Connecting To Your Customers:
Are you in the business of beverage sales… specifically craft beer, wine, or spirits? Maybe you even bought a winery yourself or are building a craft brewery?
If you are, then you understand the importance of getting people through your doors and picking your product up off the shelf. The importance of engaging your potential customer and creating a positive connection with them, ideally leading to a purchase. There is no shortage when it comes to other brands and products all vying for that same attention, engagement, and money! When it comes to these buying decisions, a lot of factors come into play.
What are buyers looking for?
Quality. Price. Design. Recommendations. Availability. What else?
How about your brand story? Not your brand as a whole… just the literal story that you and your team tell to your customers while you are in the tasting room or on a sales call. The story that is written on your labels and on your website. Your story.
Hopefully, this story is a lot more than the technical details about your product. While those technical details are very interesting to some, they are rarely the reason your core audience will try your product or remain loyal even if they do try it. Data is boring. So when it comes to storytelling, you need to focus on the experience and emotion of the audience and give them a reason to connect with your products and your brand.
Crafting Your Story:
The art of crafting your story can be the easiest part of your business… or the hardest. Some stories practically write themselves, while some are created out of thin air. With well over 300 wineries and nearly 200 breweries in BC alone, people can find great wine and amazing beer all over the place. Beverage sales are booming as consumers are becoming more educated and more enthusiastic. Again, this means that there are a lot of brands with great stories out there, competing for the buyer’s attention and money. It is now ‘the why’ of your brand that can most easily separate you from your competition and gain you an advantage in finding loyal customers.
This almost always comes from an emotional place. From the brand’s perspective, ‘the why’ is often more literal. It may be comprised of your history, your passion, an opportunity, or even a legacy. From the buyer’s perspective, it is an opportunity to build an emotional connection to your business. Typically, buyers aren’t actively looking for that connection but they know it when they feel it. We all do. It’s that same connection that makes us recommend a bottle of wine to our friends, or choose one restaurant over another. When we make an emotional connection to a brand, we become loyal for reasons beyond quality or price. We become invested as brand ambassadors and place our trust in you and your business.
People want to learn why you are different, but it’s why that difference matters that you should focus on.
A great example of this is in automotive brand advertising… they don’t sell extra airbags, they sell your children’s safety. Use emotion to help create a connection to the consumer. Maybe that emotional connection is to the owners, the property, the packaging, the quality, the community impact, or a million other things.
When you are working to increase your beverage sales, remember that the buyer is not making a rational decision based on facts, data and logic. They are making an emotional decision around their experience with that brand. Then they justify that decision because of the brand value you have built with them. People want to learn why you are different, but it’s why that difference matters to the customer that you should focus on. This can then become ‘the why’ that will drive a customer to purchase.
It is then that ‘the why’ becomes ‘the how’.
I have had the chance to work with some amazing people in the beverage industry. One of the most talented people I have met is Paul Morstad… the artist who created the artwork for the majority of the brand’s visual identity and wine labels for the hatch, in West Kelowna, BC. Paul is one of those people who sees the world through a different lens, with a view that you wish you could catch just a glimpse of, if only for a moment. A small sample of things Paul loves are banjos, painting on vintage maps, history, and birds. His work makes me think of the following quote:
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier
Cool Fact: Paul’s sister Julie is also a highly accomplished artist. In fact, I had her book “Milk Teeth” years before I ever had the opportunity to work with Paul. Her skills are equally impressive, with a flair for the unique. See her work here: http://www.juliemorstad.com/
I love being inspired by artists like Paul, as his style of creation can bridge many mediums. Working with his art to help tell stories in the BC wine industry was a crazy adventure, as layers of story were peeled away revealing years of history and connection. I hope you will check out his work on the many different labels at the hatch, and listen to some of the stories about why the art is so important to the winery. Of course the art doesn’t stop on the outside of the bottle… the wine has been racking up awards since before the winery doors open, thanks largely in part to Jason Parkes and his Jason Parkes Customs crew.
So buy some wine, check out some art, and listen to some wild stories that connect it all together. Both Paul and his sister Julie are true gems of the BC art scene, and are also well worth exploring. You can see Paul’s work over at his website here: http://www.paulmorstad.com/
Most of what I do is help a business (winery, brewery, etc) sell a product. Research, strategy, planning, design concepts… all boiling down to helping them tell their brand story through their product packaging and design. Working to increase shelf presence and opportunity to connect a customer to a bottle of wine or a case of beer.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a very important piece! But it is only one piece, and it is very easy to get too internally focussed. To be so worried about expressing the brand story that you forget about the actual customer and the physical situation where they are making their buying decision. Why they buy. Why we buy.
It is that moment where people are seeing themselves enjoying your product and deciding if that is a good fit for the situation. Yes your story is important, but you also need to connect to the occasion and emotion of where your customer will enjoy your product. Is it for a backyard BBQ or dinner with friends? A quiet night in with your loved one or a 25th anniversary party at the in-laws? This is one of the things that your potential customer is considering as they decide what product to buy. So that means that it also needs to be one of the things we consider during the design process.
Sell the experience and emotion around your customer enjoying your product.
Don’t only worry about “selling the product”. Sell the experience and emotion around your customer enjoying your product. When you put more consideration into your customer and their buying decisions, you will create a customer base that is more loyal and more invested in your brand.