I live in a foggy outpost that some might call a craft beer nirvana — Seattle. In fact there are at least five craft breweries just a stone’s throw from my office. But the craft brewing craze is no longer confined to hop capitals like Seattle, Portland and Denver. You don’t need me to tell you that the craft beer craze has taken America by storm. Craft beer drinking has evolved into craft beer culture and with some 4,000 plus breweries and growing in the United States alone, and you can see this beer culture spreading across much of the industrialized world. Many craft breweries are effectively using social media to take on the big players. In fact, many are using their social media accounts to help with marketing, PR and engagement because they can’t compete with the mega-ad budgets of giants like Budweiser and Coors.
This is a good sign. But when it comes to creating a complete online marketing machine — one that builds brand awareness, spreads influence and helps build a legion of adoring, beer-loving fans — many craft brewers are a bit behind the curve. This shouldn’t be so because the craft beer industry is beautifully set up for the world of content marketing.
Why are craft brewing and content marketing so perfect for each other? Because craft brewing has all of the key elements of content marketing — unique stories, informative and entertaining content and valuable information a niche audience wants/needs. Heck, one of the earliest examples of content marketing done right was all about Guinness Extra Stout. Content marketing done right will help grow your base of potential customers and, more importantly, bring in devotees to your brand. The type of customers that don’t just want to drink your beer, they want to learn more about your product, your team and your methodologies. They are also more than willing to evangelize your brand.
Here are four big reasons:
1. Craft brewing is about storytelling
Think about it. Your product is just the start. Everything else you do is story. Most industries are not as exciting or top-of-mind or as fun as the craft beer world. So you have that going for you, but there is also your story which is everything you say and do …Why did you start your brewery? What turned you on to craft beer in the first place? What is so special about your brews, your company and your people? What are the brewing techniques you use? And what is your opinion on the industry as a whole? I could go on, but I think you get the picture. And your beautiful little story should be integrated in every media touch-point — social media, blogging, networking, video and more.
Talk about your industry, your competitors, your fans and the brewing community you thrive in and love. In my humble opinion, you as a craft brewer should be planning your blogging strategy now — to win more fans and customers, to grow your brand and to get the media attention you so richly deserve. People are wired to listen to stories and remember them. Tell yours.
2. Craft brewing is community
I often ask companies the following: Would you prefer …
- Brand evangelists?
- People who like your product?
- Individuals who buy from you again and again?
- Customers who like, know and trust you, while bragging to all of their friends about you and keep coming back for more?
The choice is easy, but here’s what makes it even better: most companies do not have a product like yours — a golden-colored beverage that is a gold mine for relationship-building. Beer lovers are passionate about product, and their passion just might bleed when it comes to talking about yours. And the best way to build this loyalty is to build a content marketing machine to drive engagement on every level, from social media to industry events.
Tell your story through blogging, video and more. Answer comments, share stories and thank people for their support. Promote through contests and giveaways. Share that amazing porter recipe from one of your fans.
3. Craft brewing is knowledge
Craft brewing is a topic many want to learn about. Content marketing is less about shouting and more about teaching. And you, my friend, have a captive audience just waiting and wanting to learn more. Your story is just one part. What’s the other? Think about the art and science of brewing. You have a tremendous amount of information to give away. Okay, you may not want to give away your recipe for Wicked Troll Imperial IPA, but you could teach a bit more about your brewing methods, equipment and standards.
You could even create a video series on YouTube explaining your brewing creativity and experiments. Bottom line: Provide your audience with the information they seek. Make it super-easy to find, consume and use. Also make it easy for them to share because they most certainly will do that.
4. Craft brewing is entertainment
When it comes to thinking about your higher-level goals — beyond the next sale and more into the world of brand and audience-building — entertainment has amazing value. We’ve mentioned brewing techniques, beer lover’s passions and telling your story on video, but here’s the best part of the story: Craft brewing can become an extremely entertaining subject matter. From TV shows like Brew Dogs to beer blogs to beer geek videos, there is no shortage of entertaining and engaging content.
In other words, it’s way easy to have fun when it comes to craft brewing and content marketing. And this is where we get back to one of my favorite topics — storytelling. So, go back to No. 1 above and think about ways to bring some entertainment value into your story. Add some humor, drama and a wee bit of snark to the mix. Learn what your audience likes and deliver it, and they will engage and spread your word like never before. So, is your craft brewery ready for all the amazing things content marketing can deliver? Customers? Engagement? Media exposure? Growth?
Maybe it’s time for your brewery to jump on board the content marketing bandwagon so more people will come to like, know and trust you and help you tell your story. This is just part one in a series about what craft breweries can do to grow their brands in the modern world of online marketing. Stay tuned for part two.
Craig McBreen is the owner of McBreen Media, an integrated communications company providing full-circle services, from brand strategy to content marketing. McBreen believes there is nothing like the power of story to transform your business. You can read about McBreen Media’s content marketing services here.