Beer: Like Savoir Faire, It’s Everywhere

Where have you looked lately where beer is not available?

Beer is truly part of the human society fabric. From your local brewery and brewpub to the retailer and distributor. From the grower to the manufacturer and from the vendor to the end consumer.

Toronto's Festival Of Beer 2013

Toronto’s Festival Of Beer 2013

Having returned recently from Toronto’s Festival Of Beer, it’s obvious that beer culture is alive, enjoying, and well in Canada. Yes, it’s a huge country – and like America there are nuances to people enjoying in varying degrees and in all sorts of ways with all kinds of flavors.

I’d bet money that this landscape is repeated often and universally in countries and areas all over the world. No matter what the actual beer is – indigenous ingredients have been used forever where ever people make beer. Those that also realize this know that making beer is one way to render unsafe drinking water safe (boiling in the brewing process).

Beer was on the Rogue River in the evenings following our annual Raft & Craft trip with ROW Adventures as well. We added a fun facet to the usual evening tastings and pairings: root beer.

Root beer tasting on the annual Raft & Craft trip

Root beer tasting on the annual Raft & Craft trip

Bringing beer to life means recognizing that life for people doesn’t have to start once you hit a legal age of majority. Pish! I’d refer to the fact that children have drank beer time immemorial, since – once again – making beer made the liquid safe to drink. When you look through this lens, keep in mind those beers (of “underage” consumption) were and are generally low in alcohol. They’re made for hydration so need to be lower alcohol.

So back to present day and the reality that breweries are growing at a rapid rate in the US of A. Countries like new Zealand and Australia are seeing growth. China, Italy, Japan, and many others.

Like savoir faire, beer is everywhere. So look around you, enjoy what you want, and share in the flavor diplomacy that’s available.

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Try, Try Again

One of the keys to enjoying beer is to try everything. Like a friend I know says, you can’t say you don’t like something if you don’t try it.

I’d add to that: you can’t say you don’t like something if you haven’t tried it in the last year. Why base a potentially wonderful current experience that you can have on old, bad, or poorly remembered memories?

Try it. Then try it again if it doesn’t quite hit you the first time.

Give flavor a chance.

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Always Ask Why

Always  ask why, no matter what it is. Never stop asking Why.

Why…to everything. Why is what gets conversation going. It’s what determines our choices, drives our decisions, and makes things interesting (to say the least).

It’s also a savvy business move: to ask the why of everything. Operations to crew, marketing to sales.

Why is what drives progress.

Why wouldn’t you ask why?

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Recipes That Drive Me Nuts

Okay – no pun intended – there are recipes that makes me crazy aka drive me nuts. You know the ones. The ones that call for “1/2 cup of beer.”

Seriously!? Do recipes call for “1/2 cup of dairy product” or “1/2 pound of meat” or “1 cup of vegetables”?

NOOOOOOOO!

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What kind of beer = important in recipes

As an avid and enthusiastic cook, I usually reference recipe books and books with recipes (not the same thing) for inspiration. If there’s chemistry involved, like muffins or other baking, I pay attention. If there isn’t as much science and the art and exploration of cooking can safely be executed and embraced, I usually cook that way.

It’s insulting to me to have the recipe writer or even editor be this sloppy: “1/2 cup of beer.”

Since I’m starting to research food and beer books in the process of putting together WEB’s first effort, it’s annoying at best – and disrespectful at most.

Anything drive you nuts about recipes with beer?

Now, I’m going to go pour myself a 1/2 cup of beer….

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Harmony And Discord

Can you have one without the other? Do you want one without the other?

Do you know who your market is and how to reach them?

Do you know who your market is and how to reach them?

The best case scenario is to have discord that turns into harmony. For without knowing something is discordant to begin with, you may not recognize that there needs to be harmonious improvement.

Does it happen all at once? Do you walk into work one day and say “hmmmmm…things seems to be at odds? What can we do to improve this?” No matter how you notice it, the noticing is the key. Here’s a very real world example of discord to harmony.

Say you’re a beer brand that packages and sells your beer in cans. Sales are through the roof. In fact, you can hardly keep up with the sales demand in the taproom, with the distributors and retailers that sell your beer, and on site customers. There’s something wrong.

Yes, there is. Selling all the beer you can possibly make is an indication you’ve created a demand, however incidental or strategic.

Here’s the discord to the above scenario. Do you know who’s buying the beer? If you cannot answer that clearly and with accuracy, there’s a problem. You must know who is buying the beer – just as our retailer, distributor and sales and service staff needs to know this. It takes conscious awareness of registering Who’s Buying The Beer.

Answer: Women.

Simply selling for sales sake is the wrong thing to pay attention to. You need – no MUST – know who is buying the beer. Always note that the buyer and the end consumer may or may not be the same person. Though with 75 – 85% of all purchases in America (across category lines) being determined by the female consumer, you do in fact have a problem unless you fully know and recognize this.

If you don’t, you need to get on the marketing beat and figure it out. Maybe women aren’t your primary buyer. Are you willing to not know and hedge a bet on the future without knowing who your buying market is? That’s foolish.

Doing market research is some of the best invested time, energy and money you can utilize in developing your beer brand. Women the world over deserve full respect for themselves as a buyer and for their dollars.

Whether you have an in-house marketing department or you rely on your gut (which is both dangerous and foolish), it’s always best practice to get an objective professional involved as well. They’ll help you affirm or adjust. Our clients would agree. And the hundreds upon hundreds of women who have volunteered their opinions, insight and thoughts on their relationship with beer will thank you for paying much better attention.

The best brands do this – get professional independent insight to make sure they’re on course for the business, the products and their valued customers.

And knowing your market is something you need to refresh your brand with regularly. An annual checkup, just as you visit a dentist to check your choppers, check your marketing chops to make sure you’re on track.

Call us when you’re ready to examine your markets and who’s buying, what brands and labels your selling, and how that impacts best success.

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Who Is The Beer Shelf Set For?

About a yearish ago information came out about beer shelf sets. A shelf set is how any product, in this case beer, in a retail setting is arranged, organized, identified and merchandised in an off-sale setting (retail).

One version of this information has been sitting in my ‘write about it’ folder. Today’s the day.

The “Trends in Chain Shelf Sets” presented by a very adept and intelligent employee of a successfully growing brewery. This article is about the consumer, not brands or distributors. I found the presentation highly informative and engaging, primarily because the presenter did such a thorough job at creating a convincing argument. Yet it didn’t even touch on the one who should be predominantly factored in: The female consumer.

The info I have is from a power point presentation used to present at a national beer distributor convention. It’s got all kinds of Retailer Concerns, Why Do We Care, pictures of example shelf sets, and Distributor Concerns.

What I found myself thinking was: What about the consumer? Isn’t she the one they should ultimately be considering? Isn’t she the one who buys the beer and needs to be absolutely included in the conversation and development of beer shelf sets?

Are you including women in your beer shelf set strategy?

Are you including women in your beer shelf set strategy?

From our perspective the answer is easy: Of course. Women buy between 75  85% of all goods and services. Here’s one source, and another, and another…by the way, this third source is one everyone who wants to market to women needs to listen to.

Females as the primary buyers have long been supposed. The figures range yet unequivocably females are the dominant buyers. So let’s go back to beer shelf sets.

If she’s the one buying the beer, then she needs to be part of the decision-making. Yes, brands want to sell their own, of course. That’s a pretty acceptable and natural assumption. Yes, distributors want to sell the brands in their ‘house’, that again is a pretty normal conclusion.

What always makes me scratch my head is the fact that women consumers – the ones paying the bills for brewers and distributors – are not even discussed. Not a whimper of input, not a whiff of female buyer insight.

That’s unacceptable. Because to set product with only the manufacturer and distributor in mind misses a huge mark. The mark in fact that is critical to any shelf set working anywhere. Why make any product without the consumer and end buyer in mind?

Here’s what I suggest will vastly improve the situation and why:

1. In off sale settings, breweries, retailers and distributors need to invite savvy female buyers who will give them straight input in the design and purpose of beer displays of any sort. Why: Because she’s the one they want to respond to it so she should be part of the plan.

2. If these same off sale locations want to really have the shelf sets resonate with a great deal more of the female buyers, then they need to invite them en mass, in groups, in parties of 4 – 10, to evaluate different shelf set options. Why: These women will give voluminous and incredibly helpful insight directly from the wallets that buy the beer.

Market research exists for a very basic reason: To consult the market you’re trying to sell in. To include them means success, constant input that will change with the times and attitudes, habits and trends. To disclude them is arrogant, short-sighted and detrimental to any brand.

Beer is a unique and universal beverage. Available the world over, made by women the globe over and purchased by women everywhere. Always remember that the buyer isn’t always the end consumer either.

I challenge any beer brand and beer focused business to include women in planning beer shelf sets. All the static plan-o-grams and oft ill-conceived with no consumer input shelf set plans won’t hold a candle to the real deal: In person live direct honest feedback from the customer you should be trying to court.

The whole point is to test the market – with actual market participants. It’s not a good idea we can pat ourselves on the back about unless the end buyer relates, approves, and can use it easily as well.

Here’s the kicker – this kind of market research I am suggesting is high value, low dollar investment for the return any off-sale retailer would see at the cash register. It’s a wise investment that will pay big benefits in higher turns due to better education opportunities, lower frustration due to findability, and consumer focused organization – not brand focused.

Here’s another reason why this is important: Women are not universally invited to the beer table. Regardless of what anyone thinks about any brands, they are still grossly and inaccurately depicted in the vast majority of all advertising we see. TV, video, print, posters – all of it, no matter the size or reach of the brand. If anything they’re left out and that’s not progress either.

Women have not traditionally been invited and in many places they are still silently neglected. One key of this whole idea is to educate. Beer labels, like lots of labels, are a singular educational opportunity. Some brands are good at including helpful information on the label what a newer market share needs and wants to know, in this case women. Most are bad at it. Flat out. They don’t include ABV, non technical flavor descriptions, and food pairing suggestions. Why not? There is not good answer to this – as ever beer brand should be doing this, for all consumers.

There is no one way to set beer on shelves. It’s as subjective as the neighborhood the store is in and as varietal as the consumers that patronize it. Mix it up, get that input from her and then constantly adapt it to improve it.

Beginning consumers, which many women are in relation to beer, all need helpful basic product information. This information will encourage purchasing, trying, rebuying, recommendations, and a loyalty to the brands that help them help themselves.

Shelf set strategy must include the parties brands are trying to reach. In the case of beer, it should be women.

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What Did You Do Before

What did you do…

Before you enjoyed beer?

Before you decided to try different flavors?

Before you held yourself back saying “I don’t like X”, based on a really old memory?

Before someone helped you rethink what could be possible?

Before you went off the deep end flavor wise?

Before you consciously determined you like beer?

Where did you find flavor?

Where did you find inspiration?

Who helped you learn and grow and expand?

What will you try next?

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Opening the Flood Gates

I love new clients.

Let me expand and quantify: I love clients who are the ones that have the correct perspective in mind when it comes to women. Here’s what sets it off:

1. They understand  that women are the primary buyers.

2. They want to correctly address that segment of the population and market to gain their business.

3. They know they need to do address them with full respect utilizing specialists to do so.

4. They understand that specialists can offer a great deal of assistance and therefore progress of their vision and brand to do so.

5. The investment to them is welcome, since they know it’s not their area of strength.

6. They get to the point, they’re open and honest, the philosophy is clear and they’re ready to roll.

7. They’re putting the piece of business called marketing in equal measure with the other aspects of the business.

8. They may not entirely understand what we can ‘do’ together, yet they are confident in hiring us as the leader of independent women and beer research and that has the value they’re looking for.

9. They take smart calculated risk. Risk = thought out. Chance = luck, for better or worse.

10. They take the plan seriously, but not themselves too much – they can see humor, share the information we need to best serve them, and hold us as an equal partner in our work together.

11. They want us to open the floodgates that properly addressing the worlds largest buying population can offer, done right to the ultimate benefit of women and men everywhere.

Well matched partners grow together.

Well matched partners grow together.

Today’s post is inspired by a recently engaged client who is all of these things. It’s not only fun at this point to work with and for them, more importantly it’s meaningful, exercises the years of qualitative research we’ve gathered and it matters.

We won’t work with just anyone. We want to work with people who have a vision, a business mind-set, a passion for their category (be it beer or otherwise), and are capitalized to be able to execute the plan.

So thank you today to this new client and thank you to past clients who’ve seen the value and opportunity in hiring us. It’s our goal to be a partner with our clients. The ‘right’ ones make that part come together easily and quickly.

If this post describes you and you’re ready to tap into our knowledge of women + beer to improve your operations, call me. I stand at the ready.

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Looking for the Obvious

Consider:

Females and males populate the earth, of all species.

Homo sapiens are one of the (over) populated species walking about.

Look for the obvious: the female beer buyer

Look for the obvious: the female beer buyer.

If you look at sheer numbers, you’ve got half the population that’s female and half that’s male.

The primary influencer of dollar spending in the US is that female population. When you search, you find that between 75 – 85% of all purchases are made by women (across categories).

If we then go to the level of beer, a relatively small portion of the whole pie we’re examining, we can then see the obvious: Current marketing to women by the beer companies is lacking. If women make the majority of purchases of beer, then they need to market to her.

The dynamic of the sexes would joke about this yet the fact remains that women are the primary buyers, of beer as well as cotton swabs, cars, and widgets.

Look for the obvious. Obviously women are the primary buyers. Why wouldn’t all beer companies see and act on this?

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Women + Beer Survey Insights: Report #3

“What kind/s of beer do you like?”

Well, it’s official: Women like all kinds, styles and flavors of beers.

So go pick up a breakable plate, in indelible ink write “Women only like fruity/light/sweet/any other assumption” and then proceed to smash it into a zillion pieces.

Smell that? It’s sweet vindication. I feel better already!

To adopt the stance that women like any one style of beer only, is to be an ostrich. It’s also extremely narrow-minded, assumes women don’t like flavors and then dismisses them as a market share. It’s insulting as well as ignorant. And if you’re in the beer business, it’s certain death.

Women buy 75 – 85% of all goods and services in America. Google and look around and you’ll find info a’plenty. If you live elsewhere, know that women are an equally potent economic engine. Women still apparently consume a minority of the beer bought, and they still need to be encouraged and treated as a full player in the game of life and beer.

Women learning about & enjoying beer - they like it all!

Women learning about & enjoying beer – they like it all!

Women like flavors like men like flavors. Of course they do. Let everyone who comes in contact with beer who shows any kind of interest try as many flavors as possible. Encourage, endorse, explain.

The great thing about flavor experimentation is its low commitment. Try a reasonable sip – if you like it, keep sipping. If you don’t move on.

There’s no such thing as a woman’s beer just as there’s no such thing as a man’s beer.

I’m so very happy to report this: that women do in fact enjoy beer flavors across all styles and categories of styles. Women have spoken. Listen up.

If you’re a beer consumer and you’ve found one beer you kind of or do like, then we encourage you to find another one in that style or brand family. Ask a helpful retailer, ask WEB, or as a brewery for help. We’re all very glad to assist.

Report #3 covering this question will be available for purchase by 7/1/13.

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Women + Beer Survey Insight: Series Start

The 2012 Women + Beer Survey is well on its way to being published in a series of reports.

Many others may be interested in the responses so I’m starting a series based on the qualitative research of the responses. Some of the 250+ women who generously contributed freely to the survey indicated a curiosity and interest in learning of the ‘results,’ hence the series.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when reading the series:

First: They are responses, not answers. The word answer would connote for some a definitive end. These are not definitive ends, they are enormous beginnings. They’re only beginnings because the idea of seriously researching women and their relationship with beer is ‘new’ to the modern landscape. WEB is the only one pursuing and compiling, constantly listening and developing insight on women and beer. Our goal is to positively impact culture by putting a voice to women about beer from the women first; companies next; everyone in the end.

Second: Many of the respondents requested to be informed of the outcomes. I’m glad to share some of the insight to everyone, knowing that the full insight is the knowledge with which we can shift culture. It’s also part of our product and we’re happy to make small pieces available that are entirely free.

Third: This site exists primarily to educate all readers and viewers. We like to keep sales pitches to a minimum while still offering useful and purposeful products and services that you can put to work and fun.

Next: The reports will be fully available and ready to purchase, as they are prepared, with #1 being available Monday June 10th. If you are interested in purchasing the report, be in touch with me directly.

Last: Thank you for your time and attention. The Series starter – Insight on Report #1 – will be published tomorrow, 6/4/13. When you want more, watch for the purchase launch date of 6/10/13.

Cheers ~

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Does Your Industry Need More Labels?

Does your world need more labels? More identifiers? Do you want or need more delineation of what makes this such-and-such or so-and-so? Do you prefer to fly with fewer labels and definitions, preferring to define what it is that’s important within your own world and contexts?

I recently read a thought by a long-standing and well-respected (me included) brewery professional. The words were part of a longer sentences to the effect that “craft beer” does need to be defined and identifiable.

I disagree. Here’s why.

I’ve talked about labels and titles before. Starting with WEB, I know for a fact and from our qualitative research, that female labels and titles can be helpful or harmful. This is true with any category.

  • Good: Women, females.
  • Bad: Chicks, broads, babes, girls, vixen.

Any labels in any circumstance that is denigrating in any way, regardless of a closed (non public) audience or not can and will have an impact. When we name things, when we assign them labels and titles, we need to be super aware of this fact: it’s not about what you think is clever or appropriate. It’ll always be judged by others, who may or may not have a vested interest or concern in the name.

Do we have male groups using: Dicks, Dudes, Well-hung and other references to the person’s physical make up? I’ve yet to see one.

No, beer does not need other delineations. As it is there is a reverse snobbery that is growing in the beer world, specifically the line in the sand is using the ‘craft’ label to do so.

My take: Let it go. Beer is beer. Yes, I agree it matters to be transparent and to know where your beer came from. Just as it’s important to know where the pooch you acquired came from (for care reasons) or the milk in your fridge came from (health reasons), or the car or bicycle parts came from (quality, fair trade). There are way more important things to concern ourselves with per beer. Like the fact that almost all beer makers still don’t understand women make 75 – 85% of all purchases across categories AND there are many brands that are still using sexism and gender based marketing. How about we enlighten ourselves on the majority global population and beer first instead of getting too far ahead of ourselves.

At the beginning of the day until the end, it’s all beer. If you want to judge, do it privately and without admonition of others for enjoying what they want to, can and choose to imbibe.

Are these "craft" hops or not? Who cares....

Are these “craft” hops or not? Who cares….

So you know, it’s not without internal dialogue with myself and talking with others that I came to this decision on how I choose to define beer. A comment from another long-standing well-respected member of the professional side of beer threw my nascent thinking over the edge for the better. Stating that all things are ‘crafted’. I can happily live with that and stand behind that idea, over a definition that leaves out perfectly qualified products that others have deigned outcasts.

Some would argue that labels can help the reader and learner better quantify what it is that they’re pursuing. I’ll give you a tiny bit of head way here, though very tiny. Labels are only helpful if they define facts, not opinions or variably definable attributes and characteristics. The whole idea of education is to learn, proactively and actively seeking the increase your knowledge in your own way and through the methods that best resonate with you.

Putting a box around a definition of something like beer that is truly universal can only be limiting in a not so great way, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s all raise whatever glass of whatever beer we want to drink in context and be happy for it.

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Women Enjoying Beer’s Top 10 List Of Things That Need To Change

As it relates to women and beer, here are 10 things that need to change for progress of women + beer together:

1. Focus on quality, not sex, to sell your beer brands.

2. Remove all sexualized images and sexually suggestive names and titles related to women and beer.

3. The assumption must be made that women enjoy beer. It’s about flavor.

4. Get rid of old, out of date, outmoded, and archaic thinking that women don’t enjoy beer.

5. Women must speak up more, more often, more loudly, in more places and in front of more people about what they think about beer. Men need to not tolerate it or encourage it either. Letting it go isn’t helpful – it’s damaging.

These two get it.

These two get it.

6. Educational opportunities must be created by breweries, distributors and retailers far and wide to educate female consumers.

7. These educational opportunities must be fully respectful, with no demeaning or inappropriate language (i.e. Girls Night Out), focusing on women as a market share to be reckoned with. And they are.

8. Full respect for beer, women, and men needs to be the mantra.

9. Everyone has a female they care about. This must transfer to women + beer.

10. Commensurate representation, with both women and men, needs to be part of the images, branding, and company make up of beer focused businesses and organizations.

Finally: It’s not about gender. It’s about opportunity. The goal is to have gender in relation to beer one day be a moot point.

What are you going to do about it right now?

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Website, Website, Website – Before You Go Any Further…

Make absolutely sure that you’ve got the best website you can have. Before you Facebook, before you jump into Twitter, before you invest in the program of the local theatre/concert venue/stadium/school.

A well constructed and functional website that captures the core of what your business and organization is about is what matters most for any sort of advertising, marketing, and business tool. It’s replaced the hard copy published Yellow (and White) Pages of times past.

Please get past the “I have a neighbor/student/friend who is doing my website.” Really?! And what are you *hoping* for with that arrangement? You get what you pay for – and what you don’t pay for can bite you in a very uncomfortable physical location. Are you willing to allow this key ingredient in your success to be farmed out simply due to a relation? How about when things turn sour in the development? What then? Do you want people to hire you and buy your goods, professionally made? Then invest in the professionalism of others who specialize where you don’t.

Are your tools the right ones for communicating with your customers?

Are your tools the right ones for communicating with your customers?

A professional is who you want. Interview a few companies that are capable, preferably based on referrals of people you trust, know and are successful. Choose one – of if none fit, then interview more till you find the fit. Yes, budgets vary greatly – I understand that. All the same, if you aren’t willing to budget for a site to begin with, what does the rest of your plan look like?

A well designed, thought out and executed website will be one of thee most important pieces to your business. Keeping in mind you may not think so. If you don’t think so, you need to get your head out of the sand and pay attention to your business as a potential customer would. I’ve actually had business owners tell me that their customers don’t really want a website; business is fine the way it is.

Wow – I feel sorry for the owner/manager. I feel even more sorry for the customers. How selfish to assume for them. Remember you are not your customer. They are the customer. And you must always look at your business and pursuits with them in mind, if you truly want to serve them.

That’s an extremely ignorant and arrogant way to think about your customers: to assume you know what they want without even asking them.

Do this instead: ask them how they want to be able to find you, learn more about you, share you forward with friends, and get the information they need about you to engage. That’s smart, big picture thinking, wise, and correct. It’s also respectful of the customers who help you buy your groceries and pay your bills.

Putting the horse (FB, Twitter, other online business tools) before the cart (website) will unquestionably confuse the horse (business strategy and staff) as well as those looking for the cart (customers and suppliers).

Keep the horse happy, keep the cart where it should be and start with a website first.

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I Hope You Never Have A Favorite Beer

At what point do you determine a favorite? And what is it that makes it your favorite?

As it relates to beer, I hope you never find a favorite beer – and that you don’t ask other people what their favorite is. Here’s why.

Once you crack the gavel down on your favorite beer, you eliminate sweet justice and opportunity to give all following beers a fair shake. You’ve told yourself that it’s the ultimate beer for you and you won’t be swayed.

How sad. Sad that you’ve cut yourself off from new flavors and an open mind that will best serve your taste buds. Sad that you’re also going to be blathering this to anyone who might listen, thereby coloring their thinking. Sad because there are literally thousands and thousands of beer across the globe that would love to be given a chance.

Keep looking - never have a favorite

Keep looking – never have a favorite

More than sad, I think it’s impossible to designate a favorite beer. Really? You’ve got a ‘favorite beer?’ How did you exactly come to that conclusion – and how long have you held that ridiculous belief?

It’s both impossible and ridiculous because beer is so contextual. Plus many of them are non-pasteurized, so they will literally change over any sort of time frame.

Do you have a favorite sauce or bread or soup? Beer is a category that’s so large and ever changing, it boggles my mind to even consider thinking about what beer would be my favorite if a gun was held to my head and I was forced to choose.

Enjoying beer as well as drinking beer (two different things) will be directly impacted by many factors among them place, freshness, availability, mood, ambient temperature, company, and service vessel. To assume that the ‘favorite beer’ will be the same in every time, place and situation is terribly ignorant.

I used to hate this question when it was asked of me. Now I relish it when someone asks me “what’s your favorite beer?” I’ve long stated “the one in front of me.” My good and beer savvy friend Lisa says “the next one.” I also like “the one that’s fresh,” “the one you buy me,” “what ever you’re pouring,” and “what’s available.”

Why limit yourself to a “favorite” when time, opportunity and accessibility perpetually change. As do our taste buds and preferences as we learn and age.

Give yourself a home taste-bud advantage: make your favorite beer the one you’re enjoying right now. The same goes with each one after that, wherever you may be and what ever you may be drinking.

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Your Business Is Not About You

If you’re one of those folks who say ” I’m really not into giving out business cards,”, “I don’t need to have an email signature,” “a Facebook page isn’t what I want to do,” you need to re-examine why you’re in business.

I got this in an email this week, which inspired the post:

“I’ve never been a fan of email signatures, or titles on business cards for that matter, but perhaps there is some merit to what you say and I will certainly take a look at it.”

I had suggested this person utilize an email signature (credibility and professionalism). Your business is not about you.

Frankly we’re all selling something. And happily we’re all selling something. The adage is still around because it’s ever so true. If you’re a parent and want your child to do well, you’re selling your family and yourself and your kid at a parent teacher conference. If you’re a public servant you’re selling the idea that the municipality wants to serve the populace. If you’re a brewery you’re selling the idea that your beer is the one people should enjoy. If you’re a consumer of any goods you’re selling the idea your business and patronage is valuable.

Do you know what your customers want from you?

Do you know what your customers want from you?

Indeed. We’re all selling. And I think it’s not only good to acknowledge that fact, it’s something to embrace, and constantly strive to improve.

Selling isn’t the same as being pushing, inauthentic, or slippery. It’s about sharing an idea that you can’t stand not to share. It’s about the concept of your idea bringing people a better quality of life, improving their surroundings, helping the earth, making them more healthy and in general making your good/service/product something that the consumers will indeed benefit from.

In the beer arena, selling the idea of beer is the first step. Before you get to brand, it’s about beer. All beer. Yesterday I started to initiate the idea to quash the idea of delineating and segmenting beer. We don’t need more segmentation in the world; we need more coming together. (Angelo’s right: Beer Snobbery Be Gone. In all shapes and sizes, from all directions and voices.)

Women Enjoying Beer does that everyday. The business isn’t about women – and it’s not necessarily about beer. It’s about opportunity. The inviting of those who’ve been previously uninvited, overlooked, dismissed, or devalued to the table to be part of the conversation. Like Sheryl would say, it’s about leaning in. More importantly, what we do is invite people to proactively lean in.

You’re selling something. What is it? How do you do it? And do you always keep your eye on ‘them’, your consumers and customers? What are you doing to serve them?

It’s also again precisely why WEB exists: to help you take a look inside, from the outside you don’t see. Whether you’re a consumer, a professional (who is still a consumer) or a combination of the two, you’re selling your idea, beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. Make sure you approach the sales therein with an eye on the end consumer.

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The Magic & Downfall of an Internet Mentality

“Are you online? I’ll just order it there.”

“You’re out here? I’ll just order it online.”

Three times in the space of 30 minutes I heard this comment per goods I was selling at a festival last weekend. These comments came after they asked if I had more goods (everything’s at the festival, best selection). These comments came after I indicated that there was no more of what they wanted, here or elsewhere.

So where do you suppose this thinking comes from?

I think it’s from the unrealistic expectation that if we can’t get it ‘here’ we can get it online. And where did that thinking come from?

Ask, accept, and respect

Ask, accept, and respect

It’s not like the internet is magic…or maybe it is for some. It’s certainly been a crutch to our thinking that if we can’t find the beloved-whatever-we-want-right-now in one place we should be able to find it elsewhere: the mythical “online.”

It’s like ONLINE is now the clearinghouse that has everything we want. Never mind what we need.

Clearly these comments stuck with me. And they irritate me. To place unrealistic expectations on a  business without asking for clarity and then accepting that explanation, is ignorant to what is going on. To ask and then totally ignore the response of the vendor who does in fact want to sell you what you want even though they’re out, is an entitled attitude that’s dangerous.

The world and everything in it is finite. Whether you want that beer that everyone’s talking about and you can’t get, or a shirt in your size that sold out because you said “I’ll come back later”, expect to get what you act on. Best fresh is a motto for way more than beer, bread and hot pizza.

And sometimes, like Mick says, you can’t always get what you want. I agree.

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Can’t Make A Living On If

Can you pay your bills with ‘if’?

Can you buy groceries with ‘when’?

What of supporting your community with ‘maybe’?

As a consultant, I’m continually amazed that so many well intended smart people keep asking for free work. While they may truly not connect the dots, it’s time they did.

  • Expertise is as much a service as a plumber fixing your sink.
  • Specializing in subject matter is of equal value as an accountant crunching your numbers.
  • Advising is as valuable as building a solid home or store foundation.
  • Consumers buy goods and services – business buy goods and services.
  • Service carry equal gravity as do goods in the purchasing dynamic.

Maybe that’s why it continues to surprise me: smart people already value these services and goods. Why then do so many smart people not consider expertise in the form of conversation, talk, and idea exchanges with equal weight?

I’d posit that we need to educate in a professional and direct manner as such. Letting people know, directly and diplomatically, that talk isn’t cheep – talk is expertise and will help you as much as feeding your body will make it possible to stay healthy.

Adrienne is right: when people want to pick your brain it’s because they already know you have value to offer them. Return the respect by expecting to pay for that knowledge. Which by the way takes years of experience, practice, improvements, relationship development, and continued education to be able to offer.

I’d also recommend that other professionals whose product is knowledge oriented do not give it away – unless they want to and not because they were asked. It devalues the entire relationship if free is part of the expectation. “But you get great exposure!” Bollocks! Exposure gives you frostbite. And no one should have to lose a finger or limb in order to make a living.

Do you tell the grocer: “I’ll pay for the food if it makes a good meal/makes me feel good/my kids like it”? Heavens no! Same darn thing.

The old saw is true: You get what you pay for

The old saw is true: You get what you pay for

One of the most striking ironies to me is that many people who ask me for free work are already getting a salary or wage – never considering that the conversation/knowledge/expertise/access they’re asking me for is where my salary comes from.

That’s what it boils down to: making a living. Yes, we all need to support one another. Yes, we all want to give. Yes, we should all want to help. Therefore we should all see the dollar value in expertise, talk, and knowledge.

Ask me for advice, insight, research information, expertise, and knowledge. You get what you pay for and you build the best relationship with the respect of monetary value as part of the conversation, like it or not.

I started this business to build something extraordinary and make a living for myself and my family. I already give – and can give *more* back too when my business is healthy.

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Great Leaders: Well Stated by Simon Sinek

As a guest of a business meeting this week, this TED Talk given by Simon Sinek was shared at the beginning of the meeting.

Watch it here.

Brilliant. Straight forward. And exactly what WEB does: We start with the Why first. If you don’t know the why and if you don’t share it, why (truly) should people literally buy into what you’re selling? They’ve no good reason unless they’re sympathetic, supportive friends and family or suckers.

Said another way, when people know the Why, then they buy. They buy into ideas, concepts, products, and services. They want to be part of the vision and lend support. It’s all about them – not the product ultimately, and that’s good.

There has to be “something in it” for everyone – starting with the customer first.

Start with the Why. It’ll drive more progress than you can imagine. Onward.

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