Today I will discuss a topic I discussed in (the newest) episode 007 of the MAFFEO DRINKS Podcast that I share here for you: Farming Sales in Bars.
One of the biggest challenges for new drinks brands is what to do after they have managed to build demand across a few bars in a city and get the agreement from the bar manager to take stock of our product. It's important to consider how many bottles we expect them to take - one, two, or even a case.
In sales for small brands, transactions typically start with just one bottle. You might be lucky if they're confident enough to take two at first. It's crucial to help them sell your brand by encouraging them not only to fall in love with it but also to move through their inventory quickly so that they can order more. Always keep in mind selling the first bottle with the second one in mind.
1. Focus on one simple drinking occasion and make it tangible
Brands must create a simple message that reaches consumers and the industry. Bartenders should understand clearly what type of drinks to use the brand, and consumers should get how the product can be used in real-life situations while maintaining an aspirational image.
Unfortunately, many brands rely on cliches in their marketing without explaining how their products can be incorporated into daily life. That makes bottles collect dust on the shelf, in bars, and at home.
The key is creating relatable content connecting with consumers' (real) lives while acknowledging the brand’s origins.
2. Follow up after your first delivery.
Whether selling directly or through a wholesaler (through a transfer order), following up on deliveries and ensuring that your brand doesn't get stuck in storage unnoticed due to staff changes or lack of communication among team members is essential. The smallest details often significantly impact whether a brand sells successfully.
When your sales team is selling indirectly they only agree on a sale, but they don't take care of the dispatch of the actual bottle. Your team may place the order on behalf of the bar or let the bar do the order through their preferred wholesaler.
The transfer order ensures your team knows if the bar has ordered/received the bottle. It specifies the quantity and details of the products to be transferred, such as item codes, descriptions, and quantities.
It helps ensure proper tracking and accountability during the transfer process. The wholesaler then coordinates the logistics and shipment of the requested products to the bar.
Building relationships and trust takes time, so don't rush this process. Focus on developing an appealing taste profile for your brand and communicate it effectively throughout the value chain – from salespeople to bartenders.
3. Skip POS Material and spend A&P money wisely.
Avoid spending too much money upfront on promotional items like branded T-shirts or beer mats; instead, focus on building your niche market organically and growing within that space based on customers' preferences without pushing aggressive marketing tactics onto them.
4. Make your sales targets simple to understand.
Thinking bottom-up when launching a new brand in the market is important. Selling 1000 cases is an overwhelming target. If you flip it and think bottom-up, all of a sudden, it becomes much more achievable. Still difficult, but it becomes numbers that your brain can manage. Selling four cocktails per night in 50 bars is much simpler for your brain.
5. Use tangible examples and numbers when talking to bars.
If your product isn't selling well in a particular bar after some time, try making achievable goals for bartenders rather than asking vague questions about increasing sales volume. Break down targets into smaller steps (e.g., selling six additional drinks per week) which will encourage problem-solving amongst staff members, who may become more proactive in promoting your brand. If a bar must make 12/13 cocktails to finish a full bottle but sells only half, don't ask them to finish the bottle; ask them to sell six extra drinks instead.
Remember: consistency is key when trying new strategies and nurturing existing relationships within bars stocking your products!
6. Understand which bars sell the most for you and why.
When increasing sales, conversing with your customers and building relationships are important rather than just asking for favors. Many issues in the industry stem from this "favor" mentality. People often buy products they don't need out of goodwill but never use them. It's crucial to identify which bars to focus on when farming. Not all customers are created equal. Understand why some bars are better than others for your brand. Do a small experiment in repeating what you see working and then course correct. Keep iterating.
Brands are built bottom-up.
That's all for this weekend. One simple drinks industry tip.
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