When your brewery has grown to the point where you want to market your product outside of your home city how do you go about doing it? Are there good marketing and sales practices for getting your beer to be picked up by bottle shops and pubs in other territories? If so, what are they and who can you learn from that’s doing it well?
The answers to many of these questions are – or can be answered by – Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, Oregon.
On Friday June 3rd 2016, Deschutes came to Vancouver to share knowledge of their core lineup as well as some new products they’ve recently launched.
The integral part of Deschutes’ marketing strategy was the knowledge-sharing, and their entire marketing strategy for this special event revolved around that key component of their pitch.
Often when a brewery, or any company for that matter, is looking to expand its reach to a new market or territory, there tend to be a few tried and true tactics used. Research is key, of course. The company may put salespeople in the field to pitch the product to stores in the new market. Perhaps they take out ads in industry publications. They may put out promoted posts on social media channels, or even expand their social media reach by creating location-specific accounts. Indeed, there are many tactics to employ, but often education about the product comes last; getting eyeballs first is far more important.
Which isn’t to say that Deschutes hasn’t already utilized these tactics as they expanded their reach into British Columbia. They may have done so when they first arrived but that’s not necessarily the point.
Rather what is important is that this next stage in their marketing revolved around that “knowledge sharing”, because sharing knowledge is different than teaching or selling. And although the Deschutes event was called Deschutes University it appeared to be done at least partially tongue-and-cheek. The goal was certainly to inform, but it was also about story-telling, sharing information, answering questions, and having a discussion around the products they offer – not to mention tasting the beers and getting to the root of how they taste and why.
Because Deschutes believes – as we all do about our own products – that their beer tells a story. That belief is borne out in fact: from the names of their beers, to the brewery itself, to the various people that have their hand in their creation and production; every member of the Deschutes team contributes to the overall story of their company and their product.
And how is that any different from your favourite brewery? Think on what their tasting room staff or their brewer(s) have to say about where the beer comes from, its roots, its inspiration. What about you, their customer? How do you contribute to that story? How do you influence who they are as a company, their values, and their goals?
Watching and listening to Erik, the Deschutes Marketing Manager for Education, talk about his company, you can feel the passion and the commitment he has to the brand. But passion alone won’t sell your product. His enthusiasm isn’t enough to ensure that his brewery’s values, goals, and aspirations are understood and grasped by the customer. That enthusiasm and commitment also need to be imparted to others in the sales chain: managers, bartenders and staff at pubs that sell your beer, and even purchasing managers at liquor stores that sell your bottles. These people are key links in the sales chain between your bottling line and the customer’s taste buds – and sharing knowledge, sharing your story, giving the ‘Why’ – is ultimately what connects a new customer with your beer, whether in your home territory or further afield.
The more you know, certainly.
But the more you share what you know, that’s the key. And Deschutes has certainly got that one locked down.