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Build Your Beer Brand (on a Budget)

By Andrew Witkin, CEO of StickerYou
Build Your Beer Brand (on a Budget)

According to recent data, Anheuser-Busch InBev spent more than $1.5 billion on advertising in the U.S. in 2019. That doesn’t even factor in other marketing and branding activities, ranging from lobbying to event sponsorships. A budget in the billions is an almost inconceivable number, especially to home brewers who want to get into the market but need to watch every dollar to grow their businesses. The good news is that even the smallest beer makers can build great brands and promote their products without needing to enlist a fleet of Clydesdale horses.

Most brewers are great at making beer, but they might not have decades of experience in marketing and branding. As a result, it can be difficult for them to figure out what will move the needle and what is just going to burn through cash. In simple terms, good marketing and branding activities will directly lead to greater visibility and higher sales. You can spend $10,000 sponsoring a county fair, but it’s not a very good investment if it only leads to $2,000 in additional sales over the course of the next six months. On the other hand, a single article in a local newspaper can lead to lines wrapping around the block. So, what are some of the most cost-effective ways to build a brand and drive revenues?

One of the most important is having a robust online presence. Simply put, in 2020 no consumer brand can survive without being active on the internet. In most cases, that starts with having a great website. Unfortunately, most organizations build their websites and then leave them alone for years and years. They may add some new content along the way, but the basic structure stays the same. That’s a surefire recipe for looking dated and out of touch. Trends in web design have radically changed over the last two years, and the platforms to build websites have also changed. If you want a great site, you may want to consider looking at Themeforest, Fiverr, or any number of other marketplaces where designers sell web templates. For less than $100, you can simply replace your existing template with a more modern one — and create a much better digital experience for customers.

It’s also important to be active on social media. That doesn’t mean just sharing cute memes on Facebook. Rather, it involves building up a loyal following of customers who want to engage with you through platforms like Twitter, Instagram and even TikTok. One of the best things about social media is that it is essentially free to use. Of course, you can spend money on ads and promotions, but for the most part anyone can go on these platforms and just start posting content. The trick is that it needs to be done consistently. This is where most social campaigns fall flat. Experts recommend posting an average of 1.5 times a day on Instagram, but most companies are lucky to even get one or two posts a week. The key to successful social media is frequency. If you don’t have anyone on your team dedicated to social media, it might be worth hiring an intern or contractor to manage your accounts. You will definitely see an uptick in engagement — which should translate into additional sales.

One of the critical factors in the desirability of a brand is its look and feel. Companies that have an engaging and professional-looking logo tend to draw more fans than ones that look amateurish. There are certain colors that resonate with customers, and others that turn them off. There isn’t a single winning formula for building an attractive visual brand, but its importance cannot be underestimated. If you have a designer on your team, you are ahead of the curve. If you don’t, it might be worth hiring a graphic designer to come in and help refresh or rebuild your brand. Again, there are plenty of low-cost options online if you don’t have the budget to hire a full-service creative agency.

Even though we live in a digital age, brewers should never underestimate the value of low-tech approaches to marketing. Things like stickers, signs, and swag can go a long way in helping reinforce a brand and drive product awareness. Spending only a few hundred dollars can have a huge impact, especially for brewers on a budget who serve defined geographic areas.

You don’t need an MBA to build a brand, and you certainly don’t need a billion dollars. But by focusing on a few key marketing activities you can do what you need to do: reach out to the people who love — or should love — your beer.

Andrew Witkin is the founder and CEO of StickerYou, a global, e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products that empower consumers and businesses to create high-quality materials for personal expression, marketing, and packaging.