Realities of Gender Equity

I’ve realized in putting my TEDxNapaValley talk together (to be delivered 4/12/15) that Gender Equity is a noble goal. And while everyone may say they’re all for equal rights and equal opportunity, they really aren’t.

Self test: When’s the last time you proudly called yourself a feminist?

Feminism = equality for all. If you’re not a feminist you’re a sexist.

Self test: Do you think it’s okay to call women girls?

Calling a woman a girl is denigrating, disrespectful and infantilizing. I’m appalled at how many women do this to themselves, with no thought to it and certainly no consideration of the larger picture for all females.

Feminism starts at home. Say it aloud: “I am a feminist.” Get comfortable with it, get stronger with the delivery and use it often.

You’re not all for equity and equal rights if you don’t.

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How Do You Deepen Relationships?

In the beer world, everyone hugs. Relationships may start with a handshake – and they quickly graduate to hugging. Everyone hugs. Because everyone has a regard for everyone else, almost without exception.

So do you hug customers who support your beer business? If so, how and why? If no, why not?

Hugging's good.

Hugging’s good.

Beyond the first and foremost making-sure-it’s-appropriate, hugs are a remarkable and personal way to build connections. Connections build relationships. Hugs build both.

Here are my suggestions for the business week ahead (obviously as appropriate):

  1. Hug your co-workers.
  2. Hug your suppliers, vendors, and service providers – this includes the folks who get your recyclables and trash.
  3. Hug your customers – if a full-on body hug isn’t in order, a side hug is a bit more comfortable for some and totally acceptable. Ask beforehand – it’s a good idea.
  4. Hug yourself for a job well done.

Hugging amps up the endorphins – check this out. Hugging makes people happy, starting with the hugger. Hugging makes the world a happier and more compassionate place.

Start with a handshake. Deepen your relationships with hugs.

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Nielsen Thinks Women Have Been Addressed per Beer – What Do you Think?

Please read the following conversation and tell us what you think. Take particular note of the very last sentences, which are RED. What say you?

From an actual email exchange.

Part 1: From a professional brewer, 15+ years in the industry

Since I could not listen to the presentation a week ago I just today looked through the presentation you gave. One item certainly caught my attention. On slide X you point out that beer both in general and craft specific skews heavily towards men. On the next slide you show the ethnicity skew towards “white.” Based on the %’s in the 2 charts and population numbers in the U.S. it appears that the bigger opportunity in terms of total number of potential consumers for beer in general and craft in specific is the female market. That said, I am unsure what the index numbers mean and do notice that Hispanics index lower for craft beer than do females as a % of adults. Does that imply more opportunity?

You certainly have to choose a focus with time allotted and so I’m curious why you decided on the Hispanic focus when the larger opportunity appears to be the female market. Does Nielsen gather data on women and beer much like you have with Hispanics and beer? What is your take on the opportunity that women present for growing the beer category?

Thanks for considering my questions.

Part 2: From a VP at Nielsen

Thank you for your thoughtful question.

First off, in terms of the numbers themselves…

  • Hispanics 21+ account for 14.8% of the overall adult population currently, but only 7% of the Craft Beer volume, thus an index of 47
  • Females 21+ account for 52% of the overall adult population currently, but only 28.4% of the Craft Beer volume, thus an index of 55

So, you are right, the BIGGER opportunity in overall size lies with Females; however…

  • While Craft Beer is underdeveloped with Hispanics (that 47 index), Beer overall is NOT  — Hispanics accounts for 16.6% of overall Beer volume (vs that 14.8% of population), so Hispanics drink Beer at levels consistent with their population, just NOT Craft Beer.   That’s one reason why we focused on Hispanics
  • Secondly, if you consider the future growth rates, Hispanics as you likely know, will only become a much larger percentage of the overall population, and a lot of that growth will occur at the younger legal drinking age end – that’s a second reason we focused on Hispanics – the FUTURE potential that lies with Hispanics
  • Thirdly, at Nielsen, we have a Center of Excellence focused on Hispanics, so we know a fair bit about them.

That doesn’t mean that Females aren’t a big opportunity as well… they ARE just based on numbers (way more Females in total than Hispanics in total).  However, they just don’t drink a lot of Beer in general.    On the other hand, we know that Flavored Malt Beverages and Ciders have successfully addressed that opportunity.  And we know from various surveys that certain styles appear more to Women than others.

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Successful Business Ingredients

The ingredients of business are pretty basic. Most of the foundations of planning, operating and sustaining a successful business are as they’ve been for a realllllly long time.

Marketing is one of those basics.

Marketing is:

  • Communication
  • Dialogue
  • A many-wayed avenue
  • Dynamic
  • Exciting
  • Methodical
  • Necessary
  • Productive

Marketing isn’t:

  • Advertising
  • Sales
  • “Only” any one thing
  • Nothing – aka “cheap” (as in ‘talk is cheap’)
  • Something everyone can do successfully

When you want a firm foundation, you must look to those who are the experts in the areas in which you can reply upon. Every business owner and operator should interview candidates for services and goods – everything from insurance agents to concrete providers, from web pros to marketers.

You want the best you can afford, when you can afford it for what you are working on. As well you should.

Ask valued friends, colleagues and other qualified people for their referrals. DO NOT ask your neighbor who isn’t in the same realm, or your cousin who is still in school , or even a best friend who can’t wrap their head around what you’re after. Ask people who will have an informed suggestion backed up by credible information, whether it’s from their own experiences or directly from another they know.

Marketing is communication. Well thought out professional marketing strategy and tactics help business flourish. Poorly executed ‘plans’ spell disaster.

Here’s what some of our fine clients and partners have shared about working with us.  Follow up with recommendations – ultimately your decisions are your responsibilities.

A few go-to resources I’d recommend to look at the foundations of business include:

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Wanted: Super Bowl 2015 Beer Ad Research Volunteers

If you’re someone who wants to contribute to progress of gender equity, if you like to speak up and be heard, if you enjoy beer, if you give a damn – here’s an opportunity for you.

Superbowl 2015 Research Project

Pursuit: Gender Equity as it relates to beer marketing and advertising.

CONFIDENTIALITY: All research WEB has ever conducted remains confidential. No identifying factors beyond geographic locale are ever used. Rest assured all reputable researchers work this way.

We’re asking for the following.

  1. Female and male volunteers, must be at least legal drinking age in your country of residence to execute a 3-stage project pre-Super Bowl (2/1/15), day of, and follow-up shortly there after.
  2. Must be honest and both include opinions and suspend judgement – simply examine and report on certain facets. BE VERY SPECIFIC.
  3. Want to complete all three stages of the project, be as specific as possible and return requested insight in a timely fashion.

WEB will use this information in various platforms to educate and inform.

If you’re interested, please go forth as you best choose with the directions below. Thank you in advance for everyone who wishes to jump into this project. Your input matters.

Stage 1

Shop Before the Super Bowl: Head to the retailers, breweries and shops – all places where beer is for sale are fair game. Make notes of the displays, take pictures when you can, record your comments. The following get you started, enhance as you wish.

  • How do you feel about the display?
  • What facts about the beer can you actually get from the display?
  • What’s good about the display/s?
  • What would you change to be more gender balanced?
  • Do these display/s motivate you to buy the beer – or not?
  • What do you like, what don’t you like, what would you change if it were either your store or your beer?
  • What suggestions would you offer the retailer, wholesaler, or brands?
  • What does it make you think about the beer itself?

Please note: Brands, locations, day/time of day, all information you find relevant to the situation.

Write or otherwise record your impressions and thoughts and get them to us: ginger@womenenjoyingbeer.com when complete.

Please include with your thoughts: Name, gender you identify with, email address you’ll be using, and geographic location (state, province, etc.)

Stage 2

Watch the Super Bowl: Wherever you choose to watch, please note the following and add as you see fit.

  • What beer brands are actually shown during the Super Bowl?
  • If you’re watching pre-game or post game – note them clearly.
  • What messages do you think the TV beer ads during Super Bowl are trying to communicate? How do the ads relate to you?
  • Removing any humor, are they respectful of all genders?
  • Specific comments on gender and the beer ads are desired.
  • Which ads, if any, make you want to buy and consumer the beer they are advertising?
  • Which beer ads do you enjoy and why?
  • Which beer ads do you not enjoy and why?

Please record the impressions about; be as specific as possible. Get them to us at ginger@womenejoyingbeer.com immediately following or with all three stages.

Include with your thoughts: Name, gender you identify with, email address you’ll be using, and geographic location (state, province, etc.)

Stage 3

  • Post Super Bowl: Write down your impressions and thoughts about the following, include your additional thoughts and insights as desired.
  • Which beer ads during Super Bowl will or have already affected your beer buying and consuming and how?
  • What brands and brand impressions did they leave you with?
  • What impressions do you have about the companies who make the beers advertised during the Super Bowl?
  • What feedback would you send to beer companies, beer marketers, and beer advertisers as it relates to you, gender and beer based on their ads?

Due Dates: Send each Stage as you complete it if you wish, or send it all as one project when completed. Be sure to include your name, best email to reach you, gender you identify with, and geographic location (states, provinces, etc. + country).

BONUS: Describe your ideal TV beer advertisement.

We would request you reply by February 9th to ginger@womenenjoyingbeer.com and will start compiling as soon as material starts coming in.

This is a qualitative research study: No close-ended forms or survey formats this time. Simply your unvarnished and honest and professional feedback as you wish to give it. Yes to emotions, no to ranting.

We’ll send everyone who completes the study a small thank you gift if you include a best mailing address to do so. We’re grateful for the insight and will utilize it well.

Thank you very much for the consideration and participation. Have fun with it – share this with as many people as you wish.

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When To Hire A Marketing Pro

1.  When you’re developing your business and organization’s plans.

2. Before you open for business.

3. When you aren’t a marketing pro yourself.

4. Before you solicit investors.

5. If you don’t have a solid true understanding of the definitions of marketing, advertising, branding, and sales.

6. When you want an expert to help you in areas you know little about.

When you’re putting together any entity, hiring the complementary professionals – like marketers, architects, plumbers, IT, cooks, et. al – is one of the very best uses of your monies. They are the experts you need to help you flourish best within a realistic timeline.

Avoid crabbiness: Hire a marketing pro to help  properly develop your plans and success.

Avoid crabbiness: Hire a marketing pro to help properly develop your plans and success.

Seek, interview, ask for referrals, have in-depth conversations with the pros you’re considering, check on references, and move forward. Get the best people on your team you can possibly find and afford. Make sure it’s a personality and philosophy match as well. I learned the hard way how important philosophical alignment is, to the tune of loosing a 5 figure contract. Don’t make my mistake.

The most successful and happy companies understand that there is talent galore outside their own walls that they want to and need to tap into to improve their own operations. The services of a competent expert is worth more than the money you lay out. It’s peace of mind, liberating and smart.

Said another way – your life = your business. Invest your time, money and attention wisely.

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Where’s the Service? What’s the Experience?

Remember the “Where’s the Beef??” campaign? Today I’d say, “Where’s the Service??”

Service is a funny thing. So many people Want It. Too few people know What It Is. Lots of people practice What It Isn’t.

Service = what you give.

The key here is that we often mistake service for experience.

Experience = what we get.

Are you ready with the Servant Mentality?

Are you ready with the Servant Mentality?

They are vastly different and still very much related. Round and round they go. For example: if someone is shopping at a store, say for a pair of trousers, a sales person approaches (hopefully) to inquire as to how they can help. True service and servant mentality isn’t “are you finding what you want?” Servant mentality is service focused – how can one serve another. What can I help you find, what it is you are looking for today, and ‘these whatevers would be very sharp with the pair of slacks you picked out.’ It’s help at its core: service.

Experience is the result of being served. A woman walks into a bar….

She is seated or seats herself (being greeted and seated is the best service) and awaits a beertender to assist. An in-tune and well-educated tender will introduce themselves (starting a relationship), inquire as to what they may be in the mood for (making suggestions so the guest doesn’t have to do all the work herself), and also makes recommendations to complement her choices (beverage, food, both). Providing an experience is what creates a meaningful memories. Memories drive people to want to repeat their experiences, the business sees the customer again – perhaps with friends they brought along – and round it all goes.

Service Tips Today:

1. When serving the female customer, ask open-ended questions. Service inherently starts with genuine conversation (not hollow, the real stuff).

2. If she gives you a closed return comment, then give her space, let her know you’re available, check back and ensure she’s finding what she wants and needs.

3. Offer appropriate recommendations and suggestions per the conversations you are able to have with her. If she’s rather tight-lipped, simply pointing our features and specials can engage her in a professional and polite way – you’re sharing what’s new, improved, in season and available.

4. Give her space.

5. Thank her for her business and visit – whether she buys now or not. Her experience of your service will greatly affect her support of your business.

Smart service leads to a positive experience. Get it right and thrive. Get it right and she’ll help you.

Resource: Paul Paz, Waiters World is an excellent Servant Leader.

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The Worth Of Word Of Mouth

So many people in business talk about “word of mouth.” They say ” Oh – I don’t advertise, I rely on and see business from word of mouth.”

So what precisely is word of mouth? And what’s it’s worth?

I’d encourage you to redirect and start thinking of Worth Of Mouth. The worth of the words from many mouths is what we’re really looking at here. And who’s mouth is it?

What's the worth of mouth of your business?

What’s the worth of mouth of your business?

The value of word of mouth – the worth as it were – is dependent on the mouther, so to speak. Is the person reputable, reliable and knowledgeable to put worth in the words of mouth?

In marketing, that is, bringing something to market, word of mouth has a long herstory of value when it comes from the right people at the right time for the right reasons. A worthless word can be more than worthless – it can be damaging. And that’s definitely worth considering before hand.

Be careful what you say and how you say it. Be careful what you think words and phrases to mean. They are as elastic and ever-changing as the weather.

Go for value, experience, respect, fun. That’s the worth the mouths are looking for.

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Are You Looking At The Right Issues?

Recently I got wind of a professional webinar within the beer world. It was supposed to be addressing the market, who and where the areas of growth for beer. Pretty straight forward idea.

I had registered for this said event and simply had to pass it up to tend to other business, though the topic is right up my alley.

Once it was over, I heard from a valued and reliable colleague that the talk had focused on areas of the market and population, yet not women. Apparently one slide of dozens addressed women as beer buyers and consumers. Excuse me, what??!!

What issues are you looking at?

What issues are you looking at? Are they right in front of you or elsewhere?

Instead the focus was on the Hispanic market. Yes, it’s growing globally. Yes, it’s an excellent population to work with and for. AND it’s still misses the point if the beer industry wants to really capture new, long-term, loyal market share that covers all ethnicities and facets of humanity: females.

After I shook my head in shock, and got my bearings again, I realized this: The Professional Beer Industry Community for the most part still has no foggy clue about who’s buying the beer in America. Scan data is a partial picture and dangerously lacking in deep lasting understanding of the female beer buyer.

I’d ask the people in business in the beer arena: What issues are you looking at? What do you want to accomplish, what are your goals, who is your target market and why, what are you doing to bring in outside expertise you’ll never have to build and support your brand?

Time and time again all someone has to do is to surf a bit on the web to find consistent and reliable data to support the fact that women are the primary buyers of all goods and services. Read here, here and here for a sampling.

So when you’re looking at business development – from beer to cotton swabs to cars to tools – take note. You’ll be successful when you carefully examine the female shopper and buyer.

Beer people beware: you’ll stagnate and deflate unless you make some drastic changes in patterns, habits, acceptabilities and practices towards and involving women.

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What Does Craft Mean To You?

“Health is a relative term that means different things to different people – kind of like the term craft beer, right?” – Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director, Brewers Association

Words. They’re seemingly loaded with meaning and thrown around with no weight simultaneously. How do you handle words?

Exhibit A: Natural.

In the 1970’s in America, the word came on like a tidal wave. It was all the sudden on packaged goods and signs everywhere. Natural This and Natural That. What’s a consumer to do?! In a huge rush the shopping of food became a miasma of words, which at first felt meaningful.

Is a manufactured (intentionally planted) landscape natural? Is it crafted?

Is a manufactured (intentionally planted) landscape natural? Is it crafted?

Then, with everyone getting on the Natural boat, it began to get muddy. Muddy understandings, definitions, and meanings. What did Natural mean by 1980? Who was still using it and to what end? Here’s a thoughtful article on the term.

Exhibit B: Craft.

It’s the current counterpart to Natural. What does Craft mean?

Like natural and all labels and titles, definitions are somewhat elastic. They may be ‘defined’ by some organizational body or person, yet who gives them the authority to define a word that can mean different things to all different folks? And who’s to say we have to abide by them or adopt them as our own?

Craft is a buzz word in the alcohol beverage industry right now, and especially in the beer world. It’s a word I’ve used, questioned, and not used (in that order) since I got into the beer world professionally.

What’s in a word is up to the brain holder – you and I, our neighbors, colleagues, family friends and enemies. Who’s to say what a word can and cannot mean, as well as the sticky middle of “ya, but’s”….

To come up with my own definition of craft I look all around me, both at home and abroad. To me, well crafted is going to be more important than any otherwise-defined delineation of any word. It’s my word to use as I wish and I wish the meaning to be non-exclusive, though not necessarily inclusive. See my quandary? It’s neither here nor there, and it’s certainly not in between.

I’d encourage you to rethink your words and terminology. I’d suggest you focus on brands and what they are about, what they mean to you, and how they relate to your world. I’d recommend not using the craft word. From our research I can tell you that most women don’t have a universal singular definition of “craft” as it relates to beer. Size has little to do with quality (pun intended here).

Knowing that what is in your glass is well crafted with care is my go-to. What’s yours?

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Saving Your Brand (And Your A**)

Real (recent) email conversation – Contact:

“Hi Ginger,

I have attended several of your seminars at CBC in past years, as well as your Marketing Beer to Women workshop last year in Denver.  I remember you commenting on the topic of lewd or crude beer names and imagery and marketing that use sophomoric or inappropriate humor.  I think the basic point was to stay away from this kind of marketing so as to not alienate potential customers.  It makes total sense to me.  
I am the only woman working in our small company (10 employees) that is co-owned by my husband. Generally my colleagues are reasonable, and while our branding leans toward an edgier, younger crowd, it hasn’t crossed the line into inappropriateness, until now.  My colleagues (including my husband and his partner, inexplicably) have come up with a name for a new beer that I find completely inappropriate and vulgar.  I have voiced my opinion about this, and have been outvoted thus far.  
I was wondering if you could point me towards any articles or other resources that would help me validate my points to the other 9 people in my company who insist on acting more like boys than men?  I think if I could come at them with some clear talking points, and link to some actual sources, that would help my case a great deal.  I am supposed to be creating signage for this beer to go on tap this weekend, so this is my last chance to stop this ship from sailing.  Thanks in advance for any help you can provide to steer me in the right direction.
And thanks for all that you do!  Cheers!”
WEB Reply:
“Good to hear from you! Hope life is good and you’re well.

Thanks for the email. How’s business?

Hmmmm…well, there are two things that enter my mind.
1. It’s always unfortunate that a “majority rule” gets instituted even when the majority opinion is off. Think slavery. Ideas are powerful and interesting things. I find it unfortunate, if it’s as you say, that females may end up being blatantly disrespected. Your brand  – like any – can ill afford to put forth an offensive label or name. I’d obviously have to see the materials to factor that in.
2. If you’re asking me for professional advice to assist the brand damage avoidance that may occur, that’s my product and hence a fee is involved. Like any label review or brand question, I can absolutely assist and contribute to your continued and increased success, as well as citing research of thousands of females across the country who in fact are the majority buyers in America. If a brand wants to piss off women and alienate them, they choose ill conceived names, labels and titles.
3. Lastly – on a sheer gut level: what females do the people (women & men) have in their lives they care about? Do they want them intentionally insulted and denigrated? If they say no to this question, how can they say yes to dubious labels? It’s completely hypocritical and tragic. The Great Brands have never resorted to these tactics because quality is genderless, gives full respect to all, and class, tact & diplomacy reign supreme.
This is obviously off the cuff, since I’ve no idea what the materials actually are and we aren’t in a work situation. While I’d love to help you more, please appreciate my vantage point.

Be in touch when you’d like to engage. I stand at the ready and will be curious to see what I hear from you.

Cheers & be well – “

Contact Response:
“Thank you Ginger!  I ended up writing a very well-researched email (at least I thought so!) to the team. I linked to a few of the articles that are on your website, and laid out some of the main points.  The points that I thought applied best to our situation were:

  1. It goes against our whole philosophy.  Our tagline is [socially inviting] and we’ve always described our brand and our establishment as a place where everyone is welcome.  An offensive beer name is alienating to multiple segments of our customer population.
  2. It’s unnecessary, and if our beer isn’t quality enough to stand on its own without a gimmicky shock value name, we’ve got bigger problems.
I told them, and I think they understand now, that I can take a joke and am not being uptight for the sake of being uptight.  This name goes too far, period.  I did also allude to your #3, by asking if they cared about their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, and asking if they would feel comfortable having any of those women that are close to them order a beer by this name.  I think this was the one that really hit home.
I got emails back from almost everybody saying they hadn’t considered these points, were just reverting to this boyhood vulgarity because they thought it was funny, and hadn’t considered the wider implications.  Most also thanked me for opening their eyes and providing links to your site, and said they would be looking at issues such as this in a different light in the future.  So woohoo, small victory here I think!
Thank you again for responding. I really do think that your services would be useful to us, and I think some of the guys are starting to think so too.  So now on to my next quest – to convince them that we should actually engage your services!  It might be a bit down the road, but I will absolutely let you know as soon as we can swing it.  I have so much respect for all that you do – keep on doing it!
Thanks and Cheers,”
WEB Reply:
“Hello –
Thanks for the update.

I’d like to talk with you – what is your direct number please.”

This request to talk has gone unanswered, which is disconcerting. In light of what transpired, I’d be hard pressed to offer this advice again. The contact isn’t placing a real monetary value on the conversation – even though the advice they were asking for and which helped avoid a hugely expensive and stupid mistake.
Suffice it to say, I shouldn’t have helped. Yes, I’m compelled to do so. Though with the lack of return communication, clear no-value understanding, this person has blown it for others. If your brand – which is sometimes you whole life  – is worth the investment, then assume paying for professional advice is part of that investment.
I just saved their brand from serious damage. And they won’t even call me upon request. I don’t ask for free from others – don’t you ask for free either. Expect to pay professional specialist what they are worth.

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Making It Tough For Customers To Find You

Are you only on Facebook? Having a page can be valuable only if you already have a webpage first.

Are you only on Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest? All of these are the same as above. How the heck do you expect people to fully access the information about you, to patronize you if you don’t have a universally available website first….this is a rhetorical query.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Website. Hire a pro to help you create a professional, brand image reflection online. A simple landing page with contact information is sufficient to start AND you must have one. Name (first and last), direct phone number, direct email (info@ is really impersonal by the way), street address for any brick and mortar, and hours of operation.

2. Website. Hire a pro to create a simple website with the pages necessary to really communicate your core message, products and services, and provide necessary contact information.

3. Website. Hire a pro to develop a world-class website that will serve your customers and audiences for years to come. Knowing that sites are dynamic, factor in review and updates as well.

Does this look like the person trying to find your website??

Does this look like the person trying to find your website??

By the way – The argument of “I don’t have any money for a website” is a load of crap. If you have a vested interest in the success of yourself and endeavors, then you budget and allocate the money. This is a critical marketing piece, people. Marketing properly is not optional – it’s foundational.

By the way – Interview web developers first – never go on complete faith or recommendations. Get recommendations from qualified people first, then interview, then sleep on it and decide.

By the way – Hiring a pro to develop your site is one of the best investments you can make with your dollars. People are very wise to what “looks good” and what looks amateur on-line. You can’t afford to screw your online presence up with sub par work. And it’s extremely difficult to turn around a bad first impression if you have a shoddy site first then change to a professional site.

ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE A WEBSITE/PAGE:

1. Investigate other avenues. Websites are free and universally available TO EVERYONE. If you want to explode your audience potential, business revenue and returns and really run an operation right, get your website first.

2. Make sure the other avenues enhance and augment. I find it incredibly insulting, stupid and aggravating that organizations and companies will only have Facebook or other formats. Seriously, it repels me since I am not on Facebook (I stopped by happy choice). So now what they’ve done is eliminate my ability to communicate.

Did I mention hiring a pro? If you want it to look like an accomplished 8th grader or college sophomore did it, fine. Sit and wait for the damage to be done. If the 8th grader or sophomore is that talented and puts forth fully professional work, pay them. DO NOT barter or otherwise denigrate their abilities. Plus a transaction in a relationship sets a higher tone of expectations and business.

So – to all of you who have websites first: YES!! Keep them sharp, updated and current.

To all of you who only use a non-public membership sign-in format, I’ll take my business elsewhere. Why are you limiting your potential and alienating future customers?

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Small Isn’t Irrelevant And It Isn’t Everything

What’s the definition of small?

According to one dictionary, it means “little in size”, “not very important.”

Does small always mean the same thing? Of course not. If one more person talks about ‘small business’ for instance, I shall scream loud enough for you to hear me no matter where you are. If someone talks about a small bug, what exactly does that mean?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Like many if not most words in language, small is open to interpretation. It’s fraught with context, meaning, emotion, opportunity, vantage point and myriad other influencing factors.

Small in the beer enthusiast world is particularly vexing to me. It seems that ‘small’ seems like a top or better choice to many when it comes to peoples’ beers. Hmmmm….Small breweries can be the best and the worst. Best because the microcosm that is the business (if they see it that way) can give time and attention to parts of the business that may be overlooked by other ‘bigger’ businesses. Worst because being the chief brewer, bottle washer, server, and bill payer will stretch people too thin thereby rendering all tasks nominally completed, if completed at all. Never mind time frames or attention to quality.

See the slippery and ridiculous slope here?

Female beer consumers and buyers look at small in various ways. Some choose to think that ‘small’ means the actual size of the footprint of the business or the capacity of barrels of beer made or the number of staff on hand or square footage of the taproom. Some choose to think that once a brewery exceeds a certain capacity, say graduating to a regional brewery (14K barrels+ per annum), they decide the beer’s no longer worthy.

What??

Small is a frame of mind. It’s only relative if you want to it be and you’ve chosen to define some sort of boundaries. The limits – or limitlessness – are yours to decide.

Here’s to unlimited. Everything is possible, small not withstanding.

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Defining “Free”

Free: not costing any money; not held as a slave or prisoner… (full definition here from our friends at Mirriam-Webster)

Free isn’t free – it’s an exchange. You’ve heard of the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) – well, free is in that camp. There has to be a value exchange of some sort. Money, time, rewards.

'Nuf said.

‘Nuf said.

Some may argue that bartering or swapping is free. It’s not. It still requires an exchange – of time, expertise, money, supplies. Whatever is of value is included in the transaction.

So when people ask for free advice, beware. Adrienne sums it up – spot on. Read about her “No, You Can’t Pick my Brain” here. She’s got a gratis preview copy you can download. If it speaks to you, if you find yourself shouting YES!! to the space around you, reference it, use it, and share it forward. That’s the exchange that makes it worth your while and hers to exercise the activity.

If it doesn’t speak to you, you need to buck up and understand value. Value is part of the exchange. “Free Advice” isn’t free to give if your product is the expertise and advice requested of you and the invaluable knowledge you offer. Said another way, would you NOT pay an architect for the conversation? Would you NOT pay the medical specialist for the consult? Of course not – you need to put forth equal investment, as they have spent years acquiring the knowledge you seek and rely on.

Free means being able to say yes, no and negotiate – on your terms. Free is not something for nothing. Authentic respect demands a value proposition that works to mutual benefit and reward.

Yes, you can pick my brain for a price. Just as I pay the grocer for my food, the landscaper for design work, and the insurance agent for my policy. My brain is your resource. Therein lies the value.

By the way: Adrienne is launching a Pick My Brain Tour. Details here. Hope to see you there.

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Beer For People Who Don’t Like Beer

Gord and I met tromping through the Vancouver, British Columbia airport. We must have been headed through customs at the same time, him returning to Canada, me just arriving. Both of us on work trips.

What started as a casual comment happily developed into a very pleasant business lunch. We chatted about a variety of things and in short order the conversation veered towards beer. It could have been the business card I gave him…beer starts a lot of conversations.

Cheers to great folks like Gord ~

Cheers to great folks like Gord ~

Anyway, we decided to head to one of the airport eating establishments for a quick bite of traveling lunch. The service was fine, the food was fine, the beer was tasty and the company was grand.

What Gord asked me as we settled in was “How do I get someone who says they don’t like beer to try it?” While it wasn’t the first time I’d been asked, it did give me pause. Over the years in business with WEB, I’ve learned that the primary reason women say they don’t enjoy beer is they rely on a very distant or previous unpleasant memory to guide their current decisions making process around beer.

While emotions can be good in decision-making, in this case, it’s not good. In fact, it’s detrimental. It’s a hindrance for a number of reasons. One, the memory (gathered in research) is almost always due to the beer having gone bad, like pumped out of a keg with an oxygen pump or it was stale or old and oxidized. Secondly, the cause of the bad memory was self-induced. Beer doesn’t make you drunk or sick – you do that all on your own. Be responsible for your own actions and the beer will absolutely reward you. Lastly, and for a minority, is for truly valid reasons: issues like allergies, family abuse, and addiction and recovery concerns.

So how do you remove the barriers of an old and still poignant memory around beer and appropriate persuade someone to try beer anew? In this case Gord was asking in relation to his beloved wife….good question.

Since I’ve been asked this numerous times, here are some suggestions.

1. Find out what she kinds of flavors she likes – comprehensively. Explore all sorts of beverage and food tastes and write them down.

2. Talk about where those flavors can be found and made. Discuss ease and difficulty in procuring and recreating these pleasing flavors.

3. If there is already a trust in the relationship, you both need to take a leap of faith. It’s beer – don’t be offended. It’s beer – try it.

4. An open mind is the only tool you need. Your taste buds will do the rest WHEN your mind is open.

5. Seek and present opportunity often and appropriately. Never pressure, always encourage and nudge.

Beer: try some. It's all different these days.

Beer: try some. It’s all different these days.

6. A taste of something, literally a tiny bit of the universe, is a very small thing to undertake. If you find it pleasant, try it again. If you find it offensive, try it again. In professional circles, the key to accurately tasting something is two tastes – not just one. Let is sink it and let your palate acclimate and comprehend.

7. Pair beer with food, perhaps starting with the food first.

8. If she drinks wine or spirits or both, look for beers that carry similar flavors to those beverages she already likes.

9. Make beer cocktails. Even if you prefer straight beer, you’re not her and a cocktail or mixed drink make with beer can be a great entry into further exploration.

If her mind is open, you’ll be successful at a minimum by exposing current beer and flavors available therein. If she’s not open-minded, still invite her over for a beer – serve her what she wants and drink what you want too.

The whole point and pint of beer is camaraderie and building community. After all, where do people gather: brewpubs, kitchens, and campfires. Places of relaxed and delicious fun.

Pints up to Gord for the inspiration for this article ~ cheers and hope to see you again soon.

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What Needs To Change With Women’s Beer Group Names

This article is still very true.

And it makes me wonder when women and going to stop perpetuating and creating “clever” monikers for females beer affinity groups. Bad names do way more damage than they do good. Here’s some I’d strike from the list:

  • Pink Boots Society
  • Girls Pints Out
  • Pussy Cat Beer Guild
  • BABES

All of these are – perhaps well intended – and have intentionally chosen names for the groups that will only continue to hold women back. Education can’t be packed in a sexist wrapper and called good.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you consider they were created by women. What the heck do the men then think – “If she calls herself a girl/chick/babe/broad, then why can’t I?” And they’d be right. Double standards in public are a poor and stupid choice.

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress - Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY - where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress – Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY – where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Correction of ills, overcoming everything from the female/male wage gap to prostitution, are all part of gender equity it’s a big picture issue. It’s global, local and everywhere we can and can’t possibly think of. It’s up to women mostly to stand up and say. Men, you need to speak up as well.

There is no room in my mind for any of these names to be related to beer. So let’s bring beer into the picture.

If beer’s been modernly perceived as a male drink of choice, and women want to get into it – great! They must do it with full respect to themselves. Cheekiness or being coy or clever with words isn’t helpful – again, it’s damaging and negates and reverses progress. Women are smarter than that. The days of going to university or college for women to find husbands should be dead. This behavior and thinking will never deliver full equity. Don’t be lazy and let this mindset persuade you into thinking it’s okay. It’s not okay.

A cheesecake type calendar is circulating in the beer world of females who work at breweries in seductive poses. Women, this isn’t helpful or cute or even good. It’s simply perpetuating that you are the sum of your boobs and legs, smiles and eyes. Be the sum of your brain cells and backbone, your fortitude and intelligence.

The kicker for me is that the women voluntarily featured in the calendar I know to be otherwise smart women. What broke down? Where was the idea that “this is cool!” when all it does is further objectify them instead. Missteps and selective ignorance and blinders to what’s right, especially intentional ones, need to become extinct where women and beer are concerned.

If we can change the way people think about two universal planetary things (Women + Beer) we can indeed change the world for the better. I’ve seen it. It’s possible and I’m going to stay at it.

Here’s the good news: It’s easy to encourage and make change happen. Stand up, speak up, be vigilant. Women and men everywhere are responsible for making equity and equality happen.

Here are some groups who do it right:

  • Ales 4 FemAles
  • Crafty Ladies
  • Fermenta
  • Women Enjoying Beer

They’re highlighting education to a population that has not been focused on or considered to enjoy beer. They’ve chosen names and titles which build up respect for women learning about beer, not breaking it down. It’s about education first to a powerful population they recognize are curious, deserve full respect, do a majority of buying in the USA and are fun to have around.

Are you part of the solution or problem?

FYI – If you read this and want to take issue, you better be prepared to tell me how these groups and titles truly encourage equality and equity. No ranting from a lopsided perspective allowed (no, I’m not being hypocritical).

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How Funny Is Your Beer? AKA Beer And Good Humor

I want to talk about humor in your brand today.

Most people enjoy a pleasant experience. Beer has an inherently pleasant aspect to it, from the community around it to the celebrations that happen with it to the deliciousness our bodies enjoy. Fun is good and fun is appropriate with beer.

Humor used effectively and with respect towards all is an excellent element in marketing beer. In our research over the last 5.5+ years women have solidly stated that appropriate humor is attractive when they are making their buying and consuming choices as well. Here’s where it can get sticky – or not.

What precisely is good humor? What’s appropriate, to whom, and when? While there’s a subjectivity to humor there’s also a lot of (un)common sense that should guide us. Ask these questions of the brand to see if they pass:

1. Is there any sexism in the humor? If there is, in any direction, it’s inappropriate.

2. Is there any ageism or racism or any other -ism that degrades any population in the humor? If so, it’s inappropriate.

3. Can a three-year old see it, can a pre-teenager read it and can my grandparent read it and also think it’s funny or do they miss the humor all together?

Respect = Good Humor.

Respect = Good Humor.

Appropriate adult humor does not invite disrespect or insulting any population. This is the time to hire a pro outside the company to review ideas. I know since we’ve been invited to engage with clients who want a fresh eye to help the brand grow, not put off a potential customer or 10. Like Eugene Simor, President of Alamo Brewing:

“Thank you so much.  You pointed out much that I missed myself.  Very valuable info.” – per reviewing potential new label changes.

You can be clever and funny in a thoughtful manner. That’s what makes Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby and Ellen DeGeneres so funny – they humor us with reality and honestly funny stuff; never needing to denigrate or bring anyone down.

And here’s the kicker: Beer should be elevated, not brought down by people on beer companies that find toilet or racy humor suitable for their companies. If they’d ask themselves: Do I have a female in my life I care about? The answer would undoubtedly be yes – so relate those ties that bind and execute humor that respects those loved ones as much as it should respect your beer.

That’s where humor in beer is appropriate. Use it wisely and most likely you’ll get good feedback and consumer engagement.

2 comments

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Small & Big In Beer

Small is not a size word.

Small is not irrelevant.

Small isn’t everything.

Big is not bad.

Big is not a size word.

Big is different from bad.

Big is different than good.

Small is different from good.

Small, big, good, bad. These are words I try hard not to use. They’re too subjective and fraught with personal influence that to call something good or bad is doing it a disservice.

Who are any of us to judge? What are our parameters? Who gives us the authority to make the call or definition?

Small, big, good, bad - all are based on perspective.

Small, big, good, bad – all are based on perspective.

When we’re talking about women and beer, it’s an interesting concept: small and big. Is the brewery small? If so, what does she think about it? And what’s small about it? Aren’t they big on heart and passion? Aren’t they big on trying to serve the community? Are they big on being small?

If the brewery big? What is big and to whom? What does big mean? How big is big? How big is small? How small is big? And where do you go from one to the other?

Think about how you use these words. Women aren’t a small population, though they still occupy a small-er portion of beer consumers. They are the big-gest buyers of all goods and services, across categories in America. That’s big.

I put my whole life into my business. That’s not small. And I dare someone to tell any business owner they have a ‘small business.

Rethink your words before they come out of your mouth or go on a page. Like a presenter once stated, we have “preconceived notions of how something should work base don what ti looks like.”

Women are big. Beer is small.

Beer is big. Women are small.

Which ones ring true to you?

Before you picture women or beer, close your eyes. Think with your brain first.

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What Makes Your Customers Happy?

Do you know this answer? If you do – how many replies are there? How many customers did you ask? Did you only ask existing customer? Did you ask potential customers?

Do this exercise to get invaluable and high value insight you can use:

1. Ask current customers, one person and one questions at a time, what makes them happy in relation to your brand and business. Listen, record, thank, move on.

Ask your customers questions. Listen, thank, reflect, use, move on.

Ask your customers questions. Listen, thank, reflect, use, move on.

2. Ask former customers what made them happy about your brand and why they haven’t been around to it lately. Listen, record, thank. Asking them what it would take to get them to return (or return more often) as appropriate will yield constructive insight.

3. Never argue, only listen. This is not the time for a debate or even a discussion. Respect their time and move on.

4. When you get insight that makes you happily cheer, congrats! There’s clearly a fit of What You’re Doing + What They Want.

5. When you get insight that makes you wonder, congrats! This means the customer is giving you open and honest feedback (you asked after all). Thank them sincerely and then examine the insight to see how, what, when it all fits together.

6. All consumer input is valid if asked for an opinion and they responded.

7. Never assume you know what they’ll say. That’s precisely the reason you’re asking. You’re too close to your brand to be objective. You must ask your patrons.

Most consumer insight has applicability. It’s up to you and your team to revisit your mission and vision and see how the input fits and can be used. Hire a pro to interpret the input, as all data needs interpretation to properly utilize it. From stats to opinions – yes, interpretation is necessary.

Why did you start your business? Why do you work where and with whomever you do? Stay in tune with those original drivers, stay in tune with your customers.

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Why Beer (And The World) Needs More People to Understand and Practice Feminism

These are two outstanding articles written by a very accomplished journalists. More importantly these are two very thoughtful individuals who realize the full impact of the state of women in the world.

Read them. Ponder them. Change your outlook as needed. Pass them on.

FYI – here’s the definition of Feminism.

Sincere thanks to Tess and Rachel for such important powerful work.

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