Guest post from Stewart Dunlop of Untappd
Before the internet, marketing your brewery was an expensive endeavor. You were typically charged a premium for television, magazine, or billboard space, and you weren’t even sure if you were targeting the right demographic. You’d need to set up a costly customer study for that.
Now, breweries have hundreds of cheap and effective ways to attract the right eyes to their marketing materials. They can even use built-in analytics software to find their target customer.
But old habits die hard. Many breweries are still taking the traditional route in a non-traditional space. Buying Google Ads isn’t a bad idea, but it’ll make you broke quickly if you aren’t careful.
A new brewery can’t afford to throw its money to the wind, and fortunately, you don’t have to.
How to Market Your Craft Brewery With Little Money
Marketing is the best way to keep your brewery on everyone’s minds, and you’ll want to start early. Building a brand takes time, but you can quickly make your mark by using these tips.
1. Understand the Basics of SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making your website and social media pages visible to organic search traffic. There are over 70,000 Google searches each second, and if you aren’t taking the time to optimize your SEO, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic.
Search engine optimization works for your website and social media profiles, and there’s a lot that goes into it. However, taking the time to develop an SEO strategy will save you money.
All SEO strategies will touch upon these core topics:
- Keyword research and keyword targeting
- On-page optimization
- Information architecture and internal linking
- Content marketing and link building
- Technical SEO
It’s also essential to track and measure your SEO results correctly, as it’s hard to translate your SEO strategy to a dollar value. You can learn more about SEO strategy on this page.
It can take six months before your strategy will take effect, but implementing SEO won’t cost you a dime unless you hire a consultant. But keep in mind that pay-per-click and traditional ads become more expensive over time, so hiring a consultant would actually be the cheaper option.
On the other hand, you can learn SEO fundamentals online and create a strategy yourself. Just make sure to check for updates regularly, as Google may rework its SEO requirements.
2. Create a Website and Make Content For It
If this is the first time you’re reading one of our articles, first of all, welcome, and second of all, we’re a microbrewery tour company situated in Denver, Colorado. To market our business, we highlight Denver breweries and the history of brewing in Denver specifically or Colorado broadly.
We do this on our website and social media pages using SEO-backed blogging content.
In the last section, we mentioned that content marketing is a core topic of SEO. That’s because Google pays attention to how often you update your content. By adding a piece of blog content to your website or social media profile weekly, you’re satisfying Google’s updating criteria.
But that’s not all. Content satisfies other aspects of SEO, such as keyword targeting, technical SEO, and on-page optimization. It also leads customers down your sales funnel.
For example, If a person reads one of our blog posts and thinks, “I’d like to try that beer” or “I’d like to visit that brewery,” they can read our call to action to schedule a microbrewery tour. This funnel makes sense because the readers on the page already like beer or beer tourism.
In the end, the content you make has to provide value and target the customers you want to convert. You need to discuss topics that would be interesting to someone in your niche.
3. Create a Digital Beer Menu to Show Off Your Beers
After creating a website, consider promoting your beers using a digital beer menu. Most of your customers will research your brewery and your beers before checking you out, so you should always have an updated menu available somewhere on your website or social media pages.
But instead of uploading your inventory individually or creating separate menus on each platform, try the Untappd demo if you want a digital beer menu for your business. Its world-class beer database makes menu and inventory creation easy. Plus, you can upload in bulk.
The best part of Untapped is its analytics software, which can track the most popular beers in the area. You’re going to need that if you want to understand local purchasing behaviors.
4. Take Advantage of Data to Sell the Right Beers
The United States is a big place, so you can’t use generic beer data to promote your brewery. In your first few years, your brewery will rely heavily on local customers or tourists (if you live in a big city), so you need to get to know your local craft scene and who you want to sell to.
But to do that, you traditionally need to conduct market research, which can be expensive. If you don’t have that kind of money, should you wing it? No, “winging it” is the worst thing a new business can do. You won’t be able to compete without raw data, but how can you get it?
There are three ways: research your competition, trial-and-error (while tracking your website or social media analytics), or search the web for local brewery data from a trusted source.
Start with the last option first, as it’s the most reliable. For example, a quick Google search allowed me to find a Colorado Craft Beer Report that gave me the following information:
- The Colorado craft beer segment is growing 13% year over year.
- Dry Dock, Ratio, and Left Hand are the most popular Denver breweries.
- Ratio, Wibby Brewing, and Denver Beer are the fastest-growing Colorado breweries.
- IPA, Golden Ale, and American Pale Ale are the most popular Denver beer styles.
- Dry Dock Apricot Blond and Denver Beer Co. Princess Yum Yum are the top local beer products from Colorado Breweries.
- Denver Beer Co. Princess Yum Yum and Denver Beer Co. Graham Cracker Porter are the fastest-growing beer products from Colorado Breweries.
With this information, your brewery will know that:
- Craft breweries in Colorado can actually make a profit.
- Dry Dock, Ratio, Left Hand, Wibby Brewing, and Denver Beer are your biggest competition. You can start researching what these breweries do well, what niche they serve, and where they lack, so you can do it better or switch your focus.
- IPA, Golden Ale, and American Pale Ale are top sellers in Denver. You should rotate these beers often or all the time. On the other hand, you could avoid selling these beers to capitalize on an untapped niche, like ESB, Amber Lager, or fruit beer lovers.
- Denver Beer Co. Princess Yum Yum, Denver Beer Co. Graham Cracker Porter, and Dry Dock Apricot Blond are well-liked. Discover why that is. Can you improve on the recipe? Should you even compete? Would it be better to make something different from it?
A brewery is only as good as its beer. If you have a subpar product, your customers won’t keep coming back. Data can help you make products that speak to your target segment or find and exploit a niche. It can even help you invent memorable designs for your beer bottles and cans.
5. Use Local SEO to Attract Local Customers
Local SEO is an extension of regular SEO, but it’s really important if you want to take a localized approach to your business. If you want to attract locals to your brewery, here’s what you do:
Claim and Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Any business can create a Google Business profile, and they should because it’ll increase your visibility on Google. An optimized Google Business profile will populate on the first page of Google when a customer types in keywords like “breweries near me” or “breweries in CO.”
The more information you fill out increases your chance of appearing in the “Local Pack,” which is the three to five local businesses that appear at the top of the search engine result page.
Pay Attention to Local Search Engine Optimization
The process of optimizing local SEO is a little different than general SEO. For example, Google tracks if you have a consistent name, phone number, and address across the internet. You also need to claim your brewery on local directories, such as Yelp and Trip Advisor, to look reputable.
Ask and Receive Reviews and Testimonials
Your customers will look at your reviews before trying your beers. You’ll need to have a lot of positive and recent reviews to be considered trustworthy, so work on asking your patrons for testimonials. For example, send an email asking for a review after they made a purchase.
Show Your Personality Off on Social Media
Creating social media profiles for your local brewery will make you more accessible and approachable, but make sure you use custom hashtags to track who’s talking about your products online. Keep your patrons engaged by replying to comments and asking for feedback.
Highlight Local Events and Projects You’re Apart Of
Brewery owners should become an active part of their community by getting involved in local causes, charities, and fundraisers. At the same time, they should attend local beer festivals and host local events, such as trivia nights, karaoke nights, beer tasting parties, or lunchtime yoga.
Although these events take place offline, you should still advertise them on social media. Once the event is over, be sure to upload pictures of your patrons to generate future interest.
6. Give Away Products for Your Loyalty Program
Breweries can still participate in and create online loyalty clubs for customers who can’t make it to the building. However, it’s easy to fall back on gifting swag because it’s easy to make and ship. Swag doesn’t get customers through the door, but free samples and usable items will.
Not only that, but it’s more fun to earn up to a free pint of beer or a taster package. If you make rewards exciting, more people will sign up, but don’t forget to make it easy for them to do so. An email, name, and an ID check are all you’ll need to hand over a digital or physical punch card.
Remember that free samples are never a waste of money. You’re already making the beer anyway, and you’re more likely to start a word-of-mouth advertising campaign with beer rather than a shirt. Most people won’t wear or use your lanyards or attire unless your logo is cool.
You should also consider giving away free products as an incentive to join your program or try a beer. Deals, coupons, and contests are also a big hit and can be promoted in a newsletter.
In fact, an email list is a cost-effective way to remind customers of your upcoming events, latest products, and other important news about your business. You can use similar incentives to ask for your customer’s emails online (i.e., discounts) via your website or social media contests.
7. Partnering With a Local Brewery Tour Company
Partnering with local influencers can help you capitalize on craft brewery trends and spread your brand’s message. Social influencers are often willing to post about your business, promote your brand, or review your beers in exchange for money, rewards, a discount code, or free products.
For example, Denver Microbrew Tour partners with hundreds of breweries across Denver. Your brewery can be featured as one of the spots on the tour, or you can set up a private tour specifically for your business. We may also produce content about your beers or brewery.
The right partnership could increase the amount of traffic to your physical business and website, but you need to make sure you stay legally compliant during the process by writing a contract.
A contract can safeguard you against undesirable PR effects and ensures everyone considers the partnership fair before entering into the deal. If the influencer doesn’t produce a contract or says they want to enter into an agreement without one, that often means they’re untrustworthy.