According to Laura Hicks, beer brand marketing manager at family-owned brewer and pub operator St Austell, in a “vibrant and competitive beer market”, ensuring strong and unique brand presence has never been so important.
Hicks, whose brand scooped the best beer marketing and beer and cider marketer of the year gongs at the 2018 Beer and Cider Marketing Awards, says minimising physical and budgetary wastage are vital to marketing success today.
“In a time when sustainability is at the top of everybody’s mind, it’s important for us to think through the strategy of our point-of-sale and the impact that it’s going to have for pub operators,” she explains.
“We want everything that we create for our pub estate and our customers to have maximum impact on pubgoers. At the same time as thinking about creating minimum wastage.
“We strive to make our budgets work hard throughout every stage of the marketing process. For example, Tribute’s biggest ever marketing campaign – Quality Speaks for Itself – covered multiple touch points, which came together to create maximum impact on pub operators and beer drinkers.”
Telling your brand’s story
For publicans looking to push pints amid a downturn in beer sales, Hicks argues that brands telling premium stories at point-of-sale (PoS) can convince customers to part with their hard-earned cash.
“Yes, people are drinking less alcohol and volume is down,” she explains. “Value however, is up. People are spending more and looking for a premium experience, when they do choose to drink.
“Premium is de ned by a genuine point of authenticity. You can’t start with an idea and label it premium, it must start from the very beginning. ‑ e story behind products has also contributed to the premiumisation; passion, heritage and quality ingredients also help shape the perception of what premium is and how it can be defined.
“There’s also a very strong link between premium and provenance. Our ingredients, and the British – and Cornish – sourcing story, forms a big part of how we talk about our beers. We work with Cornish barley growers and make this a strong part of the sourcing story to help aid the premium positioning for consumers.”
Adrian Lugg, head of marketing at London-based brewery Fourpure – the winner of best use of merchandise and point of sale at the 2018 Beer and Cider Marketing Awards – adds: “Really, the idea behind branding in any market is to represent the nature of your business and your business ethos,” he explains.
“For any business, the idea behind showcasing your brand, in an interesting way, is to tell the story or where you came from, why you exist and then try and find those people that are like minded or are interested in similar ideals.
“It’s commonly accepted that somewhere around 60%-70% of people actually haven’t made their decision prior to walking to a venue and approaching the bar. PoS helps influence that decision and helps people decide whether it’s by educating them about your products or just reminding them that you’re there.”
Fourpure has also managed to incorporate tech into PoS material accompanying London only pale ale Monsoon to drive footfall to its taproom on London’s Bermondsey Beer Mile – which recently opened off the back of £500,000 funding – and enhance brand storytelling.
“The beer mats have branding on one side and tell a story on the other,” Lugg explains. “If you’re holding the beer mat, you’re round the corner from the brewery. We’ve included a QR code that takes people directly to our brewery tours and allows them to engage with the brewery in a different way and allows them to come down to the brewery, do a tour and see how the beers are made and what we do on site.
“It’s important to make your different channels work together – especially online and digital these days – a lot of people are sat at the pub on their phones if they’re waiting for friends, for example. Everyone knows that people are very much attached to their mobile phones these days.
“If you can take people from the bar online and really bring a bigger, broader experience around your products that’s a great way to approach it.”
A personalised, tech-savvy, approach is backed by Impact Data’s UK operations manager Mark Tunstall.
“The way in which businesses communicate to their customers is changing rapidly with new advances in technology that allow operators to target specific customer demographics with tailored messages,” he explains.
“This is nothing new. Customers have become accustomed to consuming personalised and relevant content through digital platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify and Facebook. It doesn’t matter, whether it’s PoS, social media or digital marketing, if it’s not relevant, it simply becomes white noise.
“Consumer spend has remained relatively flat over recent years, but customer choice has never been higher, so driving repeat visits and cultivating a loyal customer base is crucial. Customers have more choice than ever before, and as a result are becoming increasingly fickle. Through working closely with operators, we found that personalised digital marketing is a highly effective tool at cutting through competition and enticing customers back into the venue.”
Tunstall argues that like hospitality, digital marketing is highly competitive space in which customers are being bombarded by brands on a near constant basis.
“To cut through this white noise personalised communications are a must,” he explains. “As customers are increasingly used to and almost expectant of a personalised digital experience.”
Nailing tone of voice
Star Pubs & Bars licensee Dave Carr of Frank & Bird – which runs the Brandling Villa and Punchbowl in Newcastle – has accrued more than 6,000 Facebook likes on top of close to 10,000 followers across the Brandling Villa’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Recognised as the best pub in the country for marketing at Star Pubs & Bars’ Star Awards earlier this year, Carr uses Geordie tongue-in-cheek humour and a dog-friendly theme to establish the pub’s personality and strike a chord with customers. For example, Star judges described the pub’s website as “brilliant and not only engaging, but with good content that is so tongue-in-cheek that it’s hard not to feel immediately enamoured with the pub.”
The local, dog-friendly narrative runs across both the Brandling Villa’s PoS material – from Polaroid pictures of dogs visiting the pubs on tables to celebrity inspired menu items, including ‘The Beef Chegwin plus’ and ‘The dirty thoughts of Cheryl Cole’ – and digital presence, which includes a tour of the pub seen from the perspective of Frank, the pub’s beagle, who explores the site with a video cam attached to his collar.
For publicans looking to up their marketing game, Majisign director Adam Vaughan explains that operators need to assess their physical surroundings to ensure offers are displayed in an appropriate and timely fashion.
“High-dwell areas such as seating, busy bars and bathrooms benefit from marketing that may be structurally more complex and detailed, while faster moving areas of a pub such as entrance areas and corridors need to be more concise so that they can be digested and understood by the customer as they pass,” he explains.
“The same is true for outdoor promotions; banners need to make a statement and be easily read at a distance, while entrances can benefit from more detail, especially if the pub is based on the high street.
“A carefully placed menu holder or small table talker allows the pub opportunity to market the ideal offers, for example, an increase in volume, awareness of a new service or product or the chance to continue to build affinity through humanisation; this may be a local news update and social in nature or simply be awareness of a campaign.”
What’s more, Vaughan argues that working in tandem with manufacturers to create bespoke solutions is a surefire way of ensuring quick customer engagement.
“This could be as simple as using chalk pens on table talkers and chalkboards to create those all-important genuine and sincere offers that are irresistible to consumers,” he adds.
“Engagement starts with assessing your pub premises and working your way from the perimeter to the bar.
“Start with an A-board (with snapframes or reversible inserts) since this confirms your consumer’s sense of arrival – an exciting moment for them – and is also the ideal moment to include your flagship promotion. A striking poster or digitally printed insert should yield positive engagement.”