Does your origin story start out like this?
“I started experimenting with craft beverages in my basement a bunch of years ago. My friends and family liked it, and they said I should open a tasting room. ”
Chances are good we’ll find that or a similar statement on your website, because many successful craft businesses started that way. There are two reasons why this is the wrong approach for attracting new customers to your brand:
- Most of your competitors say the same thing, so you won’t stand out.
- Often craft beverage producers talk too much about themselves and not about why anyone should care.
Customers want to know what’s in it for them, and most craft beverage websites don’t help. Time to take an objective look at the following areas of your website:
How does talking LESS about yourself make your craft beverage brand more discoverable? Because you focus new customers on the information essential to make a decision. Imagine that you have 6-10 seconds to convince them to visit your tasting room – how would you do it? What if they never went deeper into the site, would it change your mind about what content is most important? We’re not suggesting that your family tree or photo gallery aren’t important parts of your story; that content celebrates the past but doesn’t help new customers in the present. Read on for ideas to help your website roll out the red carpet for guests.
about us versus our team
Recently, a client of ours told a very detailed, chronological tale of how his family got into the craft business. Our writers distilled it down to its essential three components:
- After a successful career in other industries, the owner left his corporate role
- …combining a number of hobbies and passionate pursuits
- …into a craft beverage business fit for their community.
Sound similar to your story? It’s part of the reason that most entrepreneurs decide to jump into the craft beverage business along with thousands of others. Hint: your resume doesn’t belong on the site. We recommend a 2-3 sentence paragraph at most for your About Us page, linking to more detailed content or a complete FAQs section. Consider the following format for standing out to a new customer:
- Tell them who you are
- Tell them what they’ll get from you
- Tell them why they should care
Separate from the About Us page is the Our Team page – an engaging and often undervalued aspect of a craft beverage website. There you can celebrate the personalities, stories and character of the individuals to help shape the story of the brand. All craft businesses are different: yours may have a flat versus layered org structure, fewer titles or more people. At a minimum, we like to highlight the taproom manager, production staff and owners with a headshot and short bio of what they uniquely bring to the team. Once you have that, add groups of team members to the extent it helps tell the story (but don’t feel you need to include everyone). Give a nod to the extended team with photos of thoughtful customer interaction throughout the site. And pull the most compelling content from each of these areas forward to the homepage where appropriate.
our facility and beverage list
Consumers continue to expect transparency from brands they purchase, whether grocery items, clothing, outdoor equipment or craft beverage. Cater to a more informed customer base by revealing a behind-the-scenes look at your tasting room. There’s a sweet spot between too technical (we call them the one-percenters – those interested in the process of production ) and too basic (you don’t ever want to appear condescending, especially to a prospect). We like the following components of a well-designed Our Facility page:
- A welcome statement with a clear idea of the ideal customer (the one who will get the most value from your beverages and tasting room experience)
- A broad statement of the beverages you offer across core, seasonal, specialty and other categories. This doesn’t have to be your full lineup yet!
- General facility stats, including equipment, production capacity and distribution (where applicable)
- Any notable amenities, like a scenic patio, a walking tour, kitchen/restaurant, etc.
Arguably the most impactful content on a craft beverage website is the product page. What makes yours different from anyone else’s? Leverage this real estate to tell an important tale about the individual characters in your brand story:
- Beverage name and style
- Tasting description and production notes
- Availability: Core, or year-round; Seasonal, repeated annually; or Specialty
- Ingredients and relevant production details like ABV, Gluten-free certification
- Packaging: on-draft, bottle, can, tasting room only
Services like Untappd and Vivino offer apps for consumers and plug-and-play services for craft beverage producers to add product lists to their websites, digital boards and social channels. While they definitely make beverage list updates easy, we find the one-line descriptions generally lacking: rarely is there enough detail for the drinker to make a choice. It’s also important that photos accompany the text description of the beverage. We recommend having a set of professionally-staged product shots on a white background for maximum versatility as well as shots of team members pouring or customers enjoying the drink. Photos of the tasting room space, especially during COVID-19, are perfect for website use as well as in social media posts.
Show your guests what it’s like to visit your tasting room before they even arrive! The team at Market Your Craft always recommends craft businesses use lifestyle photography to help new customers picture themselves enjoying a drink at your location. Like beverage pages, events help add personality and energy to your website. Below are the elements of an event listing that engages your visitors:
- Basics: title, time and date, cost
- Description: up to a paragraph worth of copy or a short, bullet-pointed list. Talk about the guest (live musician, food truck), why they’re unique and what they’re bringing to your tasting room
- At least one photo: think about the one image that will help convince an undecided guest to attend
- Location and map: especially helpful when navigating by mobile phone
- Organizer: if you have a buyout or sponsored event, ask the person in charge if you can add their business name, phone, website, and email to your event page as well
- Event website: if different from your website, link to the site where guests can buy tickets or reserve a spot
Events added to your website in this way not only give visitors a glimpse at what it will be like to attend, but Google and other search engines will rank you higher in results for both your craft beverage AND the guest organizer! Win-win! If you’re new to the SEO (search engine optimization) game, we like a WordPress plugin called The Events Calendar – the free version of which is very robust with brilliant display on desktop and mobile devices. Check out an example at marketyourcraft.com/events.
guide to marketing during COVID-19
Your story, team, website, all have the potential to make a guest feel welcome in your tasting room. For those people who are still uncomfortable due to COVID-19, we’ve designed a guide with proven marketing tools to empower your team during the pandemic:
- Message COVID-19 effectively
- Design a procedures landing page
- Notify everyone of your hours
- Support frontline workers
- Reach new audiences
- Develop content and events
- Engage customers with video
- And more!
Schedule a complimentary Zoom call to review your digital efforts and receive “A Glass Half-Full: Marketing During COVID-19” (a $99 value). Sharpen your focus on customer needs and keep fans engaged during the pandemic.