5 Things To Consider Before Launching A Membership For Your Brewery

Thinking about creating a membership, mug club, or bottle society for your brewery? My first piece of advice: don’t mess it up! I’ve spoken with countless breweries who have created a membership with the best intentions, only to realize…. oh man, this is a pain in the ass to manage.

But have no fear! I have laid out all the major factors you need to consider before creating a successful membership for your business:

1. INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How are you going to keep track of your inventory?

  • How will you know who has and has not picked up their bottle/cans or filled up their free monthly growler?

Recommendation:

You need one universal source of truth. Many breweries sell the membership on a web-store and then use printed out Excel spreadsheets to mark off members as they pick up their bottles/cans. Spreadsheets get lost or destroyed, are a pain for your staff to manage, and require someone to update info on the computer later. We recommend you use a technology like CraftCellr (shameless plug), where redemption of the bottles/cans is done via the members phone or an iPad in the taproom and information is synced in real time. That way you always have a one universal source of truth to measure the health and progress of your membership.

2. PICK UP

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How many memberships do you hope to sell?

  • How many bottle/can releases or growler fills are you offering over the term of the membership?

  • Do you have the additional space to store that inventory if the members decided not to pick up after each release?

Recommendation:

Provide designated pick up windows for each release. I can’t tell you how many times we run into a scenario where a brewery is running a bottle society or membership where the members have until the end of the membership to pick up all their bottles/cans. This causes two main issues:

  1. You are now responsible for storing all of that inventory in your taproom, where space is usually at a premium.

  2. Inevitably there will be a flood of members trying to pick up at the last minute and if you don’t have a good process for inventory management (see #1) you’re going to have no earthly idea which members have or have not picked up.

We recommend you set a pickup window of 30-60 days for each release. For growler/crowler fills or free beers, they should be redeemed on a monthly basis. The added benefit of this approach: more taproom visits from your members.

3. MEMBERSHIP TERM

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How long should my membership last?

  • Should I have a rolling sign up or a fixed window?

Recommendation:

Create a fixed term for your membership, preferably based on the calendar year. If you are brewing and blending beer specifically for the membership, you will want members to commit for a year. This will give you the time to plan your beers, order new ingredients/equipment, and brew, condition, and package the beers. If this is your first membership or you are implementing a new barrel aging program, consider only offering 6 bottles/cans for year one. This will give you more wiggle room if the beer needs a little longer to condition.

Rolling sign ups, even after the membership has begun are fine, but keep the membership term fixed. You do not want to be responsible for managing different start/stop dates for each of your members. The membership should start and stop on the same date for every member.

4. MEMBERSHIP TIERS

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How many tiers of membership should I offer?

  • Should I create different price points with different benefits?

Recommendation:

Keep it simple. Don’t get overzealous about creating value for your membership. The more tiers and benefits you create, the more you and your staff have to manage. The true value you should offer is access to exclusive (or extremely limited) high quality beer. Use swag, glassware, early access to can/bottle release pre-sales, and a discount on draft beers in the taproom to round out the membership. We suggest only offering one tier of membership, especially in your first year.

5. COMMUNICATION

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How are you going to effectively communicate with your members?

Recommendation:

Give your members the ability to manage their membership themselves. The most common member complaint we hear from breweries is communication. Members want to know about upcoming releases, when they will be available, what they’ve picked up, what they haven’t picked up, and the list goes on... Effective use of email, social, text messages, and your staff are all part of the equation for effective communication. But to truly nail communicating with your members, give them access to manage their membership right from their phone. Any time they want to read about an upcoming release, manage their pick ups, rsvp to an event, or see whats next, they can do it from their phone. Easier for them, easier for you.

Want to create a membership, mug club, or bottle society for your brewery? Need help managing an existing membership? We’d love to help!

Our headache-free membership platform makes it easy for you to create, sell, and manage your membership. For more information, email us using the button below.

Cheers! - Eric Thelen, Founder

The Spirit of CraftCellr

Did you know we help our partners sell more than craft beer?…

Our vision is to support all crafts and artisan flavors. Anything dark, amber, tart, hoppy, or oaky. Served in a pint, neat, or on the rocks.

SPIRITS

Sure, we are known for craft beer, but we recently had our first success with Dry County’s first spirits release: Old-Fashioned 70 proof pre-ready cocktail. Dry County is one of the first Georgia Breweries to take advantage of new state laws allowing it to sell both beer and liquor, which is great for all us beer and bourbon lovers. The results of Dry County’s first spirits launch? Sold out online and in the taproom!

CIDER

Crisp, sweet, and refreshing doesn’t sound like your normal beer. That’s because its beer’s distant cousin: Cider. CraftCellr also partners with cideries, such as Atlanta’s first cidery, Urban Tree. By utilizing our mobile platform, Urban Tree was able to efficiently sell its limited-releases direct to consumer, while giving CraftCellr’s community of beer geeks an introduction to a new craft beverage category.

BOTTLE SHOPS

Why not just cover all the craft beverage bases by working with artisan bottle shops too…. Check. The Maltidudes at Maltitude Bottle Shop in Columbus Georgia drive sales and awareness of exciting new product drops from their distributors via CraftCellr. Maltitude customers can sign up to receive sms notifications about new drops and get first right of refusal to buy beer, wine, and spirits for pick up at the shop.

Basically the story goes: if your product is aged in a barrel, comes from a tree, has bubbles, or is served best with ice, CraftCellr can help you connect with your customers and maximize your direct to consumer revenues.

Want to give CraftCellr a test run?  Sign up now for our 14-day free trial!

2018: By The Numbers

Happy New Year everyone!  We took a few moments to pull some high level stats about the top performers on CraftCellr in 2018.  We hope you find some value in these results and we look forward to a big 2019. Cheers!

Top 10 Beer Styles

49 total beer styles were offered on CraftCellr in 2018.  These 10 styles drove the most amount of sales:

  1. Double IPA

  2. New England IPA

  3. Berliner Weisse

  4. American Pale Ale

  5. Imperial Stout

  6. IPA

  7. Imperial Milk Stout

  8. Sour Ale

  9. Saison

  10. Oatmeal Stout

Top 5 Packaging Styles

9 different styles of packaging were offered on CraftCellr in 2018.  These 5 styles drove the most amount of sales:

  1. 4-Pack 16oz Cans

  2. 500ml Bottle

  3. 750ml Bottle

  4. 4-Pack 12oz Cans

  5. 22oz Bomber

Top Offer Types

4 different offer types were utilized on CraftCellr in 2018.  We broke down the percentage of total revenue generated by each type:

  1. Beer Release Pre-Sales:  73%

  2. Bundled Offers:  12%

  3. Memberships:  11%

  4. Events:  4%

Want to give CraftCellr a test run?  Sign up now for our 14-day free trial!

Is Technology The Future of Direct Sales?

Brewbound seems to think so! Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall discuss the industry trend of direct to consumer sales after an interview with Dan Kanery of Harpoon Brewing on Brewbound’s new podcast. Their conclusion? Technology is the future:

"Direct sales are here to stay...  The breweries that figure out how to do it effectively, whether there is some sort of technological advancements through an app that allows you to reserve your beer and come pick it up...  Those are the ones that are really going to nail it.  If you can take advantage of technology to help me get my beer quicker, I’m all for it!"

The future is now! CraftCellr has pioneered technology that allows breweries to sell beer direct to consumer via our turnkey mobile platform. Breweries like Creature Comforts, Monday Night, Three Taverns, and Pontoon Brewing are all utilizing CraftCellr to create an amazing consumer experience and of course… sell more beer.

You can check out the full Brewbound podcast here (discussion of direct sales happens with 2:40 left in the podcast).

Perfecting The Art Of The Presale With Pontoon Brewing

Want to know the secret formula to crushing beer release presales on CraftCellr?  We do too!  So we went directly to one of our experts: Sean O'Keefe of Pontoon Brewing.  We'll sit and listen, while Sean spreads the knowledge...


Tell A Story

With every beer we create for our Serious Series, we try to do two things: tell a story and make it fun. Before you can successfully launch a presale, you need to make sure all the components of your release are complete.  The goal is to have all the components work together to tell the consumer a fun and compelling story about why they can't live without this beer.

Create A Timeline

At Pontoon, we shoot to launch our presales 10-14 days prior to the release date. We have created a repeatable process that keeps us on target and gives us enough time to maximize our sales:

  1. Teaser: The week leading up to our presale launch, we will tease our upcoming release on social. Post a picture of the ingredients, a sneak peek of the label art, or create a funny meme. Make sure to let consumers know what day and time pre-sales will go live.

  2. Launch: 10-14 days prior to release day, we launch our presales. Make sure to hit up all your marketing channels: social, email, Reddit, and any beer communities you belong to. Don't forget to post the URL! You will miss out on sales if you don't.

  3. Remind: About 5-7 days into the presale, we use our social channels to remind our consumers about the release. Many social channels, like Facebook, limit your exposure to followers, so don't expect to sell out off one round of posts.

  4. Last Chance/Sold Out: The day prior to the release, we send out one more post to our social channels. If there are a few 4-packs left, we send out last chance messaging. If the release is sold out, we let our consumers know there will be a limited supply for walk-in taproom sales the next day.

Allocate Your Inventory

We typically start with a 50/50 split. 50% on CraftCellr and 50% reserved for taproom sales. Then we adjust up or down based on beer style, previous sales, and demand. At this point, we have a good understanding of when we should place more on CraftCellr to maximize our sales.

Pro Tip: Keep your CraftCellr inventory and taproom inventory separate and clearly marked.  Always keep a small reserve of beer in case something gets damaged or beer mysteriously walks away on you.

Prepare Your Taproom

CraftCellr makes the process of verifying consumer purchases and pick up very simple with its mobile platform. I would recommend you do the following to ensure your staff is trained and the consumer knows what to do:

  1. Train your taproom staff about the CraftCellr mobile flow and print out and laminate instructions for behind the bar on how to verify a consumers purchase.

  2. Make sure your staff marks each offer as claimed on the consumer's phone, so you will have an accurate accounting of who has picked up their beer.

  3. Place signage near the pick up location reminding consumers of the URL and steps necessary for claiming their beer with their phone.

  4. Create additional signage promoting sign ups for CraftCellr. It's a great way to capture consumer information and create a return visit.

If you made it this far, thanks for the read!  Cheers,

Sean O'Keefe - Pontoon Brewing


4 Tips For Building Your Brewery's Email List

With new breweries popping up all over the place, its more important than ever to ensure you are building your email list and staying in constant communication with your consumers.  Here are 4 simple tactics for capturing email addresses from your consumers:

1. Place an information gate on your wifi.

Everyone loves free wifi.  So why not use it to your advantage?  With services like SocialWifi, you can ask consumers to enter their email address or connect with their social accounts in order to login to your wifi.  In addition to capturing your consumer's information, you can access demographic information, serve up discounts or special offers, trigger automated email marketing campaigns, collect customer reviews, and so much more. 

2.  Run social media giveaways.

The brewery tee is the new concert tee.  Run a few simple giveaways online, asking for consumers to submit their email for entry and watch the submissions roll in.  In the startup world, swag is currency.  You'd be amazed what people will do for a free t-shirt.  Just make sure your gear is quality and the offer is enticing.

3. Ask for newsletter opt-ins through your POS.

Are you asking for consumers to opt-in for newsletter or marketing communications through your POS?  Most major POS technologies like Square and Revel have turnkey solutions for asking for email opt-ins at checkout.  Make sure to turn on these services and let the POS systems do the work for you.

4. Use CraftCellr for bottle and can releases.

These days convenience is king and queen.  One-click purchasing on Amazon?  Yes please.  With CraftCellr's mobile platform, you can create an amazing consumer experience for all your beer releases.  Allow consumers to pre-order their beer and pick it up on their own terms.  Once consumers are subscribed to CraftCellr, you can easily download their information into a CSV file and import it into your CRM platform.

5 Things You Need To Know About Pre-Sales

It’s been three months since we launched our pre-sales feature with Monday Night’s Tear of My Enemies release and we’ve learned some interesting “truth nuggets” over that time.  Here are the top 5 take-aways we’ve gathered from conversations with our partners and consumers:

SELLING OUT PRESALES DRIVES SERIOUS DEMAND FOR WALK-UP SALES

The team at Pontoon Brewing have a good thing going with the launch of their Serious Series.  But what really caught my attention, was the way consumers reacted to a simple “sold out” post about presales.  The post sent out a virtual bat signal to the market saying “if you want to have any chance at getting this beer, you better get off your ass and get in line early for walk-up sales.”  Sure enough, Pontoon had a line down the street on release day.

LET THE LINK DO THE WORK

As a marketer by trade, I’ve always been impressed with the creativity and artistry of social media in the brewing world.  Unfortunately, while an amazing shot of your beer will drive brand awareness, it won’t necessarily result in a sale. Until now…  Keep creating amazing content and simply add a link to start driving presale revenues. Let the link do the work.

CONSUMERS ARE WILLING TO GO THE DISTANCE

How far are your consumers willing to travel for your product?  Apparently pretty damn far! On multiple occasions I have talked with someone in person or on reddit who have driven from Athens or Chattanooga to Atlanta to pick up their presale reservation.  Each time I ask them the same question: Would you have driven all that way if you hadn’t pre-bought your beer? The answer: Probably not. This doesn’t just apply to cities outside Atlanta. Hell, driving from Alpharetta to the West End can be a haul depending on the day of the week.

LEVERAGE ANTICIPATION TO CAPTURE SUBSCRIBERS

Would Monday Night have sold out of their award winning scotch and bourbon barrel-aged Tears of My Enemies release without CraftCellr?  Without a doubt! But technology is all about the application. Monday Night’s strategy is to leverage their more anticipated releases to drive up their subscriber count, which in turn gives them a broader audience to email and text for all future releases.  Simple but brilliant.

GIVING CONSUMERS CHOICE IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING

I have to take my kids to soccer practice.  I’ll be out of town that weekend. I was hungover and forgot to go…. Life is hectic.  Your consumers see your amazing social posts all day long and thirst for your products.  But not everyone has the flexibility to be able to attend a release. The solution is simple.  Remove the obstacles for them. Presales allow people to engage immediately with your marketing and pick up on their own terms.  Empower your consumers with choice and they’ll thank you with their wallets.

If you have your own anecdotes, we’d love to hear them!  If you’re a craft brewery, cidery, or distillery and you haven’t signed up for your 14 day free trial yet… what are you waiting for?  We can have you set up and making money in less than 24 hours.  

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Sell Out…

Selling out a release doesn’t come easy these days.  Every brewery release, high-demand or low, comes with its own set of issues.

How do I generate more awareness?  How do I manage long lines and wait times?  How do I make my release more unique and exciting?

The answer is simpler than you think…. Technology.

Monday Night Brewing adopted CraftCellr’s platform to capitalize on one of its most anticipated releases of the year, Tears of my Enemies.  Hot off the heels of winning a bronze medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, Monday Night released two variants (Barrel-Aged and Scotch-Aged) of Tears of my Enemies through CraftCellr’s custom branded web-app.

The result?  One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Sell Out.

GENERATE MORE AWARENESS

Convert “likes” into sales.  Monday Night has used CraftCellr as a launching pad for a number of its releases.  The main channels for driving sales?  Text messages and social media.  Driving presales is as easy as sending out a custom text message to subscribers or posting a link to social.

CraftCellr_MNB_TOME.png

REDUCE LONG WAIT TIMES

Long lines are a good thing!  It means you are making great beer.  But long waiting times are another story.  By allowing its most avid fans to pre-purchase and skip the line or pick up later in the week, Monday Night dramatically reduced wait times and operational burden on its staff.

CREATE SOMETHING UNIQUE

Has anyone else noticed there’s a lot of new breweries out there?  The days of “if you build it, they will come” are over.  It’s time to be creative.  It’s time to get scrappy.  Monday Night put itself out on the bleeding edge of technology, because they wanted to create a better consumer experience.  Mission accomplished.