Since starting Jubilee, I have been amazed at the number of friends I didn’t know I had in Nashville. People out of the blue calling or emailing to “check in” and oh yeah, their cousin’s school has a fundraiser and they’re wondering if I’d be willing to donate beer for 500 people.
“It’s a great cause and I think it will be a great way to get some exposure for Jubilee.”
Since I’m in development for my real job, I know how it goes. You sit in a committee meeting for your charity of choice’s annual fundraiser. You’re going around the room trying to figure out how you’re going to add value without actually having to ask your friends for money, so you boastfully spout out “I know the guy/girl that owns (insert beer company name here)”. You get immediate kudos from the group and walk away without having to commit yourself to really doing much of anything. Don’t feel bad, everybody does it.
But here’s what you need to know if you’re going to get free beer successfully:
1) You actually need to be friends with someone at the brewery (not Facebook friends)
2) If you don’t know someone, be supporting a cause we believe in or be in a position to help the company in some way (there’s so many great causes…give us a good reason to support yours)
3) If you have one of the first two, present an opportunity that what would be beneficial to the company. Believe it or not, we’re don’t have much trouble giving away beer on our own, so we’re not going to jump at the “free exposure” angle.
4) If the company does donate beer, follow up after the event and say thank you. I can count on one hand the number of those calls I’ve received. Rest assured, if you don’t follow up with a thank you, the likelihood of getting the donation a second year is pretty small.
For every case of beer we donate, we have to sell 6 cases to make up for the loss. So if we donate 10 cases, we basically lose a pallet of beer’s worth of value. That’s a lot of money for a small company.
So what can you do that will add value for the company? For starters, try focusing on beer education. Everyone in the craft beer world is fighting the same battle…converting light beer drinkers to craft beer drinkers. The best way to do that is through educating them on why craft beer is better, and letting them feel, smell, and most importantly, taste the difference.
So maybe offer a craft beer tasting station…feature 3-4 different styles and let the brewery talk to people that are interested….maybe put some malt and hops on the table so people can see what goes in to beer and why each style is different. I promise your guests will enjoy it and the beer company will get value from it.
Get creative…think of unusual ways to tie the product into the event (maybe your caterer could make “Jubilee beer bread”) and think about ways to get the beer company involved in more than just donating product.
If you do that, you’re well on your way to getting free beer.
Oh yeah…one more thing…Jubilee is out of stock right now, so we’re not able to donate any beer for a while:)
*This post is on behalf of small beer companies everywhere