Marketing ain’t easy. In this, the age of craft beer, just making great beer is, sadly, not enough. To have true staying power a brewery has to have a well-thought line of marketing products to keep their patrons clothed and stocked with glassware, growlers, and keychains.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a craft brewery today that uses traditional advertising to get the word out about their beers, which is why marketing for a brewery is so important. Sure, the big macro beers love to buy ads during the Super Bowl and fill billboards across the country, but these just aren’t in a craft brewer’s budget.
The secret to marketing a craft brewery is word-of-mouth, and for good reason. Are you more likely to buy something that a billboard says is good, or something that your best friend says is good? The “friendly suggestion” is by far the best form of marketing, as you know what your friend likes, so if he/she really digs something, you probably will, too.
To start with, the most obvious forms of marketing products for a craft brewery would be the basics of glassware, growlers, and t-shirts. Not only should a brewery have branded glassware to serve out of, they should also have them for sale to their customers.
Many state laws actually require growlers to be branded, and t-shirts are a no-brainer. Everyone loves a great new brewery t-shirt. Once a brewery is established and there’s a steady stream of revenue coming in, branching out to sweatshirts, work shirts, and branded taster glasses are a great next step in marketing evolution.
After these go off with a resounding success, keychains, bottle openers, fancy growlers, and more expensive glassware are all very reasonable forms of merchandise marketing. At this point a brewery could even introduce some ancillary beer-related items like this fun plastic bottle with straw lid for some hydration between beers or outdoor activities where you still want to rep your favorite brewery.
While yes, the beer does indeed come first, marketing is something that must be considered for any brewery large or small. By marketing themselves correctly, a craft brewer doesn’t need to spend huge sums of money to make themselves known. The simple act of planning merchandise and the not-so-simple task of making great beer is all that’s really needed to be known and hopefully, to make it big.