This article was originally published in the January/February 2019 issue of The New Brewer®
Breweries and taprooms have always been about more than just beer, serving as community hubs and gathering places. As sales goals are established for the new year and beyond, some of the best opportunities for growth come from underexplored communities. Are you serving a broad swath of your community, or are you seeing only a few representative groups enjoying your beer?
The beginning of the new year is a good time to review your marketing assets to determine if inclusive tactics are being maximized to help broaden your reach and, as a byproduct, your sales.
Inclusive marketing is not the exploitation of cultures, races, religions, etc. in an attempt to gain business. Inclusive marketing is an active response to traditional stereotypes and an attempt to convey that one’s brand is built for customers of all demographics—advertising and promotion isn’t focused solely on a single demographic.
To reach that broader audience, make sure that your materials are relatable to a wide customer base. Here are few tips to help you audit your marketing assets for inclusivity.
A Fresh Eye
Give every piece of marketing material (ads, social posts, blogs, newsletters, menus, packaging, on-premise signage, etc.) a clean read. Look at it as though you have little to no context. In plain language, describe what you see. Would your packaging and marketing copy appeal to a narrow or broad audience? As you review your social media posts, are they readily understandable and inviting?
Use neutral pronouns. If gender doesn’t need to be there, don’t include it. Maintain simplistic language and do not assume knowledge. Furthermore, be wary of cultural references and metaphors so as not to confuse or insult the audience. “Insider brewer-speak” can also turn off curious new customers.
To be clear, when I address inclusive marketing in this article, I’m talking simply about broadening one’s marketing audience to include and expand the customer brand experience. Brewers Association diversity ambassador Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham says, “If you are going to grow, you can’t just sell beer to young white dudes with beards.”
There are plenty of photos in the craft brewniverse of plaid-shirted, tattooed, bearded, young white guys in skinny jeans. If you want to attract customers beyond this demographic, diversify your resources and strive for an image gallery that more accurately depicts the world we live in, and more importantly, the community you would like to build at your brewery. Be mindful of how each image portrays age, skin color, disabilities, culture, gender, religion, or weight. Can your customer base envision themselves enjoying a pint or two at your brewery? Be thoughtful about your images.
Your team is your most important marketing asset. As hospitality industry employees, it’s up to each one of them to make your customers feel welcome. Have candid and open discussions with your staff to help them identify potential stigmas and create positive customer situations. Make sure staff is showing the same amount of care and attention to every patron on the premises, old and new alike.
Look Outside of Your Team
Find fresh insight and perspective by surveying your audience and interviewing customers. Ask friends, family, or business associates who are older, LGBTQ, living with disabilities, women, or from other diverse groups for advice on how your business can be more welcoming.
Cheers to building community!