Chicago Craft Brewery Festival, Chicago Ale Festival, Chicago Beer Classic, New York Craft Beer Festival, New York Super Craft Beer Festival, TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival, Toronto Craft Brewery Festival, Toronto Winter Brew Fest, Toronto Festival of Beer, phew! Looks like craft beer is here to stay.
In today’s beer loving age, every city doesn’t just seem to have a craft beer festival – they have craft beer festivals. Look at any restaurant menu and it’s plain to see: craft brews are the current alcohol darling of the masses. There are over 10,000 craft breweries worldwide, over 4,000 in the US, and over 510 in Canada. The question is not, “should I, as a craft brewer, attend or showcase myself at the next festival?” No, it’s “how can I best showcase my beer at the next festival against hundreds of others.”
While there are lots of articles about how attendees can survive beer festivals, this one’s about how brewers can thrive and squeeze every drop of ROI out of their festival investment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the strategies you must use to get ahead of the herd at your next craft brewery festival.
Get the Best Booth
First things first, get a booth. But don’t just get any booth - if you want guaranteed traffic, it would be in your best interest to occupy a booth in a prime location. When purchasing your booth, look at the options available: if there’s a stage, entrance way or eating area, situate yourself there or as close to those hot spots as feasibly possible. Often, festivals will offer premium packages where not only will you get a larger booth with prime real estate, but they’ll also work in perks like promoting you and any promotions you have over social media before and during the event.
Win them Over with Swag
Leave the pens at home. And the coasters, bottle openers, and can koozies, because they are all average, expected giveaways. What would set you apart and reinforce your brand? Trucker hats, t-shirts and other wearables with your logo on it! Think of it like the house that gives away the big chocolate bars at halloween. You can bet every kid, or in this case, beer drinking grown-up, will come by. Not only does bringing out the big guns inspire good will, but your logo gets exposure too. Just be sure there’s no clause in your vendor contract that would prevent you from getting too creative.
Go Big with Branding
Be big, bold, and bright. That means large, unique signs, great lighting, and catchy colors and verbiage. And branding doesn’t have to be shy or standard, it could be a converted old van into taps, or staff dressed as vikings. The more conversation starters you have to lure people to your booth, the more beer you’ll move from the tap to glass, and the faster your brand will be etched into the minds of people for the long term.
Popcorn? Yes! It’s a classic conference staple. In the case of beer festivals, with attendees likely craving a salty snack, popcorn is a siren’s call. That lingering, buttery scent is sure to keep traffic to your booth high. It’s no secret that beer makes us crave salty foods, stimulating our hunger response so when you hear the words, “Where did you get that popcorn from?” make sure the answer is you!
Have Fun with Photo Ops
Whether it’s holding your label, wearing a branded t-shirt, or an awesomely corny “insert face here” photo-ops, have attendees post to social media using a designated hashtag you’ve created, and then give away a prize worthy of the share. Whether that’s dinner and drinks at your brewery or a swag package that includes branded apparel and a case of your brew, having direct social media engagement serves to keep people aware of the on-going promotion of your beer, the reminder that you exist, and also expands your reach by tapping into the “friends of friends” networks of the festival attendees who posted about you.
Engage as a Speaker
Maybe you’ve just implemented a new water treatment system, cut down your waste by 35% and introduced a new sustainable packaging program in support of your favorite not-for-profit. Or maybe a new nitro of yours just won an award. Sounds like you should talk about it! If there’s a chance to add your insight in the form of an educational talk, take it! Not only does it reinforce your brew master as an expert in the field, but it gives you a chance to showcase the people and the passion behind your brand and what sets you apart.
About the Author
Andrea is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.More Content by Andrea Victory