What's On Tap?
"The beer distributors are a network for the larger breweries and all are individually owned—even though they have Budweiser signs, they all make their own decisions on promotions," Wysopal explained. Beer distributors are the connection between the manufacturer and the seller, responsible for putting the bottle in the bar, and consequently can be instrumental in introducing new products. They will be purchasing all the caps, T-shirts and bottle openers given out at bars during promotions. "The beer distributor sells many brands and all those brands need promotions," he advised. "Sell them on the fact that you can promote all their brands."
On the other end of the spectrum, craft and microbreweries manufacture their own beer, and may sell through distributors or directly to bars. Due to their size, these companies focus marketing dollars not on Superbowl ads but on promotions that emphasise the quality of their products. "The advantage with microbrewers is that they want to be held to a higher standard," Wysopal said. "Importers and microbreweries typically use more expensive and more effective promotional products that are perceived to be more valuable." He also stated that, due to their smaller size, it is much easier to contact the buyers for these companies.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Once you're loaded on beer (knowledge, of course), the trick is finding the right promotion to get it into the bar. "There are people coming in all the time saying, 'Will you carry my beer?'" said Patrick O'Neill, general manager of the The Belgian Cafe, Philadelphia. Along with its sister bar Monk's Cafe, The Belgian Cafe is one of the premier beer spots in the United States, with over 200 different bottles of domestic and imported beer—if anyone knows what sells beer, it's them. "They'll usually bring in some [promotional] stuff, and I'll tell them if it's something I don't need."