Alcohol Marketing 101: How To Create A Digital Strategy For Your Alcohol Brand

Your alcohol product may be so tasty, original, and thrilling that it practically speaks for itself. But that doesn't mean audiences are listening. 

Without an actionable digital marketing strategy, even the most exciting spirits brands will fail to find their audience. But with a thoughtful alcohol marketing plan aimed at a honed target audience, your company can carve a healthy niche in the competitive alcohol industry.

We recommend that alcohol brands implement these marketing practices to connect with the audiences who will love their products and, ultimately, grow their online sales.

Identify your USPs and target customers

The first step to any successful marketing strategy is knowing your unique selling points (USPs) and the specific customers who will respond to them.

Your USPs may reflect the alcohol product itself, such as something special in your process, ingredients, or recipe. Or it may be your family-owned business or focus on charitable work that sets your company apart. Whatever your USPs, identify and list them. They'll help guide your alcohol marketing, the channels in which you choose to advertise, and the language you use to communicate with your customers.

Next, think about the customer who would be ideal for your product. Consider their age, gender, socio-economic standing, hobbies, likes/dislikes, and interests. Think about where they spend their disposable income, how much they spend, and what they want to receive in exchange for it. Write down these attributes to create what marketers call a "buyer persona."

You now have two critical tools for creating your marketing strategy: a list of USPs and a buyer persona. You'll repeatedly refer to these items as you plan and implement your marketing practices.

Build a conversion-focused website

Any alcohol retailer needs a well-designed and easy-to-navigate website, whether eCommerce or bricks-and-mortar. But if you're planning to sell alcohol online, you'll need to ensure that your website has a few extra bells and whistles.

First, choose a design that suits your alcohol branding, then flesh it out with tasteful, high-resolution images of your products and website copy tailored to resonate with your target market.

As an eCommerce retailer, you must think about your buyer's journey through the website. Make sure there are no obstacles to purchasing, such as product information that's buried too deep to find quickly or a clunky order page that takes too long to complete. 

Every action a shopper takes on your website should help them move smoothly towards a purchase, so implement user testing on your website. Ask your friends and family to try purchasing items to ensure it's simple to convert to sales.

Selling alcohol online often means that you'll be selling to customers outside of your state or country's borders. In that case, you'll want to include a tool on your website that automatically calculates the correct taxes per country and files all excise and taxes on your brand's behalf. That way, you won't have to worry that you've fallen on the wrong side of alcohol sales regulations, and instead, you can continue to focus on your marketing.

Create content that engages audiences with your alcohol brand

Your website should also include a space to regularly add content like blogs, videos, how-to guides, and news about upcoming events. Content marketing allows you to create buzz about your brand, which you can share on social media, with news outlets, or as backlinks on other brands' websites.

Informational content is excellent for sharing tips, tricks, and recipes with your audience. You can do that in the form of a video showing how to cook with or mix drinks with your alcohol product, then create a blog post from the points shared in the video. You can even create a how-to guide from the video content you give to website visitors who share their email addresses or phone number (see below about growing your email and SMS lists). 

Content that takes your audience "behind the scenes" is a great way to make them feel deeply connected to your spirits brand. You can showcase the real people who make your product or share the process you use to distil, ferment, or brew. You can even feature the growers or makers who contribute to your product, like the farmers who grow your hops or the workers who help harvest your grapes.

Building a personal connection with your customers should always be the goal of your alcohol marketing, and each piece of content you create should serve that goal.

Build a buzz on social media

If personal connection with your audience is your goal, you'll find no better place to grow those connections than on social media platforms. But first, you must choose the right ones for your alcohol brand. Return to your buyer personas and research which social media platform your target market will likely use. Focus on those one or two platforms - you don't need to invest time in alcohol advertising on platforms that aren't used by your audience.

Once you've set up your social media accounts, a great way to grow your followers is by establishing strategic partnerships with alcohol influencers. Influencer marketing involves finding a person with a healthy following who will promote products to their followers. They often do so in exchange for a fee or free product, but not all of them are expensive to work with. Influencers with smaller followings are often regarded as more genuine by their audience, so their audience is more likely to listen when they promote your product.

When you've started to establish a following of your own, be sure to engage with them. Reply to comments and questions about your company or your products. Share your content from your website. Promote feel-good events that complement your alcohol branding, like concerts, festivals, charitable fundraisers, or meet-ups.

Grow and connect with your email and SMS list

The lists of contacts you own are called "owned marketing channels," and they are becoming increasingly recognised as a powerful tool in your spirits marketing toolkit. You can grow your email and SMS marketing lists by:

  • Drive traffic to your website with paid or earned marketing efforts, then invite visitors to sign up for your marketing emails or SMS messages.
  • Create a "lead magnet" - a piece of content such as an ebook or how-to guide that gives more information than the standard blog post. Ask for an email address or phone number before allowing downloads.
  • Ask your influencer partner to promote traffic to your website and encourage signups for your marketing channels.

Once you receive a visitor's email address or phone number (and they have agreed to become a part of your marketing list), you can deepen your relationship with your list. Send them messages that make them feel part of something special and offer discounts and giveaways to drive engagement.

Be a part of local events and enter competitions

Most of our advice has focused on digital marketing, but your alcohol advertising strategy should include real-world - or "experiential marketing" - tactics as well.

Whether it's a brand-sponsored event like a tasting or a community event, there's nothing like shaking real hands and tasting real alcohol to excite your audience about your spirits business. If you work with a local events company to organise your get-together, you can rely on them to offer a unique angle to the event that will resonate with attendees.

Alcohol competitions are a great way to get noticed by a wider net of potential customers. Many people follow alcohol competitions to spot their next favourite "discovery," so winning - or even taking part - can get your name in front of more consumers.

Don't forget the giveaways

Knickknacks. Geegaws. Trinkets. Tchotchkes. Whatever you call them, customers love them. 

We're talking about the coasters, shot glasses, bottle openers, and any other branded item you can hand out for free at events or with a product purchase. Everyone loves a giveaway, so find an item that suits your alcohol brand and looks good with your logo. Then distribute them as part of your experiential marketing at every opportunity.

Expand to new markets with Tipple

It may be that entering a new market is the right tactic for your alcohol marketing plan. At Tipple, we use our decades of alcohol industry experience to support brands who want to expand their distribution to Europe. We're not importers, distributors, or retailers; we're a software solution that lets you bypass all three (and pocket those profits instead).

If you're just getting started learning how to market your alcohol products, then you may not be ready to expand into new markets like the 11 European countries we support. But when you are, we hope you'll remember that we're your comprehensive solution to tax compliance, customs clearance, pick-and-pack, shipping, and delivery for your alcohol products throughout Europe. Sign up today to take Tipple for a spin.

Next steps for your spirits branding

Creating an alcohol marketing plan requires effort and persistence. It takes months of planning and years of hard work to gain traction with a large online audience. But if we had to recommend three actions you can take today to kickstart your marketing machine, here's what we'd say:

  • Make sure you've nailed your USPs and target customers. It never hurts to reassess those lists and ensure that you're still speaking to the right people about the right USPs.
  • Check that your website is conversion-friendly. Sit down and try to order a product from your website. Try to find product information or answer a common shipping question. Then, ask your friends and family to do the same. If it's not easy for them, it will be frustrating and off-putting for your potential customers.
  • Identify three potential influencers and contact them about how you can work together. Discuss fees, online promotions, and possible in-person appearances when you plan those tasting events in a few months' time. ;)

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