If you’re a small business and you’ve been around for 30 years, you must be doing something right. Great Lakes Brewery, located in Etobicoke (just west of Toronto, Canada), pride themselves on the quality of their craft beer, and rightly so.
But it’s their marketing, and how they create advocates at employee and customer level, that other businesses could learn from Great Lakes Brewery when it comes to their own success.
Using Pop Culture Effectively
Take a look at the line-up of beers brewed by Great Lakes Brewery, and you’ll see a collection of cleverly named products that play on their pop culture inspirations.
- Robohop Imperial IPA, complete with full Robocop imagery
- Audrey Hopburn Belgian IPA, with the iconic Audrey Hepburn look on the can’s artwork
- Harry Porter ale, with a wizard on the can
- Over My Dad Body Pilsner, tapping into the dad body craze of last year
These are just some of the ways Great Lakes are using iconic names and imagery to create a fun, instantly-recognizable product. The artwork merely completes the pop culture overtures.
Advocacy Through Employee Engagement
While you want your customers to be raving about your business and your service/products, having employees that are brand advocates is just as important.
When employees truly enjoy their job, not only does it reflect well on the business when it comes to attracting new talent, but the employees become another piece of the marketing team.
When Sam Fiorella and I visited the brewery recently for a tasting event, every member of staff was knowledgeable, clearly passionate about the product, and would answer any question we and other drinkers had.
Seeing that passion makes for a more enjoyable experience, and customers more likely to recommend Great Lakes Brewery over a competitor.
Using Influence Marketing Effectively
When it comes to influence marketing, Great Lakes Brewery take a more studious approach. While they don’t run influence marketing campaigns directly, Troy Burtch – who heads up the marketing team – does use the methodology of influence marketing to identify and reward fans.
By following specific hashtags and keywords online, Troy can see who’s pushing the Great Lakes brand, as well as craft beer in general, forward, and sends out a gift pack of some Great Lakes swag, and a beer.
It’s a more subtle approach, but one that we know works, based on results from our own influence marketing campaigns. Identify the micro-influencers who are true fans, and enable them to be part of your messaging through simple connection and recognition.
Knowing and Targeting the Audience
As I mentioned at the start, lasting 30 years is a heck of an achievement for any business, regardless of size. Especially when that business deliberately limits the audience for its product.
But this is a deliberate move on the part of Great Lakes Brewery. While they have the scale and resources to expand beyond the province of Ontario, they’re happy being known as a great brewer serving the people of the province.
It’s this community feel, where the physical brewery is a hub for the residents of Etobicoke and beyond, that enables Great Lakes Brewery the knowledge of its customers, and their preference for what beer is made, and how it’s then sold to them.
This knowledge has ensure Great Lakes continues to win awards for their products, and brings in new fans without the need to spend massive marketing dollars.
It’s this marketing approach, coupled with keeping on top of the latest trends in craft beer, and experimenting with products to meet those trends, that will probably see Great Lakes Brewery celebrate their next big milestone with the same success their recent 30th anniversary enjoyed.
Something all businesses can learn from.