When times are plentiful and the beer is readily flowing, it can seem as if money is no object. Sponsoring the festival beer glasses? Sure thing!! Hey, let’s go with the super embossed shiny golden flyers; that’ll make us look premium. Mailchimp Professional? Why not, it’s only £35 a month.
But when the chips are down, what’s the first thing to get axed from your expenditure? Marketing.
Oh no, we couldn’t possibly take out a Facebook ad right now; I might as well buy a bucket of steam. Flyers to promote our new taproom? I’m pretty sure if we build it, they will come!
Given that marketing and its effectiveness are difficult to measure in real life, even with technological tools at our disposal, it’s not hard to understand why brewers immediately slash their marketing spend in tougher financial times in favour of pushing sales.
But what people often fail to recognise is that marketing is what got people into the shop in the first place; sales is merely the point where a purchaser puts their money where their mouth is.
I once worked for a brewery housed in beautiful red-bricked Victorian former polish works. Rustic timber beams and vintage memorabilia adorned the interior. It was a hipster’s paradise.
Unfortunately though, with the exception of a handful of CAMRA members, the brewery taproom remained largely empty.
On a brew day, total strangers would often walk in off the streets and gawp in wonder at this charming building steeped in character. ‘Wow!’, they’d say in wided-eye wonder, ‘How long has this been open?’.
‘Eleven years’, I’d reply.
‘Eleven years?! I never knew it was here!’.
This script was so well rehearsed that I decided we should open an Instagram account and start showing off the brewery and the building. I also suggested we incorporate the building’s rich history within our branding and brand narrative in order to draw people to the source, taste our beers in-house and maximise profits.
Fortunately, the stars aligned and an artisan food hall moved in opposite the brewery around the same time. Before we knew it, we were full to the rafters with punters.
Now, you could argue that by simply being across the road from the food hall, we’d inevitably receive footfall. True. However, in order to measure our marketing, I would ask people at random, ‘How did you find out about us?’, to which many would respond, ‘Oh, I saw it on Instagram! It’s the first time I’ve been here’.
The main reason people slash their marketing spend is because they don’t know which of their endeavours is having an effect, and thus conclude it’s all a waste of money. And yet marketing, as I’ve just shown, is the very thing that gets people to engage in the first place.
The key is tracking and measuring your marketing with every tool available: from technological solutions such as Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics, through primitive methods such as simply asking people questions.
Now isn’t the time to cut your marketing spend. But it is time to crunch the numbers, analyse the data, do some market research and find out where people are spending money at the moment. And once you’ve done that, it’s time to market the hell out of your business and generate income.