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Your Guide To Brewery Advertising

Grace JidounAuthor

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It can be challenging to stand out as a brewpub, taproom, or bar. You’re selling a product that’s similar to others out there — and in a highly saturated market. 

Effective brewery advertising is key to success. 

The American craft brewery scene is quickly regaining its footing after a sharp pandemic decline, showing 8% growth in 2021. More good news: the retail value of the entire beer market, which encompasses large and corporate breweries, finished at $26.9 billion in 2021 – 21% higher than the previous year. It’s a good time for new players to jump into the market and for existing businesses to rethink their brewery advertising strategies. 

Advertising is the number one way to stand out among the noise. Whether it’s leveraging influencer marketing, encouraging word-of-mouth referrals, or upping your SEO game, many avenues can lead to success. And no, you shouldn’t just mimic what other successful breweries are doing. You need an advertising strategy that feels organic to your unique brand.

In this article, you will learn the basics of brewery advertising. Maintaining the latest knowledge and trends is crucial in today's changing landscape. Read on to find out how to build excitement with new customers and engage with regulars to inspire customer loyalty.

Define your target audience

Before you can build a connection with your customers through advertising, you must define your target audience

The first step is nailing your brewery’s brand identity. Without a strong theme or vibe, guests will come away with the feeling that your brewery is like any other corner watering hole. Defining your business's ideal audience may take some work, but with the right kind of research and communication strategies, you’ll be able to edge out the competition.

Selling any product, regardless of your industry, is all about meeting your customer’s needs. Some customers may seek out your brewery solely for that rare hefeweizen from a small German producer, while others may not care about the beer as much as the opportunity to munch on nachos with a large group of friends. 

Doing a deep dive into the demographics of your target audience — including age, gender, location, and interests — will help you better define the ideal customer you want to attract. Before you spend money on advertising, you need to analyze the preferences and habits of your potential customers and understand what inspires them to frequent breweries. The connection with your customer should never start or end with the point of sale.

There are several tools at your fingertips to do this. Survey data is a popular way to define your audience. With survey sites like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms, you can pose open-ended questions to potential customers about your brewery's brand and positioning to glean meaningful insights. Similarly, social media analytics is the practice of gathering data to get the pulse of your brewery on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and the like. Sites like HubSpot and Sprout Social will tell you how many people interact with your content on social media and how many sales your posts generate.

Online advertising

We’ll be honest: most internet users are determined to block, mute, or scroll past any ad that comes their way. One thing that makes a difference, and inspires people to click, is a strong online presence. Even with bold pop-up ads touting fantastic beer specials, potential customers might not give your brewery a second thought without all the elements in place. 

This includes an optimized website, a solid social media presence, and a smooth POS system to ensure you make the most of your online advertising. You don’t want to grab someone’s attention with a clever online ad only for them to never return because of a clunky point-of-sale experience.

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Organic online advertising

Online advertising generally falls into two categories: paid and organic. A blend of the two will give your brewery the farthest reach. First, we’ll learn about organic advertising. There are many free, yes free, ways to boost your followers online.

  • Social media

Organic social media is any free content shared on social media, including videos, posts, blogs, stories, and more. According to Toast’s Restaurant Success Report, 91% of restaurants turn to Facebook to promote their businesses, with Instagram coming in a close second at 78%. When it comes to posts, it can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Think photos of your blackboard specials, a video of your chef putting the finishing touches on your signature Wagyu burger, or a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made. Approach this as an opportunity to tell your story, broadcasting your brewery’s personality to the world. For more on engaging with customers and driving sales, check out our restaurant-focused Guide to Social Media.  

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When someone types “best breweries near me” into Google, they will likely get dozens if not hundreds, of results. Search engine optimization (SEO) will help your business’s website appear at the top. Consider these sobering statistics: 27.6% of people click on the first Google result, and only 0.63% go to the second page, according to Backlinko. Local SEO will improve your ranking and visibility, translating to more clicks and customers. While there’s no shortage of advice on SEO best practices, an excellent place to start is our detailed Guide for Beginners, written explicitly for restaurant owners.

  • Online directories and review sites

Online directories and review sites help people weed through local listings and find breweries that meet their needs faster. Registering in a business directory like Google My Business is a free and easy way to make your brewery stand out. Perhaps more importantly, your brewery will appear on Google Maps. Think of these directories as online versions of the Yellow Pages.

High-profile review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor provide a different service, giving customers a real-world taste of the vibe and drinking experience at your brewery. The reviews are written by other customers, so you can easily get the inside scoop (warts and all) about the atmosphere, food, drink, and décor. According to a study by Northwestern University, these crowd-sourced review sites profoundly impact sales.

Paid online advertising

Sometimes you need to cut through the digital clutter, and that’s where paid advertising comes in. It’s a more precise way of targeting customers, optimized for reaching the specific people who may actually pull up a stool and throw back a cold one at your business.

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is where a brewery pays a publisher (like Google or social media platforms) only when someone clicks on their ad. The fee is known as cost-per-click (CPC). This method is considered very cost-effective compared to an ad campaign. Since paid search ads appear at the top of the Google page (the ones marked “sponsored”), it’s often a good return on your investment. The most popular platforms include YouTube Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, and Microsoft Ads. It’s easy to laser focus on specific markets, track the number of clicks, and scale up or pull back depending on your results.  

  • Social media ads

No one is asking how Facebook makes money anymore. It is one of the fastest-growing online ad networks in the world, representing more than 60 percent of social media ad revenue globally. Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are other popular platforms that enable you to create targeted advertisements based on specific demographics and interests. For instance, you can promote Trivia nights to local puzzle groups on Facebook or appeal to foodies with photos of your amazing happy hour spreads. Unlike the old print and TV advertising model, you can fine-tune your ad and your audience as you learn who interacts with it.

  • Display advertising

It’s the O.G. of digital advertising: the Banner Ad. Typically shaped as a strip and located at the top of a page, banner ads can be effective if placed on relevant sites and blogs your target audience frequents (relevant being the keyword). Display ads typically have lower click-through rates but can help create brand awareness. Banner ads now come in all shapes and sizes, including videos, pop-ups, and interactive features.

Collaborations and partnerships

Collaborations with local businesses, complementary brands, and influencers are a great way to extend your audience reach.

Strategic partnerships with complementary businesses are a great way to network and develop cross-promotions that benefit everyone involved. When approaching potential partners, outline what’s in it for them. For instance, if you partner with another bar, you might pitch in on a van to create a bar-hopping nightclub route. Beer festivals, cocktail competitions, wine tasting, and food fests are all natural cross-promotional partners for nightclubs.

 People love to feel like they’ve “discovered” a new brewery or bar. By using social media influencers to introduce your brand, you can build awareness and real excitement. Beyond providing a peek inside the brewery, Influencers will explain the “why here and why now?” aspect of the experience and really cut through the fray. Identify social media influencers in your area — people with large followings who post frequently — and strike a deal. Allow them to see (and post about) a hidden side of your brewery that most patrons don’t see. It could be a look into the kitchen, an interview with a brewmaster, or an exclusive on next month’s musical lineup. Breweries often comp food and drink for influencers who share their experience with their followers. This is a low-impact way to increase visibility and credibility for your restaurant.

Traditional advertising methods

Nowadays, it’s easy to forget that print ads tend to be bolder, more original, and more memorable than digital ads. You can get creative with eye-catching colors, fonts, sizes, and layouts. Consider advertising your brewery in local newspapers, magazines, and community newsletters to connect with an offline audience.

  • Flyers and brochures

This is the old tried-and-true method of advertising a brewery, and it’s still around for a reason. Having a physical flyer or brochure in your hands captures your attention immediately. There are no ad blockers or ignore buttons in the real world. The key is distributing them in high-traffic areas where your intended target audience will be, like around local businesses, community centers, and campuses. Incentives, like discounts or coupon codes, will make people look twice.

  • Local events and sponsorships

One of the main advantages of participating in local events and sponsorships is that it inspires high trust among your target audience. For instance, having your brewery’s name emblazoned on a banner at a wiggle-waggle walk might be just the nudge people need to check out your dog-friendly patio. Getting involved in neighborhood events signals enthusiasm about your community and is a wonderful way to build brand recognition. 

Tracking advertising metrics

 After putting things in motion, it’s time to kick up your feet and sip a tall, cold one, right? Wrong! It’s crucial to track their effectiveness to make data-driven decisions (and not rely on hunches or feelings). Here are some key metrics to be familiar with:

  • Impressions: The number of times your ad was displayed

  • Clicks: The number of times your ad was clicked on.

  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR): The percentage of people who view a website, see your ad, and then actually click on it.

  • Conversion Rate: This takes the CTR a step further. The percentage of click-throughs that lead to a sale is a valuable way to determine an ad’s success.

  • Cost per Click (CPR): The average amount you pay when someone clicks on your ad. 

  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): The revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The total cost of winning a new customer through advertising. To calculate your CAC, define a period of time (month, quarter, etc.), take all marketing and sales expenses, and divide it by the number of customers. 

Make advertising work for your brewery

With so many ways for people to connect with your brewery brand, you’ll be flooded with business in no time. 

Developing an advertising strategy can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. Hopefully, with our practical tips and tactics, you can navigate the world of brewery promotion with ease and turn all those potential customers into regulars.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.