Small brewers should stop complaining about the challenges they face in the beverage market and get better at exploiting their advantages, according to marketer Rob Ruminski.
In a punchy blog post, Ruminski, of Melbourne agency The Post Project – which produces video creative for clients including small brewers – said they would be best to avoid buying into the ongoing mainstream media narrative about the beverage industry.
“Whether it’s private label wine brands pushing independents off shelves, or coverage of the ACCC’s investigations into tap contracts, or a look at the home brand beer labels designed to emulate craft beers, the overriding message is one of siege,” he said.
“The big boys are on the attack, doing everything they can to piggyback off the efforts of hard-working independent producers, or lock them out altogether, and confuse punters in the process.”
Ruminski said that while it’s important for producers to continue their fight against these impediments, they also need to “find ways to survive and thrive under current conditions” – which starts with lifting their game on marketing.
“There is way too much apathy in the craft beverage world when it comes to marketing, and if small producers are going to survive, they need to pull their pants up and understand that marketing isn’t a chore. It is central to their survival,” he said.
“And yeah, this means time, and resources, and money. But more than anything, it means giving a shit, and getting away from the mindset that all you have to do is produce a better product, and leaving the rest to take care of itself.”
Ruminski said few craft beverage producers get beyond a very rudimentary approach to getting their products ranged and ensuring that sales will follow.
“It becomes the job of the venue or the bottleshop to hand-sell the beverage to consumers,” he said.
“Throw in a tasting or event here and there, the odd sponsorship or partnership, and maybe some halfassed social media, and you’ve got the sum total marketing strategy for most craft beverage producers in Australia.”
He said the only weapon small producers have at their disposal that the major players don’t is the unique story behind their brand.
“You can wait for the government to come in and fix things, you can hope that the big boys suddenly develop a conscience, you can keep telling yourself that your only real job is to make great booze and that everything else is bullshit and noise,” said Ruminski.
“Or you can use the most powerful tool at your disposal — the story behind what you make, and why — to start building a bond with customers.
“You can make it so that they know where to get the good stuff, and understand the difference between fake brands and the genuine article once they get to the pub or to the shop,” he said.
“This job belongs first and foremost to you, and then to professionals who put as much care into their work as you put into yours.
“And contrary to popular opinion, there are good professionals out there, who will care as much about your story as you do.
“And we like working with people who have a real story to tell, who are doing something genuine,” he said.
“When you’re ready, we’ll be here to help.”
A recovering journalist and a refugee from the film and music industries, Rob Ruminski is a writer and video producer for The Post Project in Melbourne.
You can read his full blog post here.