Among the many fantastic things in the craft beer world, the enthusiasm and loyalty of beer drinkers is among the best.
Such sentiment provides an invaluable opportunity for small breweries. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get beer out there.
Obviously, this all assumes the brewery is producing excellent beer. But there are ways breweries can invest in their customers. Positive sentiment is a powerful catalyst for growth. If they capture this, the brewery can turn customers into ambassadors or even evangelists.
Admittedly this might sound a bit cynical but it’s pretty much the holy grail for marketers in many industries. Thankfully, it’s not as suspect as it sounds. 90% of the time it just relies on providing the customer with a consistently good experience.
Here are a few ways in which breweries can turn customers into brand ambassadors.
Drinkers don’t need to buy your beer. They choose to.
If they do it regularly, they deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty.
Slip in beer matts with their online order, invite them to launch parties or events, give them the occasional discount or give them a sample of something you’ve just kegged at the taproom.
You’re investing in years of future purchases. It will pay off.
Not only will they keep coming back because you deliver a consistent experience but they’ll tell others about it. Even if they’re not the type to write reviews on Rate Beer, Beer Advocate, TripAdvisor or Yelp, they’ll probably tell their family and friends.
Keep Them Informed
People like to know what’s going on. Wherever possible, you want your customers to be almost as informed as your employees.
Reiterate what you’re about. Help people to understand your ethos, your values and why you’re different.
It’s hard to be passionate about most companies. Breweries are different.It's hard to be passionate about most companies. Breweries are different. Click To Tweet
However, you need to make it clear why people should have passion for you and what you do. What is it you stand for? Make this clear, reiterate it, repeat it, put it the heart of what you say and do.
It’s important to share news, to communicate as regularly as possible through social media. Blogging can have considerable long term benefits and building an email subscriber list is one of the most valuable investments you can make for your marketing efforts.
Communicating with a core, loyal customer base who are ready to buy your beer should be a given.
Communication should be a dialogue. Which leads onto the next point.
Respond to questions, emails, social media messages. Listen and acknowledge feedback. Be there at festivals and events.
The number of brewers or brewery representatives I see at festivals who will pour you a beer and then turn away and talk to colleagues is amazing. You have a willing customer standing literally right in front of you. Do not pass up that opportunity.
Ask them how they’re enjoying the festival, what their highlights have been, whether they’ve tried your beer before. Let them know you’re happy to answer questions.
You don’t need to be pushy, just be present and engaged. This does, however, mean you need the right person there.
Choose The Face Of Your Brand Carefully
It’s totally understandable that your head brewer might not be the best person to stand in front of customers. Although often the most engaging brands are the ones where the brewer can.
The one or two people who started the brewery might be stretched for time. Perhaps they just don’t thrive in those kind of one-on-one interactions. But it’s important to find someone who does.
Each person who you provide with a positive experience will go away and tell one or two people. That sentiment can spread exponentially. Such an opportunity shouldn’t be missed.
Someone who loves your beer enough might end up actually being the first person you hire! Then they might be the person evangelising for your brewery at the next festival.
It’s A Worthwhile Challenge
Obviously there are challenges here. Most small breweries are just trying to find someone to buy their beer. Otherwise, they have the opposite problem and they’re trying to brew enough to keep up with demand.
But there are small investments breweries can make, micro-transactions of time and sentiment, that can lead to sustainable growth.There are small investments breweries can make, micro-transactions of time, that can lead to sustainable growth. Click To Tweet
If a brewery focuses on providing a consistently positive experience they can turn their customers into ambassadors and eventually into brand evangelists. That’s how breweries achieve a cult following.