What are you selling? A Lesson in Prosperity from Brew Pubs

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Here in Cincinnati, OH, brew pubs are becoming as ubiquitous as Starbucks. And just like Starbucks, rarely do you hear of one closing. Though some like MadTree Brewing Company and Rhinegeist Brewery have grown securing broad retail distribution, others like Fretboard Brewing Company and March First Brewing survive primarily based on their clientele and local restaurants. Curious how these brew pubs prosper in the midst of stiff competition, I asked several beer connoisseurs what is it about the beer that makes you choose one place over another? Interestingly, they all confirmed it really isn’t the beer, as each one has their own version of the craft staples. They choose an establishment based on the vibe they are craving. In other words, what differentiates each establishment is an emotional pay-off from the experience...beyond the buzz. Brew pubs that persevere and prosper understand this critical point: they may be putting a price tag on a product, but what they are really selling is a higher-order emotional benefit.

Why is this an important distinction? Because virtually all products are commodities. Even ones that are thoroughly enjoyed like beer. Commodities are driven by the bottom-line, i.e. driving out all extraneous costs so you can offer the cheapest price. Even if you have a superior product, your competition is others who are “good enough” at a cheaper price. This tends to dilute the category creating a blood-bath as everyone fights for margin. So, it makes sense then that brew pubs, who are in essence selling a superior commodity, must elevate what surrounds that commodity to a higher-order emotional benefit in order to drive the top-line. This allows you to charge a premium that reflects the quality of the beer PLUS the value of the emotional driver.

There are three primary ways brew pubs cultivate emotional connections:

1. Create community to foster connection: The establishments become online and offline social gathering spaces. Those that are intentional in this will target a demographic by creating a certain ambiance in the décor and layout. Their social channels will make this target feel part of the inner circle. They will sell merchandise so the community can signal to others they are part of a tribe.

2. Encourage interaction that forms memories and forges relationships: Many have social games like cornhole and foosball which allow for no-stress interaction. Most also offer special engagements that encourage networking. Tours are popular for telling of their story which they hope inspires you.

3. Offer entertainment you enjoy: It could be your favorite band, trivia night, or a tailgate around a sporting event. It could be special tastings and seasonal offerings keeping you coming back. They know what you like, and they offer it to you.

Audit your businesses’ emotional equity as you contemplate the following:

1. What are you selling?

2. How does this differentiate you from your competition?

3. How can you better cultivate these emotional drivers so your consumer keeps choosing you?

You just may need to visit several brew pubs for inspiration!

Anne Candido and April Martini are the Co-Founders of Forthright People, an On-Demand Marketing and Branding Agency focused on helping businesses quickly capture the hearts of their customers without breaking the bank. They believe in “real-time brand-building”, which delivers strategically-informed execution, creating immediate business impact while also developing equity for systemic growth. And since their team consists of an extended network of talented freelancers and boutique agencies, they do not require hefty retainers and contracts to do it. Contact them via email: Anne@Forthright-People.com and April@Forthright-People.com.

Check out our podcast! Marketing Smarts. From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so that you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so that whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.