You may have noticed that Devils Peak are on fire at the moment. Not just beer wise, but with a new (HUGE) brewery being set up and plenty of international collabs on the go they’re really showing the SA industry what’s what. Mostly though, I’m really impressed with their marketing team. It’s a part of any business that is often under looked and it’s really important. Now, a bunch of smaller breweries will cry “but DP are huge and can afford these things, we simply can’t.” While smaller breweries shouldn’t expect to (straight away) be able to compete with the likes of Devil’s Peak, there are some lessons to be learnt. One of the big ones is: create hype.
If your brewery has been brewing the regular 4 or 5 brews for the last 2 years without even considering a collaboration or seasonal styles, get on that. If you do a collab, not only will you be learning lessons from another brewer but you’ve got double leverage to create awareness of your brand. You and the other brewery can join forces to get word out there – it starts with an interesting collaboration, but if the beer impresses, new customers will look into your brand (as well as your partner brand) and see what else is out there. Win-Win.
If you do some interesting seasonals or once off brews, the same sort of hype can be created. Don’t get stuck in a rut. And don’t assume the market isn’t ready for something new and different. Also, don’t make kak beer. It’s the easiest way to fail.
Back to marketing. One thing that Devils Peak have been doing a great job of is sending new brews to “beer people”: bloggers, beer judges, social media beer personalities etc. Now we can all debate whether an Influencer strategy is the right move, or whether it has as wide an effect as we think, but it can definitely help with hype and you don’t have to spend a fortune on free gifts either. For most, just the offer of tasting the new beer before the public can get their hands on it is a treat. Even if you had to offer your top 20 (known) brand advocates a cost price chance of getting the brew before the general public, they’d jump on it. Same thing with partnering with a good bar and inviting your chosen lot for a tasting. Creating hype need not be for the bigger/richer breweries only. I’m sure you’ll find the reward is greater than the cost.
Building up awareness and hype is a lot easier with some marketing savvy. You don’t need to hire a team or even a full time person. Do an online course. Pay for a once off content strategy or some high level advice. The most important thing about marketing is learning about the experience of your customer. It’s not enough to rely on customers walking into a liquor store. Think about what they consider before buying your beer (research, awareness, curiosity, expectations), how they drink it (glassware, serving temperature, does the description match the actual beer?) as well as after (feedback mechanisms). Marketing touches on the whole journey and a little tweaking can make a tremendous difference.
I heard this once and while seeming a little depressing, it’s true: Brewers get into the business of making beer, but the real business is selling it. If you’re a brewer lamenting the success of other breweries, take a page out their book. It’s not about carbon copying everything, but being able to create your own hype. Go do it!
P.S. Devils Peak’s Capenhagen was delish, but I preferred the Juicy Lucy.