In trying times breweries, taverns, wineries, and restaurants have always served to bring people together. They delight the senses and give everyone a chance to make memories. So in your challenging days, Site-Seeker wants to do our part to help you. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few recommendations to help you stay at the top of mind for your customers.
With continuously changing state restrictions on operations and hours, it is critical that you are transparent and consistent in your messaging. Be aware of all of the channels your customers use to gain information about your business. Create a checklist and make sure you’re keeping the information up to date. This is also a helpful best practice for communicating in the future. Today you’re communicating about operating hours but tomorrow the same tools and procedures can be used to create awareness surrounding a special event or beer release. Communicating clearly and consistently is good customer service. Your hours are probably found on multiple pages on your website and in the footer. If you have the ability to add a non-invasive pop-up, slider, or banner, to your website. Other frequently used communication channels include Google My Business, Apple Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Trip-Advisor, and any industry-specific apps you may use.
Excellent quality is a prerequisite for success, but not a determining factor. The most successful brands are more than high-quality beer. Identify what differentiates you from the market and highlight it. Leverage that strength and create content for your customers and potential customers to engage and share. Are you always producing styles ahead of the trend? Make a video telling us what’s next. Is there a stand-out product you want to highlight in-depth? Have a brewer break it down. Does your taproom have the best music? Make a playlist. You know why your customers love you, and it’s more than beer. Give them what they want, even if you have to be creative about how you give it to them.
Now is an excellent time to call on your customers. It is no secret that local businesses need support, and people are willing to give it to brands they love if they ask. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful endorsement. While customers may not be seeing each other face to face they are still making recommendations to others. Asking your customers to create and share content has a similar effect. They are endorsing you but on a much larger scale. Ask for their help, but create structure. Ask them to create your logo out of common household items, hold a photo contest featuring your product, or ask them to shoot a short video for you to use as promotion.
Your most loyal customers will help spread the word about your brand for nothing at all, but that’s not the point. Strategic incentives serve two purposes: first, they motivate people who are positively engaged with your brand but are not passing that information on, second, they create a positive tangible experience. Whether your brewery is producing draft or food on-premise, or you only distribute off-premise your product is an experience. That experience is more powerful than a gift card. Giving away a growler that is shared with friends or a t-shirt that is worn in public is a powerful way to spread awareness of your brand. If you can incentivize an on-premise visit you should as often as possible. A 360-degree brand experience is memorable, persuasive, and worth mentioning to friends. Remember that if you’re not vying for their attention during and after this, someone else will be.
People are social creatures, and nowhere is that more evident than at a bar or a taproom. One of our favorite things about breweries is how they bring a diverse crowd together, and there is no doubt that people really miss that right now. Leverage that. Create an event and set a schedule. Consistency and predictability are key, become part of someone’s routine. On Monday announce a product you’ll be doing an in-depth tasting and pairing for. Create a shopping list for your customers. Drive sales throughout the week. On Friday host a live stream of your product with unique insights into its flavors and the pairings you suggested with it. If you make it predictable and enjoyable people can share and invite friends and you can stay top of mind while your audience grows.
Just because your customer isn’t on-premise doesn’t mean you can’t still create a special experience for them. Embrace the virtual experience. Give them a reason to drink your product, share a laugh, or listen to a song. Host a trivia night they can play virtually, or get a musician to play a set and put it online. You can even host at home virtual karaoke. People are always pairing. If it’s not food and beverage it’s places and things. What makes for a memorable experience is the right combination of great products and a great experience.
Virality is a bit like winning the lottery. It’s rare but it pays off big time. Instead of trying to reach millions first try to reach your core audience. Creating a movement isn’t easy, but all movements start small before they grow. Create an Instagram story about sharing a beer with a friend, then Venmo them the cost of a pint and ask them to pay it forward. For a few dollars, your video will get shared and copied. Challenge them to a chugging contest. Sing the first line of a song and take a sip. Tag your favorite friend to drink with and share a story. The key here is to pick something and make it an experience they can share with friends.
We hope that some of these tips have been informative and helpful. At Site-Seeker we know that all of you are facing unique challenges. We wish all of you the best and hope that through these trying times you emerge leaner, more productive, profitable, and popular. Thank you for all that you have done for us, and good luck.