What Marketers Can Learn From Craft Brewers

I love beer.  I love to drink it, make it, photograph it (the photo above is from Beer Advocate above) learn about it, cook with it, market it. Did I mention drink it?

As a homebrewer and lover of craft beer, I find discovering and making new beers an adventure.  As a marketer, I think there is a lot we can learn from craft brewers.

Now, there are many things that craft brewers could do better with their digital marketing; however, I wanted to flip the script.

Here are some of the things that I think marketers could learn from craft brewers.

It’s Good to Be Different
Craft brewers aren’t interested in pleasing everyone, and you shouldn’t be either.  While many craft breweries make great efforts to create introduction or “cross over” beers for those new to drinking craft, many also make beers that will only appeal to a select few.  They are ok with that.  In fact, many relish the fact that not all of their beer appeals to everyone.  In marketing, if you are trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

You Need a Plan
While most craft beers are a simple combination of malted grain, hops, water and yeast, great planning goes into formulating a beer recipe.  If you start brewing a batch of beer with no goals or plans for things like beer color or alcohol content, you’re working blind.  Craft brewers know the style of beer they want to end up with and the steps needed to get there because they have a plan. Marketing without a plan and goals can never be successful.

You Need to Measure, Then Measure More
To me, craft brewers are part chemist and part scientist.  The quality and consistency of their end product requires great care for measurement. Without measuring throughout the entire process, craft brewers wouldn’t know if their work was successful and their goals were being met until the very end of the process.  And that’s when it’s too late to do anything about it.  As marketers, we need to measure early and often, just like craft brewers.

Patience is Required
Good things come to those who wait.  Not a new concept.  But good marketing, just like good beer, takes patience to become evident.  Our friends at Bridge Brew Works just released a new Belgian Blonde Ale that they brewed quite some time ago.  In fact, they aged the beer in bottle over a year before its release!  Could they have released it sooner? Yup… and it would have still been good; however, not nearly as good as it is after a year in the bottle.  Remarkable marketing is never instant.  Patience is key.

You Get Out of It What You Put Into It
With craft beer, the quality of your ingredients is incredibly important.  Everything from the water and quality of hops and yeast  can have an impact on the finished product.

Many industrial beers use cheap adjuncts like high fructose corn syrup and rice.  You won’t find those things in honest craft beer.  Side-by-side tasting will show the proof is in the pudding.  You want a quality outcome?  Begin with quality ingredients.

There Are Easy Ways and There Are Right Ways
I enjoy home brewing.  That doesn’t make me a quality brewer.  One of the first craft beers I ever tasted, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is still a favorite.  It is a craft beer classic that has enjoyed longevity due to the effort put into brewing it and providing consistent quality.  Sierra Nevada does it the right way.

I could easily purchase a homebrew kit to make my own Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Theoretically, I could produce the same beer, using the same ingredients, using my own home brewing equipment.  But truthfully, I don’t have the knowledge, the patience, the experience or access to the highest quality ingredients like Sierra Nevada.

Easy?  Or right?  Your choice.

You Need the Right Tools & You Need to Know How to Use Them
Quality marketing and beer require quality tools and their knowledgeable use.  When it comes to craft brewers and their need to brew great beer repeatedly and consistently, the importance of the right tools becomes vastly more evident.

It is one thing to make something of quality, once.  It is something else entirely to replicate success.  Research, training and knowledge of the tools of the trade are crucial to the success of a craft brewery.  The same goes for marketers.

Learn From Your Mistakes
There is one thing everyone in this world can be guaranteed of – making a mistake.  In both craft beer and marketing, learning from your mistakes is crucial to success. If a craft brewer has to dump an entire batch of beer, you can rest assured they will dutifully hunt down the source of the problem and learn from it.  Was it a bad strain of yeast? Temperature problems? In marketing, if you aren’t learning from your mistakes, you are walking a fine and dangerous line. Know you will make a mistake at some point, and be prepared to learn.

Do any of these things resonate with you?  What would you add to the list of things marketers could learn from the craft beer industry?