Although traditional pubs may be struggling to keep up with the changing landscape, Britain’s craft drinks scene is booming, and small-batch gins, rums and artisan beers are helping to boost the sector dramatically, in both the on and off-trade.
Setting the scene…
According to recent figures from Kantar, 5.7 million households bought into the craft beer market in the 12 months up to 24 March 2019, and its overall value grew 16.4% to £178.2m.
Turning the spotlight onto spirits, recent figures show that more than 76 million bottles of gin were sold domestically in the 12 months up to March 2019, worth a staggering £2.3bn. And gin isn’t having all the fun either. In November 2019, Majestic Wine announced that rum sales were up 46% year on year after it revamped its range to include up-and-coming brands such as Manchester’s Rockstar Spirits.
In such a congested market, how do smaller craft beer breweries, gin distillers and rum brands stand out from the crowd, generate media coverage, build an engaged fan base and – more importantly – drive sales?
Seven top tips for cutting through the noise
1. Create stunning branding
In this industry, looks are important. When you’re up against thousands of other independent brands, not to mention the traditional big hitters, you need a brand identity that stands out in the aisle, the fridge and at the pumps. We recently worked with Hydes Brewery to create pump clip designs for their range of new beers. Our creative team developed bright, colourful designs tied into the ingredients of each drink. These fresh, modern graphics also translated perfectly to social media. Our client (and the punters) loved them, and we’ll be working with the brand again in the coming months on a new range.
Find out more about our work with Hydes brewery here.
2. Get a clear plan in place
Before you begin any PR, social media or comms outreach, you need to have a plan in place. Even if you take 30 minutes to scribble some bullets on a whiteboard, you need to think about your aims and objectives as a business. Think about where you want to be in 12 months, carve out your key messages and USPs, decide on your target audience, your target publications, and – critically – decide how much time can allocate to your outreach.
Once you have a plan, set aside a budget – no matter how small – that will help you pay for sampling, good quality photography, events, social collateral and any extra help that may be required.
3. Tap into the local market
It’s a great idea for any small business to start tapping into the local scene. Regional and local newspapers, influencers, bloggers and writers love championing local products and firms. Reach out to them and offer them brewery or distillery tours, free products to sample, features on how the brand started, profile pieces on employees and founders, and even competitions to give away a couple of your bottles.
Engaging with local platforms will help you to build your confidence, and build your brand advocate army. These publications usually have good sway in local communities and often have highly engaged social audiences. Generally, they rely heavily on advertising for survival, so if you could spare the money to take out a well-timed, targeted advert or two, you could start to build a relationship that works for both of you.
4. Boldly approach the media!
Great PR can help to define your brand, raise awareness and boost sales. It’s important to realise that PR isn’t advertising. If you do manage to get your products featured in one of your target publications – the third-party endorsement is worth so much more than any paid-for activity.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the food and drink writers or glossy consumer magazines and websites. You can usually find email addresses and contact details with a bit of digging, or you can always ask on Twitter! Send out samples, high res pictures, news stories about new launches, seasonal activity and more. Journalists love small brands (as long as your products are available nationally or online).
Talk to your target trade magazines and websites and see how you can add value with business news, comment, insights and figures. Good relationships do take time, so – although instant results are possible – you may have to invest some time in building up a rapport and cultivating these relationships before you reap the rewards.
5. Use social media to build an army
If you want to build an engaged and loyal customer base, social media is the place to do it. There’s no doubt it is competitive but if you have a strong brand, there are some great opportunities to be creative. Channels like Instagram are perfect to show off your branding. Manchester-based brewery, Cloudwater, uses the platform to share new products with stylish, product-focused graphics.
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Preorders are being taken now for our Fifth Birthday DIPA and Fifth Birthday TIPA! Preorder these beers now in packs of 4 for dispatch on Thursday, February 13th, for UK delivery on Friday, the 14th—our birthday! Or you can visit our tap rooms @cloudwaterunit9 and @73enidst from Friday, the 14th, to purchase them individually. Our Fifth Birthday DIPA is our first beer to feature crop year 2019 hops from Yakima, and is dry hopped with a blend of Sabro, Citra and Centennial. Pineapple, tangerine and soft coconut will be prominent in this beer. Preorder it here: https://shop.cloudwaterbrew.co/collections/5th-birthday-pack/products/fifth-birthday-dipa-4-pack The Fifth Birthday TIPA is a blend of Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Simcoe. Expect notes of pine and juicy grape in this beer. Preorder it here: https://shop.cloudwaterbrew.co/collections/5th-birthday-pack/products/fifth-birthday-tipa-4-pack Our Fifth Birthday DIPA and TIPA cans will only be for sale through Cloudwater’s tap rooms, online shop and at Friends & Family & Beer’s Cloudwater Pop Up Can Stand. Just a reminder, the Fifth Birthday Pack including the Fifth Birthday IPA, birthday glassware and birthday t-shirt will dispatch on Monday, February 17th.
It doesn’t all have to be glamour though. Craft beer aficionados are interested in the mechanics of the industry and they want to know you’re authentic. Yorkshire based brewery, Vocation, regularly shares behind the scenes imagery to show all of the hard work that goes into their delicious beers.
While social is great for brand awareness, it’s also a great tool for conversions. Utilising paid adverts on platforms such as Instagram stories, which boasts swipe-through rates averaging between 15 and 25 percent (Swipe.io), can help drive clicks to your website and ultimately sales.
6. Getting the products out there…
A great way to publicise your products and to build up your brand advocate army is to get out there – literally!
Check out local, regional and national events and see which ones tap into your target audience and which you might have the budget for. Local craft produce markets, galas, regional tastings, rum and gin fairs – the list is endless! If you can invest in a good quality stand for your products, and some portable collateral, you’re good to go.
7. Content is king!
Being a successful craft brewer, gin distiller or rum maker is a real art form and you have so much expert knowledge to shout about. One way of showing this off and engaging with your audience is to create a blog.
Blog posts give you the opportunity to shout about good news to your social followers and brand advocates, share recipes and tips, show sneak peeks behind the scenes, tell people about events you are attending, showcase charity efforts and comment on industry news.
It’s a great idea to have a think about some interesting topics and get a plan in place for the month ahead, so your content is regular and you have time set aside to write the posts. Regular content based around search queries will also help to boost SEO and increase your brand’s visibility and web traffic.
The Jammers have worked with food, drink and hospitality brands including Thorntons Chocolates, The Co-op, Coca Cola, Boddingtons, Abel Heywood, Printworks, and Hydes Brewery, Our work has included packaging design, branding, social media, content creation, copywriting, trade and consumer PR, product placement, digital marketing, web design, build and more. To find out how we can help to build your brand and increase sales, get in touch here.