As we know, content marketing is a powerful way to gain audience attention and increase sales. Content marketing can be applied in a variety of ways and in a variety of industries.
One area that has limited market research is the craft beer industry. A growing and niche market, the craft brewery industry has rapidly expanded in recent years to set itself apart from big-name brewers and brands like Coors and Anheuser-Busch.
According to the Brewer’s Association, the overall beer market in North America is worth about $116 billion, and craft beer dollar sales increased by 6% to reach $29.3 billion. Additionally, while overall beer sales went down in 2019, craft beer went up by 3.6% (or 26,086,145 BBLS or barrels). This same metric applies to beer production, with overall numbers decreasing to 1.6% but craft staying up at 3.6%.
Since craft breweries have their own unique market pull, and can utilize the power of a story for their marketing tactics, content marketing is the perfect fit for the industry.
We wanted to explore this exciting and growing market by presenting five ways that craft breweries can increase sales using content marketing. Before we dive into that, we will first map out why content marketing is the perfect fit for any size craft brewery.
Why Content Marketing is Perfect for a Craft Brewery
It’s clear that craft beer is a rapidly growing market and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. From 2018 to 2019, there was an increase in total craft breweries by 9.1% (growing from 7,594 to 8,275).
So what makes this industry so special? And why are business owners and even governments flocking to this niche market?
Similar to the alternative alcohol space, craft beer has been a self-promotional industry. History tells us that small-time homebrewers have naturally filled the community roles around alcohol sales, and these trends still continue.
Homebrewers Associations all over the world get together to brew a beer together using home equipment and home recipes. This not only sparks innovation and creativity but passion within the industry and connection between it and community members. These passionate members then go out to support colleagues and local craft brewer members.
In addition to the feeling of community, a craft brewery prides itself on offering brews that tell a story. This is not the big-narrative type, but instead, each beer might have its own unique tale around how it has been created, in part, because each beer is actually chemically unique.
So not only does the industry encourage evolving beer tastes through competitions, which bring in community members to judge beers, but it also supports creative engineering solutions to see what craft beer is capable of.
One example of this is the jump from the India Pale Ale (IPA) to the DIPA, the Double IPA or Imperial IPA, a style that came about through a different brew technique and produced higher alcohol content and a richer taste. Another example of this is the West Coast style IPA and the Northeast IPA. These beers differ in cloudiness and taste because the yeast is added to the wort at different times and temperatures.
The bottom line is that craft breweries are all about storytelling, community, scientific knowledge, and entertainment. The right content can help advance these stories and foster community growth. In this sense, content marketing for craft breweries makes perfect sense.
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5 Ways Craft Breweries Can Increase Beer Sales with Content Marketing
So maybe you’re sold on the idea of content marketing for your craft brewery, but you’re not sure where to start. Here are five ideas to help get that inspiration flowing.
First, develop your brand persona
Before you start to promote your content far and wide, make sure that you have thought long and hard about what your beer brand means in terms of viewers. Since your craft beer brand might be promoted to a national, if not global, audience, it is important to first hone in on brand perception through market research.
When developing your brand persona, Samuel Adams provides a good example of how you can effectively display persona across a number of platforms. As the flagship brand of the Boston Beer Company, Sam Adams became known as a “Boston lager.” And having been named after a U.S. Founding Father, the brand worked to capture that historical narrative in its beer labels.
A brand persona should not be only about the beer itself, but it should also be about the community that drives it, the way you feel when you drink it, and the environment where you’ll drink it. Stone Ales in San Diego, California not only did this in their marketing tactics, but they also created two taprooms and patios that transport visitors into an oasis (in Escondido and Liberty Station) so that people can visit and enjoy their beer in the perfect environment.
Social media posting
Social media marketing is an effective way to reach potential audiences and because of its visual appeal, it is not only a smart choice for craft breweries, but it is becoming a required element for reaching the right audience segments.
Social media marketing tactics might look like posting photos of delicious looking pints with condensation on the glass, situated on a perfectly stylized patio. These are simple and sure-fire ways to get beer fans interested in your product because it is allowing the future craft beer consumer to visualize what using your product will look like.
The majority of craft beer drinkers want to consume a unique bevy on the patio, so show them that! Even if your beverages are basic, you will still be appealing to the aesthetic of patio beers.
When posting to social media, make sure that you are editing the photos appropriately for size, writing relevant and engaging content descriptions, and keeping viewers engaged. If you post to Instagram, make sure to keep your stories active.
You can also consider posting to Pinterest, a great visual marketing platform where you can do more than just show viewers how good your beer looks! Provide them with a beverage and food pairing or directions on how to enjoy your brand’s great beer at home.
An informative blog
One of the best forms of content promotion and marketing is a blog. Blogging can inform viewers about a scientific process, such as brewing beer, or it can go above and beyond that to inform your target audience about the beer industry.
As Karen Hamilton, director of communications for California-based brewer Lagunitas Brewing Co., says, “The beer geeks, they get in pretty deep. They want to know the ingredients. They want to know the ABV, the IBU, the style, the process—all of those things.”
So give your fans what they want! Beer-lovers love learning about how to make beer because there are so many different ways that it can be done. From traditional breweries to modern innovations, there is always something more to learn.
Blogging about brewing techniques is a craft beer marketing tactic used by brewers like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to create an authentic brand persona. While Dogfish beer is all over the U.S., what many don’t realize about the brewery is the level of marketing efforts that it took to get them there.
If you can’t spend time dedicated to creating a blog, then considering outsourcing it! A team of professionals can handle all or some of the blogging process. So if you want, you can trust your blog to the dedicated hands of a content team so you know that your blog content is regularly written, edited and posted!
An entertaining podcast
Beer podcasts are a popular way of getting scientific information about beer-making out into the public sphere.
Granted, if you are operating a craft brewery, you might not have the time to dedicate to a multi-hour podcast, with editing, posting, and research. Instead, outsource your podcast, or do smaller updates once a month that can easily be posted to YouTube. You can always do the podcast while chatting with friends at the local craft beer market, or during a brew day! Make it interesting!
A podcast is beneficial as there are a number of your followers who will want to listen to you as opposed to reading or scrolling social media. This also can take people off social media and on to your website, directing them to the sales platform and company info.
Your sales rep can also work in tandem with any of these promotion tactics by providing informative sales content and by redirected marketing efforts where appropriate.
Partner promotions or customer spotlights
Partner promotions are an effective marketing strategy that can encourage more customer engagement. Partner promotions can mean joining forces with a given company, or it can be highlighting other freelancers and contractors by bringing together art and beer in a unique experience.
This is something that Kington Ontario’s Stone City Ales has done. On their Instagram, the brewery has promoted the photography of local residents and are even moving towards collaborative beer labels using local photographer’s work, therefore highlighting the significance of the local community to their brand as a whole.
When you’re a small business that thrives on local, the community is your oyster! Don’t be afraid to showcase a community member who was helping someone cross the street in front of your tasting room or wearing your craft beer brand beanie during those rough no-patio winter months.
Play the role-reversal, and highlight another business in your community. Show off a staff member repping a locally-branded shirt or provide a mutually exclusive discount with potential customers who also shop at another business.
By playing with the inclusivity of your local community on a broad spectrum like social media, a blog, or in a podcast, you will be creating a unique hybrid community that consists of online audiences and local actors interested in your beer brand.
This builds the intrigue for those following online and also makes them feel like part of the community, even if they can’t be there. Trust us, the FOMO is real!
Increase Brewery Sales With Content Marketing
As marketers, we know that content marketing is an effective way to inform people about a product or service while simultaneously creating brand awareness, improving web traffic, and generating topical authority.
This digital marketing style is perfect for craft brewing as beer is all about community, coming together over a pint, and brewing together on a beautiful day. Content marketing is the ideal way of telling people about your brand identity, promoting the beer festival you are currently attending, or to show off your taproom.
Inform your viewers about a recent brew technique, or redirect consumers to your online shop after showing them an inspiring vision of how beer can be enjoyed at home or on the brewpub patio.
Beer lovers want to connect with you, so it is only a matter of finding where your consumer is hiding! Use inbound marketing to draw your target audience in and not only build your brand awareness, but also improve craft beer sales overall!