Secret Hopper

Mystery Shopping and Consulting for Craft Beer Businesses

Attract New Guests

A well-crafted liquid is without a doubt the anchor of our industry. Take away quality beer and we’re nothing. Next, engagement serves a key role in creating relationships that will keep guests returning to your brewery. However, we often don’t spend enough time going over how to get from Point A to Point B. Sure, making great beer brings people, and once they’re in, put out a memorable experience, but how can you get new guests through your doors in the first place?

Marketing is the secret ingredient in craft beer today. Marketing is responsible for making potential customers aware of your existence. Marketing reminds old fans who may have forgotten to come back. Create unique marketing strategies to build awareness and to bring new guests in. Don’t limit your audience and treat this arm of your brewery with just as much importance as properly cleaning every piece of brewing equipment. Here’s a list of marketing strategies worth trying that will help introduce new guests to your brewery and encourage them to return.

1.       Go old school - Flyer. My neighborhood has a new brewery less than a half mile from my house. An estimated 4143 people live here. I can’t give specifics on children vs number of adults; however, I can tell you that those closest to you need to be your friends. You will stand in front of their civic leagues asking for their vote to welcome you with open arms, for permission to add that new patio, and approval to shut down the street for a big event. Get to know your neighbors and get them to like you. How about acting like a politician and going door to door making them aware there’s a new brewery in town? You can’t hand out flyers on the internet.

2.       Host local organizations’ meetings and get togethers. Did I already say Civic League? Invite them to host their monthly meeting at your brewery. They may not be your typical craft beer stereotype, but they own homes and spend money. Don’t just stop with your local community organizations. Encourage any and nearly all (let’s not get too political here) groups to hold get togethers at your business. Your local book club may spend most of their time reading, but if you can get them out to talk about said book over a pint, they may just come back. Don’t limit yourself and make your taproom a welcome home to anyone needing a large space. Sunday Church service? Local rotary club? Dungeons and Dragons anyone?

3.       Private events. Your space is one of your biggest selling points. Brewery wedding? Awards ceremonies? Company holiday parties? People pay big bucks for venues, and often it’s a hassle to have to deal coordinate all the alcohol involved. Check off two boxes on their list. Promote your taproom as not just a public meeting place, but also one of the most sought-after event spaces in your area.

4.       Themed nights. Themed nights are a great opportunity to attract specific sets of people. You’ve already probably seen Facebook ads for every type of trivia possible, but hosting 10 different kinds of trivia opens the opportunity to host 10 different unique crowds. We are by no means stating host trivia seven nights a week, unless you somehow open a brewery called Trivia Brewing and really go all in. Themed nights just don’t include trivia. We’ve seen everything from a Stranger Things themed dance party to goat yoga (what exactly is goat yoga?). People like things that interest them. Play on pop culture and general interest to provide entertaining events that pairs nicely with your beer. Not just your average baseball fan attends Star Wars Night at your local minor league stadium. Events like this attract new audiences outside your typical fanbase. Don’t limit yourself.

5.       Diversify the face of your brewery. The Brewers Association has taken a strong stance to help cultivate an inclusive and diverse craft brewing community. They have even appointed their very own diversity ambassador. While you don’t need to necessarily hire someone specifically to help with this, create an atmosphere that welcomes those from all walks of life. Diversifying your audience often introduces non-craft drinkers to your brand. Diversifying strategies can run anything from hosting events that attract a slightly different crowd to reaching out to your local minority Chamber of Commerce about holding their annual gala in your event space. Diversity is an encompassing aspect of all the other strategies listed.

6.       Diversify the tastes of your brewery. Don’t just diversify the face of your guests. Diversify the type of drinker. You already know the beer nerds are coming to visit, but how about those just getting into craft beer? Don’t you wish you discovered craft beer in your early 20s? Think about all those nights spent on mass produced American light lagers. Create ads that don’t just promote your latest Quadruple Dry Hopped IPA, but also target ads that lightly touch the new beer drinker into getting the urge to visit for the first time. Anyone ever target a Facebook ad at those who typically drink big beer? Try it and see what happens.

7.       Localized Facebook groups. Your target market doesn’t just mean the 10543 that follow your brewery on Facebook or Instagram. Those are people already aware of your brand that have taken an interest in what you do. Those are the people already purchasing your beer. Expand outside those easy to reach drinkers. Join your local “buy/sell/yard sale” groups and make them aware that there’s a cool new brewery in town. Post in the local disc golf group. Share with any set of people that welcome you to share. Don’t just post in “(YOUR CITY HERE) Craft Beer,” “Let’s Talk Craft Beer XYZ,” or “NEIPA PHANZ 4EVER.”

8.       Offer promotions, when allowed. Depending on state laws, offer unique promotions to attract guests to visit your brewery. A half off pint on a Tuesday or $1 for students/military/you name it may be what it takes to convince that person to visit your establishment. People like deals. If able, consider offering a special to attract them on historically non-busy nights. If Groupon still exists, give that a shot.

9.       What’s better than a promotion? FREE! Free limited addition glassware to the first 50 guests at Saturday’s beer release. The first 500 guests at the big grand opening get a free t-shirt. While you may count the dollars thrown into these giveaways, the ultimate return is the good will, future dollars spent, and brand loyalty these recipients will have towards your brewery. 500 free t-shirts equal 500 potential walking billboards. The key is to properly market these promotions to those it may interest. Merely giving merchandise away to those already coming isn’t buying you as much value as also using these giveaways as a way to get new guests in (see Number 8).

10.   People like to eat. Most people come to your brewery for the beer. However, food also plays a role in the craft beer experience. Science has even proven that people drink more while they’re eating, and vice versa. Be sure to promote your food offerings or guest vendors. While it’s always nice to find a local food truck at my neighborhood brewery, it defeats the purpose if I ate dinner before visiting because nothing was mentioned in any form of advertising. Additionally, sought after food vendors may also attract a new crowd that would not have visited otherwise. Let your current audience and potential customers know what their food options are before coming. That super hip BBQ food truck parked on your curb could be the differentiating factor for a drinker to choose your brewery over the one around the corner. The food angle can be also taken to higher levels in the form of beer dinners. We’ve even seen breweries hold eating competitions and battle of the burgers.

11.   Partnerships. Forming partnerships with these food vendors are one of the bonds you can create with local organizations. Hosting meetings and events at your brewery are great, but how about take these relationships even further? Does a group of local board game fanatics typically meet at your space on Wednesdays? Partner with them to host a larger scale, marketed event to expand both of your reaches. Once you find out that a run club regularly finishes their nights at your brewery. Join forces them with a promote the event together, maximizing the reach for both parties.

The options are limitless. Try anything once. Creating a unique taproom and creating a unique marketing strategy go hand in hand. You should be aiming to differentiate your image from all the other breweries posting daily generic “come drink with us” posts. Sure, pictures of your new beer look nice, but how many new guests is it actually bringing in?

Don’t just have a craft mindset. Embrace creativity, promote inclusion, build your brand.

We would love to offer any brewery that reaches out after reading this article one free Secret Hop*. Please email andrew@secrethopper.com to schedule. Cheers!

*1 free visit per brewery per calendar year