By: Chris Mulvaney, President, CMDS Marketing Agency
So, you think you have it all. A great product, niche location, rockstar staff … ultimate success will no doubt come knocking at your door to order one of your specials. Right?
Hard truth. When it comes to craft beverage marketing and branding, making those delicious bevvies is only half the battle. Many craft beverage companies that failed also had a great product, perfect location, and an awesome staff. So … why did they fail?
For one, planning. Part of a craft beverage business is, well, the business. And while that part may not taste quite as good, it’s still a huge part of running and scaling your company so that it thrives for years to come.
Planning your craft beverage business takes into consideration some very important components. Branding is one of them. If you don’t have solid branding, then you’ll have a tough time standing out in today’s crowded craft drink market.
While there was a time that breweries and distilleries could succeed without strong branding, much has changed. Today, statistics show that a new brewery opens up almost every day. That means crazy competition, and as a result, you really need strict branding and positioning in order to stand out. Without that, even the best product can get lost in the mix and drown into a drain of obscurity.
The What, The How, and The Why
Simon Sinek familiarized the concept of the “What,” the “How,” the “Why” in his book, “Start with Why.” The concept is about having three layers to your brand story.
The “what” explains what your business is in simple terms (“My business offers locally produced cider”). The “how” is how you do it (“we use on-site fermentation and locally-sourced apples”).
Unfortunately, while most craft beverage companies may be able to explain the “what” and the “how”, they tend to lag in the “why”. And the “why” is usually the most interesting part of the story because that is where the emotion comes in (“my partner and I both have celiac and were not able to enjoy a traditional brewery experience, so we wanted to offer a delicious beer alternative for gluten-sensitive customers and those who want something a bit different”). The “Why” is key because it draws people in and creates a deep emotional connection, which is more compelling.
Your brand is the perception of your company by your customers. It is the heart of your message and it’s how your customers will portray you on social media. The emotional connection with your customers is what drives the purchase. It is your “why”.
This is where it also gets tricky. You can’t forget about the product. Above all else, your customer has to like the taste of what you sell, so quality is also vital.
Therefore, branding involves defining key concepts, creating emotional attachment, and differentiating yourself from your competition, all while keeping a great product offering. It can be a challenge to balance it just right, and that’s where a business coach comes in.
Typically, business coaches are experienced entrepreneurs and business owners who then decide to use their talents for building and growing a business to help other business owners reach their goals.
They can provide far more valuable and personalized advice than any found online. They are essential to success – and are used by most humans across the board in other areas, yet the same principle often fails to apply to a business’ growth.
Take sports or music. If an athlete wants to improve their skills, the best thing they can do is join a team with a great coach. Likewise, a musician will hire a teacher to help them reach rock star heights.
Essentially, having a business coach is like having a trusted coach or teacher, and they can prove essential to your brand’s ultimate success.
Why Every Craft Beverage Businesses Should Enlist a Business Coach
In simple terms, business coaching is a process used to take a business from where it is now to where the business owner wants it to be.
If a business owner has tough questions or runs into problems along the way, their coach will be able to help them navigate their issues in the most effective way possible.
A good business coach will ask you to list your core values and help you figure out what will make you stand out from your competition. Your customers have to understand your brand and concept to immerse themselves in the experience. You will also be asked how you would like to grow in a manner consistent with your brand.
The hiring process should include a discovery period between yourself and the potential business coach to make sure you are both aligned and should include the following:
1. Answer detailed focus questions so your business coach gains insight of what you want to accomplish.
2. Review their coaching/consulting package thoroughly, so you’ll have a good idea of features, benefits, time alloted and pricing.
3. Schedule a 20-30 minute discovery call to talk through the project and determine if you are a good fit to work together.
A Business Coach should also address focus questions. These can include the following:
• What do you need help with? Be as specific as possible about the problem you need to solve or opportunity you want to tackle.
• What is the ideal outcome or result you want to achieve? What does it look like?
• How urgent is this project? How important is it to tackle this (1 to 10)?
• What’s your timeframe for this project/goal: 1) ASAP, 2) within the next few months, 3) sometime this year?
In addition to evaluating strengths and weaknesses, it’s also important to define business goals. For some people, the goal is the freedom to do what they want. For others, it’s financial security. When setting goals, make sure they are specific, optimistic (but realistic), and offer both short- and long-term plans so you can evaluate your progress.
Throughout this entire process, business coaches serve as an invaluable source of personalized information and advice, providing business owners with specific industry navigation tools and assisting in setting attainable goals.
Coaching Packages will reflect just how much time and assistance your business will need and a coach will work with you regarding budget and timelines.
A good business coach understands that exponential success does not happen overnight. That is where their coaching and development services come into play. A great thing about a business coach is that you can hire one at any stage and scenario of your business, whether you are just starting out, your business is struggling and you need a way to revive it, or you are an established name looking to take it to the next level. There will always be a need for a business coach to provide you with considerable entrepreneurial insights, expertise and innovative business ideas at any level. The benefits of having one cannot be overstated.
Large vs Smaller Businesses
In many cases, the challenges and goals of small businesses may differ from those of large businesses.
For example, a start-up brewery in a more localized setting, looking to attract more local customers, will have an entirely different set of goals and strategies than a large establishment that caters to multiple locations and ships on a large scale.
With that said, most business coaches will be experienced in working with small or large businesses since a big part of their job is to learn as much as they can about each company and owner that they are working with, and developing a strategy that is uniquely suited to the specifics of each situation.
In other words, a high-quality business coach will likely be able to help you regardless of budget, company size or how large you want it to grow.
The Last Gulp
The most important rule of self-evaluation and goal-setting is honesty. Going into business with your eyes wide open about your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, and your ultimate goals lets you confront the decisions you’ll face with greater confidence and a greater chance of success.
Look at the coaching experience through honest eyes and know that the purpose of a business coach is to make the life of the business owner less stressful and their business more successful, which in amongst itself is something to raise a glass to.
If you need help on where to start, Chris Mulvaney has been providing Business Coaching Services to business owners and fellow entrepreneurs for over 15 years. His marketing agency, CMDS, can be a great compliment to these services. Feel free to reach out for a consultation and you will be put in the right direction by someone who can take your business to the next level of craft beverage success.