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For the Craft Brewing Professional

Livin’ the Yazoo life Why even Germans say Yazoo has a really good hefe

PLUS: What if customers were fish? Crafting a destination Update on... Night Shift Brewing

The Yazoo team


VOL. 2 : ISSUE 2


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EDITOR’S NOTE What’s in a name?

INSIGHTS Industry News LIVIN’ THE YAZOO LIFE Why even Germans say Yazoo has a really good hefe



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TURN ON YOUR ‘NITE LITE’ Massachusetts’ brewery’s craft light lager adds new twist to light beer CRAFTING A DESTINATION Bringing brand to the building WHAT IF CUSTOMERS WERE FISH? A inside look into how to reel in your community of beer drinkers


editor’s note

What’s in a name?


Hoppy Ending Pale Ale. Arrogant Bastard Ale. The Great, Big Kentucky Sausage Fest. Blind Pig IPA. Brew Free! or Die IPA. Duck Duck Gooze. Smooth Hoperator. Hoptimus Prime. Dead Guy Ale. Pick a name of your favorite craft beer. Any name will do. To note, this column could have just been a list of really cool craft beer names. The above beers are reflective of the immense creative energy – and passion – that today’s craft brewers put into their work. There are so many more amazing names out there. And if you think the names are cool, check out the labels. The craft beer world is alive with marketing - and no brewer is immune to the great lengths it takes to make their beers stand out. In the world that is craft beer, legends of beers past can dominate a conversation – their brand lingering into folklore. Take New Albion Ale. As legend has it, in the late 1970s, a homebrewer named Jack McAuliffe, who, by the way, built his own small-scale brewing equipment, opened a brewery in Sonoma, California. From it came New Albion Ale, a full-flavored pale ale made with Cascade hops and a two-row pale malt blend. Recognized as the original American craft beer, New Albion Ale was a one of kind taste. Opened in 1976 – and closed in 1982, McAuliffe’s foray into craft brewing set a tone that others would follow - as one beer historian put it: “He demonstrated that the new brewing model could work and despite the fact that it didn’t last long and failed spectacularly.” As the New Albion Ale name lives in infamy, a host of craft brewers, by some account, more than 5,000 across the country, carry on McAuliffe’s passion for home brewing. So, what’s in name? You could make the case that it is everything. Each and every beer has a story that paints a definitive picture of the passion behind the sip. And if you think that sidling up to a bar and ordering a Yeastus Christ from To Øl brewery makes you something special, well, it does. It’s why we do what we do and drink what we want. So, as I finish off my column and reach for, I don’t know, a Bad Elf, indulge me in my quest to find out what beer names you love. Send me a note at and we’ll tweet out our favorites.

Michael J. Pallerino

So, what’s in name? You could make the case that it is everything. Each and every beer has a story that paints a definitive picture of the passion behind the sip.

Until then, bottoms up.




Book Rec

Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days By Joey Coleman Your customers experience a wealth of experiences when they try your beer: joy, euphoria, and excitement. And while these feelings can quickly help your customers buy, they can turn on you, too. Across all industries, somewhere between 20 percent-70 percent of newly acquired customers will stop doing business with a brand with the first 100 days of being a new customer because they feel neglected in the early stages of customer onboarding. In “Never Lose a Customer Again,” Joey Coleman offers a philosophy and methodology for

53 The percent of consumers who begin their shopping research via digital as opposed to 48 percent who browse in physical locations, according to Murphy Research’s “2018 Shopper Trends Report.” In addition, 69 percent of online users make in-store purchases in a given month, considerably more than the 22 percent who do the same online.



dramatically increasing customer retention and as a result, the bottom line. Understand and anticipate your customers’ emotions, and you can apply myriad tools and techniques to keep them coming back. Drawing on nearly two decades of consulting and keynoting, Coleman provides strategies and systems to increase customer loyalty. Working with well-known clients like Hyatt Hotels, Zappos and NASA, as well as mom-and-pop shops and solo entrepreneurs around the world, Coleman’s customer retention system has produced incredible results in dozens of industries. His approach to creating remarkable customer experiences requires minimal financial investment and will be fun for owners, employees, and teams to implement. This book should be required reading for today’s craft brewer looking for easy to implement action steps that result in lasting change, increased profits and lifelong customer retention.

Read this now – 5 email headers you should use You send a lot of emails to your customers. Maybe too many. The question is, are you using the right words to get their attention? Boomerang decided to study 300,000 emails looking for the best way to get people to open them. The findings were curious. The five words that garnered the most opens for at least 1,000 of the messages were: Hey (64 percent), Hello (63.6 percent), Hi (62.7 percent), Greetings (57.2 percent) and Dear (56.5 percent). From there, the numbers dropped off. While the data doesn’t suggest tagging every email so informally, there are ways to incorporate these words into your strategy, including using the recipient’s name in the greeting (at least sometimes), and writing in an emotionally intelligent manner.



MEET LANCE One of Boelter’s regional Field Sales Managers. His favorite beer style? German dark lagers.


“It’s all about learning each brewery’s unique story and providing innovative, affordable, quality products to match.”

YOU BREW BEER. BOELTER GROWS BRANDS. Lance loves helping breweries and distilleries spread their craft and grow their brands through custom glassware, promotional products, and brand fulfillment services.



TA L K B R A N D I N G & M O R E W I T H O U R D E D I C AT E D S A L E S M A N AG E R S C A L L (80 0) B E E R C U P T O D AY O R V I S I T TA P.B E E R C U P.C O M / C B A M - M A G T O L E A R N M O R E .

Livin’ the Yazoo life Why even Germans say Yazoo has a really good hefe




By Michael J. Pallerino


You never know what you’ll find when you really look at those classified pages in the back of your favorite magazines. Just ask Linus Hall. While sifting through the back pages of Rolling Stone, Hall noticed an ad for a home brewing kit. It gave the admittedly cash-poor college student living in an old farmhouse in Virginia an idea. While his other roommates were dabbling in an illegal pot-growing operation, making his own beer seemed a little less risky. Before long, Hall became infatuated with the tastes he was able to create. And as his fascination grew, so did his prowess. After graduating, getting married and returning home to Mississippi with his wife, Lila, and then off to Nashville, Hall’s beer making bug continued. It was October 2003 that Hall began selling kegs of Yazoo Pale Ale, Dos Perros, Spring Wheat, and Onward Stout to local bars and restaurants in and around Nashville. His cult following began to grow. In 2004, during the “Great American Beer Festival,” Hall replaced the Spring Wheat with its Hefeweizen after winning a Gold Medal. Yazoo began bottling its beers in 2005, adding other local favorites like its Sly Rye Porter and Hop Project. In 2009, Yazoo became somewhat of pioneer when it brewed Tennessee’s first legal high-gravity ale, Yazoo Sue, after managing to get a distillery license. Today, Yazoo can be found in most of Tennessee and Mississippi. It even revived Gerst beer, a legendary Nashville before Prohibition. And as the Yazoo brand continues to grow, CBAM sat down with its founder and owner to get his take on where the brand is heading in 2018 – and beyond.

Taprooms are the best marketing a brewery can do, hands down. We treat our taproom as our best chance to turn people on to our beer.

Give us a snapshot of today's craft brew market from your perspective. My perspective is probably similar to a lot of breweries our size and age. We are seeing a lot of competition from larger craft brands, many of that are now owned by larger brewers, and that are able to get immediate wide distribution and that have a lot more marketing dollars to throw around. We’re seeing a lot of competition from smaller, newer breweries, that with their taproom-focused business models, are taking the place of lot of traditional neighborhood bars and restaurants. It's getting harder and harder to grow, without constantly opening up new markets, which has its own set of risks.

What trends are defining the space? Well, you would think that the new hazy IPA craze is what is leading the way. But in Tennessee, the trends are that Blue Moon has now taken over the top "craft" beer spot in IRI scans and Michelob Ultra is now the No. 1 selling six-pack overall. So, I think the trend is toward more seasonable, lighter styles and more recognizable brands.

What is the Yazoo story from a brand perspective? The South has always lagged behind the rest of the country in embracing craft beer, but I knew it would catch up someday. I thought that the way to get people to try our beers was to make them great pairings for the wonderfully diverse flavors and traditions we have down here in our cooking, to make beers that paired really well with food. So, our core



beers are flavorful, but are ones you can sit back and enjoy three or four pints without wanting to switch to something else. It all starts with the beer, as it should. Then we wanted our brand to resonate with my first home, the Delta. My wife created all of our original artwork, with the goal of giving each label a Delta folk-art feel and telling a little story about some part of our life – our Pale Ale has an old pickup of mine on the label, Dos Perros has a painting of our two dogs howling at the moon. Finally, we've always tried to be a big part of our community, donating a lot of beer and time to local charities and community events.

in purchasing the beer, whether that is their idea of a healthy lifestyle, being a connoisseur or supporting local businesses.

What is the one thing that every craft beer brand should be doing in the way of marketing? Engaging your customers on social media, not just marketing to them. If they tag your brewery on social media, ask them how they liked the beer. Thank them for coming to your taproom or buying the beer. It should be like having a conversation with someone at the brewery, not an impersonal promoted ad.

We’ve always tried to be a big part of our community, donating a lot of beer and time to local charities and community events. What's the biggest issue today related to the marketing/sales side of the craft beer business today? There are two big issues I see. On-premise, it is very tough to build a brand and get consistent sales. Rotation Nation is a big problem. I understand why bars build their models around it – a brewery will offer a free keg, glassware, promotion of a "Pint Night," and the bar can sell it for $6-7 a pint, and then move on to the next brewery trying to get in the door., Off-premise, at retail, it's the explosion in the number of SKUs out there, and the lack of date-coding and proper rotation of stock.

What is the secret to creating a branding story that consumers can buy in to? I don't think it is a secret. It starts with great beer, and consistently great beer. The packaging needs to be engaging, and give consumers a reason to stop and consider it. The branding and message should validate the consumers’ choice




What do you see as some of your biggest opportunities moving ahead? I hope I am wrong, but I think we are in for a period of consolidation for the next few years. There will be opportunities for brands that make high-quality, consistent beers and that have strong local followings, which we believe we do.

What's the biggest item on your to-do list right now? We are in the long process of building another brewery outside of downtown, putting our current building up for sale, and moving all the equipment over. So that's the highest thing on my priority list right now.

Anything interesting you’re cooking up in conjunction with the upcoming Craft Brew Conference? Yes, we have a lot going on. The Sunday before will be our annual Funk Fest, where we open up our barrel cellar, invite a lot of our sour and wild ale brewer friends and throw a great party. We have a couple


of collaboration beers we will be releasing that week, as well as some CBC-only brews we are brewing ourselves. Our taproom will be open all week, with a couple of really cool events lined up that I can't reveal just yet.

How do you feel about collaborations with other brewers? We enjoy them, but mainly it gives us a reason to hang out with other brewers we admire. I’m not sure how much collaborations really accomplish on the marketing and branding side. Sometimes you hit a home run. We did a collaboration with Calfkiller Brewing here in Tennessee, called "The Beacon – A TN High Tax Ale, now with more taxes", as a way to shine the light on how ridiculous beer taxes were in the state before we got some laws changed. Handing legislators a bottle of that beer seemed to really get the point across.

Does music and/or other arts playa role in your overall brand strategies? Yes, as far as our overall branding of our labels and packaging. We want each label to look as though it is part of family, but to be a stand-alone work of art itself. When we were designing our brands, we were struck at the time by how boring and generic some beer branding was, but when you walked down the wine aisle, it was all fun and colorful. Starting a brewery is stressful and risky enough, you should have fun with your packaging. The artwork on the bottle should make you smile at the end of the day.

I think we are in for a period of consolidation for the next few years. There will be opportunities for brands that make high-quality, consistent beers and that have strong local followings, which we believe we do.

Your thoughts on how taprooms fit into branding and market-building? Taprooms are the best marketing a brewery can do, hands down. We treat our taproom as our best chance to turn people on to our beer. So we offer lots of samples and flights, give lots of tours, and don't have any TVs or loud music. It's a place where you can enjoy all the beers we make, over a conversation with friends, and then hopefully walk out with a great feeling for our brand, ready to order another Yazoo next time you see it.

Linus Hall, owner, Yazoo Brewing Company What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Working for myself. I could never go back to working for the man again.

What was the best advice you ever received? “Cash Flow is King.” You can grow so quickly that you can run out of cash.

What's the best thing a customer ever said to you? I love when Germans tell us we have a really good hefe.

What is your favorite brand story? We were the first brewer in Tennessee to (legally) brew a beer over 6.2 percent abv, which was the cutoff between "beer" and "high-gravity beer." We had to convince the ABC to grant us a Distillery License to brew it. We made a rich, smoked porter called "Sue" in honor of the Johnny Cash song.




Turn on your 'Nite Lite' Massachusetts' brewery's craft light lager adds new twist to light beer So, you think you know your light beers? This spring, Night Shift Brewing (NSB) is asking beer drinkers to rethink their expectations. Thanks to Nite Lite, a craft light lager returning as a year-round offering, NSB is introducing a new standard within the light beer category. With Nite Lite, NSB is offering consumers something new, different and better. The beer’s recipe aims to deliver a full-flavored, easy-drinking beer experience. At 4.3 percent ABV and 120 calories per serving, Nite Lite fits the bill of a typical light beer. But, unlike most light beers, it has a high malt-to-corn ratio, is unfiltered, unpasteurized, all natural, and excludes any preservatives or additives.




CBAM sat down with marketing director Kim Currier to get us their take on the new style. With a launch of this significance, what branding strategies did you consider? Where does this fit versus competition in the retail environment? Whenever we're up against a new challenge, we think back to the core of our company purpose which is “create better.” This is our strategic backbone since day one so we focus on opportunities that allow us to stay true to it. The biggest opportunity for us right now isn’t in the typical “craft beer styles.” We noticed that the light beer category has been


unchanged for same time and it was primarily owned by big beer companies. The Nite Lite recipe is different from the competition (high malt-tocorn ratio, unfiltered, unpasteurized, all natural, and excludes any preservatives or additives), so we wanted to ensure our branding reflected a difference as well. It was also clear the majority of the options had a familiar look: white, blue, red, simple design, big bold lettering, etc. Our offering had to stand out from that sea of sameness. Since we knew we were going against the macro breweries, we made a conscious effort to include the independent seal on multiple sides of our packaging. It’s a mark we are proud to share - we represent a heavy craft minority in the light beer section of any store. We hope consumers start to recognize the seal more and more so when they are looking for independent craft options, they know what to look for without digging for their phone to look up each brewery and its ownership.

We knew that no matter what we did, our Owl would continue to be the central part of Nite Lite’s visual story. It’s the core of our brand and we are continually focused on growing its recognition across all of our products.

Once you had your overall marketing concept and release strategy, what choices did you make for visual branding? For example, we see consistency with Night Shift’s history, but we also see different. We knew that no matter what we did, our Owl would continue to be the central part of Nite Lite’s visual story. It’s the core of our brand and we are continually focused on growing its recognition across all of our products. With Nite Lite, first and foremost, we wanted to stand out. The Nite Lite look that we had established when we first released it in 2016 was unique. We decided to take another look at it to see if we could make it even better with our new challenge at hand – launch a craft light lager in the wholesale market. By taking the original label up a notch with full printed matte black can designs we knew Nite Lite would make a visual impact and get a shopper’s attention.

How about logos, colors, and type styles? Would you share how you got to where you are? Our creative designer, Tim Oxton came up with the Nite Lite design. He said that the impetus for the original 2016 Nite Lite release was our own fun and self-imposed challenge to see if we could make a light beer that still tasted fantastic – and the label needed to reflect a similar mindset: fun and adventurous. It’s a simple and overlooked style, especially in the craft marketplace, but despite that, the “first beer” we’ve each had is often a macro lager so that taste is inherently nostalgic. With Nite Lite, it recalls

that memory of fun and youthful experiences - but contrastingly lives up to the hype – and the design reflects that. The main font is reminiscent of a 1980’s movie title and the logo of the Night Shift Owl reminds us of toy from a our childhood; it plays on our own youthful memories but with a modern and colorful twist. From Tim's experiences, people are drawn to nostalgia – there’s something wonderfully comforting about the familiar, and the style is familiar to most drinkers. “Using these elements encourages that familiarity – but in a form that breaks down our own expectations of a nostalgic beer label: script font, soft edges, soft colors. It’s bold, bright, and isn’t afraid to call attention to itself. The black background really allows for the colors of the owl to almost iri-




descently glow. Nearly all light lager cans have a white or light color palette so we felt that going the opposite direction allows for our can to stand out all the more.”

From IRI research on light beer, we discovered that 12-packs of 12oz cans are No. 2 in Massachusetts, holding about 15 percent of the retail market.

Packaging. We know your brews. We love your 16-ounce cans. Serious stuff. We're a 4-pack beer drinker. A 12-pack of 12-ounce cans is a departure. Might you share with us how that came about? While we love the 16-oz cans, providing two formats for Nite Lite offered us an opportunity to reach a wider audience. From IRI research on light beer, we discovered that 12-packs of 12oz cans are No. 2 in Massachusetts, holding about 15 percent of the retail market. Nite Lite is a true occasion beer – beaches, parties, barbecues – and the 12-pack "suitcase" really enables that. However, the four-pack is more familiar to our typical customer, so we wanted to make sure that when they are looking for something a little bit lighter




in the craft beer section they can choose Nite Lite, too.

Market rollout. Any plans you can share? Nite Lite has some serious potential to expand your reach. The visuals are great. Introduces the product well. Could Nite Lite be the next All Day IPA? We are really excited about the launch, too. It kicked off with a party at the Sinclair in Cambridge. We wanted to celebrate our official venture into the light beer market in a big way. What’s better than having a party with 500 Night Shift fans and with some great music? We are also planning to feature Nite Lite at an event in the taproom this spring. We are finalizing those details now so more to come in the very near future. Overall, Nite Lite is the perfect light beer for a variety of occasions – a concert, the beach, a tailgate – so we'll be focusing our efforts on ways to get Nite Lite into consumers hands for these events. Everyone needs a craft light beer for the summer.


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been working with Communicators for the last three years. “ We’ve The results have been absolutely remarkable. I would recommend this firm to anyone! ”

– Scott Banda, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Bostik



By Brian Grafton

Crafting a destination Bringing brand to the building Atmosphere impacts experience, and it can change everything. Take stouts, which have a nostalgia surrounding them that dictates they are best served with a side of snowy landscapes and a warm fireplace. IPAs and lighter beers, on the other hand, go great with patios and cooling off on a hot summer day. The space and experience you create with your building and beer can be just as important as the quality of beer you produce. As an architect experienced in the beverage industry, we view the building as an extension of a breweries brand. We look for opportunities to market and reinforce that brand in the design and layout of the facility. In many cases, expressions of brand can start before a customer ever even steps in the door: • What does someone see as they drive by the building? • What do they see, hear, and smell as they walk to the front door? • What is their first impression as they walk in through the door?

for your customers and a reason for them to keep coming back. To get started, ask yourself, “What is my brewery’s story?” This might be history in the name, your logo or an entire imaginary tale you craft around the alias of the brewery. Once you have the kernel of your brand formed, drive those aspects into the development of your building through actual features and experiences. Studio Brew, located in Bristol, Virginia, found its roots in the owner’s photography studio. He’s a passionate photographer who took a strong interest in home brewing, scaled up quickly and brought that passion for capturing moments with him. Using its signature motto of “Beer is an Art, a Very Tasty Art,” the brewery’s brand and identity expressed itself in a historical brick warehouse by

In these three moments alone, you have the opportunity to highlight who you are, what your brand is, and set the tone and expectations for what your brand delivers. The experience and sense of place you create is an integral part of the value you create





showcasing different moments and activities as part of the “art” of the brewery. One of the primary ways this was accomplished was by designing the brewery area like a gallery behind glass, so that guests can safely watch the brewing process from start to finish, but still allow the brewers to operate efficiently and keep the area sanitary. A second example of brand exposure was to use the exterior of the building as a canvas. Whether guests are driving down the road toward the building or at the park across the street, it’s difficult to miss the name of the brewery on the sides of the building. At night, these are illuminated to “act like a beacon to beer.” By taking advantage of moments like these, Studio Brew has been able to leverage its building as part of its brand and, in the case of carefully developed interior features, add value to the overall experience for their customers.

scale, it’s important not to forget about who you are and what the five senses of your brand are.

Sense No. 1 – Touch Is your brand rustic and industrial, or posh and lavish? Think about how this can translate to the finishes and furnishings in your tap room. Touch also includes sense of temperature as well. Consider how someone may feel in a wide open room with raw concrete floors and steel beams compared to a room that has smaller recessed areas off to the side with warmer finishes and accents. As far as finishes are concerned, they should interact with your concept and brand, but also be easy to maintain and clean. An area that can be easily overlooked is selecting materials for a great looking bar that don’t hold up and can’t be easily cleaned.

Any project, any scale The methods you can use to take your branding to the building scale aren’t just reserved for large and expensive new buildings, but are for any project at any scale. Leverage every opportunity you have to showcase who you are and what your brewery has going on in order to enhance the customer’s experience and reinforce branding. Sound and lighting are important, but are only a small part of the overall design. At a deeper level, consider more intimate experience such as intentional views to interior or exterior features, movement and the way people can circulate and experience your space, and the way people directly interact with objects such as door handles, glasses and other tactile surfaces. An increasingly popular trend as breweries continue to grow is to purchase or lease a large building and fill it with equipment, but even at this

The value a customer places on a great looking space can quickly diminish when he’s prying his feet off the floor or hands and glasses off the bar.

Sense No. 2 – Sight Does your brand represent a sense of rebellion? Are you whimsical and free spirited, or do you want to give off a sense of being more inclusive such as that of a speakeasy? What about being a great place to work? Explore ways in which you can highlight this facet of your brand in an efficient




way. Tanks are always great to see, but if you have to shut down just to brew, is it worth it? Consider window size and placement to not only allow natural daylight into the space, but also expose or showcase an aspect of your operation. Visually experiencing large open areas and small compressed areas is part of the overall experience, and can be crafted to make one or the other even more dramatic. At Frisky Brewing Company in Odessa, Texas, you enter through a typically sized door, but as you pass through the vestibule, the room opens up to tall cathedral ceilings inviting and pulling you into the space subconsciously.

Sense No. 3 – Sound Sound is a consideration often overlooked, and can have a significant impact on the experience you deliver. Designing a building with flat ceilings and hard surfaces may look cool, but it does nothing to control sound and can make having a basic conversation difficult. Where a facility is limited due to existing constraints or funding, there are specialized products that can help address this. Even provide an opportunity to display your branding and logo on them. Where conditions are more favorable – consider utilizing ceiling clouds, sloped ceilings, and porous

wood accents to help capture and control sound architecturally.

Sense No. 4 & 5 – Taste and Smell Taste and smell can be interacted with by designing open concept style kitchens and breweries. The aroma of fresh beer and food can entice others to grab the entrée they told themselves they weren’t going to get or order that great beer they can smell a batch fermenting nearby. In the opposite spectrum, it’s important to also be aware of and avoid the less pleasant smells. Make sure that restrooms are properly ventilated and easily cleanable. Walking into a new facility with dirty restrooms can change a personal opinions of the brand faster than you’d expect. Fresh air is also important, and if the plan allows for it, having operable windows and overhead doors are great ways to bring those warm summer breezes inside to pair with that delicious IPA on tap. There is no magic rulebook that documents the do’s and don’ts when it comes to building scaled branding, but whether you’re just beginning your journey into craft brewing or are expanding, always start with a list of values that represent your brand. Work with your design team to prioritize and establish different methods and approaches to express these in and on the building, and make sure you have fun along the way.

FMD Architects is an architectural firm with national reach who specialize in designing breweries, wineries and distilleries. Mark Moore and Melanie Friedman are the founding principals, and Brian Grafton is the VP of the Beverage and Hospitality Studio. For more information, reach out at





We Help Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries with… • New Construction • Master Plans • Renovations • Additions • Tasting Areas

We best serve clients that demand similar detail in the design of their facility as they do in the creation of their custom-crafted beverages. We are most proud that nearly all of our clients have not only become our friends, but we’ve also become their customer. We realized years ago, that we are in the long-term relationship business! We provide an affordable, full-day consultation to help new clients avoid potential landmines, narrow down options, answer their questions and educate them about the design/ build/occupy process. Lastly, we happily introduce our clients to financial groups, equipment suppliers and builders that have proven track records of success within the beverage industry.

“Our clients appreciate our careful attention to detail as we explore their immediate needs as well as preparing for future expansion, succession or sale of the facility.” Melanie Friedman & Mark Moore

2841 Riviera Drive • Suite 200 • Fairlawn OH 44333 p: 330.836.2343 e: CIRCLE NO. 50


By Eric Balinski

What if customers were fish? A inside look into how to reel in your community of beer drinkers Fishing is a passion and helping clients make sense of customer input and behavior is work I’m passionate about. Combining both back in the mid90s led to a revelation for me and many clients when I asked them this question: “If your customers were fish, would you try to catch them all the same way?” Craft brewers love to interact with their customers. It’s a source of inspiration, a route to new ideas and, often is one of those gratifying experiences when the brewer learns all their dedication is appreciated by their fans. Generally speaking, customer feedback and input is considered a good way to improve a company and a building block for future growth. While often true, customers can mislead a brewer or any business. It is not the fault of the customer, as they are giving their genuine input on what they think, believe and feel. Rather, problems occur when the business team has failed to organized these comments into recognizable patterns and customer types. Compounding the problem is typical customer experience and satisfaction advice leads a company to believe all input is good input in today’s




world of personalized customer experiences. This just isn’t reliable input without a way to put context to the input. Without context it can lead a brewer down the path of being compelled to do anything customers suggests so the brewer earns a happy face on social media. While it's nice to please people, it can result in poor financial performance. Here’s how things go haywire. Consider if one of your regular customers asked you to go fishing. You eagerly accept because you know he is a heck-ofa-fisherman, and you have not had a day off in six months. He shows up the day of the fishing trip, takes one look at you and your fishing equipment and says, “You’re bringing the wrong gear for what we’re doing.” One question would have prevented this misunderstanding – What are we going fishing for? You may be tempted to believe a good approach is catching any and all you can. This is where customer feedback can start to misdirect what your business does. Simply put, how one catches a 24inch brown trout on a fly is much different than how one catches a 100-pound tarpon on a fly.


Both are prized fish, but to catch either, one needs specific understanding of the exact species of fish to effectively focus your knowledge, skills, equipment, trip plan and to not waste time, money and resources fishing for the wrong fish with the wrong technique. Too often, most businesses want to catch any fish possible. This is especially true for a start-up brewery. With little money, start-up brewers draw upon friends and family as their customer base. At the point the brewer has tapped everyone they know and those people’s circle of friends, the real challenge to growth starts. This is when a brewer must of its customers as fish to discover the different fish coming through the door and how to best catch each different type. Doing so will speed growth as you just need to look for more of the same type of fish to cast marketing efforts toward, whether in your neighborhood or in other regions. This is not unlike an angler who to starts out fishing local ponds and lakes for largemouth bass, but as their expertise increases, the range of territory they seek for largemouth expands. Each new lake or area fished is built upon their prior expertise in understanding the behavior and patterns of largemouth bass habits and habitat. As obvious as the question of what are you fishing for may be to fishing, are you asking this same

question about your customers: What customers do we want to catch? Likewise, assuming you already know what you are fishing for, without objective analysis to identify and quantify customers, there is a danger you are randomly winging efforts and left wondering why you don’t achieve expected results. While it is visually easy to distinguish different fish species, different customer types may not be so easy, as two different looking people can often be quite similar. But you can figure this out. In the May/ June 2017 issue of Craft Brand and Marketing magazine, the methodology was in my article, “New game Board for Craft Brewers.” Here's quick review: Step 1 – Select a team of your people who spend face time with your customers. Step 2 – Ask each person to describe what they "see" and "hear" when watching customers enjoying, buying, or talking about your brew. Create exact descriptors of what everyone sees or hears. Make no interpretations as to what anything means. Don’t let people interpret what they think they saw or heard. Force them to use “memory playback only.”

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Step 3 – Summarize the descriptors of each type of customer (the specific fish), and then create a name that everyone on the team identifies as that customer type. Example: Beer Snob – the person who painstakingly tastes a beer. Or maybe Party Person – the one who seems to go from beer to beer with little deference for what they are drinking. Likely you will have three to five different customer fish types. Step 4 – Identify unique insights with what you learned. Looking separately at each group, ask these questions: • What really matters to these people? • Why does it matter? • How well do we currently deliver what matters most to them? • What can we do to make their life better? • Why would they be better if we did this?

This exercise will result in meaningful insights you can act upon to make better business decisions. It takes work, candid conversation, and your willingness to honestly categorize people who behave and are motived in the same way, regardless of how they appear or what they say. It is likely to take multiple iterations to fine-tine the descriptors of your customer types. Here is an example from a company who identified the fish in their pond. They sell services to the beer, wine and spirits industry, including craft brewers. This has been edited to preserve client confidentiality. When the customer type model is completed, actual customer names are assigned to the




type that fits them best. (This has been eliminated from the table for confidentiality reasons). The more customers you can populated into the model, the more it will give you a sense of who is currently important, as well as who you may be ignoring that you should not be. Ultimately, a statically populated model of customers in your market area is built revealing the ecosystem of species and population of your pond or lake. As you see from this table as well, there are some commonalities, but more important there are distinctive behaviors and thought processes of different customers types that make each its own species. With this model created, it provides an immediate reference point and context to any customer input. For example, if someone who fits the Mad Dog category tells you how much they value new or unique products, in all likelihood they will be more interested in an established product at hot deal pricing. Completing Steps 1-3 gives you the basis to answer the questions in Step 4. Once these questions are answered, you can now make trade-off decisions, create priorities and, more effectively satisfy the customers you feel will grow your business. This insight is critical for any business because no matter its size, every business has limited time, money and resources. The more varied your customer base, the more likely the business is spreading thin its precious time, money and resource. Attempting to satisfy all customers too often means not delivering the right value to the customers most critical to growing. In other words, if I choose to become a skillful angler of migratory saltwater striped bass, all my effort, learning, and equipment will be focused on that species, not resident largemouth bass who live, eat and behave differently. As with any accomplished angler, many have quite a knack for catching any fish, but the truly master anglers, tend to specialize in a just a few they are most passionate for, assuming there are enough still left in the world to catch. TightLines. Eric Balinski is the owner of Synection, LLC, which is a strategy and growth consultancy firm. For more information, visit:



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