Marketing strategy

12 Savvy Ways to Market Your Craft Brewery in 2024

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March 14, 2024

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Struggling to grow your craft brewery? Fret not! Here are some resourceful marketing ideas to help your brewery grow – all designed to work with, not against, your available resources.

The craft brewery industry has had explosive growth in the past decade, with over 9,000 official craft breweries registered in the United States alone. This is fantastic for fans of craft beer… but somewhat bittersweet for brewery owners.

In a competitive brewery landscape, obstacles are inevitable – from scaling production and experimenting with seasonal offerings to navigating the maze of local, state, and federal regulations. 

Understanding the unique challenges your brewery faces, we've compiled a list of 12 marketing ideas to help your brewery grow. They’re designed to work with, not against, your available resources while differentiating you from your competition.

1. Partner with local businesses

Many local businesses, like food trucks, cafés, and restaurants without their own liquor offerings, share your customer acquisition and retention concerns. These businesses can complement yours, providing opportunities for events that showcase beer pairings with various local cuisines.

Expanding on this idea through artisanal collaboration days brings even more local producers into the fold, from artists to cheese makers and farmers, encouraging a community-focused approach that benefits everyone. These collaborations aren't just about creating co-branded products, they're about hosting social events that draw in broader audiences and foster community engagement.

Mutually beneficial collaborations help brands leverage each other's customer bases for growth and enhance their products through combined expertise. (We talk about this more in our “Brand Collaboration” podcast episode if you’d like to learn more.) 

2. Host brewery tours 

Most people enjoy seeing how their favorite products come to life. Why not host regular brewery tours to show visitors the ins and outs of how you do things?

You can enhance the tour experience with a selection of tasting samples. This offers a great opportunity to collect feedback on new brews and get customers involved in the design process. 

Tours are a great way to build genuine connections with your customers and encourage long-term loyalty. But if they sound too labor-intensive, you could team up with a brewery tour company. These tours typically focus less on the production process and more on tasting sessions across various breweries, but they still offer a valuable chance to build customer relationships. 

3. Sponsor local events

Local events are a fantastic opportunity to make connections within your community. 

Event organizers are always on the lookout for sponsors to offer support, whether through product donations, providing food and drink stands, or other contributions. While solid expense management is key, the benefits of event sponsorship extend far beyond the event itself. This is your chance to amplify your brand’s visibility through your logo and business being heavily featured on banners, flyers, merchandise, and the event’s website.

Under the right conditions, your participation as a sponsor in a community event, festival, or charity fundraiser can also prove to be financially beneficial. This is often seen through increased product sales, as events tend to attract a higher volume of potential customers than normal business day

4. Set up a loyalty or membership program

Loyalty and membership programs encourage customers to stick with you, but with so many loyalty programs on the market, why should a customer bother with yours? Well, you’ll need to make it worth their while. 

The market is oversaturated with loyalty programs that offer traditional rewards like points and discounts. But customers crave programs tailored to their needs that offer experiential (non-financial) rewards

Non-financial rewards can trigger a strong emotional response. For example, a VIP tour often holds more value to a customer than the monetary equivalent of $200, despite being comparable in monetary terms.

Bearing this in mind, consider designing a distinctive loyalty or membership program that includes

  • Access to limited-edition brews
  • Personalized beer recommendations and samples
  • Exclusive community social spaces
  • VIP treatment 

Breweries serve as social hubs, and an inventive loyalty program can foster a sense of community, not just encourage spending. For instance, members-only events where people can socialize. 

Innovative loyalty programs offering unique rewards align perfectly with the concept of a Web3 Loyalty Program. Web3 simplifies the creation and management of loyalty programs while delivering more personalized rewards that resonate with your customers.

5. Create a referral program

Bouncing off our last suggestion, is a referral program.

Referral programs hinge on the idea that most customers trust recommendations from people they know over advertisements and other channels. A good referral program incentivizes your existing customers to point other customers to your business. This incentive may be a discount, credit, exclusive product, or anything else that is financially viable for your brand. 

Referral programs tend to go hand in hand with loyalty or membership programs, as you are already incentivizing your customers to engage deeper with your brand. These super loyal customers – brand advocates – are more likely to want to recommend your brand to their friends and family. 

Loyalty and membership programs also already have the infrastructure for distributing rewards to customers based on merits. This makes implementing a referral system easier, but remember that the cost of rewarding a member for a referral shouldn’t be higher than your customer acquisition cost.

6. Hold social media contests

Social media campaigns can be a grassroots, low-cost way to spread awareness about your brand in a fun and engaging way. If you’re trying to attract younger, millennial or GenZ audiences, this may be your best way to reach them. 

Consider hosting beer-themed challenges, photo contests, brewery-related trivia, and encouraging your customers to tag your brewery on their photos. Having a social media presence comes at very little cost to you and can generate organic traffic toward your brewery. 

7 . Design branded merchandise

Maybe your brewery already has unique branded t-shirts and hats for sale that just aren’t selling particularly well. While this type of merchandise is common, it isn’t particularly exciting and unlikely to sell to anyone but your most dedicated customers. We encourage you to take advantage of your unique position as a brewery and sell merchandise directly related to (or themed around) your beer products. For example, unique beer koozies, bottle openers, and even branded art. 

For the last one, consider reaching out to local artists for collaboration opportunities. A small collaboration with an artist can potentially grow into a larger partnership where your brewery works alongside a local artist to release special labels or packaging for a new brew you’re planning.

8. Try educational and experience-based marketing

Educational and experience-based marketing focuses on positioning your brand as an authoritative voice, educating and informing your audience on your area of expertise. In the craft brewery world, this would be hosting workshops or classes on home brewing, exclusive beer tastings, giving classes on beer, and/or producing written or video content for your site or company page. 

These ideas may seem counterintuitive – why should you “give away” the tricks of the trade? It’s simple: your customers are not your competition. They’re enthusiasts who are interested in craft breweries. They took the time to find a craft brewery because they enjoy the unique flavor and experience that comes with a local beer rather than the cheapest grocery store option. 

Position your brewery as an industry leader that wants to share its passion for craft beer and you’ll tap into a unique side of your audience’s interests and build trust with them. 

If you’re unsure what content to start with, there are a few ways to start: 

  1. Ask your existing customers and people around you. What would they like to know? 
  2. Use AskThePublic to find questions people want answered 
  3. Use a keyword research tool like ahrefs or Moz - most keyword research trials offer free trials

Your content doesn’t have to be perfect, just authentic.

Results from AskThePublic.com on "beer" in the US

9. Promote sustainable practices

Brewing craft beer can get a bad rap for being unsustainable. It takes up a lot of water to produce beer and there’s plenty of spent waste afterwards that has to be disposed of. Many larger brands like Fat Tire have made headlines by making efforts to move toward being carbon neutral, and a 2018 study found most consumers would be willing to pay more for sustainably produced beer. 

Taking steps toward being more sustainable, or highlighting sustainable practices that your brand already performs, is not only great for the environment but also effective marketing material. Customers connect deeper with those brands that align with their values. Promoting sustainability practices can even get your brand some local attention as a newspaper may want to highlight businesses in the community that are carbon-neutral. 

10. Host live music nights and open mics 

Your brewery should be more than just a place to get great beer –it’s a community space where people can meet up, socialize, and connect. Consider positioning your brewery as a local event space by inviting local musicians to regularly perform. This is another example of a mutually beneficial local collaboration that helps grow both your brands while turning your brewery into a local cultural hub. 

11. Start a beer blog, newsletter, or podcast

Beer blog by beervana
https://www.beervanablog.com/ 

Blogs and podcasts can be produced and hosted on your brewery’s website for relatively low costs to you when compared to traditional advertising. This type of media is more personal than advertising and connects your customers with the faces and stories behind the brand. Podcast and blog topics may be centered around the brewing process, origins of beers, individual team members, and even the history of the brewery itself. 

You can even consider reaching out to regulars and highlighting the special occasions or life events that they’ve celebrated at your brewery. Build a community, not a line of customers.  

12. Create seasonal and limited-edition products

Almost all big beverage brands incorporate seasonal offerings into their yearly products. These may be themed around the season itself, such as a pumpkin-flavored beer, or simply a limited-run item that’s only available for a few months. But seasonal items not only get your customers excited about certain times of year, but keep them coming back to your brewery to try out the latest and greatest brews. 

For a more interesting and creative solution, consider involving your customers in creating these limited run items. Incorporate group tasting nights, voting on favorite brews, and testings of flavor profiles into your brewing. You can even let customers submit ideas for beer names (or have them vote on a few different name options). Always look for more opportunities to involve your customers deeper in your brand – it builds trust in you and ultimately brand loyalty.

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