When it’s time to put a new product out into the market, the last thing you want is for it to be a flop. Time, ingredients, and creativity went into that beverage, and it deserves all the attention you put into creating it.
As exhilarating as it might sound to create and launch a product within a few days’ time, that’s not going to do your brand any justice. We recommend that you take the time to prepare for the launch and put together a solid strategy that will set you up for success.
Make a Plan
Every successful launch has a detailed plan behind it. Think of your favorite beer or wine: everything from the recipe or blend to the copy written on the back of the bottle went through several stages to get to where it is today. You should do the same. Here’s what we recommend you include in your plan:
- Launch date
- Marketing strategy and promotional materials
- Inventory amount per channel
- Target audience demographics
- Can or bottle design
Consider Your Sales Strategy
Arguably one of the most important parts of your launch plan is the sales strategy. Will your new product be available in the taproom only? In local bottle shops? In grocery stores across the state? Whatever your distribution plan, ensure you are building a strategy to promote across every channel.
In the Taproom or Tasting Room
If you’re keeping this new release to your taproom only, there are a few strategies you can employ to drive sales.
You should be using social media to build excitement for customers. Show people what’s coming, when they should expect it, and how they can get their hands on it. Social media can increase brand loyalty. And who knows, that funny TikTok or well-designed Instagram post could influence a customer to purchase your product on launch day.
Your social media strategy for each release should be included in your plan. For some inspo, check out Backcountry Brewing, a brewery with an extensive social media strategy for its almost 100 beers per year and 60-80 social posts a week. This requires a lot of advance planning and pre-captured images and video, something you should take on so your strategy — no matter how big or small — is ready from the start. Having all the right moves takes time, so stay focused and try to be patient with yourself. “People overlook social media, or they do only what’s required,” Backcountry Brewing Founder Ben Reed said. “Other breweries need to step up their game. Dedicate resources to your social media team.”
Partnerships with local “influencers” or ambassadors can be invaluable too. Their social reach can go a long way, especially if they’re known for promoting food and beverage spots and releases in your town.
Finally, your own taproom or tasting room is obviously a great spot to tease and sell. Have your regulars taste test for you and let them in on a few details or display signage with your new product release date — who doesn’t love being an insider?
If you’re going the self-distribution route for this product, you should be sure to train your sales team and arm them with the tools they need to succeed at selling your product. We recommend you go over:
- The basics: name of the product (and any relevant backstory), flavor profile, etc.
- Your sales goals (number of customers, dollar amount in profits)
- Target audience
- How to gather feedback from retail and restaurant/bar customers
- Technology they need to track this data
If you partner with a distributor (or several), you will want to hone in on your marketing skills and build the buzz with each of their teams. Get distributors excited that something new is coming and when the time comes, work with them on communicating that to their sales team — what is its biggest flavor? Why is it the next big thing for the distributor’s retail and restaurant accounts? Like you would in your taproom, building brand loyalty and awareness is essential and ensures that the sales team can get behind your product and push it out to as many customers as possible. Just as you would use social media to promote your taproom, remember you should be marketing to your distributors too. Technology can give you the upper hand, especially when it comes to showing your distributor customers that something big is coming — keep reading to find out how.
Another essential element to any launch is creating goals. After all, you’re growing your lineup and in turn, your business. Better make sure it’s worthwhile! Track both qualitative and quantitative goals to ensure your launch is on track. Here are a few potential goals for your team to set:
- Sales goals broken down by channel
- Engagement goals on social posts
- General reception
Congratulations! You made it: your latest product is out into the market. Now, it’s time to buckle down and keep your (and your team’s) momentum going. After the official launch, there is still much to do to ensure you’re getting your desired results.
Break Out the Plan (Again)
We should all be flexible, but there’s something to be said for sticking to your timeline as much as possible. You put time and effort into creating your plan before, so make it worth your while. When your brew is ready, inventory is stocked, and social media is prodded, it’s time!
Keep Track of Your Goals
Remember the goals you set in the planning stage? Now, you can see how your numbers and customer feedback are progressing. This is an essential part of launching your product, and will help you learn what works and what doesn’t for future launches. Be sure to use technology here to get the most accurate data about your sales in the taproom and in retail locations. This will help you more effectively and accurately track your inventory too. Do you have enough product for everyone? Do you need to brew more beer and adjust your production schedule? Or, do you want to sell out and get everyone excited about the next launch? Whatever the strategy, be sure you’re aware of what’s happening and how to get back on track if needed. Don’t just keep your head in the numbers either. This is the perfect time to utilize technology so you have a record of your success.
Make sure to continue promoting your new product long after it’s in the market. Whether that’s a new promotional special to get buzz going or content to post on your social media channels, don’t forget to keep the excitement going after your product’s initial launch. Use customer testimonials and feedback to assist your decision making about promotional sales and online content. This follow-up content will be essential to building your branding after the launch and generating new feedback about your product. Plus, if this was a limited release product, you’ll want to hold on to feedback and use it to promote the next time it becomes available.
Use Ekos Order Hub to Manage Hot Releases
At the end of the day, you want to create a great product that sells well and is developed as efficiently as possible, so you need to use all the tools at your disposal to do so. The solution to getting your distribution and customer accounts excited about new releases? Ekos Order Hub. Our all-in-one order portal can help you:
- Create personalized order pages for each distributor or customer group
- Tease new products early
- Keep track of inventory, no overselling or underselling
- Save time — less back-and-forth for you and your sales team
- Improved clarity — all communication in one spot
- Allow preorders on individual items to get sales in before you package the product
Don’t just take it from us. Heist Brewery is saving four hours per week using Ekos Order Hub and is already using the program to build buzz around new products. Lisa Antonacci, the brewery’s sales and distribution manager posts the upcoming product on Heist’s Ekos Order Hub portal with “coming soon” to let her distributor customers know something is on the horizon. “Ekos Order Hub gives our brewery a centralized, flexible spot for communicating with customers and providing the best ordering process possible,” Lisa said. “We can’t wait to expand with this system.”