A digital strategy can be the difference between success and failure. The difference between enjoyment of your business and feelings of despair. The difference between burning bright and crashing and a long term sustainable trajectory that brings so much satisfaction to you.
Business today can be tough.
Competition is fierce. Pricing pressure is downwards. People are not necessarily as loyal as you might hope. No-one has time for anything any more.
So why make it so much harder than it needs to be by ignoring what every business needs to have.
A unique digital strategy that suits your business.
One especially crafted to suit you, your clients, your team and your business goals.
I have been busy working away on a new venture with a bunch of business partners, building a craft brewery. It’s something that none of us have done before, but one that has fired passions in us all.
Yes we love craft beer!
But just loving craft beer isn’t going to be enough to make this business succeed.
We have utilised experts to help us develop our new venture Devil’s Elbow Brewery but if we just left it at that, it’s not likely that our brewery would succeed, well not beyond the flurry of local interest in something new.
We knew that just being good at something ( or seeking out experts to help) is not enough in today’s business world. There is too much money at stake to only focus on building the venue and developing the product.
I knew that without an effective digital strategy, in the market we were going to operate in, that our new business wouldn’t succeed. Our business partners knew it too and trusted me to help give our venture the best possible footing for success.
The craft beer industry in Australia has been growing rapidly over the last 10 years. We have been watching and learning from a distance for the last 5 years but really paying attention in the last 2 years.
The key features that we know to be critical for success in today’s craft beer market are listed below, but these things apply to ANY market. Truly they do!
Know your audience
Truly know who they are, what they like, what they need and what they want. Understand where they live and what they buy.
Your language and messaging needs to reflect what your audience wants to hear in the way they want to hear it. Its not about you - it’s about them.
We conducted research in our market before we did anything, we looked to understand who were craft beer drinkers, how old were they, where might we find them, what about people that didn’t really like beer - how could we appeal to them.
A strong brand presence
Establishing our brand footprint in a consistent and strong way everywhere that we wanted to be present in the world was critical. We knew we needed to get cut through in a marketplace dominated by the big beer brands and established venues in our local area. We also needed to ensure we had smart marketing as these big players have deep pockets.
The way to do this is to ensure that our branding is consistent and structured - ALL THE TIME.
We developed a clear branding message guide from the very beginning that helps us choose our images, our words and the look and feel of everything that we do both within our venue and online. For us they are one and the same. Our digital strategy has helped us to stay true to this style in everything we do.
A usable website
It is not enough to just have a website. Think about your customers in the same way that you think about them when they are right in front of you. Don’t make things hard for people to do online. Your website needs to be usable on any device. Mobile, Tablet, Desktop, Smart Screen.
We knew that we didn’t have huge bucks before we started selling product, but we also knew that we needed a few key features that were more important than worrying about the size of our logo -
We created a landing page to snag email addresses before we even had finalised our logo or our name! ( Yes this worked a treat!)
We needed a blog to tell our story and help sell our products, before we launched to create excitement and interest prior to opening. How do you sustain interest when you have nothing to sell?
We need somewhere for people to signup to our newsletter to start to build our community - we don’t want to start with nothing on day 1.
We need to have forms to capture details of resumes. We were inundated in a market screaming out for staff, we were oversubscribed with quality recruits.
These are simple things but essential things for ANY website. and they don’t happen without planning beforehand.
Consistent Social Media
Be in the right places in the right way at the right time
No-one likes to be that person at a party who just doesn’t quite fit in. You need to be in the right room, at the right time so that people respond to your message.
We knew that we had to grow our footprint via Facebook & Instagram so we had to get into a pattern of what to post and when
We also set about building a personal following around our General Manager on Instagram @beer_boiker so that when our taps start to flow, we would have an army to welcome through the door.
This personal connection followed through by seeking out and connecting with the craft beer industry inside LinkedIn, Hospitality industry professionals and Government representatives in a space that we are not necessarily experts in.
Now we are so close to opening, our Messenger Marketing bot is about to kick in, so that we can communicate quickly with people who matter to us where they are most active!
But we knew that these levers were one’s we needed to be able to tap into and pull. Our digital strategy help guide these decisions.
Relevant Content Marketing
Share your message far and wide but ensure that it is crafted to suit your audience.
Create content that your customers and potential customers care about and want to hear. Bring people with you on a little journey to your door.
Not everyone is going to like our beer, but content marketing is how we will build and sustain interest in our product and our venue in the long term. We want to attract likely patrons, not any and all patrons. It is true what they say ”if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one”.
We made sure that our email newsletter signup sent out a little welcome message that would help to connect us to our audience. We have started the process of segmenting people when they sign up to send them a little birthday surprise.
Our Messenger marketing bot will start to share content directly with our followers inside Facebook ( and soon Instagram) to suit upcoming events and beer launches at our venue.
I also convinced our team to be more visible online, to not be scared of being in photos, of sharing thoughts and ideas in the public arena. Their personal brand footprints go everywhere with them, so making sure they can contribute to the brewery story is vital to its success.
Our digital strategy ensures that we stay focussed on our end goals, we aren’t looking to create more online noise. We want to make sure our message stays in alignment with our business goals and helps to achieve them. There is a big investment at play here.
Attract the right people to your business with Search Marketing
More than simply keywords.
I knew that simply having the right search engine optimisation techniques in place was just one part of the puzzle to make sure people knew about our product. Our marketing budget was limited, so TV ads, radio and print were not on the cards at this early stage. However by creating strategically targeted small ad campaigns via Facebook and the Google Display Network we brought awareness of our brand, that helped help us with recruitment, brand awareness, function bookings (yes before we even opened) and a tonne of free exposure and PR ( Print, Industry Magazines, TV and Radio) from the high visibility of our social posts from these ads.
Track the metrics that matter
I am just one member of a team, so my activities need be seen to be making a difference. Whilst we have been in build mode, the team where looking at reach and followers across channels as well as media spots ( all organic from our social media). But once we are up and running website traffic, email campaigns and social media followers will have a much more important focus - driving revenue.
Tracking our digital metrics will form part of our monthly reporting targets like all other numbers. These are not just things that sit off to the side - but a key part of how we achieve our revenue goals.
A digital strategy is a must have for any business.
To me, the above comes easily now - not just because I have been doing this kind of thing for almost 20 years, but that I also know that this approach works.
I follow a method or framework that I call a digital ecosystem. The team at Devil’s Elbow have now learnt an incredible amount how to position yourself in a market, what elements are essential, what things can be put to one side and what are the must have’s. They understand their digital ecosystem more clearly and the digital strategy that brings it all together.
Digital skills and understanding the new realities of the digital landscape are something we all need to understand to survive and thrive.
Want to learn how to develop your own?
My 8 week online program the Digital Ascent is a must do for business owners, your team or marketing professionals looking to up-skill themselves and expand their knowledge.
It’s time to take that next step.