The 'No Budget' Growth Strategy for Craft Brands
The 'No Budget' Growth Strategy for Craft Brands
A list of free initiatives craft brands can use to create brand awareness and generate buzz without spending significant marketing dollars.
As a small craft or independent brand, we know it can be intimidating knowing how to grow in a new market. Unlike your home market, you often don’t have a client base, don’t have the same network / connections, and sometimes may not even speak the local language.
In the past many brands have turned to big traditional distributors to do their marketing & sales for them – but this often comes with a big price tag.
Most craft & independent brands don’t have a large marketing budget to throw around in hopes of something happening. They need to find other growth opportunities that are better fit for them.
That’s why we created The 'No Budget'Growth Strategy” for brands – a list of free initiatives brands can create brand awareness and generate buzz without spending significant marketing dollars.
But like the old saying goes: “You get out what you put in.”
So what can you put in?
1. Ensure You Have An Online Presence (Cost: $0)
Simply put, make sure people know where to find you online. They want to see what you’re all about, make sure you’re legit, and most importantly, check out your products!
You may already have an online shop setup in your home market, but if you’re expanding into a new market it’s important to make sure they’re available locally – with the local currency, shipping, and language.
This can often be pricey and time consuming to do by yourself. We recommend listing your brand & products to be featured on Lexir’s B2B Shop and B2C Shop in each market that it’s available. This is available to all Lexir subscribers.
You’d be surprised how many times brands miss great business opportunities because the people interested in you can’t find you easily online.
A brandwebsite from Scottish rum brand "Ninefold Distillery"
2. Be Active on Social Media (Cost: $0)
People won’t know who you are unless you make yourself known.
Utilizing social media, email marketing, and other free digital marketing channels can help spread the word about the brand to a wider audience. It’s free to sign up and start posting on all of the most popular social media platforms including: Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube.
Your brand is unique, so be sure to be authentic and focus on sharing your own story. People are more interested than ever in what’s behind that pretty bottle.
And don’t forget to engage with your audience. Liking, commenting and sharing others' content can help building relationships, and even some reciprocity sometimes!
Bonus Tip: While English is a good common language, you can utilize translating tools (like Google Translate or DeepL) to sound more local.
3. Contact Sales Partners (Cost $0)
The spirits industry is big – take advantage of it! There are thousands of bars, bartenders, influencers that are always looking to collaborate with new exciting craft brands.
Having a good network in your new market is a key way to tap into the local community and start spreading your message fast. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, so it’s good to help get a few local mouths moving first!
You can work with local sales partners in a variety of ways such as: running events, online campaigns, conducting tastings, etc.
The simplest and cheapest way to do so is to reach out online! Let people know what makes your brand exciting or different. Reach out to as many partners as possible online and offline.
If you’re a Lexir subscriber, you can get direct access to our own network of local sales partners who have already shown interest in working with craft brands.
4. Be Selective (Cost: $0)
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone and their mother knew and cared about your brand overnight? The reality is most people need to But the truth is most people are not.
Trying to target everywhere is a great way to target no one. That’s why it’s important to be selective and cherry pick leads that align best with your product.
Are you a premium Irish whisky brand selling France? It’s likely a good idea to then target bars that serve Irish products, or cocktail bars that serve premium products.
A quick and easy way to find these leads in your target market is to simply use Google Maps. Just like if you were a tourist in a city, look for places that you could imagine serving your products.
If you’re a Lexir subscriber, you can also fast-track this process by requesting lead lists from our team. With our own network in each market, we help brands target the right people to save them a lot of time and effort.
5. Chase Your Leads (Cost: $0)
Once you’ve found a handful of key local leads, be sure to reach out! Tell them a little bit about your brand and why you think it would be a good idea to work together. Be sure to keep it short, direct and personal. Many establishments receive quite a few messages!
It’s a good idea to not just rely on one method of reaching out – some businesses may be more active in certain places than others. You can try email, social media DMs, phone calls, etc.
Pro Tip: Never forget to follow up. This is a key mistake brands often overlook. If someone doesn’t respond, that doesn’t always mean they’re not interested. Wait a couple days and follow up a few times before you consider the lead cold.
6. Visit the Market & Go Knock on Doors (Cost: Traveling to the Market)
This may be our most expensive strategy, but it can also be one of the most effective. While we live in the digital age, there is still nothing that beats face to face interaction.
This is especially true if they can see, touch, smell and taste the product along with you. In almost all cases, buyers would rather hear the creator of the product, than a sales representative.
A few quick tips for your visit:
It’s a good idea to visit during times when events are happening as people are often in the mood to learn about something new.
If you’re visiting a bar cold, be sure to go on off-hours – you don’t want to compete with paying customers at the bar. Ideally it’s best to coordinate with the bar beforehand and set a time
Don’t forget the pro tip from the section above: never forget to follow up!
So show up and advocate for yourself – you might be surprised how much a smiling face and a personal touch can do to get people to connect to your products.
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’ve already taken a great step towards growing your brand.
It’s time to add up our total!
Ensure You Have An Online Presence (Cost: $0)
Be Active on Social Media (Cost: $0)
Contact Sales Partners (Cost $0)
Be Selective (Cost: $0)
Chase Your Leads (Cost: $0)
Visit the Market & Go Knock on Doors (Cost: Traveling to the Market)
As you can see, you don’t always need a big marketing & sales budget to grow – just a little bit of passion, resourcefulness, and determination.