This is a brief guide on creating community around your brand. Dan Etiel is marketing manager (and trivia host) at Quiz Meisters. He has specialised in brand management and marketing strategy for over 10 years.
Building a community around your brand is key to long-term success. Traditionally beer communities are built around the taproom, however the proliferation of technology, supply chain improvements, and of course the major shift recently to digital interfacing means it’s possible (and necessary) to engage people much further afield of your venue.
We recently wrote about a few ways to keep patrons coming back, and that’s a good place to start in building a community around your brand. Here we explore some other opportunities to cement your loyal following and expand beyond the taproom.
Focus on the Things That Make Your Brand Unique
Cementing your brand personality is important for both continued brand building and growing your following. Humans, in general, want to associate with other individuals and groups that align with them – in a number of different ways. This extends to brands as well, who now have the ability to transcend their product or service- particular beer brands.
Take the time to review the nuances of your brewery that differentiate from competitors and attract your fans. You can draw inspiration from so much: your core range / regular styles, your company ethos, your taproom design / location, the people you hire, your idiosyncratic processes. Think of how all these things combine to create a persona and how they are embedded in what you do.
For instance, picture your favourite brand (beer or otherwise) and try and imagine what that would look like as a person.
Here I’ll go – Quiz Meisters is the affable, chatterbox friend who keeps their finger on the pulse of pop culture and sport), loves doing impressions, is always ready with a quick quip, and is never without a story to tell.
When you can visualise a brand’s persona as such it’s highly likely you are fairly bought into the brand’s ideals, style – the whole vibe really. It also means that the brand has done a great job of defining itself
And while you can really reinforce this within the physical brewery/taproom space – you’ll need to consider how to keep it going away from the bar.
Identify External Touchpoints
As much as they may love to be, punters aren’t at your venue 24/7. They have lives beyond the taproom and likely many other interests. Identifying complementary channels and activities where you can reach customers can reveal new opportunities. Some physical examples include: local sports team / tournament sponsorships, or pop up bars at community events. When it comes to digital touchpoints there’s email, display advertising, apps, television etc.
Setting up a regular eNewsletter (and sticking to it) is a good way to start communicating regularly with people and a good accompaniment to your socials. It helps you directly communicate info about deals, events and new releases. Plus you can collect feedback at scale and gather the information you need to bolster your audience engagement.
Quick Tip: Looking for a tool to collect surveys / build forms? There are a number of tools out there that integrate with CRMs and mailing platforms; from the basic ones like Google Forms through to robust platforms like Typeform.
It will help identify touchpoints to explore, as well as provide feedback regarding the effectiveness of channels you are currently putting a focus on. Keeping up two-way communication with your customers creates an endless feedback loop for successful growth.
Start a Club
Clubs are a great way to lay the foundation for a community, establish the all-important feedback loop and recognise passionate customers. Plus some club structures provide your brewery with opportunities for recurring revenue. Being a member of a beer club is a nice little badge of honour and makes people feel even closer to the brand.
There are many ways to run a club for your brewery; both free and paid. The go-to option for many is a membership fee that entitles members to routine delivery of beers, discounts and exclusive access to certain products. But there are many other options out there – crowdfunding investor groups like Black Hops’ Alpha Team, Run Clubs like at Range Brewing – just to name a couple.
It’s a good idea to mix the benefits of your club between on-premise and off-premise. For example: a dedicated glass / discount at the venue, discounts at partner shops, and merch for home alongside delivery of a quarterly care package.
This enables you to expose your brand to customers and their associates at different occasions, in different environments, and to stay top of mind.