Crafting A Community

Creating a community involves many facets of consideration. One of them being language and terminology.

One word the beer world uses is ‘craft’ – and I think it’s hamstringing those who use it. Here’s why.

Classic example: Having recently presented at the Nightclub & Bar Show, Las Vegas Nevada, I was paging through the program. Looking for who else I knew presenting, interesting topics to read up on, and making sure I had my info straight pre-talk. I did see a few familiar names (always fun) and new topics to investigate (good for the brain) and my info was straight.

What I also noticed was the page on their Craft Brew Pavilion. Here’s what I find odd.

  1. The Brewers Association has self-determinedly put forth their definition of what a craft brewer is, not what a craft beer is (they try to be very direct about this differentiation).
  2. The industry of ‘craft beer’ has embraced this delineation. I appreciate having guidelines and parameters in some areas of life (like when I’m driving), yet beer is for everyone – and the term ‘craft’ really has nothing to do with the consumer; everything to do with going to market and production considerations for brewers. Yes, some consumers want it yet all brands should be founded on their own merits to begin with, not relying on one word to make or break (that’d be foolishly shortsighted).
  3. The word craft is like the word Natural was in the 1970’s – at first it had some legitimacy; then everyone started using it thinking that consumers would flock to the products that advertised as much, however true or untrue the claims. And there was and still is (to my knowledge) a set global agreed upon by multiple bodies definition of the word. So why use it?
  4. If your beers are well-crafted, then use that in your marketing.
  5. I guarantee you that from my own data backed qualitative research the word ‘craft’ isn’t as relevant as the makers would want it or think it to be. Most consumers simply want products and goods they enjoy and can buy and share.
  6. The list of Companies in the NCB Craft Brew Pavilion wasn’t following the letter of the BA definition (which seems to be what most people go by – so is it moot to begin with?). They included: Black Tooth Brewing Company, Bootleggers Brewery, Boston Beer Company, Breckenridge Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Duval Moortgat, garage Brewing Co., Green Flash Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Pear Up, Squatters Craft Beers & Wasatch Brewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Wild Tonic.
  • Are all of these actually brewed, first of all? Is tonic brewed?
  • What’s the technical definition of ‘brewing’?
  • Are all of these fitting to the limited definition of a craft-brewer? (no)
  • Who’s putting this list together and are they trying to get traction or simply inaccurately lumping vendors they could get signed on together?

How about a simple Beverage Pavilion for accuracy sake?

Accuracy is critical. If you’re going to do something, do it well and accurately. Seeing this list pokes holes in the idea that ‘craft’ is special. Most beer enthusiasts I know would be able to take a look at the list and tell me which companies in the line up don’t fit the aforementioned definition.

And really, who cares.

Call this area a Beverage Pavilion – by all means and for all vendors and visitors, that’d be accurate. To call it otherwise is inaccurate, a falsity that only perpetuates misinformation. Who’s to tell me – as a consumer – what is craft and what isn’t? We make our decisions on the moment we make them, with the immediate influencing factors already in place.

As a marketer it pains me to see any entity publish inaccuracies, especially in a very specific arena like this.

Marketing isn’t solely around to drive sales. Marketing is communication. And the world deserves and wants accuracy and transparency. Nothing chaps my youknowwhat more than marketers getting unjustly blamed for shenanigans others may have instigated and perpetuated. When you notice that info is wrong, speak up. Legitimate hard working marketers will appreciate the catch. At a minimum, a lively conversation will build bridges and new connections.

What’s craft? That’s up to each and everyone of us, our own definitions will work just fine. For the industry, it’s another story. Fine – use it in industry. But don’t mess with everyone else.

Well crafted products, owned by any entity and in any category, of any size volume, suits me fine.

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What Is Good Exposure?

If you buy the old saw “all press is good press”, you’ve not been in the press lately.

All press that’s accurate, informative, succinct, and well written is good press. Here’s an example we’re grateful for. Thanks Sayde and the Seaside Signal!

Bad press? Well, let’s first fully recognize people are press: we are what we write in this case. So bad press equals poorly recorded and inaccurate information. Incomplete, rambling with no direction, and poor grammar (did I get that right?). Sloppiness – maybe. Uneducated or untrained – certainly seems that way.

The first time I realized that all press was not created equal was about 6 years ago. A local reporter called me and asked to meet so they could write a brief piece about my business. GREAT!, me thought. So off I went at the appointed time to the appointed place to meet the appointed reporter. I even had the forethought to bring a fact sheet along. Some things are facts so I figured, may as well simply print that out as a reference for some of the most basic info (date of business start, website, and the like).

Walking away from that I felt elated – I’d just been invited to be interviewed. I must be on my way, right?! Eager I was for the article to come out – especially since a picture was supposed to be included.

Perhaps. Yet the piece this reporter published had some egregious and totally inexcusable errors. For one, the name of my website was wrong. Yes, that was on the fact sheet. And it was wrong. That’s a pretty important piece to flub up and there it was, in black and white quite literally. In this day and age, a website is your primary point of findability. The modern Yellow Pages of days past (which I still reference by the way).

Printing corrections, retraction, and other “whoops!” kind of snippets never recover the damage done on a first run of a regular publication. I’m not discounting or totally negating this reporters worth. What I am calling out is quality and attention to detail for accuracy, supervision, fact checking and rechecking with the subject to make sure.

Good press is good press. Not all press is good press.

Good press is good press. Not all press is good press.

What I’m grateful for was it was early enough in the concept of the business and the paper, while a widely read local in a town of 25K+, wasn’t on a national scale that would cause permanent confusion or damage. Nonetheless I was chagrined, slightly mad and turned off. How do you get facts given to you on a sheet of paper wrong?!

So when someone calls asking for information, from the press and media professional arena, and says “It’ll be good press”, I’m more cautious. I do my homework, I ask for a few things in return from my time and input, and I do so unapologetically. When we both have skin in the game, I’m much more inclined to participate.

Think about it: You’re helping the press and media make their living by providing insight, topical information and words that they can use to make their living. I ask them to commit to sending me a hard copy (if applicable), a link out so I can share it, and – most importantly – before it goes to press, I often ask to review the piece for accuracy. I’ve stuck to my promise that I’m not going to edit – I feel strongly though about editing for facts. Those journalists who do circle back, to check in for accuracy, are comfortable with the level of their work and with changes I request. Those are the people I want to be available for and they know it since I tell them as much.

If it’s truly ‘good’ press, I “get” to give my time with no immediate tangible return. Hence I need to be particular to who gets the oh-so-valuable thing we chart as time. No getting it back, and there’s no recouping a bad experience. All you can do is move on.

The journalists I request this of, whether pros or learning students, almost always follow-up when I ask for these things. The ones that balk, well – I balk back. My time and input is just as valuable as the effort they’re putting forth for the piece that they get paid for. We both stand to gain when we work together; and I stand to loose much more than them with poorly executed press.

Words are everywhere and thrown about casually sometimes. One word can change an entire meaning, thrust, theme, idea, and can certainly impede or accelerate progress. They are powerful, weighty, cheap, ever-changing, and part of our societies the globe over.

It’s a thrill to me to get a request for interviews and I think it always will be. Someone cares about what we’re doing, if only to create some content for their immediate needs. And if they have more time than crunch, I’m also much more inclined to be available. Like a good friend and colleague once advised, I do what fits with my schedule. And to add a favorite quote, I’d offer “Your urgency does not create my emergency.”

It’s time to shift the press and media paradigm. I started a while ago. Care to join me?

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Response and Clarification

I love lively conversation and there’s room for all of it. It’s one thing I love about WEB and the reactions and talk it generates. Conversation makes the wheels of progress move, whichever way they will…In that vein…

Instead of a lengthy and sometimes edited response, I wanted to offer up some clarity to this post on my own blog.

Refresher: Women Enjoying Beer is about just that – enjoying. It’s also about learning, education, the experience, the why, the voice of the every woman represented and so much more. Focus groups, events, knowledge sharing, on site research. It’s about opportunity and enlightenment. It just happens to encompass 50.9% of the population segmented by gender.

Cicerone = another great education format

What WEB is not about: Drinking. Please get your facts straight when you publish material. Per the cited post, Jennifer and I have never spoken, and had one email exchange which occurred June of 2009. Since then I have not heard anything from her or had her contact me requesting accurate information. Here’s her mistake: “And while Women Drinking Beer’s Ginger Johnson is…”

Part of the post: “A couple of months ago, female-facing beer marketing consultant and Women Enjoying Beer blog author Ginger Johnson took our group to task for the use of the word “Girl” in our name. “Women are not ‘Girls,’” she admonished in a post on “dos” and “don’ts” of marketing to women. But while this pretty traditional feminist line surely resonates for some ladies, for people in my group, it’s just way too serious and PC of a consideration.”

People that take time and take more than a superficial look find that the info that WEB shares and offers is based on hundreds of women speaking up across America when given the opportunity. Women aged 21 to over 80 years old, of all kinds of demographic and psychographic slices of the American pie. It’s not about me, personally. It’s the voice of the women.

Also know – I did indeed comment to the GPO post and got a welcome response from Magen Peters specifically, inviting her to talk about it and providing my phone number so she could call me. I neither got an email reply nor a phone call. Your court. We can only swing at the ball when it’s returned.

From that email from Magen: “I don’t think our name has stopped women from coming to our events or learning about craft beer.” Hmmm….I’m confused. Why use ‘women’ here and ‘girls’ there? Which way do you want it?

And I’d still ask – is using an even slightly questionable label for a group that (a large majority) doesn’t want worth it? There are lots of ways to be creative, appropriate and clever without any ‘backlash’. Is the group about women or about you personally?

“Admonished” – fine. Use whatever word you want even though it’s inaccurate – it’s your right to freedom of speech. I simply brought up the fact that 100’s of women have universally and unanimously told WEB that a girl is under 12. If you don’t want to hear part of the conversation, don’t eavesdrop or ask what they’re talking about. P.S. – most women don’t like being called “ladies” either – but you obviously don’t want to hear it.

Feminist – as defined by Dictionary.com =

fem·i·nism

/ˈfɛməˌnɪzəm/  Show Spelled[fem-uh-niz-uhm]  Show IPA –noun

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
Last time I checked then, feminism is a good word. Labels based in uneducated stereotypes or inflammatory definition are never useful. Leave labels for packages.
Next, look at market segments as just that – segments. Women, men, red heads, dog lovers, Jeep drivers. Step out of the gender and into the segmentation – a reality of marketing.

WEB is about bringing beer to life

And next – this snippet: “Johnson asserts that her own focus groups have shown the word to trend badly. But I have evidence to the contrary: The term resonates, especially in the foodservice industry. The Melting Pot, for example, ran a smashingly successful “Girls Night Out” promo in 2009, a time when most casual-priced restaurants like it were suffering. It resulted in a sales uptick that gave the brand a little reprieve from dropping numbers.”

Great and so be it. Good for the Melting Pot. It may resonate, but so does an out of tune violin. Was it a sustainable uptick or a one time deal? Did the “girls” come back? Was it a 1% uptick or a 25% uptick? Did they do a “Boys Night Out” too? Do you work for melting Pot – is that how you know this and what is the specific number to this evidence please? Do you carefully chart and track this information or is it casually handed off by a source? I’m not saying it’s incredible, I’m saying back it up. Tell the women of the world this is what they should expect and be happy with it – to be called an underaged girl and to be happy with it.
Is the supposed food industry support of the implied uneducated sexism the reason why so many restaurants and bars have the women wear low cut shirts, push up bras and the men are allowed to have pants that hang to the knees and shirts all buttoned to the top of their throat? (Why is there a Hooters but no ‘Dick’s’ or ‘Woody’s with himbo’s? Is that the equality you want?) Is that success? Just because of one successful event, does that make the whole picture painted with the same brush? Why don’t you ask the women.
You can call yourself a girl all you want. What women tell Women Enjoying Beer is that they don’t want that kind of label given to them by others. There is a clear difference. It matters not what you think of your title; what matters to the greater whole of global society is the impression the chosen titles and labels (!) are perceived by everyone else. Get out of yourself and your own thinking to that of the population of which you speak – in this case, women.
Up next, this snippet: “But I can bet Johnson would have some choice criticism.” How much do you in fact want to bet? This smells like rotten bait. Don’t assume you know what I or the hundreds of women who answer the call to speak up think. That’s arrogant. And arrogance is never attractive. If you’d ask me, I’d tell you. WEB is not about my personal feelings (again I’ll repeat

Turn your own ideas around and listen to others

this), it’s about 100’s of women being invited to converse and sharing what they think.

And by the way, I know Cathy in Houston and talked with her recently about the success she is pushing for all beer enthusiasts (which is also a core of WEB).
Appropriate humor in good taste is genderless, clever is good. Sexism in any form for any gender is never appropriate in civilized society.
And lastly, I’d point you towards the well respected and highly knowledgeable marketing to women expert, Marti Barletta. We had a wonderful illuminating (for both of us) lunch just over a month ago. Get her book, read it, then get out of your selfish self and listen to what thousands of women have offered. Here’s a link to her book, Marketing To Women: How to Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market.
So, thanks Jennifer. I enjoyed the post and wish you all the best. Keep enjoying (not necessarily drinking) beer.

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Giant Oak Market Share

  • Who’s your target market?
  • Who’s your primary buyer?
  • Are they one in the same?
  • Do you seek new market share?

WEB started small...now we're up to 24+ at each monthly meeting

If you’re a brewery, brewer or brewpub and are searching for ways to get more beer in more glasses of educated consumers, look at the mighty oak idea.

Joel Salatin puts it this way in his book Holy Cows and Hog Heaven.

“Giant oak trees do not propagate themselves by dropping 20 ft. babies out of their tops. They propagate tiny acorns, because that is the smallest viable structure of the parent….Its size is its strength.”

To paraphrase for WEB purposes and beer, you have to start entering a market with tiny efforts. The efforts take water, light, food and attention to grow.

  • If you think marketing to women is a novelty or ‘small’ market share, think again. Think big.
  • If you think by starting small, where economy of efforts isn’t where you think you want it to be (read – it may be more of an investment than you think you want to afford), know that it will payoff. Period.

Women make up the majority of the entire human population. Hmmm. Isn’t that worth courting?

When you court a market share authentically and accurately, you WILL grow some mighty oaks. Mighty can be pockets of fans, groups far or near of enthusiasts that continue to sneeze and every kind and size of group in between.

Start small. Every idea starts that way no matter how lofty the goal may be.

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More On BitterSweet

I don’t know…what do you think?

When you read the entire article it makes you wonder. Did the reporter get all the information right? Is the leadership of the BSP misguided?

It needs to be about education. For All. Period.

Capture the data via focus groups etc. then apply that information. Make sure you are asking the proper sources for the information that will propel your cause forward.

I really want to believe they are trying yet the information on their site and from articles like this (which are in all fairness slightly out of their control) leaves the question mark dangling.

‘Managing director Kirsty Derry of BitterSweet Partnership said: “We’re looking forward to the day when beer becomes an aspirational choice for women. The industry has for too long ignored women – our job is to redress this balance.

BitterSweet Partnership is here, first and foremost to listen to women, to dispel the many myths associated with beer, to develop products designed with the female palate in mind, and to change the buying and drinking experiences for them.”

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606

Is this right?

5% – seriously?? How can that really be appropriate?

It took me by surprise and I find it disturbing. And misleading. And inaccurate. And incorrect.

5% is still 5%. Without it, 95% is not 100%.

The public should demand 100% accuracy in this case.

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Listen To The Market Share (#2 of Series)

You know what I love about kids? They don’t have what my friend Mike Wagner calls a crap filter. Indeed. Ask them a question and generally you get a straight forward answer.

Point today – ask your market segment directly you are after for their input, opinions, and insights. Don’t ask someone else who THINKS they know what that other person is invariably thinking. Regardless how well one person knows another, they are still not that person.

The same thing has happened in traditionally marketing beers. Some companies still think they know what the female consumer wants. Pray tell – how do they come to this conclusion??

Focus group participants let it rip – they tell me point blank they have no idea why companies simply do not ask them.

Who out there has a regular focus group program? Set up to listen (not just hear or assume they are listening) to their female patrons to find out what they really want, what they really like?

If you do not have an ongoing market development segment of your business there are lots of ways to go about it.

  1. Partner with other companies in the same industry. Craft brewers are a great example of an industry that wants to help the whole. Go with that comraderie. Share costs.
  2. Work with your female patrons – ask them what they like, what they don’t like, why and follow all sorts of thinking trails to get this information. Then act on it.
  3. Hire a facilitator, a moderator that knows how to get the best information for you to grow and develop your business. I guarantee you it will be well worth the time, effort and investment. And it is an investment – you will get it back in $$.

Listen to the market share.

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Know Thy Market (#1 of Series)

This may seem like stating the over obvious. However I wouldn’t be specializing in marketing beer to women if there weren’t a need.

Knowing the market you are after, BEFORE you introduce your product to market, is a true basic of marketing. Like the word (marketing ) or not, it’s what you are doing – trying to sell something to the market that will buy your goods.

  • Did you spend time on the front end, prior to opening your brewery, in deciding and identifying your market?
  • If so, what is that market share?
  • Do you pursue them accurately and authentically?

If you answered yes, please continue to read for enjoyment and reinforcement.

If you said no to any one of these inquiries, keep reading. You must know your market – it cannot be incidental – to survive and thrive. To make beer just because you love beer  – if you are hoping to make it a successful business – is foolish (unless you’re independently wealthy).

Women tell me over and over in focus groups they feel like (most) beer companies aren’t even trying to reach them. T & A of days past, too young ‘girl’ type females, and all the surrounding traditional advertising is not applicable. Why should a segment (women) listen when they aren’t even trying to be accurately reached?

Be passionate by all means. Be smart about knowing your market. Market research is pretty straight forward stuff. Hire the right person to help you develop and address it properly. it

Know Thy Market.

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What Women Want

Since my speciality is authentically and accurately marketing beer to women, I get

Minneapolis Focus Group, May 2009

Minneapolis Focus Group, May 2009

asked over and over “What do women want?”.

While I am unable to answer that question on the big scale, I am able to offer some insight on the female consumer beer front.

So far, I’ve identified over 30 categories, specifically (and growing) that women are talking about in relation to beer. Everything from health & beer (needs a ton of enlightenment) to where women drink to flavor & taste issues.

Get in touch when you want to find out how to better reach the 50.9% of the population that happens to be female.

There’s potential coming out your mash tun.

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Follow Up From Yesterday

One more thing from yesterday’s idea stream…

When you train staff, employees, associates, distributors, whoever – make sure you compare in a reasonable way.

Example: do you compare a lager your have on tap that less people may be familiar with with Budweiser? If it’s accurate, fine. If is not, not fine.

Let me ask you this on that note – would you compare your ground beef burger to McDonald’s?

Bad and inaccurate comparisons are damaging all around.

Message: Make sure comparisons are accurate. Better yet – learn and teach how to describe each beer at it stands on its own. Describe flavors, foods it goes well with and the why.

VOILA!! Give your beers the respect they deserve. Give your customers good education by properly educating your staff first.

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Are You Open?

Said another way, how open are you? What are you open to? What are you not open to?

This is not an “Hours of Operation” question. It’s an inquiry and examination of what you’re open to. And more specifically what you are open to in accurately and authentically earning female market share.1875

  • Are you asking?
  • Are you listening?
  • Are you responding?
  • Are you learning?
  • Are you changing?
  • Are you developing?
  • Are you then growing?

How open are you? Closed doors yield traffic turned away, business missed.

And marketing accurately and authentically is about a business opportunity. Grab it.

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