How Marketing Students Helped Push Creativity

As more and more colleges have started to open up fermentation science classes and degrees in types of brewing, the other aspects of your brewery can be harnessed as well to help motivate and teach the next generation of workers for the craft beer industry.

For Susquehanna Brewing, a new venture into working with marketing students at a local college this past summer led to a new campaign for the eastern Pennsylvania brewery’s fall beer lineup, Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest.

It was eye opening for brewery Vice President Fred Maier, a 20-year veteran in the industry.

He pointed out that the students, ages 19-21, were taking an introductory course, so teaching the basics helped him and his staff as well.

“Simple marketing things, what is effective and what is not. It makes you start to want to take a step back,” he said. “Sometimes, being older you get a little detached from things, sort of myopic and stuck in your own world. They are in marketing right now.”

The class was a case study, done as an online course but students were able to go in and do on-site interviews with the Susquehanna staff along with Skype meetings through the summer semester.

“I told them to go to a store and stand 10 feet away and see what you see,” Maier recalled, noting it was refreshing to teach such things that seem so simple, yet can be so effective.

Sharing experience to students is “hands down” his favorite part of the business.

“It’s relatable to people. If we were making pens, great…but beer and music, it’s those things where people can connect and experience it and get excited over it. If you are 21-year-old kid with aspirations, this is great for them. They went above and beyond for us.”

Even though the students were there to learn, Maier said he learned as well. Using the student’s thought processes led to a marketing opportunity the brewery had not thought of.

“One of the girls came up with an idea of a Snapchat filter for Oktoberfest,” Maier said “I was like … ding ding ding, a light bulb went off and I had to go tell my partner. It was a practical use we had not thought of.

“These girls had fantastic insight. They are 20-21 and that’s the core. That’s the fun things, getting their insight.”

All of the marketing pieces for the Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ales have been a big hit so far and Maier has been deflecting credit onto the students.

“We made evangelists,” he said. “We have six kids preaching for us and maybe down the line I wouldn’t doubt if one of them found themselves in this industry.”

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