Pinball Machines Are Brewing Equipment: Positive Taproom Experiences for Your Ideal Customer
In the competitive world of craft beer, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. With so many great breweries and beers, attracting and retaining loyal customers can take time. Creating an ideal customer is critical to your brewery's success. In this blog post, I'll explain what an ideal customer is and how to make one for your brewery.
What is an Ideal Customer?
An ideal customer is a fictional representation of your brewery's perfect customer. This person is most likely to buy your beer, visit your taproom, and recommend your brewery to others. By creating an ideal customer, you can tailor your marketing efforts to attract and retain this type of customer, which can help you build a loyal following for your brewery.
To create an ideal customer, you must understand your target audience. This includes demographic information such as age, income, and location and psychographic information such as interests, values, and lifestyle. By combining this information, you can create a detailed picture of your ideal customer, which will help you craft marketing messages and promotions that resonate with them.
"Well, surely everyone has done this before starting a brewery!" you might interject. A lot of my experience has told me otherwise. It's one of those small chores that should be done as part of a business plan but rarely is. We also tend to forget that business plans are living documents which should be re-evaluated consistently.
How to Create an Ideal Customer
Conduct Market Research
You must conduct market research to understand your target audience to create an ideal customer. This can include analyzing data from your taproom and online sales and conducting surveys and focus groups. Market research aims to gain insights into your customers' needs, preferences, and behaviours, which will help you create a detailed profile of your ideal customer.
This is the easy part. Many city records are available online or through simple request forms; this is a good starting point. They can give you a broad-brush picture of the demographics of the neighbourhood that you are trying to sell to. The other simple method is walking around the neighbourhood; every time I start working with a client, I either spend an hour poking around on Google Maps or getting lost in that part of town. It will give you more insight into what is already around, the overall style, and the potential needs of the neighbourhood.
Analyze Your Data
Once you have collected data from your market research, it's time to analyze it. Look for patterns and trends in the data to help you better understand your customers. This can include demographic information, purchasing habits, and feedback from customer surveys. While hiring a formal research company can be out of reach for most start-up companies, joining a few neighbourhood groups ahead of time will likely give insights to the type of people that live there.
For example, one of the first breweries I helped build fell into a stroke of luck with their policy about dogs in the brewery. After completing the work to ensure the owners could bring their dogs to work, they let their customers do the same. Only after that did they realize that the neighbourhood around the brewery had one of the highest rates of dog ownership in the city, cementing the policy for the long term.
Create a Persona
Based on market research and data analysis, create a persona representing your ideal customer. This should include demographic information, such as age, income, and location, as well as psychographic information, such as interests, values, and lifestyle. Give your persona a name and a backstory to make them feel real.
Use a cartoon or illustrated representation of this customer. It shouldn't be on the Customer Persona if you wouldn't mention the topic at Grandma's Sunday dinner. As per the now-famous bar rules of Sasha Petraske's Milk & Honey, "Do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests." Focus on the positive attributes that your customers would have. There should be enough details in this persona that you can accurately describe their typical day easily, such as what they have for breakfast, where they go shopping, and what they do after work.
Tailor Your Marketing Efforts
With your ideal customer persona in mind, tailor your marketing efforts to appeal to this customer. This can include social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and promotional events. Use language and imagery that resonates with your ideal customer, and focus on the features and benefits of your beer that are most important to them.
Knowing how to communicate with your customers will be the most effective method of attracting new business. If your customer base uses a specific social media, targeting the most resources into that platform will result in the highest gains. Spreading your resources thin across several channels may not return profits on the investment.
Monitor Your Results
Finally, monitor your results to see how your marketing efforts resonate with your ideal customer. Analyze data from your taproom and online sales and feedback from customer surveys and reviews. Use this information to refine your marketing strategy and build a loyal following for your brewery.
It's important to compare your results from recent trends and a similar time frame from the previous year. Beer is a seasonal beverage, and there will be peak sales periods in the summer months. Don't get discouraged if your sales are not growing compared to last month, when they could be significantly higher than the period from the previous year. If you're willing to wait several weeks for the beer itself, its important to wait just as long for reliable data. A lot of marketing trends are hard to measure on a weekly basis, but it is a lot easier to evaluate a month or a quarter.
Why Hospitality Matters for Craft Beer Branding
Before we dive into creating a welcoming taproom experience for your ideal customer, let's take a moment to discuss why hospitality matters for craft beer branding.
Craft beer is a highly competitive industry, with new breweries constantly popping up. Creating a strong brand identity that resonates with customers is essential to stand out in this crowded market. And one of the most effective ways to do this is through hospitality.
When customers visit your taproom, they're not just coming for the beer - they're coming for the experience. A positive experience can create a lasting impression and turn first-time visitors into loyal customers. On the other hand, a negative experience can drive customers away and tarnish your brand's reputation. By prioritizing hospitality and creating a welcoming taproom experience, you can strengthen your brand identity, build customer loyalty, and stand out in a competitive market.
Tips for Creating a Welcoming Taproom Experience
Train Staff to Be Knowledgeable and Friendly
The staff is one of the most important aspects of hospitality in a taproom. The team should be knowledgeable about the brewery's beers and the brewing process. It should be able to answer questions and make recommendations. But beyond their expertise, they should also be friendly, approachable, and welcoming. A smile and a warm greeting can go a long way in making customers feel valued and appreciated. Staff should also be attentive to customers' needs, checking on them regularly and ensuring they have everything they need to enjoy their visit. This can include refilling their glasses, providing water or snacks, or engaging in conversation.
Having a roster of beer profiles for each product so that tasting notes and unusual ingredients are easy on hand for your bartenders and servers to reference quickly is essential. Having a beer sommelier on staff does not hurt, but it can be challenging to find talented beer experts. In-house training should be part of the process; familiarity with different beer styles is essential. Your customers are coming for a beer experience; it's your job to help them learn more about what you make!
Create a Comfortable Atmosphere
Another critical element of hospitality in a craft brewery taproom is the atmosphere. A taproom should be a comfortable and inviting space that makes customers want to stay and enjoy their beer. This can include comfortable seating, ambient lighting, and decor that reflects the brewery's brand and values. Attention to detail is essential here, as small touches can make a big difference in creating a welcoming atmosphere. Depending on the needs of your ideal customer, pinball games, small snacks, or even a friendly brewery dog can all contribute to a positive customer experience.
Look at the average neighbourhood bar. You're trying to make something similar. Give your customers a reliable third space so they can have a place to go outside the office or home. Having a forum for friends and neighbours to talk, laugh, clink glasses, and remind themselves of small blessings is essential to any community. There's a reason why Gaelic has the word craic, which is the joy of sharing conversations and beverages with friends and family.
Foster Community in the Taproom
Hospitality plays a vital role in branding, and one way to achieve this is by establishing a sense of community within the taproom. The taproom should serve as a gathering place where patrons can connect with fellow beer enthusiasts and experience a sense of belonging to a larger community. To foster this environment, breweries can organize events such as trivia nights or live music, creating opportunities for socialization. Additionally, cultivating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere is crucial. When customers feel like they are part of a community, they are more likely to become repeat visitors to the taproom and recommend the brewery to others. It is important to recognize that while the quality of the beer matters, how customers are treated leaves a lasting impression on their overall experience.
By prioritizing customer experience and community-building initiatives, breweries can differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market. Rather than solely focusing on the beer itself, breweries should also pay attention to how they engage with their customers. Memories of exceptional service and a warm atmosphere linger in customers' minds long after their visit. Therefore, investing in hospitality and creating a sense of community can profoundly impact a brewery's branding. Customers who feel connected to a larger community within the taproom are likelier to develop loyalty towards the brand, resulting in increased patronage and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Ultimately, how customers are treated, and the community they feel a part of greatly influence their perception of the brewery and its brand.
Provide Unique Experiences
Another way hospitality can enhance branding is by creating a memorable customer experience. When customers have a positive and noteworthy experience, it increases the likelihood of them remembering the brewery and its products. To achieve this, breweries can offer distinctive beers that cannot be found elsewhere, organize engaging brewery tours, or collaborate with local food trucks to provide delicious snacks. By delivering a one-of-a-kind experience, breweries can set themselves apart from the competition and establish a lasting impression in customers' minds.
By focusing on creating memorable customer experiences, breweries can forge a stronger connection with their target audience. The unique offerings and interactive activities captivate customers and make them more likely to share their experiences with others. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations significantly impact branding, as they can attract new customers and build a favourable reputation. Therefore, by prioritizing hospitality and crafting memorable experiences, breweries can create a distinct identity that resonates with customers and strengthens their overall brand presence.
Creating an ideal customer is critical to the success of your craft brewery. By understanding your target audience and tailoring your marketing efforts to appeal to this type of customer, you can build a loyal following and stand out in the competitive world of craft beer. So, take the time to conduct market research, analyze your data, and create a detailed persona of your ideal customer. Then, use this information to craft marketing messages and promotions that resonate with your ideal customer and build a community of beer enthusiasts who love your brewery.
As a craft beer professional, hospitality and branding are essential to creating a successful and sustainable business. By creating a welcoming taproom experience, fostering a community, and understanding your ideal customer, you can make a brand that resonates with your audience and keeps them returning for more.
Remember to train your staff to be knowledgeable and friendly, create a comfortable atmosphere, and provide unique experiences to set your brewery apart from the competition. And remember to regularly assess and refine your branding strategy based on feedback from your ideal customers.
By prioritizing hospitality and branding, you can create a business that produces exceptional beer and provides your customers a memorable and enjoyable experience. With a solid foundation, your brewery can thrive in an ever-growing and competitive craft beer market.