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The past year was unlike anything craft breweries have ever experienced. Many didn’t survive, and the ones that did had to completely revamp their business model.

Before you celebrate the end of 2020, why not start planning how you will make 2021 your best year yet?

In this episode, I discuss marketing strategies that keep customers buying your beer, even when they can’t sit down in your taproom.

Show highlights include:

  • The key trait of successful microbreweries that survived 2020 and how you can use it to dominate 2021 (3:05)
  • Why great beer is not enough to succeed and thrive as a craft brewery in 2021 (6:35)
  • How to keep sales steady when your taproom is forced to close (8:38)
  • How putting your hours and menu on your website can drive more purchases today (9:37)
  • How to use discounts to boost revenue fast without cheapening your brand (12:18)
  • Simple social media tips for a flawless experience that keeps them rushing back to buy more beer (15:20)
  • The free marketing secret weapon that can launch you head and shoulders above your competition (16:46)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

Read Full Transcript

You are listening to the Taps and Tees Show, weekly conversations for people passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino, an award-winning digital marketing agency helping golf and craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald. [00:21.7]

Marty: Hey everybody, and welcome into another episode of Taps and Tees. And today winding down 2020 and doing a review, just a recap of a well, the year in craft beer. I have this all set up on a, a presentation if you'd like it, you can just email us at craftbeer@badrhinoinc.com but it's just going through the year trying to wrap up the podcast year, but also, you know, gives out some good information as you're planning for 2021. And I guess you call 2020 the year that nobody wanted with COVID and all the other fun stuff, you know, it was kind of odd, you know, going back to January of last year or this year rather, and looking out, you know, things were really good. And in terms of agency life and where we were with with craft breweries, we had, you know, handful that we were working with quite a few, actually looking to up their game and put a digital marketing plan together for 2020. [01:23.5]

And man, did that change fast. You know, it was one minute and literally flying out to San Diego to do a pitch and talk with multiple people in the craft brewing industry and put together a thing for large number of craft breweries and some other restaurants and things like that that were tied into it. And you know, that was the first week in March and everything changed and literally almost when my plane landed back. It was really interesting, you know, and crazy and I hope everyone's doing well, but want to go through a few things just to wrap up the year and, you know, tell you a few things I've been working and some things that we've seen within the industry from a marketing perspective. And, you know, again, it's been a weird one, but at the same time, there's some realities to it. You know, couple of the things that have gone on is the reality of it. You know, you know, retail beer sales gonna drop a little bit this year, so I know that's going to impact some of the breweries in Texas. When we were talking with a few people down, the brewers guild down there, they expect, well, unfortunately they expect as many as two thirds to possibly close this year going into 2021. [02:41.2]

It's still a little open, but it's really do or die time for a lot of breweries at the moment. And I can totally respect that. And I think we just have to take that into consideration with marketing and everything else that's going on. And obviously staying safe and keeping the customers and everything safe. Brand equity really is what the, he has been, you know saying that like two thirds of those breweries might close locally, the big thing is, it’s not going to weaken the long-term demand, this is a short term thing, right? Hopefully shorter than we all want, or, you know, we'd all like longer than we all like, rather, but shorter than, you know, a five-year outlook, you know, this is a short-term blip, but the long-term is very, very bright for craft beer, but it's changing the landscape, it's accelerating it. Most breweries that had to close probably should've closed before, those are going to survive probably just need better positioning in the marketplace, still with all that doom and gloom, you know, market analysts are out there talking about, Hey, it's really gonna return very, very healthily within two years or less. And all the volume losses will also be regained, but you have to make sure that you have everything in place to capitalize on that. [03:56.9]

And, you know, going back, like I said, in January, you know, things were, were humming right along for us, you know, as an agency in craft brewing and things were picking up, actually like, like I said, like we had about 12 or so opportunities that we were just about to sign on at the beginning of March, but we also had our current group of clients doing consulting and marketing execution for them digital marketing plans. And then you know we had this big group, you know, out West that, you know, restaurants, craft breweries, they're all going full force, you know, and the buzz was around, you know, okay, what is this COVID thing? But nobody really thought it was going to be as bad, I mean, they knew something was going to come up. Like it would come up in conversations, but nobody knew. And then the whole world is, you know, shut down, taprooms shutting down and moving to the “new normal.” But during that time, you know, especially in March, what we saw is the ones; the breweries that were ready to rock and roll were the ones that had a plan. [05:01.9]

Now, nobody had a plan for this. What I mean is they had a miniature plan is like, how are we going to attack this? You know, what are we going to do? And after that initial shutdown that we had, at least in PA to speaking from living in the area, the things that were going on around the country, everybody was like, what exactly needs to be done? Like, can we open, can we do this? And there's so many question marks and nobody knew anything. And then as things started to open up i.e curbside delivery, different things started popping up. The marketing had to shift, right. And that's what I want to talk today about just to wrap up this short podcast is what are people doing over the past nine months? What worked and what do you need do for 2021? Right. And it's also gonna depend on where your, where you live and operate if you're in the craft brewing industry. [05:56.9]

So the first one, you know, you couldn't expect people to just walk in your taproom anymore, right. Or people just go, Hey, you know what I think this afternoon we'll go over to the brewery and we never been there. And let’s get a group of people and hang out, have, you know, a couple of flights of beer, maybe buy some, then go out to dinner or something like that. Or some sort of afternoon outing or going to visit new breweries. You can't just expect people to walk in your tap room anymore, right. So, you know, going through there with a virus, you know, people had to change, you know, so even if you could bottle or can the beer, you still have to sell it to somebody, you still have to let people know what's going on out there. What are you doing with your, your beer? How can you get it into the hands of the consumer? And you know what we saw what we've been advising on and working on during COVID, you know, pass wild nine months for craft restaurants, live events. Well, everybody let’s just be honest and impacted everyone in some way, shape or form. [06:54.9]

What I've seen and what we saw at Bad Rhino was a shifted digital marketing, like I've never seen before. We've been running Bad Rhino for 10 years now. I’ve personally have been involved in digital marketing in one way, shape or form since 2002. I've never seen it this fast. I've never seen an influx of people, clients of all sorts coming to us and saying, all right, this is what we need to do, help us do this because we got to remain open cause we've got to do this, or we have to do that. The winners are the ones that made a plan, that plan changed multiple times, but at least they started somewhere or they already had a plan of what they wanted to do marketing wise. At least to change you know, we had professionals that were going to zoom calls and had to set up webinars for events and, you know, little tiny things that they never really did because they would go to live events, clients would come to them in their office, you know, accountants, lawyers, doctors. Then you also had the craft brewery piece where you have people, you know, selling products that they used to sell in person, you know, not everybody was buying and picking up beer all the time, they'd go into places and have a social event. [08:04.6]

And you know, the ones that didn't have a plan for any of that, or just stood still, they had bigger issues. They had bigger problems. You know, a lot of those things just kind of came up where they were struggling and it took them a little bit longer, but I've never seen anything move that fast. It just accelerated things, unless it goes forward is, you know, like I said earlier, the murky short term for craft breweries definitely murky when you can't have people hanging out in a taproom and all these other things that are going on, but it's bright long-term. So what's the plan, you know, what do you need to do? It really is just getting the work a little bit on marketing and getting everything out there. Now's a great time to rethink your marketing plan for 2021. And I'm just gonna go through a few simple items here. Like I said, I have this in a presentation if you'd like it; send it out to you, craftbeer@badrhinoinc.com [08:57.8]

And these are just some things that you can do. They're very, cost-effective; they're not a whole heck of a lot of outlaying and marketing expenses here. The main one that we've seen that has been successful or has it been a few things I'm going to go over them here. The first one is update your website. If you haven't touched your website, now's the time do it, get, get things out there. You want to have that as your base of your marketing and communications with everything changing as quickly as it has, consumers are looking for those answers about how they can or if they can purchase your beer and where be sure that you clearly list the following information on your website. And these seem very simple, but sometimes they get lost in the shuffle because you're trying to keep people employed. You're trying to produce the liquid. You're also trying to manage other things that you never thought you would manage in running your brewery. [09:50.6]

Make sure your hours up there; update your hours everywhere else that they may be listed as well, not just your website. So any social media accounts on Google craft, beer apps, et cetera. Make sure you have the services offered. If you're offering delivery, clearly lists instructions on how to order, if your taproom is open and socially distance and you have enough space, make sure you update a picture of that and have a blog post on the website just to explain some things. [10:17.6]

Hey, if you're enjoying what you're hearing on the show and want more, head on over to TapsAndTees.info and get our free report with game-changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan. [10:30.8]

Beers that are offered are very key; make sure you have your current list there that's ready to go. If people show up and you don't have what you had listen to your website, or if they order something and then you don't have it, man, does that become a problem? And people are just, they're on edge a little bit, and they're trying to get away trying to do something. And they finally got out and it, the beer I ordered is already gone, right? So make sure that's just updated. If you've ever heard me speak on anything marketing related, I am not big on pricing or having different specials and discounts and changing you’re pricing. But I will say this, this time, I'm saying it since money is tight for everybody right now, and it's not tight and the economy is a hundred percent falling apart, but now that we're nine months into it, people are looking at things just a little bit different. [11:30.6]

So what we've seen, especially in the last three, four months, I would say since August, most of the times when somebody would offer something saying, Hey, you know, if you buy this, you get this, a shirt, hats, some swag something. Or they were saying, Hey, we have a limited run, w-e're trying to clean out fridge. It's $3 off all four packs or something simple. And then some of the guys, a little extreme and just said, Hey, we have half off cases. You know, so case is $70 and we're going to give it to you for 35, but we only have 10 cases. You have to order online. The key there is order online, there's a limited amount and it can help you just move inventory, but also makes customer happy. I'm not a huge fan of it, but in this day and age and at the moment we're in, it makes people feel good. [12:26.5]

And if you can swing it and you can do it, that makes the most sense for your business, you know, do it with limited quantities and see how it works. And I'm not saying you have to fully discount everything all the time, but people appreciate it. And it's all about making them feel you know loved and you know, that you're actually taking care of your customer right now because people are really starting to figure out where they're spending their dollars and you can help influence that by, you know, offering a discount or two every once in a while. Again, update your brewery, you know, not only your website, but all your third party sites, you know, whether it's on ONTAP or any other third party websites, just make sure your information is accurate. [13:04.3]

Step three….Ehhh social, right. And the reason I go…Ehhh is using social media to sell beer. I think craft brewers do an awesome job on social media. I think the majority of them have consistent posting. I think the majority of have some artistic pieces to it, but I want to get into just a little bit of the nitti gritty of it. Social media is definitely one of the most effective ways to communicate with your consumers builds your brand awareness. And like we mentioned earlier, brand, you know, strong brand and connection with loyal fans that's really what was driving success in breweries right now during this pandemic. So social media can absolutely do that, especially now, you know, people are stuck at home. They're relying solely on their computers and mobile devices for any social interaction and you can jump right in there and connect with them. I highly suggest having a daily plan for your social media, remind them that they're thirsty and you have the beer. Keep in mind photo, but even better video speaks a thousand words. So do short videos. [14:09.3]

I saw a couple bond place up in Bethlehem, had an awesome one, kind of tied like safety, wearing mass COVID and locked down all in the one around the holidays and how they were shutting down and why they were shutting down for a short period of time. It was heartfelt, you know, it was real. And I think that goes a long way with your, with your customer base and the consumers that are looking at your brewery. From videos around cleanliness and sanitation, you know, within the brewery are huge, just cause people comfortable. Are these guys and girls actually doing anything? How are they doing it? What are they doing? Skim a little bit of behind the scenes that, Hey; this is how we have to do this right now. And we hope you join us and we're making a safe and as clean as possible and come on out. [14:57.3]

Post content that shows consumers that you're open for business and how you're open for business. Like if they're coming in to the brewery to pick it up, how they have to do it, prepay options, all sorts of stuff like that. If you're doing like curbside pick-up, you know, simply have a video that shows like here, you know, here we are, you know, pulling in, this is what's going to happen. You're going to pull up to the first cone. Once you get there, you want to stop and then you'll wait and then have you received by the window, we'll put it right in your trunk, right? I mean, simple as that. But you get creative with it, but remember you want to use it to sell beer, not just communicate those things and remember good vibes, make them laugh, have some fun with it. People are looking for distraction and your social media and your marketing can stand out if it's fun. But please don't forget to sell here. Don't forget the links to the website; make sure that everything is up to date like we said earlier. [15:53.9]

And the website's going to offer more info, gives customers a chance to learn more about your brewery. You know, fun is great, good vibes are great. Staying in business is even more fun and that's full of great vibes when you can keep people employed, keep things moving forward and keep your business moving forward. So don't forget to sell. Okay. I think I said, like I said earlier with craft beer, they do a wonderful job. Most of them do a wonderful job, but sometimes they just don't ask for the sale, I tell people what's going on. And I think that's key. The other thing that we've seen that has been very successful before we get to the last two that were extremely successful, has been Google My Business and GMB is basically the dark horse for marketing for breweries right now. I mean it's free, which is awesome. Every business owner should be using it to manage almost every aspect of your Google listing. Once a customer sees when they search and find your brewery on a Google search is your Google my business, right? So there's a lot you can do with it. I can't really get into it just on a simple podcast like this, but I just wanted to mention it because you can really take advantage of it right now. [17:05.8]

You can update your business hours, keeps it nice and clean right there, lists services and beers offered in a COVID update post, right. Then if you have discounts, you can create an offer post in Google my business, you can create event posts for upcoming beer releases, or if you're having like a mini event where you know you, haven't not only a beer release, but maybe you did your first canning or something like that. There's tons of things you can do, it just takes a little bit of time, but it can pay off very, very well. People are searching a little bit more so reason I always recommend Google my business, especially while anytime, but especially now I live in Westchester, Pennsylvania. So if I, you know, go out and you want to get beer and you can't really sit down somewhere, I might go about 20 minutes from where I live. [17:53.9]

Now. If I see something that's posted out there and I go, huh that's a little interesting and I can make it quick, easy, but I want to try that brewery or something else Google My business is key cause I'm going to search for some things I don't want to make that drive out there and then you're closed. I don't want to purchase something and then something happened. So you always want to make sure that that stuff is updated, but people search, you know, they search for that information. It's hard to get somebody on the phone, so you want to have it quick. And let's be real, people only spend a short amount of time so they're looking for that information fast. If they have to hunt for any of this, you're going to have some issues, especially if it's a new person coming into your brewery. So, you know, Google my business can be huge for all of this. [18:45.8]

Last couple of things here, paid ads now paid ads. You don't have to spend a ton of money, but you also want to just strategically do it. You know the biggest ones that we're seeing some success in Instagram, Facebook, Google, and YouTube. And what we're seeing is brewers putting stuff out there so that somebody would get on their email list or their texts. And that's been the big winner. The email and texting has been awesome because it was direct to the consumer, right? You can send out a text message, you know three or four times a week with some updates, you know, a couple emails a week. The ones that I see that have been doing very well, I've been emailing about four to six times a week. Some of the, so it's funny, some of his checkout or social media, some of it is, Hey, we have a new release. Hey, we have online ordering whatever's going on. And then for releases and some specific sales things, they've just been sending quick texts. And it's been working because, well, you don't have to hunt for the information. Hey, we're doing our curbside pickup it's from 12 to two on Saturday, you can purchase this. We only have 154 packs that we're we have for sale. So buy them online and you can check out this video of how to do it and that's been working. [19:57.9]

The other things here of the people that have been really doing well through all this relatively has been people that have had a marketing plan. So in closing for 2021, you know, sitting here at the end of 2020, what we want to be able to do, you know, in a brewery or any other business is set the plan for 2021. It looks like, you know, some of this stuff might last for another six months. You don't need this comprehensive, huge plan at the moment. What you need is, okay, this is the whole year. This is what we're going to do in the first quarter, because we don't know what's going to happen later on. Then as things open up or as they shut down, you can start to adjust that. But creating an email list right now, or a text message list is awesome. It works, I would highly recommend it and seeing some great results for craft brewers and restaurants, building that email list. [20:55.6]

Get on their list; find out what their hours are. If there are any changes, take out curbside pickup, et cetera. Getting there and using the page to kind of create that email list. I'm always a big fan of getting those lists and in craft breweries I think are some of them, some of them, not all of them were a little slack in that. And I think they realized the value of being able to communicate directly to their core customers was invaluable when the pandemic hit. So I think there's a lot of positives that are happening. It doesn't feel it that way, but I think if you're getting through this, you know, keep going, stay safe, keep everyone safe and just have a plan. And hopefully those marketing tips will help I think. [21:38.5]

Building your brand equity is going to be key in 2021, staying in business and keeping everything moving forward and staying top of mind with customers. You know, with taproom shutdown, it becomes a little bit different in the “ new normal.” Just make sure you have information out there, and that's what people are looking for and they do want to support small business. So push it out there, get out there and do that. And if you want the whole presentation, just send us an email at craftbeer@badrhinoinc.com. And I look forward to talking on the next episode of Taps and Tees. Thank you for listening. I appreciate it. The numbers have been going up, so thanks everybody that has been listening and sharing this. Talk to you soon. [22:19.0]

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