Marketing for brewpubs is an interesting topic. It is the combination of craft beer and restaurant marketing, creating some very unique and interesting issues, and more importantly, opportunities.

In this post, The Brewpub Digital Marketing Toolkit, we are going to lay out a blueprint to help you make the most of digital tools in marketing your brewpub.

Ready to get started?

Staff Knowledge
DSC1796Your staff is your front-line. You know that already.

It is mission-critical that they have an understanding of what you hope to accomplish with your marketing efforts instead of being left in the dark.

How many times have you noticed someone in the pub snapping a photo of their food? Or, how many times have you had a visitor pay a compliment that you wish you could capture and share? It happens often, and when your staff is knowledgeable and prepared to respond, your efforts and the effects will be amplified.

Provide your staff with training on mobile tools like Yelp, Foodspotting and Untappd so that they can recognize, identify and encourage your visitors to share information about your brewpub.

Take that extra step and provide your staff with a set of simple directional cards (we like MOO cards), which they can then give to those valued customers who are obviously having a great time, enjoying themselves and most likely to provide you with a review. The cards should include social media info for your pub and give visitors directions on how to share their review, photo, or comment online.

Find Those Talking About You
2013-02-28_1109If someone is in your brewpub and talking about you in their social channels, you need to respond. Everyone likes to feel that they are heard, and it helps show that you care!

One of the easiest ways to do this is via Twitter. Depending on the Twitter client you use (I recommend Hootsuite) you will be able to set up search strings to help find those people talking about you, but not necessarily to you.

By using Boolean search strings you can find mentions of your Brewpub, beers, check-ins on Foursquare and Yelp and other ways in which people may talk about you on Twitter. While they are not mentioning you specifically, it is a massive opportunity to interact with those that have visited you and build your community.

It takes some time to refine your search query, but when you do, it is pure gold!

Local Listings and Maps
Your marketing efforts are intended to bring people to your location, so it makes sense that the first place to begin is by making sure your local listings are claimed and complete. Factoring in the reliance on our mobile devices to get us from point A to point B furthers the importance of this step. A study, from last fall, provides startling proof of this.

“The study found that 95 percent of smartphone users conduct restaurant searches. It also found that 90 percent of these users “convert within the day,” meaning they go out to eat. Perhaps more striking is the fact that 64 percent were found to convert either “immediately” or “within one hour.”

One option is to go to the individual local listing sites one-by-one. If you do, make sure you claim your listings on Google Places, Bing Maps, Nokia Prime Places and Foursquare at a minimum, and complete each profile with videos, photos and complete descriptions whenever possible.

Or you can make sure all of your local listings are claimed, accurate and complete by starting with Get Listed.

Get Listed will provide you with a quick snapshot of how your Brewpub appears on all the mapping sites, as well as links and tips. Remember, no one can drink your beer or enjoy your food if they can’t find you. Don’t overlook this critical step!

Customer Reviews
You can say whatever you want about your food and beer. However, what you say will never be as believable as what someone else says. Like it or not, reviews are incredibly important. I know. I know. I can see your eyes rolling and hear you bitching about that last Yelp review. Get over it.

You need to make every effort to respond to and encourage reviews. Sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Foodspotting are invaluable to the restaurant side of the brewpub. Much like local listings, you need to ensure you have claimed your brewpubs’ profile, have completed all the information that you can, and respond to reviews whenever possible.

Beer-centric review sites like RateBeer, BeerAdvocate and Untappd, like it or not, have substantial influence. Ensuring that your beer data is correct and up-to-date is very important.

Your Menu
What’s your menu have to do with digital? It’s printed, inanimate and there is nothing digital about it. However, it presents a great opportunity to interact with visitors to your brewpub.

Make sure your social icons are listed on the menu. They might not mean something to everyone, but when a Yelp user sees a Yelp icon, I assure you it will mean something to them. You might just get an extra review from it!

Think about adding a QR code to your menu, that, when scanned, takes visitors to a video about your brewpub, your beer, or of your chef thanking them for visiting. The possibilities here are limited only by your imagination. Create a landing page that is mobile friendly (you have a mobile version of your website…right?) with links to all of the various places they can find you, and leave a review or check-in.

Don’t overlook your menu. It can provide a tremendous boost to your digital efforts!

Events
07fce5406d3e11e2b7d622000a1f968a_7Highly anticipated bottle releases and brewpub events present massive opportunity for creating digital connections. The release events of Foothill’s Sexual Chocolate, Cigar City’s Hunahpu Day, Pliny the Younger or Three Floyd’s Dark Lord Day are great examples of this.

There are some interesting event tools within Facebook and Google+ that you should consider. For example, you could create a Google+ Event, and share photos instantly with “party mode”. However, the real value is in allowing attendees to share your content about the event. This helps continue building your community.

Lastly, working to brand an event hashtag can also make it much easier to keep track of Tweets and photos on Instagram. Curating by hashtag will allow you to interact with those that are sharing the experience of your event.

Email
It used to be that you could build a list and send an “email blast” (I loathe that phrase!) in an attempt to create some last minute awareness. This was often frustrating, as the bounce and churn rate of email, coupled with often thin content, started a downward spiral of futility.

The maturity of email marketing tools has created some very interesting opportunities to send highly targeted and relevant emails. For example a visitor could provide you with a birthday or anniversary date, and a system could be created (with tools like Campaign Monitor) to automatically send them a special offer to visit for their birthday.

Also, the use of zip codes, or any other demographic data you are able to collect, would allow you to created very relevant email messages that work.

Tap Boards
6800ab006a9811e2ad1322000a9e28e6_7How often do you hear “what is on tap?”. It’s important, and you know that. Finding ways to share what is currently on tap or freshly tapped has proven to be challenging to many brewpubs.

You could simply post this tap information on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Or, get creative with a daily photo sent to Instagram, which could then be shared to your other social channels. You could also use a specific hashtag, along with something like Instagrate, to send that photo directly to your website.

You could also use several of the paid tools available such as Taphunter and Taplister. Each offers different capabilities for managing and publishing your tap lists.

What Next?
I know it seems like a lot of work, especially for those that are already time-poor and spread thin. However, chipping away at the items outlined above can go a long way in your brewpub digital marketing efforts.