Page 1

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

For the Craft Brewing Professional

Ghost of the Rhine How Cincinnati’s favorite craft brewery is igniting a renaissance in the city’s urban core

PLUS: Craft light Measure what matters


content

VOL. 2 : ISSUE 5

SEPT/ OCT

2

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

3 4 6 10 16

EDITOR’S NOTE Tribal connections

INSIGHTS Industry News GHOST OF THE RHINE How Cincinnati’s favorite craft brewery is igniting a renaissance in the city’s urban core CRAFT LIGHT Understanding the power — and promise — of neon MEASURE WHAT MATTERS If you don’t, everything else is a waste of money

CBAM-MAG.COM


I

Tribal connections

In his book, “Tribe,” Sebastian Junger delved into the concept of why we are stronger when we come together and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world. Junger wrote, “We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—tribes. One of the Junger spoke with for his book was Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., director of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Yehuda said that if we want to make a society work, we shouldn’t underscore the places where we’re different, but instead underscore our shared humanity.” The science of a branded community is pretty straight-forward, really. Simply put, it consists of consumers who can choose who and what they want to engage with. For today’s craft brewers, it is critical to create a community around your brand. How critical? According to a survey by OnBrand, 70 percent of marketers say that building an audience is more important than direct sales. Building a following helps you improve your ability to convert followers into customers over time. This “fandom” of people are the passionate advocates your brand needs to build its foundation. As for your brand, it is the hero that people interact with. In her book, “Braving the Wilderness, noted research professor Brené Brown defined how to combat a “spiritual crisis of disconnection.” Brown highlighted four principles of building belonging that all craft brewers can adopt: • Making contact with people you disagree with • Sharing collective joy and pain • Speaking up (respectively) when you disagree • Embracing the paradox If you want to see how a craft beer brand does this correctly, look no further than Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati (see “Ghost of the Rhine,” page 6 ). Co-founder Bryant Goulding says that the Rhinegeist culture is potent. And while it doesn’t spend a lot of time defining what it is, it spends time investing in communication and respect and a focus on delivering great beer and service to its customers. Says Goulding, “It has been really cool being able to build an intimate connection with our customers. We get a ton of feedback from them—feedback that we can incorporate into what we do and help us move forward.” In a time when each of us our hopelessly glued to whatever electronic device at the ready, keeping your consumers—that fandom— engaged in your brand is keeping them a member of your tribe. In the end, it are these connections that will keep the masses motivated. If you don’t, the crowd will move to the next stop.

Michael J. Pallerino

The science of a branded community is pretty straightforward, really. Simply put, it consists of consumers who can choose who and what they want to engage with.

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

3


insights

“If a craft brewery is nearby or in the building, that’s definitely something many employers will highlight when they look to attract and retain workers.”

Book Rec

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Angela Duckworth

– Craig Van Pelt, JLL’s director of research for the Atlanta region, on how craft beer establishments and their hyper-local fare are becoming a key economic development driver

How personal are you with your customers? Attention all craft brewers: If you’re going to engage with your community, you’d better get personal. According to the “2018 Adobe Consumer Content Survey,” 67 percent of consumers say it’s important for brands to automatically adjust their content based on their current context. What happens if you don’t? Uh oh — 42 percent confess to getting annoyed when their content isn’t personalized. And it gets better. The survey says 33 percent are put off when content is poorly designed, while 29 percent get teed off when the content isn’t optimized for their devices.

6,655 The number of active craft beer breweries (as of June 30) in the United States, according to a report by the Brewers Association (BA). Based on active Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses, there an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries in planning. BA numbers show that production volume for the craft segment increased 5 percent during the first half of 2018 and is on track with 2017’s numbers.

4

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

In her New York Times bestselling book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth shows that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” The daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” the celebrated researcher and professor knows her way around success. Driven by her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting and neuroscience, Duckworth found that passion and long-term perseverance are key drivers of achievement. “Grit” spins us through her early years at West Point, the knowledge you can attain through studying peak performance and a series of interviews with dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. See how Duckworth’s ideas about the cultivation of tenacity have helped changed some lives for the better. Amazingly personal, insightful and inspiring, “Grit” is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down. It’s a book every craft brewer can benefit from.

CBAM-MAG.COM


MEET LANCE

(800) BEERCUP • BEERCUP.COM

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.

ARE YOU READY TO TALK BRANDING OVER A DRINK WITH LANCE OR ONE OF OUR OTHER PASSIONATE REGIONAL SALES MANAGERS? CALL 800 BEERCUP TODAY.

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 .


Ghost of the Rhine How Cincinnati’s favorite craft brewery is igniting a renaissance in the city’s urban core

By Michael J. Pallerino to spread its wings. Joining the team was Jim Matt, a brewing guru who also happened to have 20 years of chemistry experience, and Luke Cole, who had been roasting coffee and brewing at Rock Bottom’s downtown Cincinnati brewpub. The last piece of the puzzle was Dennis Kramer-Wine, who would help form the foundation for the brewery’s self-distribution model. Together, the Rhinegeist team opened its doors in June 2013, brewing its first batch of beer and innovating a dazzling array of beers for all craft lovers. CBAM sat down with Bryant to get his insights on why branding is critical in this age.

“We’re in the urban epicenter of Cincinnati’s beer renaissance.” That’s how Bob Bonder and Bryant Goulding, founders of Rhinegeist Brewery, describe the home of their widely popular craft beer. Their story can be traced to the story of their building, which goes back to 1895. At the turn of the 19th Century, Over-the-Rhine was home to nearly 45,000 inhabitants—most of whom were of German descent. Led by the city’s largest brewery, the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, Cincinnati was home to 38 breweries. The Moerlein building, which spanned three city blocks, produced more than 300,000 bbl annually before Prohibition. So there’s all that history. Fast-forward over 100 years and the story of Rhinegeist starts to take shape. After founding the Tazza Mia coffee business, Bob flirted with the idea of starting his own brewery, getting serious when he discovered Moerlein’s building lying vacant. His first call was to Bryant, who was selling beer on the West Coast for Dogfish Head after a stint with Anderson Valley Brewing. After a few impactful visits to Cincinnati, Bryant joined forces with Bob and the duo started their brewery-building journey. Their plan revolved around that historic brewery building on 1910 Elm Street. What once was a lifeless brewery became the start of a brand looking

6

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

Give us a snapshot of today’s craft brew market. When I look at the market today, I see a congested marketplace. Brands that have built a reputation for quality and innovation are growing, but the era of building national brands may be closing. It’s tougher to grow further away from your home market today. By the time you get to a place like Massachusetts (our furthest territory) you have some amazing regional and local breweries popping up in smaller towns and neighborhoods, and serving the market in a way they weren’t a few

CBAM-MAG.COM


years ago. The further you grow, the greater the challenge to tell your story to an audience further away from home and less inclined to embrace it than those in their backyard.

Where is the next phase of growth taking the marketplace? You really have to stand for something today. I think there is more growth ahead for brands that make a commitment to innovation and intentional branding. But you have to be able to cut through the noise, especially in this age of Instagram and interconnectedness, the scale of which is unprecedented in our lifetime. Successful brands must have a branding strategy to get through that congestion. We saw an opportunity in Cincinnati to bring a brewing tradition back that had been basically lost since Prohibition. We wanted to pick up that history and carry it forward into modern day with a relevant roster of beer styles.

a space for many types to collide delivers a great positive energy to our space & brewery.

Walk us through your branding strategy. With our historical foundation, we wanted the brand to be clean and minimalistic to speak to our innovative nature and modern stance on beer production. We were drawn to block colors and hoped to create compelling brand mark that would sear itself into your memory. We wanted a look that was unique and contained—that could raise eyebrows, but also be worn by our mom’s. We wanted something edgy that spoke to history, but something vivid that would compel people’s curiosity. We worked with Helms Workshop out of Austin (Texas) to create our logo and initial can designs. We brought their team here and toured them

What is the Rhinegeist story from a brand perspective? We really knew that a key foundational element was entrepreneurial mindset and work ethic. We didn’t have a whole lot of money between us when we started. I used my last $5,000 as a down payment on the brewing system that I discovered when I was in Mexico. When I returned to Cincinnati, we discovered our building in a neighborhood that really offered a special opportunity. So we let our imagination go from there. Our building’s story goes back to 1895. At the turn of the 19th Century, Over-the-Rhine was home to nearly 45,000 inhabitants—most of them of German descent. There were 38 breweries here. Our home is in one of them—the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. It was the city’s largest brewery, which extended over three city blocks and produced more than 300,000 bbl annually. That old bottling plant is our home. Our space, which has more than 120,000 square feet, an old freight elevator and big skylights, fosters community in a way that most buildings don’t anymore. Our brand is about people—our employees and our customers. When we opened, we had more than 2,000 people come through the weekend we opened. We built a place for gathering—communal tables, ping pong and the occasional dinosaur exhibit. Beer brings people together and creating

through OTR and the building late at night when you could really get a sense of the soul of the place. They brought back to us a concept of “a drop of history in every batch,” and it translated into a logo that delivered on the special space we brew in and yet was vivid and memorable. We wanted to show our community that we are high energy and a little eccentric—that we like to have fun, but also that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It has been really informative and rewarding to be able to build an intimate connection with our customers in our taproom. We get a ton of feedback from them on beers—feedback that we can incorporate into what we do and help us move concepts forward.

That’s what makes your culture so important to your team and your customers, right? Yes, our culture at the brewery is potent. We don’t spend a lot of time defining what it is, but we do

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

7


cover story

spend time investing in communication and respect and a focus on delivering great beer and service to our customers. Our brand is our beer and our people. We never had the intent to sell out and there was power in that from the early beginning in that we aspired to build a brand that would leave a legacy. One of our goals is to create an employee-owned company. We’re growing toward that with a profit sharing model but more so making decisions always thinking about the impact on the brand. Building sales today at the expense of building our brand in the long run is not something we’re interested in. How do we build our sales strategy to balance brands we have and innovation that could

What’s the biggest issue related to the marketing/sales side of the business?

become key beers in the future? How do we treat people and our customers and our community in a way that grows and gives back in a powerful way over time?

every time then you’re doing something right. With all these options in the market, many consumers are always looking for what’s new and innovating and staying nimble is paramount. We are often looking at the beer world and asking ourselves what’s next. That question, “what’s next,” is a big issue. It’s hard out there. There’s a degree of sophistication that breweries need in order to break into channels like grocery and convenience. This is where you have to invest in data and have the chops to analyze it, to make a compelling argument for why your brand demands the shelf space. And that’s really challenging. You have to have great relationships with wholesalers so that they’re keeping your brand paramount, and work hard to understand retailers business models and how your brand best fits into it.

So it’s about what feels right. I think we have tried to stick our neck out and push in different directions to see what feels right. I think the balance of sticking to the core and being committed to quality and innovation is enough to get into a comfort zone that creates a strong foundation for trial and error. When it comes to branding, we’ve built a marketing team to support a lot of creativity in packaging that speaks to that. People really love our brand. People love to wear T-shirts that stand for something they believe in. I think they appreciate what we stand for. And that doesn’t come from a strict published code of values that we’ve built, but it’s earned each day with how we treat each other, and how we treat our beer and customers. We have worked hard to build trust internally and externally, and we hope our brand resonates with that trustworthiness. We work hard every day to deliver on quality and innovation and transparency.

8

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

Sales. There is so much great beer being made today. Every day more breweries are opening up while retail shelves are not getting any bigger. It’s challenging for retailers to find the right mix of brands on their shelves. Consumers can find great beer in pretty much any neighborhood now, and try a variety of styles at their local breweries. Basically, the consumer has more quality options than ever before. Staying relevant through quality and consistency is paramount. If consumers come back to your brand it is because they know it will deliver what they expect

Is the industry as a whole bonded together by this? We have a ton of respect for the breweries that have come before us. There was a time when craft beer was a hard sell and many brands that have come before us have paved those tough roads.

CBAM-MAG.COM


We’re lucky to work in an industry where we can enjoy each other’s products and compete out there in the market. It’s a very co-operative space. But we’re lucky in our industry that when we go home at the end of the day, we have respect for the other breweries that we’re competing against. I love waking up and going to work in an industry that I love. We get to pick each other’s brains, and collaborate and learn things from each other, as opposed to other industries where there are sharp elbows and no love lost.

What is the secret to creating a branding story that consumers can buy into?

Bryant Goulding Co-founder & VP Rhinegeist Brewery What's the best thing a customer ever said to you? There is not a single thing. I am always humbled when your customers compliment the product or branding. The compliments that mean the most are the ones when we are referred to as great partners. We work hard to be someone you want to do business with and it’s satisfying when we get that feedback. What is your favorite brand story? Truth. It is what this brewery is built around. We felt like the world did not need another IPA, but if we could brew one that was compelling enough to grab attention we were doing it right. We knew the quality of our IPA would be a key indicator of future success, so we named it Truth. Without honesty, you really can’t build anything lasting.

It’s authenticity. That’s the word I would use. You have to reflect on who you are. When you put the right people together, you’ll know. You know what your values are and what is the right way to move forward. Your brand broadcasts your personality out there in the world, and you have to be intentional with that. In this age of polished brands, we all have to enjoy what each other does. We’re not Apple; we’re a handful of hardworking people who enjoy each other and believe in loving and sharing beer. That has to expand into the public and onto the shelves. I think how that story is told is different for every brand, so when you see authenticity it is a critical piece. You can turn up the volume on who you are and what your brand is. You can shout it from the hilltops with no distortion.

What’s the one thing every brand should do to market their brand? Take it seriously and have intent. Everything we did as we got the brewery off the ground was thrilling and we worked hard to convey that excitement. So you want to keep the excitement going and deliver

it in a powerful way that keeps people grinning and maybe even get the occasional chuckle.

Do you think that some brands outthink themselves when it comes to branding? You have to be unique. You don’t want to go through the motions. It’s quality, not quantity. There are so many ways to tell your story and deliver compelling content. If you take the time to have good conversations with your team and your customers, you’ll find the right things to say. Working in the craft beer industry puts me in touch with so many great, hardworking and insightful people. If you’re going through the motions, I feel like you’re in the wrong industry. It’s fantastic what we get to do for work.

What do you see as some of your biggest opportunities moving ahead?

We still have some markets that we can open that are thirsty for the brand. We stayed disciplined in 2018 and did not expand into a single market focusing our growth in our backyard and on leadership internally. We will look to open just one city in 2019. We also are excited about some innovation projects we have in development—just fired up our 8.5bbl innovation brewhouse in our Spring Grove facility. Most important is people. We are only five years old and made a big bet last year on scaling our sales organization. We added two national sales account directors, a wholesaler relations director, team leaders in self distribution counties and additional personnel in support roles throughout the system. We’ve built strong teams and focused a lot on communication across departments and what leadership means for us as an organization. We have many great leaders in our organization in all ranks and that means we get great insight and decision making from within.

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

9


branding

By Eric Johnson

Craft light Understanding the power — and promise — of neon No, this is not about craft beer trends. It’s about another fluid medium—the craft of luminous tubes better known as neon. Light art, light advertising, neon has always been such. Its power to visually influence is incomparable. Neon evokes emotion, triggers memories, and suggests a variety of moods and past experiences. The craft of neon is alive and well today. Made in America, locally-practiced, often using “ingredients” made by American companies. There’s a bit of a neon “renaissance” happening. In my travels, I’ve even talked with craft brew folks interested to learn the craft of neon. While obviously different, the crafts of brewing and neon are alike in ways. Art and science. Hand-crafted by well-trained, passionate practitioners. Requiring years to achieve mastery. It’s physical work, best performed by folks with serious work-ethic. Projects require a starting vision, and a step-by-step plan, to the end result. Ultimately, both are created for the appreciation of a broad audience of “consumers.”

10

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

CBAM-MAG.COM


Two tribes, kindred spirits, linked through the celebration of craft and appreciation of the arts. Shared values including the belief in community and traditions of mentorship. Brand identity and visual messaging integral to both professions. Does neon have “soul?” It always has. Let’s take a look at where it has been and where it is today. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration for embracing neon into your own identity expression.

A bit of history Neon lighting is 100 years old, with a storied past. And like brewing, it has gone through many cycles of societal change. Sometimes it’s been “hot,” sometimes not. Styles come and go. First commercialized by Frenchman Georges Claude, by the late ‘20s through the ‘30s, neon use boomed worldwide. Considered the ultimate in modern and high-tech, neon became symbolic of the trends of the time. Not limited to “light advertising,” neon was widely integrated into architectural design and brand identity expression. The burgeoning movie film industry constructed the greatest theatre marquees of all-time. Neon was the rage. World War II turned the lights out. Literally. With the post-war boom, neon became the cultural symbol of another era. Think motels, diners and Times Square “spectaculars.” Las Vegas’ glamour signature was the large-scale neon sign. “Vegas Vic,” the city’s first mega-sign Neon, was built in 1951. It’s in the neon museum today, brilliantly displayed. The ‘50s saw incredible advance in use of “light” advertising, especially for beer, brands both local and national. This era was also the time for full-on adoption of the fluorescent lamp. During the ‘60s, neon was increasing embraced as a fine art medium. Renowned artists

Bruce Nauman, Stephen Antonakos, Rudi Stern, Lili Lakich, Martial Raysse and others used luminous tubes for creative expression. Andy Warhol viewed neon as one of “the great modern things.” Yet, aesthetic trends always evolve. Starting with the ‘70s, neon was seen as less “cool.” Garish, often poorly-maintained signs became the symbol of decay of America’s rust-belt cities. Neon was tacky. Neon was sleazy. Times Square was perceived as the ultimate eyesore of peepshow porno and panhandlers. Ebbs and flows, by the late ‘80s-early ‘90s, there was a fresh neon renaissance. The suburban skies were ablaze with colored light. Channel letters

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

11


branding

on storefronts, border tubing on buildings, POS signs in windows, neon was everywhere. Similarly with beer advertising. Anheuser Busch rolled out tens of thousands of Budweiser “bowtie” neons. Every beer brander wanted neons. At peak year, almost a million window-frame neons were made.

The “death” of neon Fast forward, enter the era of LED. By the early 2000s, technology advances brought LED into mainstream lighting applications. Truly revolutionary, the LED is the Edison light bulb of our times. Early sales pitches by LED marketers took neon head-on. “We’re going to kill neon,” said one European company. In the next 15 years, as LED technology continued to progress rapidly, neon use did indeed diminish. White LEDs took over most sign applications previously using neon-type tube light sources. Similarly with LED substitution for fluorescent lamps, actually. Today, neon is not dead. True, as a utilitarian light source, LED is prime. For “art light,” there’s still nothing like neon.

Contemporary neon

Neon schools to know • Brooklyn Glass, Brooklyn, New York (http://www.brooklynglass.com/) • FOCI Minnesota Center for Glass Arts, Minneapolis (https://www.mnglassart.org/) • Western Neon School of Art, Seattle (https://wnsaseattle.org/) • Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, California (http://www.neonmona.org/category/education/ )

12

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

CBAM-MAG.COM

Aesthetic appreciation of the art medium is lively and diverse. Local and national preservation movements abound, dedicated to archiving our neon history. There are several neon museums across the country. But those ventures are about saving cultural artifacts. Similarly, neon window-frame signs are as collectible as ever. Nostalgia is the word. You can look them all up on the web. While your browser is open, take a look at what’s happening today with light art. There’s an incredible community of contemporary artists working with luminous tubes and glass. For starters, do a Google Image search for these artists: Shawna Peterson, David Ablon, Wayne Strattman, Evan Voyles, Leo Villareal, Kelsey Fernkopf and Meryl Pataky. There are many more. You’ll experience some stunning creativity.


FULLY CUSTOM PRIVATE LABEL HEADWEAR

We pride ourselves on the same foundations as craft brewers, a constant dedication to being genuine, reliable and standing out. We want to bring to you, first-class customer service, industry leading

UNMATCHED FLEXIBILITY IN THE INDUSTRY’S LOWEST MINIMUMS ¡ 48-Piece Minimum per Style ¡ 12-Piece Minimum per Fabric/Color ¡ 30-Day Production + Up to 5 Days Freight

custom design and manufacturing capabilities that

¡ FREE Artwork Setup

traditionally are only available to larger brands.

¡ FREE Interior Private Label

Use the Link Below to Sign Up for a New Account & Receive FREE Shipping on Your First Order

www.pukkainc.com/cbam


branding

Today, neon is not dead. True, as a utilitarian light source, LED is prime. For “art light,” there’s still nothing like neon. In the branding/advertising world, neon has been featured in recent campaigns for Prada, Southwest Airlines and Fiat. Spirits brands including Absolut, Bacardi, Bulleit Bourbon have done so as well. Restaurant chains such as Chuy’s Tex Mex apply it prominently. Trade press in restaurant design trends indicate that Neon is perceived as pretty cool. That includes MayJune-2018.pdf

1

5/24/18

BrewDog’s use of neon in their global chain of bar/restaurants. Neon is accessible. From a supply chain perspective, LSI/ Voltarc, Waterbury, Connecticut is the world’s leading provider of glass tubing and electrodes. Joe Walsh, Voltarc’s national sales manager, says business is steady. He confirmed the company’s continuing investment in neon supplies.

11:59 AM

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

Want some neon for your own? There are hundreds of custom-made neon fabrication shops across the country. There are volume-quantity producers as well. Most notably, Antigo Sign & Display, Antigo, Wisconsin. ASD specializes in the needs/interests of craft brewers. Steve Friend, president of Antigo, is passionate about neon and craft brew. He offers highly convincing arguments for both. Want to learn how to make neon? There are several excellent schools. You’ll also find that many individual neon craftsmen are welcome to taking on an apprentice or passing on traditions to those with recreational interests. Here are links to a few of the more prominent schools. Possibilities for neon in craft beer branding/promotion abound. Colored tube light, it’s a powerful, passionate medium. And, there’s nothing like it when done right. Neon signs can last for decades, especially when sourced from tradespeople who are tops in the craft. This article is a quick teaser on a profession with the heritage of a century. Resources abound if you’d like to learn more. I’m glad to help as well. I have 30 years logged in support of the community. Feel free to email me at ericj@cbam-mag.com. Eric Johnson is the strategy director for Craft Brand & Marketing Magazine. He can be reached at ericj@cbam-mag.com.

14

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

CBAM-MAG.COM


Puzzled about how to build your business? You’re experts in your business. You want to grow. Whether you’re going in new directions, ready for expansion or just keeping your name “out there,” we’ll solve your marketing challenges with a strategic program tailored to your specifications. With over 30 years of major market experience and close ties to the building and design community, we’ll help you develop a clear, big picture. And ultimately, bolster your sales.

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

MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS www.communicatorsintl.com | info@communicatorsintl.com


business

By Eric Balinski

Measure what matters If you don't, everything else is a waste of money

“Over the years you make lots of mistakes by making it complex and taking too many measurements.” – Master Shooting Instructor

Measurement is a key component to improve business performance. Business measurement achieves two things: It provides a relative position assessment on how well something is being accomplished at a certain point in time relative to a goal. It also provides information that can enable improvement or correction to the goal achievement. While the intent of measurement is often right, what typically plays out in business is either measuring everything or claiming some things just cannot be measured—a leap of faith is required. There have always been questions as to what and how things are measured. There have been debates about what the dimensions of business performance are that need to be measured and improved. For craft industry producers this effort may not occur, as often they rely on the

notion that it produces the “finest” item in its class. This is a bit egotistical and potentially detrimental to its long-term growth and prosperity as it inhibits learning or even blocks recognizing changes in the marketplace. While I spent more than 20 years in large corporations, all of which had dogmatic attention to performance measurement with tools from Deming or the Six-Sigma process, my perspective

16

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

CBAM-MAG.COM


took a radical departure a number of years ago when I attended a weekend to acquire the skills needed to be a master shooting instructor. The weekend was hosted by a luxury craft gun maker with a history of gunsmithing for nearly 100 years at its shooting school. While the topic of guns is controversial in the United States, put aside your personal beliefs to learn from this craft maker. They are truly at the pinnacle of theirs or any craft industry. They painstaking use hand workmanship to craft products from the finest materials, adding artisans skills with microscopic attention to detail, and finish pieces with finely engraved artwork to create custom pieces that can fetch upward of more than a quarter of a million dollars for a pair of matched side-by-side 12-gauge shotguns. The fortunate owners wait six months or more for their personalized pieces. Once completed, the owners will spend countless hours on a sporting clays range to fine-tune this work of art to their own body and shooting skills. My weekend at this school led to a new mindset about performance improvement and measurement. Here is their philosophy: • The right stance—To be an accurate and proficient shooter, it all starts with the person’s stance, that is, what is the body position. If this is wrong, everything will be wrong after that. • Simplicity leads to reproducibility—In other words; don’t complicate things with too many details, steps and cumbersome things to remember. Focus on the most critical things for success. •N  ever listen to the shooter—Too often a shooter will explain away his performance when he is not hitting the target. When he starts missing he'll make adjustments to his body when in fact it’s the tool that needs adjusting. • It's very personal—Find out the client’s reason for being. In other words, a competition shooter has very different requirements than the person out for a day of sporting clays with friends.

• Measurements—There is only a few key ones for a gun fitter to take. Too often a gun fitter will take many in the desire to be precise. This can lead to a poor fit or the shooter over thinking things that matter very little. One way to consider this philosophy is through literal interpretation, such as the shooter is your customer, or the fitter is a person in the craft production process. In keeping with Point two, Simplicity, and Point 4, it is Personal; here's what it means without having a gun debate.

Most craft-based companies do things with precision, with measurement being a key behavior when making their product. Yet, with business improvement, it's not uncommon to find faith guiding decisions rather the same discipline used to create their product. Most craft-based companies do things with precision, with measurement being a key behavior when making their product. Yet, with business improvement, it's not uncommon to find faith guiding decisions rather the same discipline used to create their product. As such a business frequently misses meeting goals, not because it's not measuring, but because it is doing these things:

The wrong customer perspective Businesses often measure the wrong things about customers because the business has created the wrong perspective on its customer, such as believing

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

17


business

a better product is better for customers, when in some cases a better price with the existing product is what the customer really values. The focus must be on what the customer is trying to experience, why they’re trying to experience it and how it could be better achieved for them.

Consolidated customer viewpoints Many companies seeking to improve do so by surveying customers. These

In short, the essence of measurement for any craft marketer is to improve performance by continually delivering something of value to customers.

happens in the marketplace relative to its goals. Usually the product or service forms the core identity for the business, so measurement is centered on the product or service.

Measuring products against competition Measuring the product/service and business performance relative to the competition is based on the fallacy that the business believes a better product or service wins the customer's business. In a world of similar customer options, this works until one competitor wakes up and says "enough" and changes the game based upon new value it offers. Great value creators all share the ability to discover new value, even in mature craft markets. This usually doesn't happen by studying the competition, but by studying the world of the customer.

Measuring too much

survey’s findings too often become a consolidated view rather than developed into an approach that recognizes the different value desired by different buyers. With consolidated data, the top issues and needs are analyzed to determine where to focus efforts and resources, but the business doesn't learn is that the top needs and issues for each different buyer group.

Measuring what matters to you Businesses often developed measures that it believes are important to its own success and makes assumptions about what the customers’ needs are. These assumptions about the customer form the basis of what a business thinks it must do to meet its own success criteria. It focuses on execution and measuring frantically against its internal goals and perhaps getting fairly creative along the way to explain what actually

18

CRAFT BRAND AND MARKETING

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

Having more data isn’t inherently better. More data can mean a diminishing return in understanding and ability to use information. Eventually there is so much data that no one remembers what the question was the business was trying to answer. The issue isn’t more data, but tapping the right data, in the right place, at the right time to make better informed decisions. In short, the essence of measurement for any craft marketer is to improve performance by continually delivering something of value to customers. Value can only come from discovering what really will make a difference to the customers' life. Therefore measure what will impact customers long before counting how much money the business will make. Eric Balinski is the owner of Synection, LLC, which is a strategy and growth consultancy firm. For more information, visit: synection.com.

CBAM-MAG.COM


Profile for BOC design Inc

CBAM Sept Oct 2018  

New