Tag Archives: Breweries

Socializing in a Socially Distanced World

Socializing in a Socially Distanced World by Evan Shirreffs

As young professionals, most of us are getting our careers started, attempting to make new friends outside of work, and networking for possible job opportunities that don’t involve surviving at the bottom of the totem poll at a 9-5. A lot of this socializing would typically come at happy hours and on weekends with visits to our favorite spots, but a huge disruption to the young professional lifestyle came with the onset of COVID-19. Our time to let loose became a time of added stress as we were pent up in our apartments, or even back home with our parents, as we waited for any sign of times returning to normal. One thing became clear as week after week brought new broken promises and spoiled expectations: the end of this mayhem was nowhere in sight, so we decided to make do in the meantime.

At first, this meant getting together with a small number of close friends for what normally would be pre-games. These gatherings still somewhat involved social distancing as our parents warned us that we couldn’t see them when we traveled back home if we were stupid enough to see other people, but the seed of times returning to normal was already planted.

At some point in the terrible reaction to the pandemic, the FOMO took over. Our cravings for those social settings that we so dearly missed slowly outgrew our fear of the pandemic. Naturally, we wanted to meet people and we wanted to try new things. As places began to re-open, we scrolled through social media, witnessing our friends start to go out again. Sparked by distrust of the conflicting news we received day in and day out, we were all soon flooding the doors of any place brave enough to host us. Whatever was open, we ran to with hopes of getting in before they reached capacity. We watched our favorite dance floor at Gin Mill reopen before regulations forced them to do table only seating. We saw an earlier last call at Sycamore with each passing evening, leaving us scrambling for a new place to go. We were devastated by a curfew put on the few thriving spots like Hoppin’ after a promise of brewery and bar re-openings that clearly came too soon.

After hearing news the other day of an additional 5 weeks being added to the Phase 2 protocol in North Carolina, I thought of how everything has unfolded over the past few months and pondered the next moves for some of these affected restaurants, bars, and breweries. In my research, I came across this excerpt regarding the “Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (Restaurants) Act of 2020” that truly puts into perspective what these businesses have been going through and why relief is needed:

“Recent surveys found that COVID-19 has forced operators to lay off 91% of the hourly workforce and 70% of salaried employees. Only one in five restaurant owners subjected to state mandated dine-in shutdowns said they felt confident they could keep their restaurants running. The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that only 15% of restaurants will be able to stay open if the COVID-19 pandemic lasts six months. All of this in an industry that already runs on extremely thin margins.”

While the circumstances appear dire, there is always hope and opportunities hidden within even the most chaotic of crises. There are strategies business owners and operators in this space can and are taking to make the best of the situation.

Following online research into the subject, I wanted to take things a step further to develop a better approach in which to help these businesses. I decided to reach out to a few business owners (primarily in Charlotte) to see how they maneuvered the past few months, learn how imposed laws have affected their businesses, determine what tactics are working, and hear about their expectations for the future. More to come soon…

Evan Shirreffs, MBA is a Business Analyst with WIMS Consulting a full-service marketing and sales agency operating primarily in Charlotte, NC and Miami, FL. WIMS has a service line dedicated to assisting restaurants, breweries, and bars with growing and scaling called LDR BRD.

LDR BRD Level Up Your Business

Level Up Your Business: Introducing the Launch of LDR BRD

The LDR BRD Mission:

We help your business understand and connect with your customers by providing actionable intelligence on consumer behavior. We want you to really know your customers and your market. We give you the power to increase revenue, brand exposure, and increase market penetration by deepening your relationships with your customers.

Whether you’re in the early stages of the concept, have been around for a while, or are currently experiencing a wave of growth, we understand each business has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities and customize our approach accordingly.

We work with you to help reach your destination, while keeping in line with your unique brand, mission, and everything else that makes your restaurant, brewery, coffee shop, winery, retail location, etc. stand out!

What sets LDR BRD apart?

  • Created for the food, beverage, brewery, winery, hospitality, and retail industries.

  • Integrates with your existing systems (or we can help you create them).

    • Data collected from Web, Email, POS, Social Media, CRM, referrals, etc.

  • Tracks customer activity on-site and off-site.

    • ​Financial, Online, In-Person, etc.​

  • Data is then measured, run through filters, and used to identify your most valuable and loyal customers, how they interact with your business, and keeping them engaged with your brand long-term.

 

We have much more to come, but if you’re interested in learning more please visit our website and reach out to discuss!

LDR BRD

Leveling-Up the Loyalty Game – Welcome to LDR BRD By: Tom Schaefer, Jr.

What are those letters? We’ll get to that later, I promise it’s worth the wait. In my previous post, I went on and on about how Loyalty systems don’t work.  At the end of that piece, I explained that loyalty does work, it just seems the retail application was broken. They’re rewarding existing loyalty (which reduces the Lifetime Value, or LTV, of a customer that wasn’t going anywhere) but failing to convert new customers to loyal ones. If there’s something we’ve learned from Star Trek/Wars, Marvel, and even the gaming community, its that consumers crave something they can connect with. The obstacle here is translating what other mediums do well, into a retail or B2C environment.

Janet Robinson, former CEO of the New York Times Company, said it best –

“Repeat business or behavior can be bribed, Loyalty has to be earned”

But what inspires loyalty with your customers? First, we need to separate Customer Loyalty from Brand Loyalty. Customer loyalty comes from the buyer’s power on their own personal spending. They’re likely motivated by lower prices and competitive deals. The loyalty Ms. Robinson is talking about is Brand Loyalty, which is based on perception of the Brand and its value. Brands that focus on excellent quality in product, service, and a cohesive message, are much more likely to inspire loyalty in their customer base.

After all of this research into loyalty/reward programs, I went and did something about it. I created a loyalty platform that ties into the basic fundamentals of building strong brand loyalty. I could tell you all about Aristotle’s 7 causes of human action, defining the 7 ways we make decisions and take actions, or go through some other psychological triggers, but the answer is much simpler than that. Create a quality product or service, provide excellent customer experience, and unify under a strong message. Once that is in place, the rest is as easy as paint by numbers.

My system plays into 4 areas that help grow customer loyalty: Trust, Character, Excitement, and Community. First, we extend the excellent customer experience outside of the standard financial transactions. Using a common platform like a CRM program, helps us stay in touch with our customers, understand their actions, and allows them to provide us with feedback to make their next visit that much better!

 

Enter LDR BRD (but where’d the vowels go?)

I’ve been so excited to share this with everyone! I’ve spent most of my professional life in Sales and Marketing, and leaned on quantitative data for most of my decision making. We use tools like Lead Scoring to determine which people are more likely to buy, and which are just window shopping. Then it hit me…what if we could do the same with loyalty? It’s a messy, qualitative, emotional category that isn’t easy to track. So how do we do it? I took a sample group of people who self-identify as “Brand Loyal” and interviewed them over a couple weeks.  Turns out their actions oftentimes spoke louder than their words. They were more likely to make large purchases from their preferred brand, share with friends and family through word of mouth/social media/online reviews, and fall into the habit of making regular purchases. Loyal customers should make up at least 20% of your base, but will account for 80% of future profits. It’s time to find out who they are (and what they care deeply about)!

 

Ready Player

We took the traditional lead scoring model, and made is public facing. This effectively turns loyalty into a game that adds a competition component to a system that doesn’t separate the loyal customers from passive return business. We have a system in place to track activity both inside and outside the traditional financial transaction. Did someone share a post on social media and tag your business? Get Points! Did someone invite their coworkers or friends to your bar for happy hour? Reward them! Did someone make a large purchase? Don’t let it go unnoticed! Our system also incorporates Feedback Loops (similar to popular games like Fortnite, with each new season giving players a reason to re-engage), so everyone gets a chance to shine, regardless of the previous activity. This allows new customers to feel like they have a chance to benefit in the system, while longer tenured customers continue to benefit from past activities. The purpose of this system is to identify and reward loyal business, all while turning your customer base into your own personal marketing army!

What about the name? I was inspired by the classic video game displays that list the current high scores. The leader board gives new players a number to beat, driving competitive behavior. At the end, you can only use three initials to describe what you are.

Leader Board became LDR BRD.

Are you ready to play?

If you have any questions about LDR BRD or would like to discuss how this platform can transform your business and drive revenues, fill out the form here or email me and let’s talk: tschaefer@wims-consulting.com.

 

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

By Jack Tompkins

Avoid poor performance with some pour analytics!

In the brewery/cidery/wine world, analytics can increase sales, improve customer insights, and most importantly, support and refine your gut instincts!

Whether you sell through a taproom or you have the full restaurant feel with the best beverages in town, analytics can help improve your day to day and leave you time to enjoy some of your very own hard work.

For brewers, if you get creative and dedicated enough (plus some extra equipment), analytics can even have a meaningful impact on the brewing process (shortening the time by a few hours).

For now, though, we’ll focus on making your top sellers even better, building loyalty with customers, and selling the amazing product you’ve already perfected.

#1 Further Identifying Top Performers… and What To Do With Them

You most likely have a pretty good sense of what your top performing drink is, regardless of the analytical power you have available. There’s a good chance that some further analytics could help enhance your top performer’s sales though.

Are those high sellers typically sold at a certain time of day or day of the week? Are they the highlight of the tour? What is typically ordered with them? How do they perform when on sale? Is the top seller also the most profitable?

Getting data supported answers to those kinds of questions can really help you lean into your top sellers and make it the top seller in the state, not just your taproom.

Running promos for your top performer

Using analytics, you can determine how top performers sell on certain nights, days, or times of day. Using this data, you can create promos that target times when the drink sells well and see if it sells phenomenally during the promo (more of a good thing is great, right?). On the flip side, you could try offering the promo when sales are typically a bit down, thus evening out the sales and using your top performers to bolster weaker sales periods.

If either promo works particularly well, you could then try it on some second-tier drinks and see if it helps their sales as well!

Selling your most profitable drink

You and your accountant potentially boil things down to financial metrics on a “per barrel” basis, but what about expanding that thinking to the pint and individual sale level? Is the breakdown of wholesale to taproom sales optimized for profitability? What is your most profitable drink sold in combination with?

You could always include your most profitable drink in an upsell opportunity, use it in promos since it has a higher margin, and pair it with food options that make sense for the customer’s palate and your business’ bank account.

You could also expand this to general menu profitability, but that’s a piece for another article (still heavily relating to analytics though).

What pairs well with that?

Do your bartenders and waitresses get this question a lot? Of course, the safe answer is for them to disregard their own taste buds and go with the popular answer, but it’s sometimes difficult to know that, let alone upsell another item in that context.

With analytics, you can have the two most frequently ordered food items with that drink at the tip of your fingers for a quick and data supported answer that your customers will likely enjoy the most!

Don’t sell food? Everyone sells flights of beers/ciders/wines, and sometimes a combination of all three! The same math applies here – you can quickly say what typical flight combos are or upsell to suggest the most profitable tastings that go with the rest of the flight.

What sells best after a tour?

Maybe it isn’t your top performer. Maybe something in the sales pitch/historical fun fact/story about the creation made it a top tour seller. Analyzing the data can tell you what the financial results of the tour are and help you leverage that experience in other sales points.

The shortened version of that same story could be put to good use at the bar and increase sales there as well!

 

#2 Put Your Marketing Data to Use

There is a lot of power that can come from your audience. Marketing data can give you insights into not just top sellers, but most popular options (not always the same), most talked about drinks and events, highest return on drink-related campaigns, and many other pieces of analytical gold. Just refer to the folks at WIMS for the power of your marketing data.

Pay attention to your marketing avenue’s data and you can develop strong, loyal connections with local residents. If you’re able to identify people who engage with your material most often, wouldn’t you want to encourage that behavior? Throw them a free sample of a new beer or get their opinion on a recent event. Whatever it is, people love to feel appreciated and will maintain loyalty because of it.

Analyzing your marketing data can help find these individuals who love your brand and you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them. They also probably represent your target market so that makes them the perfect test subject for new ideas, and you can extrapolate from their comments/reviews and apply it to the larger population of your target market with some simple statistics.

 

#3 Analyze and Cater To Repeat Business

Similar to your loyal social media followers, it’s important to take note of your repeat customers. You should be able to track this through your POS data. Of course, folks who saddle up to the bar several times a week are going to be easy to identify, but people that come by once a month might be harder to remember, let alone remember their preferences.

Acknowledging these repeat customers goes a long way. Using your data, you can learn their preferences, food they order, favorite style, other options they would enjoy based on their tastes, etc. and it can help give you an additional level of insight that make you and your waitstaff look great.

Repeat business is the key to success. Spending 10 minutes analyzing their data can result in a loyal customer for life.

#4 Put it All Together

Now, let’s combine all of this into a logical, and very effective cycle that can result in significant long term benefits for your business.

  1. Start with identifying your top sellers and most profitable drinks – these will always come into play

  2. Engage with folks through social media, blog posts, and email marketing to further promote those top selling/most profitable options and generate some buzz for them

  3. Take that marketing data that you gather from the campaigns and identify what is most popular, who shares it, who actually comes in to purchase it, etc.

  4. Study the “what pairs best” combinations of food/flight options to satisfy customers when they come in

  5. Pay attention to, acknowledge, and examine the data for your repeat customers to build strong loyalty

  6. Continue nurturing this end to end cycle of satisfied, loyal, and maybe slightly intoxicated customers that you now have supporting you week in and week out

A little bit of analytics goes a long way and can greatly help in every aspect above. You’ll be targeting better customers, be more efficient, save money, and increase revenue all with adding a few key analytical practices to your process that won’t take away from your day to day or your gut instinct.

If you’re interested in seeing how we can help implement these strategies at your brewery/winery please reach out to us here.

Also posted on the Pineapple Consulting blog here.

Why Loyalty Programs Don't Work

Why Loyalty Programs Don’t Work…

As Marketers, one of the key metrics we follow is brand engagement, also known as Loyalty.  We often talk about the size of a market, or how much market penetration a particular business or campaign has achieved.  Loyalty is the measurement of how much of our captured market repeats business with us.

It’s said keeping a customer is cheaper than gaining a new one.  Considering the retail industry as a whole spent over $1.9 Billion in 2016 running Loyalty programs, I’d say it’s still pretty costly.  Businesses use “Loyalty Programs” or “VIP Clubs” as a way to grow customer loyalty.  Unfortunately, these programs are often costly to operate and rarely translate to any kind of loyalty to the brand using them.

The average house is participating in over a dozen loyalty programs, and less than half the users are active or engaged with the brands.  While the program is designed to increase loyalty, the business ends up spending money on the customer base that’s least likely to leave.  These programs effectively cut into the profit margins from customers that were likely going to return, regardless of any additional perks.  That last part is especially true considering most of the participants either don’t know how to redeem the rewards, or don’t care enough to find out.

You can find all of this information and research with a simple Google search.  However, there is one market segment adding these types of programs at a faster rate than previous years.  The beverage industry, specifically Breweries, Brewpubs, Tap houses, Wineries and Vineyards, Distilleries, and Hard Cider Mills.  The most common model is by far the Mug Club, or Mug Membership.  While some are a one-time payment, most are annual or monthly payments to a business, providing the member with added perks.  Now, as a former member of these clubs, I LOVED them.  I probably doubled my money with the perks I received.  An example of the perks is as follows:

-Personalized mug, typically 2-4 ounces larger than the standard pint but priced the same

-Brewery/Tap house Merchandise (T-shirts, Hats, Koozie, bottle openers, stickers, etc.)

-Discounts on Beer/merchandise

-Special Events (no cost to members)

-First in line for special events/product releases

-Free Growlers and discounted fills

The average cost of these programs to the members can range anywhere from $40 to a couple hundred, depending on the Brewery or Bar.  I spent $150 to join one, and $85 a year to keep it renewed, with additional shirts and events with each renewal.  The Breweries justify this by saying it creates a group of loyal customers that will promote the business outside the walls and gives the members a unique sense of community.  When most of the Brewery clubs have 100 members or more, that’s a big cut into a profit margin from a group of people that would likely be loyal customers with or without the club.  Can the breweries prove these members are promoting them in the community? What’s the return on the brewery’s investment?  If you can’t prove something works, how do you justify the expense?

 

Alternatives to the Club

Now you don’t think I’d sit here and rip apart an old system that’s been in place for years without offering alternatives, do you?  I love a good beer, and want to see these Breweries grow.  They stay in the same system, or don’t participate, because there aren’t many people out there talking about alternatives.  The end goal is to increase their market share, and promote loyalty within their current customer base.

 

Special Release Clubs

These kinds of membership clubs seem to work for those chasing the elusive “Whales”, or special limited run bottles.  Breweries can forecast what kinds of beer they want to make, based on cost of production, and divide that total into the membership count to give them the cost per member.  Tag on whatever margin they need to make it worth their time, and the membership group can turn a profit before the first batch ever goes into production.  This gives the members a sense of loyalty, status, and keeps them engaged with the brand as they look forward to the next release.  There’s a value add, and breweries can measure the benefit.  Club members typically have to travel to the brewery to pick up the bottles, and will often spend a bit more on beer during the visit.  POS systems can track the members and allow breweries to measure the additional revenue per member at the time of the visit.

 

Active Point Systems

This is a new take on the long-standing loyalty system, but with a twist.  Breweries, Distilleries, Cider Mills, and Vineyards/Wineries can easily turn their typical social and marketing engagements into a point system.  By continually engaging with their markets, breweries can put out a series of tasks that equal points.  Create a clear, public facing list of “award tiers” that customers can follow, and the point totals needed to reach each one.  World of Beer did something along these lines with their “1 point per beer purchased” programs, with prizes ranging from a free t-shirt to a private party with a free keg of your choice.  Not a bad start, but they could have gone further.

The one beer = one point model only works when people are in the building, and it isn’t typically something most of their market thinks about unless they’re already patronizing a location.  The prizes also need to be collected from the location they signed up for the program.  This negates the benefits if someone moves or a location goes out of business.  You can switch your “home” location, but that’s unnecessary friction for the customer.

Award Tiers need to not only benefit those already in the building, but also incentivize the market as a whole to either patronize a brewery, or promote the brewery.  Our team at WIMS put together a system that rewards your market for not only coming in to buy your product, but also promote your product to their own network.  You keep them engaged with your brand with regular bonus point activity, creating a sense of community.  We put a system in place that allows you to track and quantify the return on investment from the dollars spent on a marketing campaign.  The best kind of loyalty is from customers that not only frequent the brewery, but also promote the brewery when they’re not there.  Expand the market and increase loyalty within the new segments as it grows.

Whatever system you put in place for your Brewery, Distillery, Cider Mill or Winery, make sure you can measure the results.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, I’d love to hear from you.  Reach out in the comments below or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Cheers!

-Tom Schaefer, Jr.

Part 1 of aseries…

WIMS BREWERIES & WINERIES

3 Marketing Tips for Breweries, Wineries, Cideries, & Distilleries

The brewery and winery industries have been fortunate to have experienced a major boom in public interest along with media attention over the past few years. Just opening a new location has been a major event that has typically generated a lot of buzz and received coverage by every Business Journal and local social media influencer alike. That’s not to say that marketing breweries and wineries has been easy of course, far from it.

Once the grand opening has passed, and the novelty subsides, the business must continue to attract a loyal and recurring customer base, in addition to the one-off tourists and large groups as well. While all businesses have their tried-and-true marketing methods that work, we wanted to offer up some that may appear obvious, but they truly work. And when done effectively in conjunction with a robust marketing and sales strategy, they’ll keep your brewery or winery full of customers for a long time to come.

Tastings and tours are a “must” for any brewery, winery, cidery, or distillery. However, even if you diligently open your brewery daily for happy hour, there’s much more you can do to raise product awareness. In order to broadcast your brand’s name, it helps to bridge the gap between physical and digital. While locals and tourists might stop in for some beer, wine, or cider, incorporating digital marketing into your outreach campaign will multiply your success. These digital marketing strategies help breweries and wineries attract interest and show off their new craft beer and wine releases, as well as just consistently get people through the door.

 

Blog Posts

Creating a new beer, wine, or cider is still big news. Your fans (and prospects) want to hear about it! However, people also want to know what they’re getting into before purchasing beer from a brewery. For many, that means doing some research beforehand. Introducing a new beer, wine, or cider through blogging is a fun, creative, and informal way to get word out of your newest product. Along with sharing information about the new release and the story behind your winery or brewery online, you can link to your social media pages as well. With these additional steps, you’ll effectively reach your social media followers and those who have signed up for email alerts or announcements (not to mention jack up your SEO rankings). This makes it easier for followers to share the news about your brewery or distillery on their social networks too.

 

Email Campaigns

While it often takes a back seat to social media, email marketing is still a significant part of a successful marketing strategy. Surprisingly, many breweries, wineries, and cideries use social media exclusively as their digital marketing strategy. Considering that 3.2 billion people use social media worldwide, tapping into a social network is a good start. Yet, email is even more effective in reaching a target brewery or winery audience than Facebook or the others. Studies show that 900 out of 1,000 people see a company’s message via email compared to just 20 out of 1,000 people on Facebook. Ultimately, it’s worth your time and effort to create a message that 90% of users will see. Email also has the power and convenience of automation. With social media, on the other hand, you’ll need to personally post a message every day or at least several times each week (which you should be doing ALSO).

 

Social Media Ads

Even though email campaigns are the fastest way to reach a broad audience, don’t underestimate the power of social media for your brewery or winery. About 67% of the US population uses Facebook, which translates to many potential views. Facebook advertising is simple and easy for breweries and wineries to use, and you can even try A/B testing to see which campaigns and strategies are most effective.

 

From tried-and-true email to web content and social media, there are many creative and effective avenues that breweries, wineries, distilleries, or a cideries, can use to increase brand awareness and spread news of a new wine, cider, or beer. If you’re interested in discussing how you can build upon your existing marketing and sales strategy reach out to us at WIMS Consulting and we’d be happy to help!