Just as the restaurant industry is ever-changing, so is the craft beer industry. As brewers plan new initiatives – whether it’s to offer new beers or open more brick-and-mortar locations – one of the keys to success is having a robust marketing strategy to support these expansions.
Earlier this week, Barley Mow Brewing Company owner Jay Dingman spoke to our Account Executive Jason Aquilar about his expertise in the craft beer scene and his advice for those looking to break into the industry. (You can read more here.)
Today, he shares his plans for expansion over the next year and how his partnership with Rewards Network has contributed to his brewery’s initial and ongoing success.
What craft beer trends are you currently investing in exploring?
The trend in barrel-aged beers continues to grow. We’re looking into getting our own barrel program started. We dabbled with it in the past but now that we’ve got a little bit of breathing room, I think we’re going to go in that pretty heavy.
Typically it’s a smaller format so it’s a limited release package program but I like the beers so it’s easy for me to get behind trying them. We’ve got different bourbon barrels that are around, we’ve used rum barrels from a local distiller, we’ve used wine barrels – whatever comes in a barrel, we can put beer in it afterwards. It just depends on how much you want to spend on that barrel.
What plans do you have to expand or update your business in 2017?
We started the company six years ago and we haven’t slowed down ever. 2016 into 2017 was probably the biggest push since we opened the production room in 2013. The Raven Brewery & Eatery is our third installment.
We’ve partnered up with a great local catering that used to do small batch catering at our original location, it’s a four thousand square foot, 150-seat full service restaurant that we’re in the process of putting in a three-barrel brew house there. It’s craft cocktails, scratch kitchen – it’s everything we’ve ever wanted to put in a restaurant and we’re really excited.
All of our properties are within two square miles of each other which is kind of unique for an expansion because each one of them requires to have its own identity, and The Raven’s become a really fun project for us.
How do you get new customers to try your brewery?
We kind do a lot of different things. We have pretty intense social media marketing campaigns, but I would say one of the biggest things we do, and we go over the top on this, is sampling events.
We do a ton of charity stuff, we do a lot of beer dinners, we’re in the grocery stores and packing stores doing sampling at least a couple times a week. But we’re just really out there, sponsoring festivals locally. We just did a major fundraiser for our food pantry here locally, which it puts us in front of a demographic that we wouldn’t find at a beer festival or a traditional tasting like at a package store.
The other thing that we do, we have a lot of fun projects that we do – we’re sponsoring a pool party at a local higher-end apartment complex, so we try to keep it fresh with that too.
How long have you been partnering with Rewards Network and why did you choose to work with us?
We started with Rewards Network within the first couple of months that we were open. For a company that had very little money to spend on marketing at the time, it seemed like a really cool solution for us because it gave us the exposure without having to pay for it essentially. It was kind of an “eat what you kill” thing, so if no one comes in, if there’s no return for us, there’s no investment.
It’s one of the few things that I can see weekly how efficient it is just based on how much money is being taken out of our account. In fact, that’s the reason why we’re doing the same thing with The Raven because we can see it’s just a really, really efficient program for us. I wish – I mean, imagine if print advertising was like that like “Hey you only have to pay us if somebody actually sees it and comes in.”
How does working with Rewards Network give you an edge over your competition?
I think that a lot of it is that it’s a really, really effective way to spend your marketing money. But just the exposure and to be able to have the research and data that comes back in, and we can look at whenever we want and be able to track how it’s trending, see who’s using the program, and also it gives us a great indication of how much of that business is local.
We’ve been aware for a long time that while we do have a fair amount of seasonal traffic that comes in, a lot of our traffic is people who live here year-round. And the data that we get from Rewards Network actually backs up those assumptions.
How does Rewards Network help contribute to bringing new people in and getting customers to return?
As a guy that travels quite a bit and I’m always looking for things like that, I think with Rewards Network, it’s pretty clear that the members use that service that’s provided for them. We’re a little off the beaten path. Largo is not necessarily a tourist-driven destination.
So I think with Rewards Network, it’ll find those people that are traveling onto Clearwater Beach or working out of St. Pete or Tampa and let them look outside of those zones to find us and say “Hey you know what, maybe I will hop in an Uber tonight and come up off the beach to go check this place out.”
Overall, what have been the greatest benefits you’ve seen from your partnership with Rewards Network?
Just the business that it’s driven to us that never would’ve had. Hands down, that’s literally the goal of every marketing program that any business should ever have. Nobody wants to spend money on a marketing program that isn’t going to send somebody in.
So to know that we have a lot of repeat customers, we have a lot of new customers, and we have a lot of local customers – it makes the program even more worthwhile for us.
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