This is Part 3 of our Growth Guidance Pro Tips Series and we’re talkin’ brewery marketing.
And it’s the one area of focus that can really make or break the long-term growth potential of your brewery.
In case you need to catch up though…
In Part 1 we highlighted our best insights on what powers the world’s best taprooms.
In Part 2 we explored the metrics and processes that drive the top outside sales teams in the industry.
Today, we dive into an area where you really see the amateur vs. professional distinction in full effect.
Amateurs treat marketing like a “nice to have.” Something to “get around to” once day once we hit X, Y, or Z milestone.
Their can releases are haphazard. Their Instagram accounts an amalgam of disorganized fluff.
Professionals treat marketing like a critical business function, as important to the success of the brewery as product development, sales, or operations.
Within professional breweries, marketing is tied directly into every decision they make… and it shows.
Do a mediocre job, and you might keep up.
Do an exceptional job, and you could find yourself on a rocket ship.
Let’s dig in.
Pro Tip 11: Stop Making Excuses
Growth Guidance Pro Tip, Day 11: Stop Making Excuses
This is where mean Uncle Chris jumps back into the mix.
Because the biggest growth tip of them all when it comes to marketing is to simply:
Stop making excuses.
Because there are a lot of breweries out there that just don’t pay attention to the importance of marketing, and have a million reasons why they don’t.
But if you think about the people who’ve walked ahead of you…
And if you think about the largest brands…
At the end of the day, the liquid is what it is, but what has set them apart from the competition is their marketing.
Whether they have attached it to a celebrity, a demographic, a histographic, a geography… they have done a great job of capturing the consumer’s attention (and wallet).
And once they figure out a marketing plan that works, they end up scaling it up and expanding rapidly.
Yes, you happen to make a high-quality product.
But at the end of the day, you are 100% in a consumer goods marketing game.
Why is the consumer going to drink your product over somebody else’s?
You need to attract them.
Pro Tip 12: Get Your Post Frequency Up
Speaking of not making excuses…
Social is certainly the one piece of the puzzle that you absolutely have none for not taking advantage of.
The one common thread behind the algorithm of any major social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) is that the more frequently you post content relevant to your audience, the more likely you are to show up in their feed.
Here’s the benchmark: 2-4 times per day across your channels.
Do this through an agency. Do it in-house. I don’t care.
Because if you’re falling short of this benchmark, you’re 100% leaving business on the table.
Now… this doesn’t mean post crap.
And if you have the budget and resources, some great product photography and an eye for design can seriously elevate your brand.
But regardless, it’s ultimately consistency that makes the biggest difference.
Regular engagement with your social media audience helps you generate new and repeat business.
Simple as that.
Brewery Marketing Pro Tip 13: Ad Spend %
The brewery marketing and advertising spend should be between 3%-5% of revenue.
So if you have $2m in sales you should spend between $60k-$100k over the course of a year.
You may need to cut a person in the short run to make this work.
Over time if the advertising is effective, you will see an ROI of 2x-5x what you are spending.
Pro Tip 14: Find A Hungry Agency
A brewery’s marketing needs to be on point, and it needs to be consumer retail-focused.
And that means if you don’t have skill in-house that’s up to the challenge, you need to find a hungry agency to work with.
What does hungry mean?
First, these are not the agencies you’re likely familiar with that typically serve local service-based companies (real estate agents, lawyers, doctors, etc.). That’s a different game.
Second, these are typically digital agencies that have demonstrated success with other consumer products but are looking to break into craft and prove themselves.
You may have to interview a few and make sure to vet their retail successes. But get this right and you’ve likely made the best possible use of that 3-5% ad spend budget I recommended above.
P.S. One benefit of working through an agency vs. in house is that you have the ability to attach added accountability to the engagement.
Set your ROI expectations upfront. And make sure you have a methodology in place for (at least roughly) measuring the performance of that spend.
Let the creatives do their thing…
But always bring it back to the numbers to evaluate whether it’s serving your objectives and hitting the established benchmarks.
Pro Tip 15: Authentic Culture
This one falls squarely under the “secret sauce” category…
Bbut it’s often the difference between those breweries that find wild success and raving fans, and those that do just “so-so,” regardless of their strategic and operational prowess.
Culture begins as a direct reflection of the owner.
Extends out to your employees.
And flows directly into your brand and community surrounding the brewery.
It’s embodied in the taproom.
It shows up in your product, your packaging, your pricing.
And it’s what makes the difference between a raucous crowd of fans that can’t wait to get their hands on your next can release…
And an uphill battle to win back customers that would just as well stop into Joe’s pub down the street.
Knowing your “why” is one of the core components of this process.
Next Steps Towards Growth
One thing we’ve also discovered…
Is that the owners who have vision and a clear sense of their why…
Are those same owners that have made the commitment to go pro.
I’d be shocked if the two were unrelated.
Because when you have clear vision, you know why you’re in the game in the first place, and you can see where your brewery is headed 3… 5… 10 years down the line almost as vividly as you see it today, your decision-making radically changes.
You recognize what you’re exceptional at, and play up those strengths.
- Maybe you’re the brewmaster and you do your best work in the quiet, low hum of your production space.
- Maybe you’ve got the magical marketing touch, and should be on the whiteboard designing the next big can release.
- Maybe you’re the culture-builder and have that weird, magnetic ability to create taproom buzz and excitement in your community.
Regardless what those are…
You also recognize that in order to allow those exceptional abilities to shine through… you need to be ruthless in your delegation of what you’re not exceptional at.
And in my opinion, this is the transition that unlocks the potential of your brewery.
We’re here to support that transition.
Here’s what happens when owners decide to partner with us (two of which decided to do so this week) and kick off the Numbers-Powered Growth process as a part of their turning pro journey:
- Rapid Onboarding. Right after you sign on, we kick off our 2-week onboarding process. We’ll meet with you to establish your objectives, collect information and identify any liabilities. Then we go to work cleaning up your books, migrating and update your software, and setting the foundation for success.
- Outsourced Accounting. You’ll then have your back office fully outsourced to us, with a dedicated SBS brewery accountant updating your books twice a week and providing guidance to your team on entry of day-to-day transactions. We’ll then conduct an efficient monthly close and provide the reporting that will inform our Numbers Huddle process.
- The Numbers Huddle Process. This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ll meet either monthly or quarterly with me and your SBS accountant to uncover the new opportunities and risks we see in the numbers. We’ll use these meetings to set the agenda for making forward progress on profit, growth, and risk-reduction objectives.
- Hands-Off Tax Planning and Filing. Getting a grip on your books means that we have everything we need to not only file your federal and state income taxes, but plan to maximize the deductions and credits applicable to the industry, and in most cases significantly reduce your tax bill. This is the compliance piece of the puzzle no owner should have their direct hands in.
- Brewery Business Blueprint Membership. Now a client-only benefit to support the growth guidance process, you’ll get immediate access to our premium online program designed to arm you with the best practices and standards we’ve spent the last decade collecting and refining across 100+ of the top craft breweries in the U.S. The platform includes video courses, templates, benchmarks, and weekly webinars to help you continue to increase profitability, grow your outside sales, and further streamline your operations.
- Additional Growth Amplifiers. No matter which level of engagement you choose, you’ll have continuous access to me for questions, feedback, and another set of eyes on your decision-making. You’ll also have the option of adding goal tracking (for leadership team accountability), on-site visits (for direct hands-on strategic guidance), and full business system facilitation (for integrating success into your organization from the ground up).
That’s the core process. It could be right for you.
To find out, I’d recommend scheduling a discovery call here.
And if you’re a fit, we’d be thrilled to support and accelerate your path to the ultimate vision of what your brewery could be.
The Growth Guidance series wraps in Part 4 with the scary, behind-closed-doors factor optimists aren’t akin to discuss: risk.
We’ll walk through how to navigate it like a professional.