeheartedly agree. Today, in the U.S., there are more than 5000 small breweries and, according to some industry leaders, this is the greatest time in history to be a beer drinker in America.

Open your mind (and your wallet) to the world of craft brewing. It’s hard not to take notice of the brewing “boom” in recent years. Local breweries seem to be sprouting up on every street corner at an increasing rate. Although the trend has been booming since roughly 2010, it doesn’t appear to be slowing either, with nearly 900 new breweries established in 2016. With this rapid growth, one thing has become very apparent to me: marketing matters.

As the macro beer companies (think Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc.) know all too well, marketing influences consumers. Well, as you can imagine, it greatly matters in the craft beer business as well. There are several reasons why people choose to drink craft beer over macro beer. For some, it’s solely about the quality, for others it’s their taste buds chasing new flavors or new trends of beer types/styles. Whatever your reason is, the craft beer consumer has made a conscious choice to care about what they pour into their pint glass.

On that note, here are five tips that can help separate your brand from the rest:

1. Local Love

It should come as no surprise that every brewery (craft or macro) should be trying to prove that they are the right choice for consumers. Local consumers can make or break your business. The fact that they can most likely walk or drive to your location, see your production first-hand, feel the products in-house, taste the freshest beer you have to offer, and interact with your staff, means that you should give it your best effort to please and connect with them. After all, they are your “foot soldiers” in a way; they will spread the news and rate your business faster than you can say “beer”.

2. Innovate

Your backstory could be great, but craft beer drinkers, like most consumers, also want to know what you’re adding to the pot. What makes your brand unique? Do you locally source all your ingredients? Is your equipment special or does it have a unique history, which creates a better product? Or, do you have a specific reward program for brand enthusiasts? Innovation can lead to profitability.

3. Your Recipe

This tip is straightforward. Like the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.” If you skimp on quality, effort, and/or do not make it a priority to connect with your fans, you are headed towards the end of the road.

4. Compelling Narrative

You and your friend founding a brewery because you didn’t want to work at a desk anymore isn’t exactly a unique fable. The history of craft beer is speckled with brewers who set up their logo, pint glasses, tap handles and fonts. This tip links with #2: revolutionize. What are you all about? What does your brand stand for? What makes you different than the business in the same industry down the street?

5. Create the Buzz

  • Return phone calls and emails (communicate!)
  • Create news and share
  • Focus on growing your social media base through consistent and compelling content
  • Collaborate with like-minded companies so you can cross-promote your business, products and/or services

Whether the craft beer industry is here to stay or fizzles out years from now (all signs, or pints, point towards the industry staying), influencing consumers through ways of marketing, advertising, and branding has never been more important than it is today.

Here’s a brilliant new spot by Heineken (yes, a macro beer company):

Despite what you may have thought, marketing and advertising in major beer commercials does not always have to be focused around a party, beach, bonfire, etc. This ad makes you think – it’s refreshing, it’s impactful, and it’s memorable.

Become a leader, be an innovator, create that next big market trend, start the conversation, and, perhaps most importantly, stay true to your roots.