Beer is love

by Holland-Mark | April 23, 2014

Unlike a lot of the people coming into Denver, I was not looking for some late-season runs at Snowmass (or an ounce of Critical Mass at a local cannabis shop, for that matter). I was here for another kind of obsession: beer. I was not alone. More than 9,000 people were expected at the Colorado Convention Center for the 31st annual Craft Brewers Conference. And, since one of our clients, Haas, is the largest distributor of hops in the United States, I was, of course, “obligated” to attend.

The show was all I had hoped it would be. I got to see all the raw ingredients that go into brewing beer. I was coached on the proper way to smell hops. (You put a pile in your open hands and then rub them together until you feel the heat. Then you open your hands, get your nose right in there, and take a big sniff.)  And I also saw (and, yes, tasted) dozens of great beers. But what I really saw, was love.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of trade shows, conferences and conventions over the years, and love is not something you’re likely to see. But love was everywhere. From the folks who made the kegs, kettles, and mash tanks to the brewers who made the Wheats, the Stouts, and the Double Imperial IPAs, there was genuine love in what they did. Love for not only the product, but also the process and the people. The beer fest, I can honestly say, was also a love fest. Now it would be easy to say, “Of course there was love … it was beer.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the craft brewers were setting an example that any company could learn from. Not just because they loved what they did. But because it was truly important to them that their customers loved what they did. The equipment, the ingredients, the recipes, the flavors—even the names and the labels—were created with the goal of getting beer lovers to love their beers.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? But how many businesses wake up every morning thinking about how they can get their customers and prospects to love them? I would suggest that too often clients and agencies wake up thinking about how they can make their product or service better, and lose sight of what they can do to get people to love it. I know, the two are not mutually exclusive. Yet, I have to wonder what might change in those products and services if love was one of the goals. (And how that might change sales.)

No, not everyone makes and sells something as fun as beer. But I’ll bet whether your product is a checking account, a health plan, a technology platform, or, yes, even a marketing campaign, that a lot could be gained by first thinking about what you can do to the product, the packaging, the promotions and even the delivery method to make it something your customers and prospects will really love.

As the conference wound down, I made one last stroll through the aisles looking for some new brew that might have escaped my palate. Zombie Dust, Victory At Sea, Arctic Devil, Lagunitas Sucks—names like these and labels to match pulled me in toward the taps. And as I offered my tasting cup to the pourer, I said to no one in particular, “I love my job.”