By: Robert Frost, Principal, Boelter Blue
Competition is fierce! With the number of craft breweries and brewpubs continually on the rise year-over-year, it should come as no surprise that current bar owners and operators must focus on more than just word of mouth, radio ads or the occasional 30 seconds of air time on the local network to create buzz about their business. Developing a marketing plan to maintain visibility and relevance is key to both the initial and ongoing success of your business.
But not just any marketing strategy will do.
A robust and diverse digital marketing plan, one that also leverages mobile technology, will play a significant role with effectively attracting and retaining customers. Utilizing loyalty apps and a variety of marketing automation initiatives will ultimately allow you to spend less time and money on your overall marketing efforts, while simplifying and maintaining your path for continued growth and success.
All of this speaks to the advancement of technology within this space. As such, it should come as no surprise that the role of technology continues to be on the rise, both in terms of what is in the hands of you and your loyal customers – on their phones and through a more personalized interface with your business – as well as the technology your business may currently be utilizing.
The increased involvement of technology is very much a generational change and one that craft brewery and bar owners are recognizing as a means to become better and more productive at what they do. The old saying, “work smarter, not harder” rings true across the board.
Align yourself with mobile technology and mobile marketing
By 2020, 77% of the US population will be using mobile technology daily. It’s the go-to technology for personalized communications. Adding to this impressive statistic is the notion that thirty-five percent of smartphone users are already claiming to use their phones more than 50 times a day—this is where craft brewery and bar owners and operators can make the biggest impact. Personal means connecting with customer routines, moods and of course, discerning taste buds. Data makes it possible—mobile makes it deliverable.
Most consumers expect information to be available at their fingertips. The vast majority of consumers are searching for information about a particular business on their smartphone, with 84% of them contacting that business as a result. An app with your menus, reservation, ordering, payment and delivery capabilities maintain accessibility and convenience. And convenience is a big part of the overall experience that customers are looking for. If too much is being asked of your customers they may abandon your business before ever stepping through the front door.
Attracting new customers, building loyalty and running a variety of continuous promotions requires a heavy investment of time and energy. An automated marketing strategy allows you to focus on what you do best—providing great craft brews and exceptional service. Capture your guests at every touch point with pre-scheduled communications, photo push messaging, social media posts and more. Utilizing a robust app for your business allows you to capture more first-time guests, make your regular guests feel like insiders and remind customers who haven’t visited with you in a while why they should consider returning.
Utilizing technology does not necessarily equate to an entirely new business plan. However, it does mean that you now have an option to execute your current plan better, while also being able to expand and grow them quicker. An example of this is identifying those efforts that you may currently be doing with email, paper punch cards or in-house only promotions and taking that to a mobile and digital platform as a means to obtain more control and visibility for everyone involved – customers and owners alike.
An app has the ability to act as your personal, day-to-day assistant. If you don’t have the time or money to hire and manage another employee, it might be time to look at technology as the employee that never gets tired. With it you can send your loyal customers birthday wishes, offers and alerts, giving them the personalized experience they prefer and deserve. With an automated marketing strategy, you can create a series of push notifications triggered by their activity. Notifications can be sent right away, pre-scheduled or programmed to be delivered in certain scenarios. Either way, it communicates why your business is the perfect option for that moment.
Being social with your media
Customers love to see what is offered before deciding where to go. Show them, don’t just tell them. Instagram and Pinterest are fantastic options for enticing people with tasty-looking and thirst-quenching photos. It’s also beneficial to develop short, unique videos – such as a quick recipe or a behind-the-scenes look at your brewery. And don’t forget to use trending hashtags to increase post visibility. For example, include #happyhour, #newbrew, or #foodielife, along with the name of your craft brewery or bar. All of this will help keep your establishment top of mind with both your regulars and first time customers.
Your customers are always looking online to get ideas when thinking about visiting a new business. To ease this process, make sure that all of your social profiles are up to date and easy to read, as well as portray your business with the correct ambiance. It’s not uncommon for new customers to be hesitant about visiting the unknown. Your social presence needs to provide a compelling reason for them to engage with you. However, never sell your business through a clouded social media lens. Customers expecting one experience based on how your business is represented on social media, only to walk in to something entirely different, will likely result in negatively affecting your business as a whole.
Your social media promotional efforts should also be backed up with an engaging customer-facing website in order to complete the experience. This will further provide your customers with an even better idea as to what they can expect when choosing your business over the competition. Think of a great website as a first handshake, before they commit to visiting your business for the first time. Your website must be mobile friendly so that it can easily be viewed from your phone without distorting the message or making the experience inferior in any way.
Technology that’s here to stay
This growing trend in technology is a strong reflection as to how business owners are looking to maintain their operations with their distributor – online, expedited, quick-to-answer and respond and capable of addressing all of your needs through a variety of technological channels and initiatives. It would be unfair and, quite frankly, unacceptable, for a distributor to suggest that you engage with your customers through the advancements of technology if they themselves are not capable of providing the same level of service to meet your day-to-day business needs. Technology will continue to impact and affect buyer behavior. This can be seen both from the customers that frequent your establishment, as well as the way that you engage (or want to engage) with them.
Consumer preferences are changing faster than ever, dictating how your business must respond. The distributor that you have chosen to partner with should be in the business of delivering value. When they deliver on value, it demonstrates an understanding of what is truly important. A distributor capable of delivering value and unforgettable experiences is infectious, and it will help you, in turn, deliver unforgettable experiences to your own customers.
A thoughtful and in-the-know distributor should always have the pulse of what consumers want as a means to help you innovate and continually reinvent yourself in order to remain relevant in a highly competitive landscape. When they can adapt and respond with speed and agility, they help you to keep pace, stay relevant and often outpace your competition. Ultimately, their business should be dedicated to helping you succeed with yours, utilizing non-traditional methods to better serve your needs through more interesting and engaging uses of product management, technology and education. While it’s true that people do business with people they like, they also look to do business with the people that are committed and able to execute. Finding a distributor that can serve you better and become a comprehensive, go-to resource for all of your business needs is the end game.
Technology is advancing faster than ever before and it’s here to stay. As a business owner, your digital media strategy should be flexible to more easily respond to what does and doesn’t work. Discover how your customers found out about you to gauge where they’re spending time online in order to maximize those platforms. Cross-link all of your online profiles and link your website to your mobile app and social media pages. In doing so, you’ll be able to strategically cover more ground while building a base of followers on their preferred platform. The end result will likely translate to an increase in new traffic, while also building upon an established foundation of regulars.
Contact Robert at (262) 523-6210 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.