Written By: Shelley Zalewski


Taps at Short's Brewery by Shorts Brewing Company

This presentation is the story of how a company called Short’s can build a tall brand.  

It outlines a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan for the Short’s Brewing Company, including defining the unifying theme, outlining the strategy, describing the tactics, and discussing the budget, timeline and performance metrics.

Are you asleep yet? 
If this presentation were to deliver a traditional marketing recommendation in a conventional PowerPoint format, you just might be.  But wake up! Short’s Brewing is anything but traditional, and for them, neither “old media” solutions nor “death by PowerPoint” will do.

So, like the one-of-a-kind beers Short’s brews, this “prezo” has been “hand crafted” to reflect the style, personality and voice of the company and its founder, Joseph Short.  Joe’s approach to the business of brewing and distributing beer is casual and hands-on, with an emphasis on creativity (his and his team members’) and an obvious nod to the natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle of his corner of Michigan paradise – on the shores of Torch Lake.  So although the presentation is deliberately designed to look a little "grungy" around the edges (like Joe Short), don't be fooled by informality -- Joe is a smart business man, and this proposal must deliver the goods.

Here are the details of the social media marketing recommendation for Short's:

Short's is a true Michigan success story, and boy - does our state ever need one. Spending any time at all on Short's website, YouTube channel or Facebook page makes it clear that they're pretty good at using social media to tell their own story -- it's an engaging story you find yourself wanting to be part of.  The challenge is to take them to the next level.

That's where idea behind this program came from. Why not use social media to invite Short's drinkers and fans to add their own stories?  Specifically, an integrated promotion called "Michigan Shorts" has been devised.  The centerpiece of the program is a contest asking consumers to create their own "Michigan Shorts" -- short films (3 minutes max) that tell their own stories that will be posted on a special Michigan Shorts YouTube channel, for sharing, recommending, and voting on. Links to the promotion will also be evident on their website and Facebook page, and they'll be blogging and tweeting about it regularly to keep the program's momentum going.

What's in a Michigan Short?  Anything the consumer wants to share about why they love the state, what makes their particular hometown or favorite hangout special, or why they love Short's beer (although these are not intended to be Short's commercials).  They can pick their creative format -- funny or serious, music video, documentary,  monologue, animated feature, boy-meets-girl, boy-meets-beer --all eligible videos (only adults age 21+, no porn, etc.) will be considered.

Like the popular reality contests American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, winners will be determined by a combination of popular votes (registered on the YouTube channel) and an "expert" panel.  For this promotion, the top vote-getters will advance to a judging round, where the grand prize winner and top finishers will be chosen.  Allowing for recommending and voting will expand the number of fans and friends visiting and sharing the Short's YouTube channel, website and Facebook page.

Blogger outreach is a big part of getting the word out about the promotion and getting people talking about Short's.  Short's will be connecting with not only the microbrew/craft brewing blog community, but top lifestyle bloggers around the state.  In order to encourage top bloggers to talk up the promotion, some will be invited to serve on the judging panel.  Outreach is also planned to both the retail and bar/restaurant outlets who carry and serve Short's, employing some more traditional merchandising/packaging tactics like posters and stickers on six-packs.

The program is designed to coincide with Short's upcoming expansion, laying the groundwork with blogger outreach and pre-launch activities on the website, in the pub, and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube before the formal launch.  All of these steps are designed to increase awareness and demand for their beers just as increased production capacity comes on line (in March 2011), and continue through the end of the promotion in late fall.

Both money and time are in "short" supply for Short's.  Since the balance of the program will be executed with non-paid and consumer-generated social media, the budget has been kept as low as possible, with the main line items going for prizes. (Note that the initial recommendation does not call for paid social media placements such as Google AdWords.  However, this can be revisited after the launch if it is determined that additional support is needed.)

Even if out-of-pocket costs are relatively low, a significant amount of work remains to be done by the staff in blogger outreach, updates, etc., and they must budget for that additional workload.  The presentation also contains a rough production timetable to help the team determine how to assign the various tasks ahead.  

Finally, analysis of program metrics is also covered.  In addition to watching the number of contest entries (and of course, monitoring sales volume), the more critical short term metrics for Short's to monitor are site traffic and mentions, retweets, etc., in the various social media channels they touch, to see if they are achieving mutually agreed-upon awareness goals. 

With that introduction, here’s the presentation:





In look, voice and content, it aims to be true to the essence of this very intriguing brand. The goal is to keep Short’s friendly, “beer-next-door” brand feeling as they prepare for an expansion that will make them a much larger company. To meet that challenge, this plan engages consumers in a new way, encouraging them to tell their own stories.

It’s hoped that the campaign will align the brand with the state’s current "root-for-the-underdog-state" zeitgeist and celebrate Michigan’s great stories, while helping Short's sell a lot more beer.joe short in the brewery by shorts brewing company

Photo credits:  all photos courtesy of Shorts Brewing Company