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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If You Don’t Get It Yet, Marketing To Women Is Critical

“Unfortunately we do very little marketing as it is right now and we aren’t in a position to begin marketing to particular segments of the market right now.”

Unfortunate for whom? What is this breweries plan for marketing then? How do they afford marketing staff, POP, POS, trips to promote the beer, and keep the lights on at the facility?

And what segment of the market then is this brewery actually marketing to, if they are apparently not marketing to…well, we don’t know that do we. Do they?

Sarcastic? Yes, a bit. True? Absolutely and entirely.

What I find truly remarkable and stunning is that anyone bringing anything to market thinks that ‘money for marketing’ is an added business budget line. Maybe bringing a plumber in to fix leaks is extra too…(This brewery has been in business since 1989.)

If you don’t already have a full on marketing plan with budget in place, you need to go back to the drawing board and make sure it’s in place. Who do you expect to buy the products if you say you don’t have a marketing budget. With respect to swine, this is hogwash.

And women aren’t a ‘particular segment’ – they ARE the market in the USA. American woman make between 75 to 85% of All Purchases, across category lines in the USA. I would call that the force to reckon with, not a ‘particular segment’.

Does your marketing plan have you trapped by your own thinking?

It’s also incredible to me that hiring specialists is apparently a difficult concept for many people to understand. Think about it this way: You’ve got a car and very few of us actually work on or fix our cars this day and age. So what do you do? You call a specialist. This is the same thing.

If you truly want your marketing to hum, if you seriously want to gather more market share that will help not only pay your current bills – it will lead to increased market share and therefore increased sales, then you better tune into women as buyers.

When will they be in a position? And will ‘right now’ ever go away? Or is this just an excuse to push off help they’re afraid of because they don’t understand it?

It’s that simple. And this email excerpt is sadly that remarkable.

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Why We Do What We Do at WEB

Have you ever stopped to look at the people enjoying beer? Meaning, have you paused long enough to look around and see what genders are savoring the beverage we call beer?

Addressing the 300 - 400 audience members in Boston, CBC 2009

Well, about two and a half years ago, I had reason to pause. Someone encouraged me to submit a proposal to the Craft Brewers Conference (for 2009). Okay – I thought. Great! Yet what do I have to offer the beer community that they will find of value? At that time WEB (Women Enjoying Beer) had not yet launched so, while I’m full of ideas all the times, I’d not considered a specific direction into beer as a profession.

So I sat myself down and said, “Self, what can you offer the beer community?”. Self set to brain dumping on the computer and before I knew it, two complete proposals lay before my eyes. One was “What About the Other 50%?! Developing & Serving the Female Craft Beer Consumer”. Alas! It was selected and Women Enjoying Beer was formed. 300 – 400 people showed up to hear more. Obviously it struck a nerve. Or at least made people curious.

What did I see at that point? Opportunity.

  • Opportunity to work with people I wanted to be around and had whom I had gotten to know. Knowing that who I am is what I do, I only wanted to put energy into something that was truly worth the investment of my life.
  • Opportunity to fill a need – properly marketing craft/beer to women from the consumers’ perspective – that no one else on the planet was doing.
  • Opportunity to support the rather remarkable craft beer community and progress women.
  • Opportunity to exercise my true passion for business, education, fun, and beer.

I’ve said many times that WEB is not about women and not about beer. That’s not totally true. Indeed, if the players at the table were already equally represented gender wise, it’d be a non issue. As it is, it is. So it’s time to address the 50.9% of the global population that is female and their relationship with beer.

Rainbow of change

What do I see now? An opportunity of a magnitude that is perhaps overwhelming to some. Not us. My colleague Kate and I get into it daily to progress the agenda of getting more women and beer businesses educated: it’s about beer at its core, education and the experience around beer and inviting a minority participant to fully engage. We’re the only one on the planet specializing in this arena: serving the female consumer and the beer community starting with her perspective.

What I see in the future is that women ARE the way to growth for the craft beer community. With 70+% of men engaged in beer and only 27% of women; with the craft breweries in the USA over 1700+ and breweries in planning 600+; with not wanting to cannibalize existing market share; with wanting to develop new beer enthusiasm. Women are the answer.

I see smart, responsible education and fun based progress. Women Enjoying Beer recently got our Registered Trademark from the US government. While some may shrug and say ‘so what’, we see it as another small validation of our goals, business, and increased future success.

Women are the future of the viability and success of craft beer. If you’re a business and you’re ignoring women intentionally or unintentionally, you are most certainly going to miss the boat. Female consumers must be brought in. Marketing and developing women to engage in beer…well, that’s everyone’s opportunity.

We know why we’re around. Why are you?

Written for BrewPublic, originally published 4.16.11 by the fabulous Angelo De Ieso. many thanks, beer friend.

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Why Would You Hire Women Enjoying Beer?

Why would a brewery, brewpub, distributing brewery, distributor or retailer consider hiring WEB, an ‘outside’ source, to help with marketing beer to women when they have staff internally already in place?

Here are a few reasons why you need WEB. Consider:

1. What research does your company do specifically on women and beer? (not causal noticings and observations) Dedicated work towards identifying the reasons why women do engage in beer and why women don’t engage in beer – then all the hundreds of directions that simple query can go.
2. Do the talented people already in your organization actually know what to do in this arena, starting with how to procure this specialized information, and then do they know how to maximize it and really implement it and take effective and efficient action to realize the information to profits?
3. Think of Women Enjoying Beer as you would an equipment installer. Yes, you’ll own the equipment (staff), and yes, you’ll learn what to do with it (operations).
First though: who installs it and trains everyone in exactly how to best run and get maximum return for that investment (WEB)? How to care for it and really understand it to use for best company benefit simultaneously learning how to stay on top of the machinery to ensure long term success?

That is precisely what WEB does for your beer business. We exist to help you learn, see, research, and act on engaging the female craft beer market share from the female consumers perspective; the one you need to start with. We’re here to enlighten, share information, train and educate you so you’re crew can then run with it.

Hiring WEB to do all these things, training staff to carry on and forward is the whole point.

See also: One on One Marketing to Women

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What Can WEB Do For You

It has recently come to my attention that we need to do way more in helping everyone, specifically the brewing community, understand what Women Enjoying Beer is about. My thanks to those in the beer community who are asking these questions for clarification.

First and foremost: Women Enjoying Beer is a business. We are not a club, a causal enterprise or a hobby. We are professionals specializing in marketing beer to women consumers.

I believe part of the non-understanding is that WEB has no other businesses doing just this – so there’s no comparison out there. Fair enough. We’ll try to provide a lot more education of how we can help grow the craft/beer community. And we always welcome callers and emails with questions.

Helping women enjoy beer

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation with a brewer/owner who is interested in finding out how WEB can help his brand grow. I hope this helps.

If you choose to use my services to help you build a stronger and increased female market share, know you get the singular information that Women Enjoying Beer has been collecting for 2+ years, expressly focused on women and their relationship with beer. It’s market information that no one else anywhere has been pursuing and offers totally unique insight due to the research and information therein. Think of me as a contractor, like you stated – on a project basis. This contractor in WEB needs or desires no WEB billing, it’s under your brand to engage more women in your brand.

The information from research, events and so forth can all be applied to augment your efforts.  Know that developing newer market share is also a long term investment, just as you would need to do if you opened a brand new brewery. It takes time and dedicated effort and it will pay off for those in it for the long range success. Women comprise 50.7 -9% of the human population. In my humble opinion, to neglect to do anything with that potential is enormous opportunity lost and disrespectful to the fact that women still directly and indirectly make 80% of purchasing decisions.

It would be my pleasure to work with you and for your brand to enhance, augment and further develop the ‘good’ things you already have in place; improving them over time. Marketing and PR are sometimes difficult to tangibly measure and it can be frustrating. I simply know through experience that time does tell and market share does develop. When you stick to it, have realistic expectations, patience and diligence, it happens.

Lending the knowledge of WEB to your brand per online content (variety of ways) will couple this singular knowledge you can use and have full access to through me with the tools you already have in place.

I hope this helps with some clarity and only want to go forward with you if this is something that makes dollars and sense to you. I totally believe in the power of engagement women in the beer conversation and have seen it first hand and I am determined to help women be heard, respected and included – they want to. People like yourself can be part of that sea change.

Yes, a closer, more “local” ghost write can do good work. I’d ask you to consider the following: Do they know the specifics of women and beer? With your brand in so many states (or even one), how important is physical locality to the progress of your brand?  Will they be as beer and women passionate as WEB? Obviously it’s your choice.

Thanks for the opportunity to answer your concerns, keep them coming – and share a bit more of my philosophy. I’m in if you are.

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What Women Want Series: Part 3 – Educational Opportunities

Educational opportunities for women are big. Actually, they’re not big. They’re HUGE!!

Why? Because they haven’t previously been appropriately invited into the conversation and therefore they’ve not learned much about beer. You need to specifically invite them to participate, talk, enjoy, learn and in general, get together over beer learning.

Here are some specifics on offering educational opportunities for women beer enthusiasts, novices, and curious watchers.

1. Host women’s only beer classes. When you maintain a single gender class you create the best setting for that gender to learn. Meaning, women and men have some different qualities to their learning styles. Acknowledge that and afford that format for good results.

Beer love is greatly enhanced with education

2. Invite a specialist who has an interesting topic to share – from an ingredient grower to a brewer on a specific beer style to a supplier who can explain supply chain operations.

3. Free events AND charged events are both necessary to elevate the understanding of the high quality and value of beer. Don’t do free all the time or you negate the true value of beer education. Plus you make it difficult for others to also offer complementary opportunities for a fee.

4. Hold educational events with some sort of regular frequency. Get into a groove (3rd Thursday of the month, quarterly, whatever works for you), market it on all your social media – most importantly your website/blog, and then stick to that agenda. It’ll make it easier for everybody to remember and plan for and therefore more successful.

5. As always, use the words Women and Females. They’re words of ageless respect, they’re not old fashioned or stiff, and it’s important to address people with that respect. No one can argue that a person is a woman or a female.

There is so much you can do educationally – start with one event with the plan in mind to keep it going, giving it the best benefit by planning to dedicate staff, dollars, space and commitment to it. 1 to 4 months is not nearly enough time to develop a strong campaign and see results. Think 8 to 18+ months in length.

Constantly evaluate your program, invite the right voices to help and get to it. The very first informational meeting WEB hosted found 28 women gathered on a random Midwest early winter Tuesday night in Central Iowa. If it can happen there, it can certainly happen for you too.

Tap into an event that educates intelligently and you’ve hit a winner.

What Women Want Series: Part 1 – Addressing the Consumer as the Consumer

What Women Want Series: Part 2 – Value as Part of Purchase

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