MA500

What can pubs learn about marketing during the pandemic?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Showcase businesses: Mark McCulloch pinpointed brands he thought had used marketing well over the past year
Showcase businesses: Mark McCulloch pinpointed brands he thought had used marketing well over the past year

Related tags: Branding + marketing, MA500, Multi-site pub operators

Brand expert Mark McCulloch has revealed the businesses he thinks have used marketing to their advantage during the past 12 months.
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McCulloch, who is the founder of Supersonic Inc, reflected on pandemic marketing alongside advice on marketing in life after the crisis.

He said due to restrictions, consumers were used to spending their life in front of screens but also looking at more traditional methods of advertising steams.

McCulloch added: “Good old fashioned snail mail has made a comeback in the pandemic. Lots of us are ordering things through Amazon, at home kits, all these different things and that could be here to stay for a long time so it’s really about dusting down all your thoughts and strategies for direct mailers as well an what could you do there.”

“I’ve really been underwhelmed by the communications from brands I love as a customer. It’s been quite passive and there are lots of reasons for that like people are trying to run their business, having a hard time mentally and physically, there’s not a lot of money around but you’re only as good as your last marketing campaign and if you effectively, haven’t engaged with some of your customers for a year it’s going to be a real big fightback when all the dust is cleared and settled.

“Of course you’re going to be busy with all the pent up demand to begin with but what about after that?”

He mentioned the Foghorn Micropub in Hove, East Sussex and outlined how it had been getting the message out about the pub.

Social branding

Keeping up to date with what’s going on there, hooking up with other local businesses to make a menu, sending messages to the local community and coming up with a beer delivery services called ‘Deliver Brew’ saying it had made almost what it would have done if it were open in normal circumstances. All this was shared on the Foghorn’s social media channels.

McCulloch went onto point out a video from Yummy Pub co-founder Tim Foster, which was showing viewers what was going on with its letterbox cocktails initiatives.

He hailed the video for keeping the staff motivated, letting customers in, making the trade admire than and innovating all the time.

McCulloch showcased how BrewDog had put marketing at the fore amid the pandemic and said the company had acted like a small business.

He said: “The most amazing business that has engaged and continued as normal if not has done even better is BrewDog.

“They just think and acted like a small business that was doing the right thing for the community, the world, themselves, brand, headlines, teams, all the great stuff they did.”

Strategy excavation

He pinpointed how BrewDog announced initiatives such as a drive through, hand sanitiser, deliveries of beer and food to communities, online bar, directors’ pay cut, launching new lagers, giving away free content that was behind a pay wall, free beer, asking the audience, giving beer to NHS, product development and more.

McCulloch added: “You can push it to one side and say ‘it’s BrewDog and it’s not me’ but if you excavate the strategy of what they have done, it will really serve you well.

“It looks like they plan it, or they just stay stuff out loud and because they have said it, they make it happen.

“Show the prototype really quickly, they shout about it through their owned, earned and paid channels, they launch it, they show behind the scenes how it is happening, they call back to it, which is a very common thing in stand-up comedy, then you do more of what works and then they think up new stuff.”

Related topics: Marketing

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