Fest Practices, Part 8
...continued from Part 7: Play Nice in the Sandbox
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Well, friends, this is (almost) a wrap. In this final entry of our Fest Practices blog series, let’s put a bow on things.
To recap: We outlined recommendations for maximizing successful event presence, and organized them according to what breweries (or any alcohol brand) can do internally and externally—before and during each off-site occasion.
And, quite like you wouldn’t just up and split without taking care of business when you kick your last keg, we conclude here with what keeps you in good graces after events have ended.
The liquid is why you were there today in the first place so treat it the way it deserves by taking care of the equipment you used to dispense it. You paid good money for your jockey box and hired the best people to serve it, so properly cleaning it before you throw it in the back of your van (Wait—scratch that—please, don’t throw it) is one of the best things you can do today to set it and your team up for success tomorrow.
When you do get back to your brewery, there’s hopefully a designated shelf or staging area where event supplies can live until their next use. You know how you freak out every time you misplace your car keys at home? Hang ‘em on a keyring so you don’t have to play 20 Questions with your roommate, and you’ll never be late again.
Document, document, document. An after action report, or review, is an analysis that summarizes the details of a past event—what worked, what didn’t, and why. We mentioned it in Part 4. If thorough enough, it allows us to virtually revisit our approach and execution of our participation and whether it warrants a repeat appearance. They’re only as valuable as you allow them to be, so create and leave a clean paper trail for yourself and teammates, particularly those who are likely to work the same (or a similar) event again.
Not everyone can make every awesome event you sign up for, particularly your diehard fans and loyal, local regulars. And they’re usually happy to jump through whatever fun and engaging hoops you create if it means that they can have a swing at sampling what they missed out on at last weekend’s Barrel-aged New England Pastry Hazy IPA Fest. So, let ‘em know you missed them as much as they missed you.
- Recap the event. On social, share a dedicated photo gallery of its highlights, @mention any superfans who raved about your beer, and give credit where credit is due to anyone who helped you pull off a successful showing.
- Poll the audience. Ask your mailing list if they attended and what they thought. Ask them for suggestions about what they liked and ideas for what they’d love to see next.
- Tap it again. While a certain amount of, “Dammit, I KNEW I should’ve gone” is healthy because it keeps people talking about you, there’s also value in giving off good vibes when you randomly announce on social media (or privately to your mug club, first), that you saved a little extra for those who couldn’t be there, and that it’ll be available in your taproom tonight. Watch the fervor ensue!
THANK YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND YOU
You’re only as good as those by whom you surround yourself. And they deserve to know you appreciate them.
While you’re still on site, check out with the event host before you leave. Even if you don’t have to. Bonus points for asking them if they need any help (and double bonus points if you actually do chip in). Shake their hand, thank them again for having you (because you already thanked them when you arrived), and then send them a hand-written thank-you note tomorrow. You will stand out, elevate your reputation, and be thought of fondly (because no one ever does this; change my mind).
Remember those guys from Brewery A who covered your booth for a half-hour so you could go eat, or the badass woman from Brewery B who loaned you a wrench because you didn’t check your SOP checklist? Give your staff who worked the event a paid day “off” (plus per diem) for R&D. Send them to those breweries, with a case of your beer in tow, and thank them personally for coming to your rescue. You don’t think they’ll talk highly of you after that?
Unless you are literally a one-person show and your beer tastes like canned rainbows, your staff is the reason you’re still in business. Those who just worked a 12-hour day in the cold rain or blistering sun deserve your SINCERE acknowledgement. You don’t have to go overboard or always dangle a carrot to elicit a response, but small tokens of your recognition when deserved will earn the same from them—in terms of higher productivity, lower turnover, and invaluable ambassadorship. Their contribution to the solid foundation of support and leadership your brand needs to stand on will propel all of you toward success.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
People underestimate the longevity of their most recent move. We asked you, in Part 1, “How do you want to be known, and remembered?” If you’re not satisfied with the current story people are telling about your brewery—because the last thing you did was uninspiring—it’s on you to be the author of its next chapter. Events and off-site appearances create opportunities for plot twists, so capture our attention, surprise us, and make it worth our while to give our time and money to you—in and outside of your taproom. We want to love you—we just want to see that you give a damn, too.
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