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Advertising without super-sized budgets

  • 8 min read

If a majority of Americans are still working from home…do they technically have to call off this morning for celebrating too much yesterday 😉 In any normal year, “Super Sick Monday” is one of the biggest days to skip work. Many of us watched The Big Game – a phrase used by non-sponsors in all industries to avoid legal backlash – and probably enjoyed a craft beverage or two. It’s commendable that the NFL and the NFL Players Association were able to pull off a complete season during COVID-19, capped off by a hard-fought battle, spectacular entertainment and, of course, the advertisers.

Watch party photo for Big Game postYou don’t have to like professional football to appreciate what it took for Bud Light Seltzer, Cointreau and Oatly (wait, what?!) to secure a commercial on CBS: entry point was $5.6M for a 30-second spot on broadcast television (streaming was $300k extra). For 99% of craft beverage brands, that’s simply not an option. Which got us thinking: when is the right time for your craft beverage brand to spend money on advertising? Our team came up with a checklist to read with your morning coffee:

Market Your Craft barrel logo for mobile discoverability emailHow does advertising make your craft beverage brand more discoverable?

You’ve got a great craft beverage story you’ve shared with anyone who visits your tasting room, your website and your social channels. Fantastic! You’re a marketer. Marketing happens on channels within your control, while advertising is paying for the opportunity to share your marketing efforts with new, hand-picked audiences. The challenge comes with knowing when to pay, and how to get the greatest return for your investment. We’re here to help size-up the opportunities for you, without breaking the bank.

amplify messaging with social media

Social media photo for Big Game postPosting photos and videos to social media channels is free, of course. This is called organic posting, and it relies on your content being interesting enough for current fans and followers to want to engage with and share to their networks. But what if your posts get the same number of likes each day? It could be time for a new content strategy to add some energy to your messaging. Or you could increase the reach of your posts to craft beverage drinkers outside your friend group. Paid advertising is an option when you have an engaging message you wish to share with a new audience.

Pick a post that has gotten 25% or more engagement OVER your baseline and format to promote to new audiences using one of the following formats:

Photo Ads
Video Ads
Stories Ads
Carousel Ads
Slideshow Ads
Collection Ads
Messenger Ads
Playable Ads
Photo Ads
Video Ads
Carousel Ads
Collection Ads
Ads in Explore
Stories Ads
Instagram TV Ads
Ad Campaigns
YouTubeCollect Leads
Drive Website Traffic
Increase Product Consideration
Increase Brand Consideration
Build Brand Awareness
Extend Your Reach
In-Stream Ads
Non-Skippable Ads
Video Discovery Ads
Bumper Ads
Outstream Ads
Masthead Ads

The benefit of choosing advertising on social channels is A/B Testing – or posting a variety of messages to see which one(s) resonate with your audience. If a post does particularly well with your current followers, the same messaging can be formatted to introduce new audiences to members of the Chico Beverage Association with very little additional effort. Want help? Just set up a time to talk with a member of our team.

drive traffic with Google AdWords

Mobile media photo for Big Game postNothing beats the energy and vibe of a buzzing tasting room! Major metros might have hundreds of choices for drinkers on a given night, many of which are first-time visitors. Google is where mobile customers get their information, and paid advertising helps you rise to the top of the list. Optimizing your web pages for search (SEO) is the right place to start, but you may hit a wall where you can’t improve your search ranking organically. At that point, the difference between being listed in the first ten results or buried on page ten is paying for one of Google’s ad formats to help you get noticed: 

Google AdWordsDrive Website Visits
Get More Phone Calls
Increase Tasting Room Visits
App Promotion
Product Shopping Ads
Showcase Shopping Ads
Call-Only Ads

It’s no secret that AdWords pits advertisers against each other in a bidding war for premium positions. Pick those keywords and phrases that help the craft beverage drinker – the character in your brand story – solve their unique problem: where to go/meet/drink tonight, for example. If bids are equal and your content provides the best answer to the user query (what’s typed in the search bar), then your brand will be served up before others.

build awareness with community engagement

Some of your most effective and targeted advertising opportunities are found within a short drive of the tasting room. Connecting with the community makes your craft beverage brand even more relevant and discoverable to new drinkers. And while it’s vitally important to recognize those who support you, only choose those vehicles that help tell your unique story. For example:

MediaInvolvementTrial Opportunities
Apartment Newsletters
HR for Nearby Companies
Directories, Books, Printed Materials
Next Door, Neighbor Forums
City Council
Visitors’ Bureau
Fermentation Clubs
Hotel Concierge Services
Small Business Resources
Donation and Charities
Industry Guilds and Associations
Events and Pop-ups
Office Drops/Stocked Fridges
Mobile Aps
Local Community Meetings
Disc Golf, Guerilla Sampling

These not-so-traditional ad formats will require a little more of your team’s time, but creative execution and budget are often negotiable. Think about your craft beverage customer and how they would react to seeing your tasting room promoted at their workplace. Or to samples being handed out at a sponsored event. This hyper-local touchpoint could be the perfect introduction to your craft beverage brand.

place your bets

Media planner photo for Big Game postMany craft beverage producers equate any advertising with super-sized budgets. This type of targeted advertising doesn’t have to be a big-ticket item – it just needs to be part of your annual budget every year. Because if it’s not, you will always find reason to not advertise. We like the idea of testing and learning what media-messaging combination connects with your craft beverage drinkers. Remember, you’re looking to achieve your objectives – like driving website visits or creating awareness – in a predictable amount of time and at a reasonable cost. And once you build some momentum and see the results, you will look for cost and other efficiencies to make your investment work even harder.

Below is a sample media plan in support of a brand event:


Event: craft beverage launch 3/1/21
Audience: 21+ drinkers in neighboring cities to Lakewood, CO
Objectives: drive website traffic, online to-go sales

  • Format: photo ad, JPG or PNG, 1080x1080pixels
  • Goal: promote website traffic
  • Targeting: age 21-35, interested in non/alcoholic beverages, w/in 10 miles of Lakewood, CO
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Budget: $50
  • Estimated Daily Results: 1K-3K people reached, 32-102 link clicks
  • Placements: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram

Google AdWords:
  • Format: text (headline, display URL and description)
  • Goal: website traffic
  • Campaign Type: search (search and display networks)
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Locations: presence or interest in Lakewood, CO
  • Audiences: single adults who dine out frequently
  • Budget: $50
  • Estimated Daily Results: 79 link clicks
  • Networks: search and display

Community Engagement:
  • Format: various
    • HR for Nearby Companies: request permission to drop off event posters/flyers
    • Fermentation Clubs: connect via social channels with local enthusiast communities, drop product in advance of event
    • Arts: invite local artists to display their work for sale, commission original artwork to be completed on-site during event
    • Passports: register for the local craft beverage trail, supply location information and hours of operation
  • Goal: website and tasting room traffic
  • Duration: weeks leading up to event
  • Audiences: nearby legal purchase age adults
  • Budget: $200
  • Estimated Daily Results>: 50 website visits, 30 night-of event attendees

While your media plan will necessarily look different from the above sample, the point is to test and learn with a smaller budget to start. Use the tools available to track response to your advertising so you can tweak for the next round. And make sure your entire team is aware of any promotional activity by capturing advertising efforts on your monthly content calendar.

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