It’s an interesting experience when your two passions are able to come together in a way that fuels you creatively and professionally. I recently had the chance to attend and speak at the Beer Bloggers Conference held in Boston. I spoke to the group of bloggers and industry professionals about how they can leverage social media to build a community and drive traffic to their sites. It’s a presentation that works no matter what industry you’re in, since the underlying message is that it’s all about the content.
What really hit home for me while meeting other beer bloggers was how much craft brewers have in common with small business owners of all kinds. There’s an intense challenge to be heard when customers are overwhelmed with choices is especially challenging in the craft beer industry, since more than 1,000 new craft breweries will open this year. Throw in alcohol laws, large international conglomerates and the typical challenges small business owners face and it’s hard to believe craft beer is a thriving industry.
Despite this tough competition, I heard over and over that breweries can’t keep up with demand. Part of the success of the craft beer industry comes from the Internet – review sites, bloggers and social media all help fuel the growth, but the majority of the success comes from commitment to quality and commitment to community which can translate to any small business owner.
The commitment to quality doesn’t apply to just the final product. It starts with every small and large decision you make: hiring quality people, using quality materials, creating quality marketing to get your name out there. Add it all up and you’ve created something that your customers want and will share with others.
I also noticed the commitment to community. Breweries are creating relationships in the community by donating their time, resources and when appropriate, product. One of the largest cider companies in the country shared how they volunteered at their local town’s PTA bingo fundraiser. Locally, our breweries have partnerships with community groups and host events that have nothing to do with beer at all. It builds awareness for your name with people who may not know who you are or what you do.
Small business owners are obviously passionate about what they do, otherwise they would have given up long ago. The passion to help people, the commitment to creating a quality product and being active in the community are what helps your business stand out in the crowd. From brewing beer to providing home improvement services, the lessons are the same.