​Entrenching Into Current Sales Territories

​The thought process of “going deep” has become (pardon the pun) entrenched in craft beer business circles now. More than being “an inch deep and a mile wide,” which was the old mantra.​

​Breweries see more value in looking for more taps and shelf space within an area it already covers versus expanding into territories farther away. Those that did expand rapidly have seen the benefits of contracting and circling the wagons closer to home. Building a relationship is vital with beer buyers for both on and off-premise.

Ecliptic​ Brewing​ h​​as brewery representatives living in or covering most markets​ for the Portland, Oregon brewery​.

​”​This is crucial because we go to market with the goal to build incredible relationships​,” said Sales Manager Erin Grey Kemplin​. ​”​We work hard to establish trust with our buyers and bar owners​ —​ maybe even become someone they would consider a friend.

​”​I believe this comradery helps build long term partners for Ecliptic and keeps us at the top of the buyers’ mind when they purchase.​”​

Bent Water Brewing ​started as a self​-​distributing brewery.​ Director of Sales, Ryan Nestor said the Lynn, Massachusetts ​brewery’s team ​felt with the “do it all” model ​it could penetrate ​its back yard.

​”​We could sell our brand effectively with conviction, charisma, and confidence​,” Nestor said. ​”​As we expand, we have started to work with distributors, but with such a competitive marketplace we need to represent our brand within those territories as much as possible.

​”​It is imperative to have great relationships with our customers, and we really drive this home with our sales reps.​”

Along with a team of Brand Ambassadors that helps with events and tastings, ​Bent Water strategically organizes​ tap takeovers, beer dinners and ​gets ​involved in ​each market’s ​local communities to strengthen the brand.

​”​We strongly believe in grassroots marketing; it certainly takes more work on the front end, but if executed properly, it can really pay dividends​,” Nestor said.​

Cheboygan Brewing distributes statewide through its home state of Michigan, and Nick Beard says the brand has some established core brands throughout.

Beard, the Southern Michigan Sales Manager, said both he and his fellow sales staff members have experienced some growth with core brands at less craft centric bars, restaurants and stores.

“Of course, we will only sell the product in if we think it will move,” he said. “Sometimes you take a risk, but it does not help anyone if the product sits on the shelf and the distributor has to pick it up six months later, or they have to discount our beer on tap.

“Ultimately, we want everyone in the transaction to be happy, including the end consumer.”

Cheboygan has grown the brand in established markets with seasonal offerings such as La Cerveza (a low-ABV Mexican-Style Ale) and Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout.

“We released these in cans this year and it has been a great offering for off-premise accounts,” Beard said. “Having seasonal and limited releases can help remain relevant in the crowded market and also get fans back to your core.

“It is also fun and awesome to reward our fans with something special.”

​Of course, ​Kemplin​ ​noted that ​making the highest quality beer that ​any brewery can ​is key ​and staying on point with the trends in the industry.

​”​We listen to what buyers/customers want but also try to stay true to ourselves​,” she said.​

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