When you own and operate a craft brewery, you know that a lot of hard work goes into every pint you sell. Not only do you want your craft to be enjoyed, but you want it to be cherished. Finding the audience to sip on your bubbly beverage might be difficult.
Here’s the thing: craft breweries have the potential of reaching wider customers than ever before. With the explosion of craft brews in the United States, Europe, and even reaching developing countries in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asian Islands, and Asia, craft beer has the potential to appeal not only to a local audience but to a global audience.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic, the brewery industry has seen an 30% uptick in beer sales through eCommerce and delivery platforms. It’s all very exciting, and your craft brewery needs to be a part of this movement.
Content marketing can help you get there. Here’s our guide on how to expand your craft brewery’s reach in this evolving industry.
Generating Exposure for Your Craft Brewery
When we think of exposure in the craft beer industry, we think of Pliny the Elder, Dogfish Head 90 Minutes, and Stone. These are name brand craft breweries, reaching farther than the brewery’s local and geographical shipping routes, into the beer drinker’s psyche.
In terms of marketing, many people think of exposure as press releases, word of mouth marketing, and early exposure marketing. And this type of exposure is what we’re talking about here today. However, within the craft brewery industry, you must also think about long-term exposure if you want to make a solid run for it.
Craft breweries start with the benefit of being in homebrew, craft brew, and local beer networks so that generating basic exposure is done naturally when you open up your taproom or sell your first beer. However, getting your brand out there does not mean a whole lot if your beer is bad, or if your taproom has failed an inspection or two. Negative PR hits significantly higher in the craft beer industry because the people in this industry largely believe that whatever negative PR that brewery has created is reflected in the brewery’s ownership techniques.
Therefore, when thinking about exposure, you’ll want to instead consider your craft brewery’s legacy. Identify what you want or think your brewery is or should be known for. Do you use an old English style brew technique? Do you specialize in sours? Or, perhaps, your taproom aesthetic really sells itself. Consider what every element of your brand gives off and make sure to incorporate that aspect in long-term marketing and exposure campaigns.
3 Key Factors to Consider When Generating Your Brewery’s Exposure
Generating exposure for a craft brewery really depends on 1) the capabilities of the brewery and brew team, 2) your marketing goals, and 3) your unique value.
To start, your brewery’s capabilities are easy to adjust. This is purely economics. If you have enough in the budget, then you are able to spend more on ingredients, manpower, equipment, sales, and marketing. In this way, a brewery with a lot of money has the potential to go global. But, as we know, this is not always the case.
To the second point: what are your marketing goals? If you want to make $200,000 in the first year, then chances are your marketing goals are to get as big as possible. However, recognize that just about everyone wants to make $200,000 in the first year of opening their brewery. So what makes you different? If you’re looking for long-term growth, then your brewery needs to consider brand awareness strategies.
And to the last point: your brewery’s unique value. This point is what completes points 1 and 2. If you have a ton of money but you don’t bring value to the table, then your brewery is not going to succeed. Even if your brewery has all the capabilities in the world, its success must come from your brewery’s passion for the craft.
And if you just want to make a bunch of money (which many breweries do), then you may become popular, but you might not last. Having unique, tangible, realistic, and yet bold marketing goals will set you apart from your competition and put you two, if not three steps ahead of similar-looking competitors. This will then grant your business the opportunity to delve into why you love the brewery industry in the first place (please, please don’t say it’s for the money).
How To Go About Generating Exposure for Your Craft Brewery
When it comes to generating exposure for your brewery, you must consider the quirks of the brewery industry, which has a unique way of valuing unsuspecting brew brands and popularizing classic brew techniques over high marketing budgets.
However, developing an exposure campaign for your craft brewery will of course be determined by your craft brewery’s goals.
Consider the following three routes that breweries can take:
Revenue largely supported by the taproom retail
When you consider exposure for a craft brewery that is largely focused on taproom sales, then you will remain local and community-driven.
Note that this route is not about whether or not you can expand, but more about whether or not you want to expand your business. Some breweries want to stay small and local, and that’s fine. Maybe you want to stay in a microbrewery forever.
This can be used to your advantage and can still be used in marketing campaigns that encourage travel driven by the beer industry.
Revenue balanced between taproom retail and market sales (or keg wholesale)
This route of sales is most common, and the majority of breweries want their consumers to be able to enjoy their beer in a variety of ways. You might own and operate a taproom, as well as sell kegs, cans, or bottles to local beer and wine distributors.
Depending on the amount of distribution available (or the size of your minivan), you might be able to sell to local pubs and watering holes, local liquor markets and stores, and major distributors in your state or region.
This type of distribution is balanced, but you are counting on the sales of the market to not only surplus but to also increase sales all around and drive sales back to the taproom. And your beer label out in the wild is also a useful marketing tool.
Considering that this is the most common distribution type, you’ll want to think long and hard about your label design, the names of your beer, and the beer style and promote each of those in the most appropriate way.
Triple-stream revenue: taproom, keg wholesale, and export
The triple stream is far more lucrative than taproom sales because your beer sales are going beyond national borders. This business has to generate a decent amount of exposure, where your brand name is well-known in your locale but also popular amongst international beer networks and in global beer markets.
Starting off at this level of exposure is extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, having global distribution in mind is key to the level of content marketing that you will be invested in.
Content Marketing for Boosting Craft Beer Exposure
When we think about all of these aspects, goals, and plans in terms of a content marketing strategy, we can begin to develop a long-term plan for your brewery’s goals.
If you have minimal interest in scaling to distribute at all, then your content marketing goals will be focused on driving local traffic and building community. While this might seem the easiest, you also have to find a way to remain popular over a longer period of time, which can ultimately prove difficult.
If you are already distributing, then you have a step up when it comes to content marketing. If, for example, securing wholesale for your beer is becoming increasingly difficult, then your brand needs to increase exposure and therefore increase desirability and consumer need. Once your brand and beer type is known to consumers, then wholesalers are more likely to take your product on their shelves.
And of course, this model scales to international levels. Once your brand or beer is talked about at international conferences and within beer magazines, then you can start to see the ways that consumer needs are driving sales.
Content marketing can assist you in this, and there are many ways that make sense for the beer industry. From podcasts to magazine articles, op-eds, and blog articles, a well-thought-out and focused content marketing plan that speaks to your unique business needs can drastically improve exposure while also boosting consumer interest.