Coronavirus and Continuing Engagement

Originally published 5/1/20

By this time you’ve undoubtedly explored all options for retail and online sales; dialed-in messaging on social; decided on appropriate frontline support; and even tested video events and tastings. So what’s left for your brand to support customers, fans and followers? Today we share some creative thinking from craft beverage brands who are embracing the challenge of remaining connected during the coronavirus. Ideas worth stealing include:

  • Zoom video backgrounds
  • Gift certificates and vouchers
  • Mystery packs and guest chefs

We have also expanded our offer to meet with your team via video conference to discuss these and any other topics, free of charge. We want to make sure you are comfortable with your marketing strategy during this crisis.

zoom video backgrounds

We know from our discussion around video tours, happy hours and tastings that customers want AND NEED to see your brand during the pandemic. Now more than ever it’s important to put your fear of being in front of the camera aside and just produce some authentic, real content for craft beverage fans. Video for many of us has become the go-to way to stay connected during stay-at-home orders, and this will continue even after states begin opening up this week.

The world has embraced video chatting services in the last 8 weeks at a far faster rate than would have happened under normal conditions. Platforms like Zoom, Facebook Live, Skype and others have risen up to support the professional needs of a remote workforce as well as the personal needs of families, friends and communities living with social distancing. Some of these services allow you to change your backdrop, allowing you to [virtually] be anywhere in the world. Video backgrounds are a simple way to provide some fresh content and subtle branding during calls with coworkers and loved ones. While we’re fans of Zoom, we’ve rounded up options for each of the major services below:

  • Zoom recommends using background images with a 16:9 aspect ratio and minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Background .MP4 or .MOV videos may be used with a minimum resolution of 480 x 360 pixels and maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p).
  • Skype can blur backgrounds or use uploaded images.
  • Microsoft Teams allows you to blur backgrounds or choose from a pre-selected set of images (currently unable to upload your own image).
  • Google Hangouts currently does not allow for altering your video background (though we’ve read that Google Meet does allow for different background images).
  • Webex allows users to upload a virtual background, but it’s only available on iOS devices.
  • Jitsi is a popular open-source video chatting service that allows for a different background, but there’s some coding involved…
  • Talky and Houseparty are two app-based services that are getting a lot of social buzz, but changing the backgrounds currently isn’t an option.

Interested in putting a virtual background together? Find your favorite photo of the tasting room, check the dimensions, add a subtle logo in the bottom corner and voila! you’re done! Best to promote on social media channels with a small video introducing the backgrounds and a link to the download site. Remember: assets like these have a long shelf life, so be sure the imagery is appropriate and NOT visually tied to the current pandemic. Here’s a great example from Lincoln Beer Company in Burbank, CA, whose GM also happens to be my brother Ryan!

gift certificates and vouchers

Craft brands have found ways to creatively promote gift certificate sales while tasting rooms are closed for social gathering. For example, adding a surprise gift card toward a future visit for beverage orders over a certain dollar amount. We’ve also seen some clever buy-your-friend-a-glass offerings that provide immediate revenue for some future payout (did you know 5–10% of gift cards are never used?). Before promoting gift certificates, it’s important to answer the following questions:

  • Where are gift certificates purchased: online/app, tasting room, partners
  • What is the format: email/ecard, physical card
  • How are they redeemed: numerical code, scan code, in-person swipe
  • Platform compatibility: can offline certificates be redeemed online and vice versa

That last one may seem a bit techy for this email, but many of the producers we’ve worked with run into issues with systems talking to one another. For instance, a gift certificate purchased online not being recognized by the point of sale system in the tasting room. You don’t want to put something out there that’s confusing to execute, so make sure to iron out all the logistics first.

Our friends at Pedal Haus Brewery in Arizona have partnered with the city of Tempe and a company called Hownd.com to offer “Buy Now, Save Local” vouchers, securing a promotion for a future visit to the tasting room. Your $20 purchase today earns you $25 in value, valid for use after the Pedal Haus reopens to dine-in traffic. This is a great way to participate in the larger community effort to support local while opening an additional sales channel.

mystery packs and guest chefs

We all know that alcohol sales are surging in the off-premise, namely liquor and package stores. But what about on-hand inventory at your location? We’ve seen breweries get creative with happy hour to-go packs; wineries offer rare finds and deeply-discounted case shipments; and distilleries combine bottles and mixers to help stock your home bar. One idea worth considering is offering a “mystery pack,” or a fixed price for a combination of products around a theme. Set the customer’s expectations by loosely defining the criteria for choosing what they’ll get in the box. For example, a certain mix of styles, varietals, or price points aligned with the theme. And offer the promise of something special in the pack — they won’t know exactly what, but they’ll be excited to find out. Some brands have even scheduled mystery pack video reveals to further engage customers.

For those production facilities with on-site restaurants operating in a to-go capacity, we’re seeing some amazing food-beverage pairing packages available. Others have partnered with local restaurants where allowed to offer grab-and-go style meals for pick-up at the tasting room. Have a good relationship with local food trucks? Use social media to promote your “guest chef” every week with pairing recommendations for dining at home. Food trucks are happy for the additional business and visibility and your customers get a value-add when they visit.

Empowering craft beverage brands with the tools needed to drive traffic, build engagement and capture new sales. Learn more at https://marketyourcraft.com.