Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 1.10.27 PMAround here, the TV is often used as background noise as we work in our home offices, mainly to keep the dogs from barking their fool heads off at every passing car or crow cawing. But sometimes we get interesting stuff on there too.

Marketing ideas come from all over, and you never know when a fabulous concept will just drop out of the sky.

This commercial for Club W came on yesterday, and it sparked a conversation between us on what the craft beverage industry (especially mead, as we’d just been talking about that) can do to raise the volume and get more people paying attention. (In case you’re wondering, my hubby is an engineer, but he’s always had interesting insights on my work in the craft beverage industry, an often has ideas that are pretty awesome). He pointed out that this sort of thinking outside the box (or bottle) is what is needed.

Marketing your craft beverage products can be challenging, especially when you have to contend with the efforts of the ‘Big Boys’ and their massive marketing machines to control what tasty beverages the drinking public sees.

Is what you are doing raising the bar? Are you taking a different tack? You can’t take on the MMM (massive marketing machine) of the alcoholic beverage behemoths head on. But you *can* do end runs around them. Big is slow. Small is agile.

My industry experience started with the mead industry, through founding and running, then beyond with the International Mead Festival, and being one of the founders of the Mazer Cup International. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and work with many mead makers, both home and professional, and have followed the progress of some of the largest and most successful meaderies in the industry. And see some of the amazing marketing successes, and some flinchingly bad gaffs. Some of those gaffs ended up in the ultimate fail, the closing of the business. That hurts.

But the biggest issue the mead industry faces is recognition. One of my friends, JD Webb (producer and co-host of my radio show GotMead Live) pointed out that where he lives, in southern California, 9 out of 10 people he mentions mead to don’t know what it is. This must change for the industry to really take off.

Likewise in craft cider, small batch distillers, and even boutique wines, getting people to see you, to really *see* you, is an uphill battle. You face the giant producers and their even bigger marketing budgets at every turn. And you face the uphill battle to get people to see you, rather than live in a world that only includes the Big Names.

Look at the craft beer industry. They are kicking butt and taking names, and growing every year. But that butt kicking took many years before the trend caught on and took off. And they fought hard for every gain. Now they have to re-group and change their attack, as AB Inbev and Millers/Coors are ramping up efforts to directly force craft brewers out of the game, including buying up the brewers themselves, buying the distributors so they can exclude the craft level brewers from entire markets, and even fielding products that have no expectation of making a profit, just to take up shelf space in the stores.

We’re fighting a war, folks. And it’s the 300 against the entire Persian army. What will you do to stay in the fight?

I’d love your thoughts. What do you see as your biggest challenge with your business right now for getting the word out? What obstacles do you face to sell your products? Tell me about your challenges in the comments below.