5 Ways to Reduce On-Trade Marketing Costs While Increasing Coverage

Glass of cold pale beer with a bowl of tortilla chips on a rustic wooden table

More than half of adults reveal the pub or bar is where they prefer to spend their leisure time, according to Japanese beer brand Kirin Ichiban, demonstrating just how firmly the concept of a relaxing is weaved into our social fabric.

This presents drinks brands with a massive opportunity to increase brand awareness and sales through on-trade activities, but it’s all too easy for marketing costs to spiral. Without the right strategy, you could end up making a huge investment into campaigns that don’t ultimately convert to your bottom line.

If you’re keen to increase your on-trade presence but want to keep tight control of the budget you spend on promotional activation, there are many ways to launch effective marketing campaigns whilst keeping costs to a minimum. Here are our top five tips for increasing coverage while reducing your on-trade marketing spend:

One: Run the show yourself

In the highly competitive drinks market, it’s important to develop well-targeted marketing campaigns in order to capture consumers’ attention. However, many drinks brands rely on external agencies to create on-trade campaigns, which can be very expensive. In addition to charging through the nose for new concepts, if you’re using an agency for your marketing requirements, your bill will increase each time you need to make a simple edit or create a new asset.

Working with an agency can also result in a lengthy production process, as you need a tight brief to get the results you want first-time, and even then your campaigns may end up going through several iterations before they are signed off.

Taking campaign development and management in-house is an easy way to cut back on marketing costs, with the added benefit of your internal team being in complete control of the creative process. This may seem like a daunting prospect, but it can be easily managed if you have the right platform to design and edit your on-trade collateral – and it’s much more cost-effective to invest in a piece of technology than the services of an external agency.

Two: Keep it simple

As we’ve already alluded, some brands shy away from managing on-trade marketing themselves because they worry about creating clever campaigns or concepts. However, the truth is that simple assets can often work best.

The average person gets annoyed if they have to wait more than five minutes at the bar to be served, according to Interparcel research. Keeping your point of sale content clear and concise will communicate your brand message within seconds, influencing consumer purchasing decisions whilst also enabling bar staff to turn around orders quickly.

A good example of simple-but-effective POS material is a menu card on the bar, suggesting classic or iconic serving suggestions for your beverage. This can persuade drinkers to upgrade to a premium version of their usual tipple, or encourage them to try something new.

2 in 5 consumers choose to upgrade to a premium brand when drinking out of the home, even if that means paying extra.

Maintaining a straightforward approach to on-trade marketing also helps to educate venue staff, who will need to learn your suggested serves and other marketing directives if your campaign is going to work successfully at the point of sale.

Three: Create templated campaigns

There’s a misconception that brands must start from scratch every time you build a suite of materials for your customer network. In fact, ‘evergreen’ content that works all year round can be really effective alongside specific campaign activities.

One of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to create an intuitive design template for on-trade campaigns and develop a selection of assets – such as menus, coasters, flyers, banners and digital marketing materials – based around that concept.

By using marketing design software to create campaign templates, your field sales team can demonstrate available options to bar managers and work with them to add in-venue branding that personalizes POS materials. They can even send it to print on their behalf!

This customizable template model is a really effective way to launch campaigns that work for everyone, without having to design separate materials from scratch for each promotion, or each hospitality outlet.

“Consumers have a very real level of expectation that brands should make their products unique and exciting,”

— Edith Hancock, Journalist at The Drinks Business.

Four: Provide self-service options

In addition to creating editable campaign templates that your sales reps can tailor, another way to keep on-trade marketing costs down is to let venues build their own, customized collateral. The more your bar managers can develop themselves, the cheaper POS material becomes, but it’s important that devolving power does not result in a loss of brand control.

Good menu design technology will enable your customers to tailor on-trade content by adding their own logos, imagery, text, and pricing within a set design template. You may also want to develop a database of serving suggestions for bar managers to pick and choose from, based on knowledge of their clientele, and assemble their selection into a templated menu.

This self-service approach empowers your bar network to be part of the creative process, whilst also ensuring you retain overall control – and that all POS materials being developed still meet your brand guidelines.

Five: Design transferrable concepts

A strong on-trade campaign starts even before potential customers walk into a bar. When you’re developing a new design concept, think about how the artwork can be utilized across different formats, to cost-effectively guide consumer behavior through multiple channels and locations.

For example, you may want to pull out a particular serving suggestion from your menu and highlight it in a suite of digital banners and adverts, which venues can use on their website and social media channels as part of their latest offers to drive footfall. Once consumers are on the premises, you can produce materials such as flyers, banners, and coasters to signpost them towards your brand before they pick up your menu at the bar.

When creating a suite of assets, it also pays to think about additional materials for bar staff, educating them on the recipes for each serving suggestion and the messages behind the campaign. Truly successful on-trade promotions are collaborative, and bartenders will need to feel confident discussing and creating your drinks to endorse your efforts.

This co-ordinated approach sounds like a lot of effort, but developing a multi-platform campaign is easy and cost-effective if you have a good POS templated platform. With the right technology, all you need is an initial idea, which can be adapted into several formats.

More reach for less money

As our tips have demonstrated, bolstering your brand’s on-trade presence doesn’t have to require a bottomless budget if you follow a few simple principles.

Our rule of thumb is: keep your campaigns simple; think about content that can work all year round; template your collateral for sales staff to customize for each venue; give venue materials in multiple formats to create a cohesive customer experience. And most importantly, use technology to make all these elements achievable in a straightforward and cost-effective way.

Brandgility can enable your brand to launch creative, enticing on-trade campaigns across your bar network, at a fraction of what it costs to work with an external agency.  Our platform provides all the design tools needed for your sales reps to customize multi-format content on your customers’ behalf – and bar managers can even jump in and edit templates themselves!

Increase your on-trade coverage without draining your marketing budget: request a demo.


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