Fest Practices, Part 2


...continued from Part 1: Jockey for Successful Event Presence

There’s one singular, most important reason why you’d participate in any event: sales. Is what you’re doing to activate your event presence leading to more dollars in your taproom or retail accounts? 

Should there be other goals you layer into your strategy? Absolutely. You might be thinking: brand awareness, testing a pilot/experimental batch, teaching a new employee the ropes, introducing a seasonal offering, etc. However, if you’re only stoked to attend Annual Awesome Festival X to get wasted with your industry colleagues, you should’ve opted out of pouring and instead paid for a ticket like everyone else.

money shot


Maximizing event presence shouldn’t be daunting, but it should be taken seriously. There are many aspects that need to sync concurrently. And, it requires considering internal and external factors—before, during, and after any event.

This post will begin to scratch the surface on addressing what you should consider before the event, internally within your organization. Specifically, we’ll start by assessing whether an event should be worth your time and whether you have the resources to pull it off the way your brand deserves.

Then, each subsequent post in this series will build upon the previous one. We’ll wrap up what you should consider internally before events. Then, we’ll continue looking at the planning stage from an external perspective—how to approach the event and its host organization, your industry and scene colleagues, and the audience (i.e., your potential consumers).

question marks

Internally | Assign Value to the Event

  1. Is the event critical to your success? If not, the smart play might be to sit this one out.
  2. Do you literally have what it takes to pull it off well? Note: I didn’t say, “just okay.” Consider your time and resources. If you’re short on either, be prepared to invest in both adequately or you’ll pay double for it later. If you show up with a dilapidated jockey box, for example, trust me—your competition will eat you alive for bringing a knife to a gunfight.
  3. Do you want to be there? Don’t just go through the motions. And, if you have to send other reps from your brand, make sure they want to be there, too. Your people can make or break your reputation, so don’t send the guy who doesn’t know how to smile, can’t look guests in the eye, and says, “Yep” instead of, “You’re welcome.” But you already knew that. 
  4. What’s your goal? If your answer is, “To show up, pour beer, and get our name out there,” you’re gonna have to come harder than that. Your name is on the line, and there are thousands of other brands that don’t care that you don’t.

Internally | Forecast Your Product Offerings

  1. Have you budgeted for this event in terms of your production schedule and annual volume production? This will obviously be more significant the smaller you are and the less you produce. 
  2. Don’t bring more than you need. Don’t know how much to bring? Ask the festival host (who generally may have minimum and maximum requirements) or your industry colleagues who’ve done the event before. 
  3. What are you going to pour? Flagships and mainstays can be reliable, but if you were a fan of your own brewery (which you should be), wouldn’t it be fun to try something new, different, and a little adventurous? Or, do you think your fans just want to show up and drink everything they can already buy on any store shelf any day of the year? (Hint: They don’t.) Consider seasonals as well as letting your freak flag fly—test that crazy concoction you’ve been wanting to do forever, or collaborate with another brewery and co-op its promotion. Have fun with it, but not to the point where you lose focus of your goals. 

    Pro consideration: If you’re promoting that it will be available at an event/festival, perhaps it should also be available in your taproom. Yes, there may be strategic reasons why you shouldn’t or contractual obligations why you can’t. Otherwise, it satisfies both your loyal taproom fans who might not be able to attend the festival as well as those who might find their way back to your taproom to have a second helping of what they fell in love with at the festival, which is kinda the goal, right?

    4. Added value. People care and want to know your story (if it’s worth sharing). At least, they want to know what makes you special, worth waiting in line for, worth remembering. What can you do off-site at an event to educate guests about who you are as much as what you’re pouring? And, if you’re looking to create easy, immediate buzz, try complementing what you’re serving with a quick and easy food/snack pairing. Garnish your pastry stout with a nugget of candy, your wine with a sliver of cheese, your cider with a slice of crisp apple. 

    As this comprehensive series unfolds—stay with us because it’s going to be a long, yet educational and worthwhile ride—we’ll continue unpacking what you need to know to achieve successful presence during and after events in the same manner—looking at them from inside and outside of your organization.

    Continuing reading Part 3: Inventory Equipment. Or, subscribe to our newsletter to receive the rest of the series delivered to your inbox as it’s published.