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Newsletter #1010: The “Booze” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

The alcohol industry is a crowded one. You’re fighting for shelf space where people judge you by your label, it’s highly regulated, and while alcohol marketing might sound a lot more fun than whatever you’re selling, it’s really, really hard work. But that doesn’t mean they have to make a Super Bowl commercial or buy a billboard to get attention.

Here are three examples of clever word of mouth marketing from alcohol companies big and small:

1> Make a spectacle of yourself
2> Send them a golden ticket
3> Play a game
4> Check it out: Booze Map

1. Make a spectacle of yourself

To celebrate their “Anytime Ale,” Austin Beerworks created a limited edition 99-pack of beer for $99. At seven-feet long, this thing takes two people to carry out of the store (if you can find it). Since they only released a limited amount of these 99-packs, Austin Beerworks gave clues as to which grocery stores and gas stations around town would have them in stock on their social media accounts. People were lining up outside of convenience stores for hours to be the first to get them.

The lesson: Austin Beerworks didn’t change their product or spend a ton on advertising to spread the word. Instead, they relied on the exclusivity to build up excitement and the spectacle of a seven-foot-long box of beer to keep it going. Even better, a 99-pack of beer is a perfect excuse to have a party and tell even more people about Austin Beerworks.

Learn more: Anytime Ale

2. Send them a golden ticket

We’ve talked about Maker’s Mark’s amazing Ambassador program before. It’s all about helping their biggest fans take ownership of the brand and take pride in talking about it. When you sign up, you get your name on a barrel plaque. Once the bourbon in that barrel matures, they send you a golden ticket for the opportunity to come pick up your personal bottle from the batch and hand dip it in their iconic red wax.

The lesson: It doesn’t get much more personal than that for a distillery churning out mass quantities of bourbon every day. Your customers love feeling a personal connection to your stuff, and Maker’s Mark proves you don’t have to run a small shop to pull it off.

3. Play a game

Did you know that Pabst Blue Ribbon’s beer bottles have playing cards printed underneath their caps? Or that Lone Star bottle caps have riddles written on them? These aren’t just fun little gimmicks. They’re conversation-starters. You can make a game out of the PBR “cards” you collect or ask your friends to help you solve Lone Star’s bottle cap riddle (because they’re not always easy).

The lesson: The more excuses you give your customers to talk to other people, the more they’ll talk about your stuff too.

4. Check it out: Booze Map

This map shows the most iconic beer and liquor for each state in the US. Guess which state has a beer called “Texas Sucks.”

Check it out: Thrillist

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