​How Your Tap Handles Market Your Brand?

​It’s not about making money. Tap handles outside your brewery’s taproom is really about the marketing. And really, it’s about the only thing.

“This is where we make the money,” said Thirsty Nomad‘s Brad Leadbetter. “I consider having tap handles at other places as just brand awareness and not even advertising in the sense of, ‘Oh I’ve heard of that and I’m going to go find them,’ just: ‘Oh I’ve heard that.’

“I think that’s as much as you can really expect of having tap handles out there. We’d make more off it if we had cans in grocery stores and convenience stores.”

​The small brewery located near downtown Charlotte, which has a 1.5-barrel brewhouse with a few three-barrel fermenters and a five-barrel conical is content with keeping a majority of its brand in-house, where pint sales can help fund growth.

Leadbetter did try to expand the branding and marketing early on with the hiring of a salesperson, but he admits the thought process of skewed because he used his experiences as a consumer in Utah and tried to translate it to the Charlotte market, where he and a group of engineers opened the brewery.

“We are a brewery and we thought people would just come because we are a brewery,” he said. “That’s a challenge we have had to overcome. It’s been much more difficult than expected.”

The brewery has grown, going up about 20 percent in volume from 2017 to 2018. Leadbetter said when they opened they did have that surge of clients. Now bringing new consumers in is the challenge.

“There’s always new breweries opening in Charlotte. Everybody has that honeymoon period and then it falls off and you’ve a long slog,” he said. “There’s a ton of competition in Charlotte so it’s always a challenge to get people to go those extra 100 yards a little farther to come and see us.

“Our marketing focus is you come here for variety, atmosphere and because you like the people here,” Leadbetter said. “That’s a more difficult sell than “Come Drink Beer.” So there is that education piece and that’s challenging. But we attack it by being out there. We hit social media as much as we can think of. We just try and make sure that there’s always a face out there. And that we’re friendly and approachable.”

Leadbetter added the brewery has ‘definitely changed’ a lot.

“We adapt to whatever people buy,” he said. “I like to drink what I like a drink, but if we were only selling to me we wouldn’t make enough money. So we’ve added​ some juicy IPAs​ and dabbled in some hazy IPAs.

​”​I recognize that there’s no businesses in making beer, there is only the businesses of selling beer and I’m perfectly happy to adapt to what people want.”

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