Beer is back in a big way. Breweries are tapping into all sorts of trends to set themselves apart from the competition, from creating popular lines of no or low-alcohol content beer to re-introducing creatively designed “tinnies”. For beer makers, one of the most effective (and arguably one of the most enjoyable) strategies to promote your product is to participate in one of the many upcoming beer festivals. Autumn is the prime time for these events across the UK.
If you’re planning to attend one to promote your craft brew, we have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your marketing efforts and attract the right crowd to your booth, from the Indy Man Beer Con in Manchester to the Vessel Beer Festival in Plymouth to anywhere you set up shop.
1) Build Big Buzz
Once you select a festival to attend, sketch out a promo plan that leverages multiple channels to build the most buzz possible. One great resource is our “Ultimate Craft Beer Festival Marketing Guide” which includes the following buzz-worthy tips, and more:
- Social Media: As soon as the list of breweries is announced by the festival organisers, start sharing updates on your social media channels and always use the festival hashtags. Consider posting videos to pique interest in your stand. And, when people comment on your post or ask questions, respond swiftly in a fun, conversational way to encourage more engagement leading up to the festival.
- Website: If you don’t already have an “events” or “where to find us” section on your website, add it now! Include helpful information about the festival, such as a map to the event or links to purchase festival tickets.
- Press and Coverage: Blog about your participation. Highlighting the reasons why you’re excited about the festival will help get your customers excited, too. Do some research on the local beer writing community and pitch a story with a fresh angle and fun photos of your brewery staff.
- Email Marketing: Be sure to target people who are already in your circle. Send a special email to your customer list to break the exciting news and give them first crack to purchase tickets or win special prizes.
Lastly, get creative and look for opportunities to combine offline and online promotions, like creating printed postcards or beer badges that you can hand out to local distributors or businesses to help spread the word.
2) The Early Bird Gets the Beer
Another effective strategy to maximise your festival experience is to start early. Offer an incentive for people who sign up or purchase tickets well in advance of the event. This could be a steep discount on prices that diminishes in value as the date approaches. Or it could be early access to the venue — what about special one-hour access to the festival or your brewery before it opens to the public for a “sneak” preview and personal tastings, with no lines! You could also gift special or cool merchandise for early birds. For example, you could reward the first 500 sign-ups with a beer-branded bottle opener, mug, tote or other special festival item.
And don’t forget special promotion on the day of the event. Big Drop Brewing Co., for example, recently posted these reminders from the Stockholm Beer and Whiskey festival, sharing fun photos of the brewery booth staff and their location information at the festival.
3) Seek Out Strong Partnerships
Partnerships are a great way to maximise your next beer festival. Look for unique collaborations with clothing retailers, jewelry makers, artists, restaurants and bakeries or even other beverage makers, like locally-sourced coffee, tea or juice producers. Some partnerships may be as simple as reaching out to these companies to let them know about the festival and ask them to share updates on their social media or event calendar, with their existing customer base. Who knows – you might even end up helping your partner connect with a new audience or demographic they’ve been after. Other partnerships might require more time or relationship-building efforts. Either way, you can be stronger together when it comes to promoting your festival.
For example, Camden Town Brewery is attending the eight-year-old Leeds International Beer Festival for the first time this year. To honor the moment, the brewery is teaming up with the popular Indian-streetfood joint Bundobust for a beer and food matching evening.
4) Set a Strong Theme
Creating a unique theme or festival “twist” is a perfect way to maximise promotion and draw a big crowd. For example, BrewDog hosts its annual Collabfest in which bar crews across the globe pick a favorite brewery to design and brew a special beer that is poured and shared during the four-day festival, which also features beers from 78 different breweries.
It’s sure to be huge — BrewDog knows this and is running with it, marketing the collaboration theme across the brewery’s website and social media platforms. The brewery encourages people to use #Collabfest2019 to win prizes, and the brewery is selling a special line of #Collabfest2019 merch and glassware. Other popular themes might relate to the location or setting of the festival, the time of year, a popular band or pop culture icon, a big contest or grand prize or a special brew that you’ll be untapping just for the occasion.
5) Turn Beer Drinkers into Beer Promoters
Another great way to expand your reach and promotion is to turn your beer fans into promoters. For example, this year, BrewDog will gift participants exclusive Untappd #Collabfest2019 badges that they can wear ahead of, during and following the festival, which helps extend the brewery’s visibility even more as well as over the long run.
Additionally, you can offer attendees the option to purchase beer-inspired pin badges at the event, providing a great souvenir and promotional tool for your beer fans. For inspiration, here’s a great set of badges from BrewDog. Novelty sets like this with a matching backing card are a great and collectible item to showcase your brewery’s many different brews.
Are you a seasoned beer festival goer? What other tips do you have to make the most of the festival season? Or perhaps this Autumn is the first entry for your brewery. We’d love to hear which festival you’re heading to and what your goals are for the event. Perhaps we can help you put together the perfect beer merch to boost your sales. Cheers!