What Craft Breweries Can Teach You.

Guest author Mike Lamardo is a beer writer for the Washington Times Communities, where he hosts a blog on the industry and offerings of craft beer. He is also involved in entertainment writing for DirecTV, and other outlets. You can get in touch with Mike on Twitter @MikeLamardo.

There is a big change going on these days in the world of beer. Well actually, the change has been going on for quite some time. Instead of consumers believing that their choices are from a sort of trifecta of big time breweries, many small breweries from the most unlikely of places are reworking the minds of consumers, revealing that nothing is black and white.

Regardless if you're from a urban stronghold, or a one-horse town, you might be surprised to learn that a craft brewery (or several) could be within a several mile radius. The sudden explosion of craft breweries have to do with many factors that have to do with quality (speaks for itself), and a sense of community that they establish through honest communication and local efforts.

Like many small businesses, craft breweries are connecting to their consumer in ways that the big guys just can't seem to get: they simply speak the language.

Put away the beer funnels and forget the many hazy college nights of bingeing and keg stands, this isn't that type scene. If you're looking to get started with your own business or campaigns, you might be surprised into how much you can learn by observing the practices of a craft brewery.

1.Stay Grounded and Stay Close

Take a look at the label of a beer that comes from a brewery, and you'll notice that something is just a little...different compared to what you were used to in college. Craft breweries stress the place that allows them to operate‚ a geographic focus, and this shows in their direct branding.

Beers that come from Smuttynose in Portsmouth, NH or Dogfish Head in Milton, DE are successful because of their communal focus. Both of these breweries host events like foot races, and ask the consumers to get involved with the brewery in ways that would seem inaccessible to the more corporate environment.

So really, there's nothing wrong with acting like a "business‚" in the strict sense, but these guys don't isolate themselves, don't try to go above the consumer. They are right there with everyone else. With this kind of connection, consumers tend to see such craft breweries not as businesses so much, but as drivers; a catalyst of community.

2.Don't Rush Into It

When you read about the stories of the dawn of craft breweries, many of them seem to sound like they started as an accident. With home brewing being a popular pastime for everyday people, many are finding that a hobby is becoming a true passion. With the right resources and enough support from friends and kin, many home brewers go from their basement to the warehouse to several distributors.

This unlikely outcome can certainly apply to any other form of business. Try to have a plan in mind, but maybe, just see where it goes. The success of breweries are made so because the people who are behind them listen to the community; to the potential consumer. They aren't on a pedestal, unwilling to listen; they make a point to remain flexible.

3.Imitate. Innovate.

I'm not a business owner, but these two simple words have always been one of the most vibrant phrases I could imagine running by. Whether you want to start a craft brewery or not, take a visit to a brewery or associated establishment, and see how they conduct their activity. The good thing about craft breweries is that upper management figures are often accessible, and are always happy to talk and share their thoughts with those who are interested.

I did an brewery feature for my blog on a local brewery named Mother Earth Brewing here in my state of North Carolina, and it was a very warming and welcoming experience to talk to the founder and CEO of the company. He didn't know who I was until contacting him, but remained in touch and was happy to reveal just why his Eastern North Carolina brewery was so successful.

Learn from who you can, and put your own spin on it.

Which goes on to another quick lesson that should remain obvious. If you find yourself getting more attention, make it a point to talk to everyone who approaches you about your project. Having that sort of nexus puts you in an accessible position that will positively reflect yourself as not just an entrepreneur, but as a human being in general.

Guest author Mike Lamardo is a beer writer for the Washington Times Communities, where he hosts a blog on the industry and offerings of craft beer. He is also involved in entertainment writing for DirecTV, and other outlets. You can get in touch with Mike on Twitter @MikeLamardo.


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