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Here’s our guide to marketing a brewery, complete with all the ideas you need to get your next campaign started.
It is a good time to own a brewery. Ever since the craft beer industry boomed in the early 2000s, the taps have not stopped flowing. The world of craft brewing is more than just a favorite hobby for millions of Americans - many consider craft beer to be an art form. Beer connoisseurs travel all over the country and the world to taste unique micro or small-batch brews from breweries.
Modern craft brewing as we know it began with the trend of homebrewing, which wasn’t legal in all 50 states until 2013. As a result, once it was federally legal to be a proud brewmaster, the US saw a major increase in microbreweries. With nearly 9,000 breweries operating in the US in 2020 (up from just 1,400 in 2006!), it's clear that craft beer fever isn’t going away any time soon.
While the more brewers in operation the merrier for the overall craft beer industry, it takes a smart restaurant marketing strategy for a brewery to stand out and keep customers coming back for more.
Never fear, there are always enough pints to go around. Let’s explore what you’ll need to do to craft a brewery marketing strategy that is as powerful as your strongest pour.
What is a brewery marketing strategy?
Your marketing strategy is the step-by-step process of how you will showcase your brewery to the public. This strategy will be the foundation for your business' growth.
Think of this strategy as your restaurant's entire introduction to society. You’ll want to not only make a good first impression but also present your brewery’s identity in a way that attracts potential customers to give your beers a try.
Begin asking yourself important questions like - What is the unique draw of my brewery? What was my driving purpose behind becoming a brewery owner? What does owning my own restaurant mean to me? It’s questions like these that will shape your marketing strategy and help infuse your own personality into your brewery’s brand identity.
How much should I spend on brewery marketing?
Before you begin formulating your brewery marketing tactics, you first need to calculate how much of your overall budget you can allocate to marketing. As a general rule, your brewery marketing budget should be between 3% and 6% of your sales.
Determining a Brewery Marketing Budget
Most restaurants spend about 3-10% of their sales on a marketing budget. But, for brewmasters who are comfortable with digital marketing and social media, that number could be much lower.
To calculate your budget more strategically, analyze your brewery’s profit margin, inventory turnover ratio, and market share. These numbers will tell you if increasing your marketing budget would be a smart move for driving more business.
There are many different ways to approach your marketing budget. The good thing is that there is a wide range of ways to market a business, no matter the budget. If you’re working with a limited budget, it’s best to start small by leveraging your own network of friends, family, and local business organizations. If you have a large budget (or if are opening a location in a new area,) dedicate your financial resources to strategic promotional campaigns and sponsorships so that your brewery will reach its target customers.
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Brewery Marketing Ideas and Examples
Marketing your brewery in a crowded industry may feel like an uphill battle. How do you convince customers to choose your craft beer over the more established place down the street? The truth is - you can convince them. It just takes the right combination of brand marketing, promotion, and strategy.
Here are five marketing strategies for new breweries to try.
Community Generated Content
One of the most effective ways to show how your brewery has fostered a community of excited (and thirsty) customers is by leveraging user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) can be used in various types of marketing campaigns (like ads, social posts, and emails.) UGC includes anything from positive online reviews and customer testimonials, to any and all pictures and videos of your brewery and products that your customers post on social media.
Community generated content is essentially word-of-mouth marketing for the new age. Your customers are talking about and praising your brewery online, all you need to do is promote their excitement to a wider audience. Community-generated content is a simple and effective tool to highlight how active and loving your community of customers are. Just remember to always give credit to the creators of the content you share. It is always best to first ask if you can re-use a community members content. Chances are - they will be delighted to be featured!
Revolution Brewing in Chicago, Illinois is a proud member of their community. They use social media as a way to continuously foster connections and celebrate the world of craft beer. By embracing the photos and videos their community shares, the team at Revolution Brewing has solidified a place for themselves in the local culture.
Embrace Visual Interior and Exterior Design Features
Going to a brewery is about the beer, sure, but it’s also about the experience. In general, breweries have a signature laid-back atmosphere. Long tables that ooze a sense of community, the hum of buzzed conversations in the air, the rhythmic clinking of glasses behind the bar. Setting your brewery apart from the rest will (of course) depend on the quality of the brews you are pouring. But, to get folks in the door and sticking around for more than just one beer, you will need to make your brewery’s atmosphere something to talk about.
Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland elevates the experience of visiting their brewery by embracing the visual. Their larger-than-life colorful murals draw customers in right off the neighboring highway, and keep everyone coming back for another round of drinks and selfies.
Tastings are a Brewery’s Best Friend
Who can say no to free beer? One of the most tried and true brewery marketing tactics out there is to offer a complimentary beer tasting. Whether it is to showcase one of your newest creations or to highlight an old favorite, hosting a tasting is a guaranteed way to attract a brewery crowd. Announce your tastings via social media and local channels and watch your brewery fill up with thirsty guests.
Georgetown Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington is known for being the largest independent brewery in the state. What sets them apart from the (many, many) competing breweries in Seattle is their enthusiasm about tastings. Their tasting room is open seven days a week, offering plentiful samples at the bar and while visitors wait to be seated. As a result, their tasting room has become the go-to spot for anyone passing through in need of a drink.
Partner Up With Local Food Trucks
Did someone say “food truck”? A match made in heaven, craft beer breweries and food trucks are a natural partnership due to most breweries’ lack of food service and most food trucks’ lack of alcohol service. To avoid losing customers due to empty stomachs, consider partnering with a local food truck or another eatery to provide your hungry visitors with on-site eats.
Denver Beer Company in Denver, Colorado is known for always having a collection of local food trucks parked outside their taproom. Such partnerships are beacons of community, turning any average brewery into the festive and inviting atmosphere it has the potential to be.
If your brewery already has the menu covered, think about other ways you can partner with those in your community. For example, consider hosting local musicians or comedians to share their talents with your crowd.
Think Local, Drink Local
Emerging businesses need to look out for each other. Show your community that your brewery is not only a team player but an invaluable member of your local community by supporting your fellow business-people whenever the opportunity strikes. Just don’t be surprised when your community returns the favor by supporting your company just as much as you championed theirs.
There are so many creative ways to be an active member of your community: regularly donating to local organizations, volunteering your time or a keg or two to a community event, or even promoting local bands on your taproom corkboard.
Take Double Nickel Brewing Company in New Jersey for example. They walk the local walk with their annual Friends Giving initiative every November. Double Nickel collaborates with other regional breweries to raise money for local food banks and nonprofit organizations dedicated to fighting food insecurity. Over the last two years, they’ve raised over $200,000 for their community.
How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Marketing Strategy and Make Adjustments
So, you’ve kicked off your brewery marketing strategy with one of those inspiring marketing ideas… now what?
To ensure you are reaping the full benefits of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to consistently measure the effectiveness of your strategy. Ongoing monitoring and reporting allow you to make adjustments and shape your campaign while it’s still in progress, so you never miss out on a marketing opportunity that comes your way.
To measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, consider your objectives. What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of your current campaign? What is your projected ROI (Return on Investment?) What were you hoping to achieve with your marketing strategy? Once you have an understanding of your overall marketing metrics and goals, you can begin tracking how effective your campaign has been so far.
Restaurant Marketing Metrics to Track
If your goal is to increase awareness for your brewery across social media — carefully strategize and monitor the engagement on all your channels. This includes likes, comments, and shares of your content.
If your goal is to improve your content marketing across the board — measure its effectiveness by tracking conversion rates from your website.
If your goal is to improve your email marketing strategy — track and analyze open rates and click-through rates on your email marketing platform.
If your goal is beer sales— monitor your conversion rates, direct sales from certain marketing campaigns, and most profitable marketing channels.
What are the most common restaurant marketing strategies?
When it comes to marketing your brewery, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are many tried and true marketing strategies that have effectively drawn customers in for years.
The next time you are struggling to come up with brand new ideas, consider using one of these common restaurant marketing strategies:
Expand your email marketing campaigns to include personalization, like sending special birthday or anniversary messages to loyal guests.
Run seasonal or festive promotional campaigns that highlight your wide selection of craft brews.
Embrace the power of local ads by paying for location-specific online advertisements. A platform like Google Ads or Facebook Ads makes this process simple.
Focus on improving your organic reach by revamping the SEO of your brewery’s online presence.
Some of these strategies may require reaching out for external help (no one can become an SEO expert in a day!) So, don’t be shy to out-source marketing support, if you feel any of these strategies are far out of your comfort zone.
What are effective marketing strategies for new breweries?
Although you can use the same marketing strategies as established breweries, new breweries face the marketing challenge of having to make a winning first impression.
As a new brewery, your first job is to introduce yourself to the community. Customers will be more likely to take one of your bar stools for a test drive if your place feels familiar. To effectively market a new brewery, be sure to:
Establish a presence for your brewery on social media that genuinely reflects your brand so that customers can learn more about your brewery before coming in for a drink.
Offer a snazzy promotion to accompany your grand opening, like the first 50 customers get a free T-shirt.
Flaunt what makes you special. What sets your brewery apart from the competition? Do you use special ingredients or a signature brewing technique? Infuse your branding with what makes you stand out from the competition.
What are effective marketing strategies to increase revenue from existing customers and get them to spend more at your brewery?
Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of attracting customers to your brewery, you may assume that your marketing strategies have successfully run their course. It hasn’t!
While you may be inclined to focus less on marketing once you’ve attracted a crew of regulars, there are still tactics you can use to ensure you continue to gain new customers and your loyal customers keep coming back for more each week.
Here are a few key ways to keep your customers returning for more:
Create a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are one of the most effective ways to boost customer loyalty. Consumers who participate in high-performing loyalty programs are 80% more likely to choose the brand over competitors. They’re also twice as likely to recommend that brand to their friends.
To create an effective loyalty program at your brewery, be sure to make your annual membership fee worthwhile for your customers by including offers like discounted pours, celebratory “members only” nights, discounts on merchandise, and complimentary rounds of beer.
Host Trivia Night
To draw a crowd during slower days of the week, many bars will host trivia nights to draw a crowd. Trivia nights are an effective marketing tactic for returning customers because it turns your regulars into competitors who will keep coming back week after week for another shot at the top prize.
To ensure that your trivia nights create returning customers, offer the winning team a gift card that must be used at a later date.
Boost Community Involvement
If your customer retention rate isn’t where you’d like it to be, it may be time to reflect on how connected your customers feel to your brewery. Is there a sense of community and camaraderie among your bar staff and your regulars? If not, take this as an opportunity to create more direct customer involvement in your brewery.
One way to boost customer involvement is with a raffle. You can offer a chance to name a new craft beer or host a contest where local artists can submit custom t-shirt designs for your merchandise. Raffle ideas like this will show customers the value you place on your local community, something that will keep customers coming back again and again.
Are you ready to pour your heart into your brewery marketing?
Marketing a brewery takes the perfect blend of hops, grain, water, and dedication. Now that you know everything you need to create an effective brewery marketing strategy, you’re on your way to designing campaigns that keep the beer-loving members of your community coming back for more.