If you’ve had the pleasure of buying or selling a house, you’ll appreciate the parallels between shopping for a home and shopping for craft beverage:
- The market’s hot right now
- People act quickly and often emotionally
- People look to Guides for advice
- Closer inspection can reveal cracks in the foundation
- You’re anxious until closing date
Too far a stretch? The team at Market Your Craft was brainstorming ways to help craft beverage stories cut through the clutter when the comment was made that we’re in a “buyer’s market” right now. What do we mean by that? From Merriam-Webster, we define a buyer’s market as:
Buyer’s Market: a market in which goods are plentiful, buyers have a wide range of choice, and prices tend to be low.
Typically a real estate term, it seems apropos to the situation in craft beverage right now: a thousand kombucharies, cideries and other tasting rooms means the drinker has the advantage of almost limitless choice! So it falls on the management team to find ways to stand out from the rest of the crowd. What’s easiest? Price promotion, coupons, smaller (or bigger) pack sizes and product bundles might come to mind. All tactics that have worked in the past. But what if the buyers want more? What’s left to entice them to buy?
Have you thought about staging your business for sale?
Just like a beautifully-staged home turns heads in real estate, so too will a deliberately-positioned tasting room help set you apart from competitors in a buyer’s market. To take the analogy one step further, the time and effort you put into staging will have immediate impact on the salability of your beverage. And we’re not just talking tasting room experience (though that’s an important part of it). Think about the examples below much more broadly, including everything that comes in contact with your [potential] drinker: packaging, website, social media, public relations and events. The goal is to adopt a buyer’s mindset, looking at your business through their eyes, making split-second decisions on what beverage to try next.
staging your tasting room
So what exactly is staging? And how does it apply to your craft beverage business? Friends who recently sold their house in less than 48 hours spent nearly 2 weeks prepping for the next owner: cleaning, painting, landscaping…basically “setting the stage” for a new story to be told. All done at the expense of time and cost they could only hope to recapture in the transaction. And without knowing how quickly it would sell.
They took a buyer’s mindset: in order to see myself living here, how much work would I need to do before moving in? They did everything possible to present the house in the best light to someone who’s never seen it before. The same is true for attracting new drinkers: how easy is it for them to see themselves enjoying a beverage in your tasting room? Those staging principles used by successful sellers can help your team drive traffic, build engagement and capture new sales:
- Emphasize curb appeal: how does the building that houses your tasting room look as you enter? Does it have personality outside that invites you inside?
- Ensure your home is photogenic: beyond clean, does your space offer opportunities for individual and group photos? Give guests a reason to share the experience with their friends!
- Disassociate from your house: this is tough! You may want loud music and walls of TVs, but what about your customers? Like selling your home, it’s best to separate your personal feelings from the transaction, taking a more objective look at how to make your tasting room more appealing.
- Focus on the area around the front door: sure, your physical front door needs to be welcoming. But before visiting, your guests will likely check out your website and social media accounts. Do those have the same welcoming feel?
- Look up your address online: how are people talking about your space? You may need to do a little clean up when it comes to social media @mentions, review sites and other public forums. Not to silence them, moreso to proactively address any outstanding needs while doing a little damage control.
- Be conscious of the flow of the room: how is the physical space designed for entertaining your guests? Are tables packed together? Is there a natural queue for the bar or will people fight for attention? Is there always line of sight to the major and minor “talking pieces” or decorations?
- Add little details and touches that matter: what do you do to elevate your servers and staff? Do they have proper training on how to pour and pair your beverage? Do they feel valued as a part of the team? Are they empowered to manage the room?
- Open curtains and shades, clean windows: drinkers are increasingly sensitive to being marketed to, so find your voice and tell your story in an authentic, credible way. They’ll appreciate the transparency in raw, unscripted interactions with real brands.
- Check your driveway: how are you looking on Google My Business and Apple Maps? Is it easy to find your phone number and email address for questions? Do your social profiles reflect accurate hours of operation?
- Get rid of bulky furniture and personal items: avoid the temptation of making your bar into a clubhouse meant for you and your closest friends. Chances are no one is interested in photos of you as a child or the sign you made in Shop class.
- Give each room a purpose: if you’ve studied the principles of Feng Shui and designing space with balance in mind, how would you rate your own tasting room? What about your website: is it usable for visitors? Are elements arranged to guide guests to an action, or state of mind?
- Show it can be “lived in”: because you and your team are human, after all! It’s not going to be perfect – it only needs to perfectly match the needs of your newest customer in that moment when they’re looking for a “place to drink near me.”
These are all great examples, but how do you know exactly which levers to pull to help drive traffic? That’s when owners and managers look a Guide when deciding where to focus time and energy.
using a trusted Guide
Remember our friends who sold their house? They didn’t do it alone: they hired a real estate agent who knew the area, gave them pointers on staging and most importantly posted their listing. Their agent helped cast a wider net of prospective buyers, submitting their property to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Zillow and other targeted sites, immediately resulting in 20 showings, 5 competitive offers and one buyer less than 48 hours after posting. Impressive marketing performance to say the least!
Wait, what does using a real estate agent to sell your property have to do with marketing my craft beverage? Like the couple in our example, you know your product better than anyone. You can stage your space to be approachable and welcoming to guests. You can even hang a sign outside letting visitors know you’re open for business. And you will certainly get some organic traffic from people driving by or hearing about you from others. But we’re in a buyer’s market right now, so drinkers have a lot of options when trying a new tasting room.
We’ll help you drive 3x the new customer traffic to your craft beverage business. Just as a real estate agent is an expert at moving your property quickly, high-performance marketing will spark your craft beverage sales. It starts with a compelling story that connects with your drinkers and cascades from there. Your property will set the stage for customers to see themselves enjoying a drink in your space. And your website, social media, press and other outreach will give customers a reason to visit. Want a preview? Market Your Craft was recently invited to speak at the Craft Beer Professionals Virtual Fall Conference, with replay of our session titled, Storytelling: Share Your Superpower, available on YouTube. Or reserve a complimentary 1-hour timeslot for our team to learn more about your business and identify areas to help stage your tasting room for sale.