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Start with why for your craft beverage

  • 7 min read

The gap is widening between what craft beverage brands PRODUCE and what customers WANT. The result is a radical power shift in favor of the customer being more selective. Need proof? Ask yourself what percentage of the monthly tasting room traffic for your business is first-time versus repeat customers? If you’re hovering around 75% new versus 25% existing then you’ve got a healthy pool of new faces to replace brand defectors. Anything less and you’re at risk of rapidly losing relevance and sales. Read on for tools to immediately strengthen your brand story and start with why to enable new customer discovery.

the “why” in your brand story

Iowa Specialty Producers Conference logo for start with why postMarket Your Craft was asked to speak at the annual Iowa Specialty Producers Conference in Des Moines. The room was filled with business leaders representing all areas of agriculture in America’s Heartland: from farmers to hop growers, farm stand operators to winemakers and everything in-between. For all the diverse backgrounds and products present, these charismatic entrepreneurs all had one thing in common: they were passionate to produce, but less excited to tell stories about their products. And many didn’t know where to begin.

Simon Sinek chart for start with why postSimon Sinek is a British-American author and motivational speaker who describes “The Golden Circle” and a proven model for inspirational leadership. He suggests businesses start with Why and move outward to an operational How before getting to the tactical What. The challenge faced by businesses that focus too much on the product – the What in Simon’s model – is they lack the foundational elements that make a business sustainable and differentiated for the long-term. As a result, they struggle through times of growth, increased competition, uncertainty and crisis.

If there are big idea-types at your business, you may be able to relate. That’s where we can help. We believe customers buy products, but choose stories, especially in crowded craft beverage markets. While a transaction is often surface-level, stories occupy real estate in a customer’s head and heart. Brands that start with Why help connect customers to their unique stories, driving tasting room traffic, increasing engagement and capturing new sales. How would you answer the following questions about your business:

  • Origin Story: start with why did you get into the craft beverage business? What were you feeling? Why do it?
  • Mission Statement: what do you do for your customers? Your employees? Your owners?
  • Vision Statement: what does the future hold? What inspiration and direction do you give your team?
  • Business Statement: go deeper than simply “craft beverage production” to describe your product or service in terms of features and qualities.
  • Brand Story: bring the mission and vision together to tell a narrative and make a promise. This is the customer-facing Why of your craft beverage brand, giving them reason to dig in or move on.
  • Position in the Market: not the physical characteristics, but what stake do you claim in the customer’s mind?

Want to see how Market Your Craft addressed these and other questions at the Iowa Specialty Producers Conference? View the presentations and download all materials from  

capturing your brand vibe

Indiana Experiential Panel photo, croppedMost craft beverage producers prioritize the tasting room atmosphere for guests. From the initial greeting to the helpful beverage suggestion or cheerful banter behind the bar, outstanding customer service is crucial. We know this because even more than the drink in their hand, customers remember what they’re feeling in that moment. That’s great for customers sitting at your bar, but how can businesses communicate that feeling to someone new?

To successfully engage new customers, capture your BRAND VIBE – the building blocks of successful storytelling – and unleash it on the world! Okay, maybe start with your surrounding geographies and states, then the world…We walked Conference attendees through developing a storytelling blueprint capable of achieving the following aggressive goal:

Person icon narrow for start with why post

replace every current customer with 3 new ones

3 people icon for start with why post

Person icon narrow for start with why post

replace every current customer with 3 new ones

3 people icon for start with why post

In addition to the brand story, consider the following to round-out your content marketing strategy for your business:

  • Know your Audience: engaging your customer requires knowing how to talk with them. What are you doing right now to understand: current and ideal customers, what motivates them to buy and what’s missing from their current experience?
  • Brand Voice: each brand has a voice and tone that sets it apart from others. How would you describe yours?
  • Content Experience: to reach new craft beverage customers, show them a good time even before they visit your tasting room. Set their expectations early and often.
  • Track your Success: simply take notes of what works and what doesn’t with customers. There may be free reporting tools already available that aren’t being used!

Want to see how Market Your Craft addressed these and other questions at the Iowa Specialty Producers Conference? View the presentations and download all materials from

amplify social and digital efforts

Social and digital media are highly-effective at communicating your brand story and vibe. However, most craft beverage producers miss opportunities to convert followers to customers because posts are uninspired, inconsistent or irrelevant. Social is no longer optional, so consider these recommendations:

  • Post on a consistent schedule
  • Enable customer [self] service
  • Answer questions quickly
  • Listen and learn

We partnered with Sprout Social in 2018 to provide beverage brands with the same best-in-class tools used successfully by companies worldwide, including: listening, engagement, publishing and analytics. For more information and sample client work, visit screengrab for start with why postIn addition, a deliberately-designed, responsive website is key to new customer discovery. We believe many craft producers are turning away customers because mobile web is not a priority. A responsive site:

  • Responds to user and viewing device
  • Reduces swipes or clicks from default screen
  • Optimizes images and video
  • Provides clear calls-to-action
  • Leverages the latest tech (where appropriate)

We designed a site template that uses all the industry best-practices for new customer engagement. Visit for a guided tour. For additional information and video of our presentation, visit

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