I come from a retail background, specifically when it comes to alcohol. I helped run Wine Library with my dad from a very early age, and still continue to have a hand in it today. But my strategies for marketing wine and beer back then is very different than how things should be done in 2015. When you’re selling a retail product, specifically alcohol, how do you go about it?
I’m going to use marketing craft beer as an example for this article. It’s probably one of the most popular “start your own” types of industries right now. With home brewing beer kits you can set up in your basement, everyone has the tools they need to start making beer. And if they want, hopefully start branding and selling it.
The good news? When you’re ready to upgrade to a commercial beer operation, you have all the tools and strategies you need to market your beer as easily as you make it.
My first tip for craft beer owners is to win locally. I would go to every local business within a five mile radius, in person, and shake hands, meet people, kiss babies. Create and build those relationships. Maybe there is an insurance company with 140 employees just down the street from you. You go there, you become friends, and then they use your beer for their events and company parties. Localization really matters.
However, maybe you’ve already done that. Maybe your grapefruit craft beer is the talk of the town, and you’re ready to move even further out.
In that case, I would turn your attention towards pushing your beer on Instagram. Go all-in on creating a very serious, passionate craft beer profile on Instagram, it is an image centric platform, so attractive food shots go a long way. But to get people seeing your stuff on Instagram, you need followers. And the best way to get followers is actually to use another platform: Facebook. After setting a Facebook page for your micro brewery, you can create advertisements that are targeted to specific people. Let’s say, for example, wheat beer enthusiasts. Drive Facebook users who like wheat beer to your Instagram using Facebook ads. And there are many different kinds of Facebook ads. Here is a great place to get started in understanding them.
After the social aspect is figured out, try and get two or three states to carry your beer, then build very strong relationships with the sales team of that small distributor. As a small microbrew, you’re probably going to be working with a small distributor; you don’t want to get lost in a big one right off the bat. The people that represent Miller and Sam Adams have enormous stock from those big guys. Your much smaller stock of beer could easily get lost in the back of the warehouse. Go somewhere small to start.
Back to social. Once you have your beer out of your home state, pick two or three strategic markets in those new states and run Facebook dark posts against those markets. You may even want to look into Twitter local ads. Build up the hype. Get people talking. Social media is the funnel to our society. The more people talk about you, the more you’ll get noticed.
Good luck. 🙂
and for more here’s my #AskGaryVee answer to How to Market Your Beer and Brewery
How To Market Your Brewery & Beer
Disclosure: my agency, VaynerMedia, does digital work for Anheuser-Busch InBev.