Top 5 Marketing Challenges Facing Small Craft Brewers – and How to Meet Them

5 Biggest Small Business Marketing Challenges

The craft beer industry is growing and currently accounts for 23 percent of the $111 billion American beer market according to a recent press release. Small Business Trends spoke with Jared Powell, Principal at Frontier Label about the marketing challenges these breweries and other small businesses face.

Biggest Small Business Marketing Challenges

A Small Budget

“Small craft brewers face a lot of the same challenges as many other small businesses ,” Powell said. “Neither has massive marketing budgets to go out and do a 50,000 unit run that’s going to last them for six months.”

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For craft brewers specifically, this means they might need to do a run of labels that can be anywhere from 1000 to even 100 bottles. Powell says the smaller scale means they need to pick special occasions and put out things like anniversary editions.

Tying these smaller marketing budgets to special events helps all smaller businesses get more bang for their buck.  Another helpful hint is to look for a digital printing service that can help lower the price point by doing these smaller runs.

No in House Marketing Department

Another challenge faced by these small businesses is not having an in-house marketing team. Outsourcing your marketing needs can start with a Google search. It’s a good idea to look for a company that’s up on all the latest innovations like search engine optimization and social media marketing.

Checking out these stats will help you to see the need regardless of whether you’re a craft brewer or another kind of small business.  These digital marketing companies can help you test small runs before you commit to larger campaigns.

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Finding Your Target Market

Smaller brands need to stay focused on a particular niche target market. It can be a challenge to narrow down the focus to a particular demographic where you’ll be successful. Analysing the results you get back from social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook can help.

Powell explains with an example.

“We’ve seen craft beer grow along with the pocketbooks of Millennial’s,” he says. “Millennial’s place a high emphasis on authenticity. If a brand ‘fakes it’ in their marketing, these consumers pick up on that.”

Getting a sense of how to market to a target demographic can start by studying posts.

Crafting the Right Team

When your small business starts to take off, there’s a tendency to try to fill spots on the team quickly when you should be taking your time and picking the right people. That applies to marketing personnel.

Powell suggests having a multistage interview process to make sure you’re building the right team. He says that’s an excellent way to make sure any applicant can connect with the culture of your business.

Keeping A Healthy Cash Flow

The last marketing challenge applies across the small business board. Watching your cash flow so it stays healthy is an important part of staying competitive. When you’re starting out, trying to get your vendors to put you on some credit terms is a good way to keep things moving forward.

Finding local marketing suppliers can be a big help when you can meet them in person. Also, make sure that you are careful about extending credit to your customers so you’ll always have the money to move your marketing forward.

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

2 Reactions
  1. Right. Since they are small brewers, the budget is limited. And it is about learning to survive and having enough to continue the business.

  2. Michael Taylor

    There is so much more to smart marketing for small brewers — using social media, building a community of supporters, event marketing, carrying their local identity into new markets as they expand, distributor relationships, merchandising and email marketing. Craft beer is a relational business and community driven to create on-going success. While many of the items outlined in your article are valuable, they don’t address some of the more targeted approaches and budget stretching ideas available.