Year end action items to set yourself up for a stronger 2024.
If you haven't already, please take our year end survey (less than 3 minutes).
This will help to shape our content in 2024.
And as a thanks for your time, we'll give you a code for 20% off any of our books.
Okay, let's talk year end planning.
I wanted to talk with you one more time before CODO goes dark for our year end break.
Year end is always an interesting time: I personally go back and forth between wanting to burn the ships and sprint into the new year like a maniac aaaaand not doing anything but hang out with my kids and catch my breath.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, this is a good time to look ahead to the new year.
I originally sat down to write about how CODO conducts its annual business review, but figured that would be boring. And besides, we’re a branding firm and not (checks notes) a brewery. So I'm not sure how useful our process would be for your business.
Instead, I want to give you a few valuable things you can do to improve your branding and marketing as you head into 2024. These are all ideas that we’ve run across in our project work this year with breweries and Bev Alc companies across America and around the world.
Call these gifts to yourself and your team, or, new year’s resolutions. However you want to frame them, these items will help to make your brand and marketing stronger next year.
Check this all out and share with your team if you see anything you want to act on (have them subscribe to the newsletter here).
And in case you don’t make it all the way to the end of this issue, I wanted to thank you for reading BBT this year.
It’s rewarding hearing back from you after sending these out each month. I appreciate you being here, and I hope you have a lovely, restful holiday break.
Let’s come back recharged and get after it in 2024.
1. Start building your newsletter subscriber list
I believe we're going to see a bevy of new regulations on how Bev Alc companies can market themselves in the coming decade, including which social channels they can and can't use, specific language requirements, new rules on how they're merchandised in retail, and so forth.
Through these changes, it will become more critical than ever to stay in contact with your customers. And I believe email marketing will be one of your most important promotional channels because of this.
But you can't can't begin email marketing unless you have a list of subscribers (revelatory insights here at BBT, I know).
That makes building your email marketing list one of the most valuable things you can do in 2024.
Even if you already have a healthy number of subscribers—2k, 5k, 10k+, you need to continually be building (and maintaining) your list. I’m starting with a low bar here: At a minimum, you need to be collecting email addresses. This should be a central CTA on your website and through your POS system if possible.
2. Create a rough content marketing plan / engine (& define your key communication pillars)
This idea can be intimidating when you’re first starting out. What channels do we use? What do we write about? Do we need to use video? Etc.
And indeed, many of our clients have multiple employees on their marketing team (CMO, brand director(s), in-house designer(s), social media lead, eComm lead) to share the load.
But let’s set all that aside and in a broad strokes way, sketch out the 3 or 4 big messages that you want people to take away from your brewery's marketing.
What do you want people to think about when they hear your brewery’s name? How do you want them to describe your brand to their friends?
Have everyone on your team answer this question: If you could go into someone’s head and put 3 or 4 big messages about your brand in there, what would those be?
Once you’ve defined these points, create a note (in whatever app you prefer: e.g. Apple Notes, Drive, Evernote, Notion) and begin charting out all the different topics and ideas that you could write about that fall into these buckets.
Here’s an example:
Pillar 1: We make world class barrel aged beer.
Content ideas to support this message:
– What is the history of barrel-aged beers?
– Why are you passionate about this program?
– What is a Cooperage?
– Brandy vs. Whiskey barrels
– What is char?
– What is a bung? (lol)
– What is the best type of lumber for barrels?
– Why is barrel-aged beer so expensive?
– How does time in the barrel affect flavor?
– Why does barrel aged barley wine make me want to fight my uncle?
– Food & barrel aged beer pairing ides
… you get the idea, and you can probably come up with 15 more compelling ideas on this in the next three minutes.
Continue building this list daily. Anytime an interesting idea pops into your head, you have to write it down or it will disappear forever.
Once you have a system for documenting your ideas in place, your next step is to figure out how you want to craft these stories and where you should put them (newsletter vs. social channel vs. blog vs. podcast vs. YouTube vs. …)
I’m going to cut this short here because actually implementing this plan is a major investment in time and energy.
Some homework for you: Look into how to develop an Editorial Calendar. This can make your content planning a much easier process.
But for now, just start collecting ideas and organizing your thoughts on what sorts of stories interest you and your team.
3. Start emailing your list
Notice I didn’t say, “start email marketing.” No, just email your list, and do it in a way that’s sustainable for you.
This can be once a month, daily, every two weeks (like we try to do)—you pick the cadence. But whatever it is, make sure you can keep it up over the next year.
What should you send them?
There are two big buckets you can start with. Eventually, these can be broken into different segmented lists that people can join over time:
– Utilitarian Info = new beers, menu changes, news & events
– Lifestyle Stuff = behind the scenes, stories about your people and products, how you shape your community, any interesting stories (especially from that list you made in the last point)
This is all broad stroke. Eventually, you'll have a well thought out content marketing plan and a clearer picture of what you need to be sending, when you need to be sending it, and get more granular with your segmentation.
But worry about that later. For now, just get going.
4. Build your media library
Here’s a small, tactical point that can make your life easier: Create a central repository for all of your important digital and marketing assets.
This can include sales sheets and label die lines and working files, typography files, Brand Guidelines—all the things you need to effectively run your brewery's marketing.
But more germane to our conversation here would be clearly labeled folders with product photography, videos, text docs—anything you use to sell your beer and tell your story, put it here so you can go back and reference it later.
You’d be surprised just how much good content you can accrue over a year and this will come in handy down the line when you go to redesign your website, or put together new posters, etc.
Where do you put this info? This doesn't really matter so long as it's on the cloud and accessible by everyone on your team (and shareable). So that can be Dropbox, Drive, Brandfolder, or any other relevant DAM system.
5. Intellectual Property (IP) Hygiene
One of the more common issues we run into during the course of our work is IP troubles. And unfortunately, this is usually uncovered later in an engagement.
Example: we’re working through Brand Strategy as part of a rebrand and it turns out that the name for your best selling IPA isn’t federally trademarked. Oh, and there’s a brewery who did trademark that name a few states over. (Cue foghorn)
If you've got an IP issue that you’re aware of, and have been kicking it down the road until now, you should consider tackling it today.
Yes, knockout searches and trademark work costs money. But this is an investment that protects your most important asset as you grow.
Shoot me an email if you’d like a beer & beverage IP attorney referral. We work with one of the best and would be happy to pass their info along.
6. Take your brand and Brand Architecture seriously
I know, the beer and beverage branding firm guy telling you to consider updating your brand is like asking a barber if you need a haircut. But hear me out.
We're seeing a litany of complex Brand Strategy and Architecture issues in our work right now. And we're helping breweries across the country unspool issues that, in some cases, have been building for decades.
If you have, over the last few years…
– Opened a new location
– Purchased another brewery (or a brand)
– Built a Sub Brand
– Launched a beyond beer product
– Rationalized your portfolio
– Experienced a change in leadership
– Tried to evolve your eCommerce platform
– Signed with a new distributor
… and you haven't paused to think about how these changes impact your brewery's brand and positioning, you may want to consider doing so.
Does your current portfolio align with your brand story and positioning? (Do you know your brewery's brand story?) Does your messaging support these things? Do you have a clear idea of your brewery's values?
I want you to take your brewery's brand seriously in 2024.
Think about where your business is today, and where you want to take it over the coming years.
And take the steps to begin that journey.
(Above): Craft Beer, Rebranded and its companion workbook are a step-by-step guide to help you map out a successful strategy for rebranding your brewery.
Some quick hits here:
If you’re thinking about a rebrand…
If you’re thinking about some sort of refresh in 2024—a subtle brand evolution, a package revamp or a wholesale rebrand, here are a few things you should be thinking about now.
– What do you want to accomplish? What pain points are you trying to address and/or what opportunities are you wanting to move on?
– You should think about your team: Who needs to be involved to ensure a successful project?
– You should think about your visual and Brand Equity: What visual signifiers and reputational considerations do you own that are sacrosanct? And what can be jettisoned?
– Start thinking about how you will launch your rebrand. (Yes, even before kicking the project off.).
– Read Craft Beer, Rebranded for a complete roadmap for this process.
(Above): How we refreshed Fernson Brewing's packaging.
If you’re thinking about launching some sort of Extension…
– Get a handle on your overall Brand Architecture system. Our Beyond Beer Handbook will make quick work of this.
– If you're considering some sort of Sub Brand (e.g. Sub / Endorsed Brand), revisit our Sub Brand Summer series. Read issues 1, 2 and 3.
– If you have a drilled down product idea and just need quick orientation for how to launch it within your portfolio, take the Beverage Extension Assessment Tool.
If you might buy a brewery or brand (or form a JV)…
We're fielding several new inquiries each month from brewery owners who have acquired another brewery or specific brand. This has been happening steadily for the last 18 months, but we're seeing (anecdotally) a major uptick in this activity.
There are deals to be had if you're looking. And if you are, here are a few resources to make sure you go into this situation with a better idea of what you want to accomplish:
– Revisit our thinking on buying a brewery.
– Read about our work with Mission Brewing after their ownership changed hands. And here's a companion podcast if you'd prefer that medium.
– We're working on a deep dive series on this topic slated to roll out in summer 2024. It's gonna be a good one. Stay tuned.
(Above): Some fun feedback on our post-acquisition rebranding work with Mission Brewing.
(and finally) Take care of yourself
I'm not going to be so bold as to tell you how much alcohol you should or shouldn't drink, or how many times per week you should work out, or how much screen time you should get. (I'm still figuring these out myself.)
But do make sure you’re taking time away from work to recharge regularly—to fill your cup. Whatever that means to you, take this seriously.
In the end, all we really have is our health and our family anyway. So make sure you practice whatever self care you need to to better show up wherever you're needed.
Thanks again for reading BBT this year. We'll catch back up with you after the new year.
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