min read

Digital Marketing 101 for Beer, Wine, & Spirits

Wine, beer and spirits producers all benefit from strategic marketing. Use this guide to kickstart digital marketing for your winery, brewery or distillery.

We’ve all seen the Superbowl beer commercials that have generated household sayings. As a start-up in the alcohol industry, this can seem hard to compete with. However, what you may lack in advertising budget doesn’t have to limit your reach. Digital marketing can help level the playing field and boost your brand awareness.

In the alcohol industry, breweries, wineries, distilleries, craft beer producers, craft spirit makers, and even non-alcoholic products benefit from strategic marketing. There is a lot of competition and many great products out there. If you want to increase brand awareness and attract your target audience, you need to be marketing. How and where you market your product(s) will depend on your target audience’s needs, desires, and behaviors. With the help of social media, influencers, SEO, and other digital marketing strategies, you can flex your creativity and quickly build an audience in a crowded marketplace.

How to Get Started With Alcohol Marketing

How do you begin with alcohol marketing? When you’re ready to create and implement a marketing strategy, here are the steps to get started.

1. Conduct Market Research

All good marketing projects start with research to ensure you understand the market. Seek opportunities in different geographies, store types, age groups, and other ways. Research what your competition is offering so you can determine how you can do it differently and better. Use analytics to gather data on what current and potential customers are looking for and where they’re looking for it.

Check out tools like the Grappos SearchTracker. Apps like this provide insightful and relevant analytics.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Whether you’re a startup, rebranding a business, or just wanting to grow your customer base, defining your target audience is key. You’ll want to determine your target market and the opportunity within that specific market. This will help you to determine geographic considerations as well as help to inform your approach.

3. Set Goals and A Budget

What outcomes are you seeking with your marketing? Are you raising brand awareness or setting a specific sales goal? Be crystal clear on what you’re trying to achieve so you can craft a strategy to attain your goals. You’ll also need to know what you can spend. You can achieve a great deal on a minimal budget, but it’s important to know what you want to accomplish and how to accomplish it so you can fund the process properly.

4. Find The Best Marketing Medium to Reach Your Audience

Which marketing tactics will you use? What publications does your audience read? What websites do they spend time on? What social platforms are they active on?

We recommend using a mixed media approach when it comes to marketing wine, beer, and spirits. Leveraging multiple channels can generate buzz about your brand because consumers are reading and hearing about your products on Instagram, YouTube, in organic search, and more. No matter what you do, craft your marketing content with your target audience in mind. Use graphics and content that reflect their identities and appeal to their aesthetics. Make sure your language represents your brand but also resonates with those you’re trying to connect with.

5. Check Results Regularly

Most importantly, track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns to determine what works, what doesn’t, and how to stay ahead of trends. Checking views, likes, site visitors, and other analytics monthly is a great place to start. Every ninety days, do a broader sweep to review what the most effective strategies are, the best platforms, etc., and pour more resources into those instead of slogging ahead with methods that just aren’t working.

Mixed Media Marketing Strategies

While traditional marketing methods like print and radio can still be effective, there are other powerful means to market alcohol. Ultimately, you want to be where your consumers are and make your brand voice heard in the sea of competing products. Here are several different channels to consider for your brand. Keep in mind that employing several of these media can be more effective than going all-in on one.

1. Traditional

This broad group of marketing activities includes print ads, radio ads, and television commercials. Traditional marketing can also include outdoor marketing with ads on billboards, buses, and other outdoor signs. While traditional marketing can be effective, it can also be costly.

2. Email

If you want to connect directly with the consumers interested in your products, email is a great way to go. It’s budget-friendly and not impacted by changing algorithms like social media and search engines are. Additionally, people who have signed up for your email list are interested in your products — they’ve prescreened themselves for you! To be successful with email marketing, you’ll need to deliver value and ensure that subscribers can select how frequently they want to receive your emails. 

Learn more: 5 Powerful Email Marketing Strategies for Wineries →

3. On-premise and in-store events

When people are walking the aisles searching for an alcoholic beverage, a tasting can showcase your product. Depending on what you sell, in-store campaigns can be a great opportunity to connect with consumers when they intend to buy. 

4. Event sponsorship

Get your brand out there by sponsoring events. When a consumer repeatedly sees your name or products on sponsorship banners or listings, they’re likely to remember and be inclined to try your offerings.

5. Social media

In the US, over 70% of the population uses social media. If you’re looking to market your products where your consumers are, then social media is an excellent place to connect with them. There are many platforms to choose from based on your specific audience.

6. Search engine optimization

Any brand, including alcohol, should have an online presence. You want to make it easy for consumers to find your brand and to learn more about your company. 81% of retail shoppers will research online before they buy. Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to make it easier for them to find you when they go to Google or another search engine to do their research. Your website should include great images and content with a compelling call to action to attract your ideal customer — and circling back to point number two, don’t forget an easy way to collect email sign-ups.

7. Pay-per-click

Pay-per-click advertising is another good way to capture potential customers searching for products online. This type of advertising allows you to buy ad placement on search engine results pages (SERPS) and social media sites, as well as display advertisements across networks of popular websites. Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on the ad.

8. Influencer marketing

Have you ever bought something because someone you admire recommended it? If so, you’re familiar with influencer marketing. This method can be used in conjunction with social media, email marketing, and other techniques to grow awareness of your brand.

9. Content marketing

Attracting, engaging, and retaining an audience by sharing engaging content is a highly effective marketing tactic that helps to promote brand awareness and establishes trust. Content marketing is usually combined with other marketing tactics to distribute content.

Bring In An Expert

If you need help crafting the perfect alcohol marketing strategy or employing the right marketing tactics for your brand, there are many excellent agencies that specialize in this space. Some of our favorites include:

  • The Brandsmen - This authentic marketing agency works with a variety of industries and will help you develop an incredible marketing plan for your business.
  • Benson Marketing - Masterful digital marketing storytellers that specifically serve beer and wine companies.
  • Big Thirst Marketing - A marketing agency that serves to build relationships between beer & wine companies and their consumers.
  • Calhoun Wine - Serving the fine wine and premium spirits industry, this marketing agency provides full-service marketing strategies for its clients.
  • Colangelo & Partners - A marketing agency that seeks to cultivate conversations about your brand, build awareness, and elevate your business.
  • Makers and Allies - A trendy, award-winning design and branding studio specifically for the wine, craft & spirits industries. Their website is worth a visit simply because of how beautiful it is.
  • The Brand Guild - An agency of storytellers serving the spirits industry, they want to turn your customers into lifetime fans of your brand.
  • Vinbound Marketing -  A digital marketing agency that provides a wide range of marketing services for wine businesses.
  • Watson Creative - A creative agency that’s worked with a wide variety of industries, they seek to deeply understand your brand and share it with the world.
  • Wineglass Marketing - A full-service direct marketing agency focused solely on the wine industry.

Start Marketing Your Alcohol Products Today

Marketing is essential to increase brand awareness and ultimately grow your company. There are many different ways to be successful at any budget. Whether you reach out to an agency or implement the process on your own, you can get great results and distinguish yourself from the competition with an effective marketing strategy.

See how a store and product locator can help you in your alcohol marketing efforts. Get a product locator demo from Grappos!

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Eric Kunisawa

Founder & CEO

Eric Kunisawa is the founder of Grappos. He's been successfully helping businesses connect customers with their products since 2008.

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