Lesson 1: An open bar is a dangerous thing. Respect it.
Being from Norway where a beer sets you back 10 dollars in most bars, an open bar is the most tempting thing in the world. Free alcohol is popular anywhere, but inexperienced drinkers everywhere have a tendency to go ape, drink with both hands and ruin the party for the rest of us.
A lot of internet marketers do the same when they find "free marketing space". We've seen this in social media, and on email as well. Companies overdo the marketing and ruin the whole thing.
If I had a drink for every so called "newsletter" I get that is nothing more than a sales pitch in disguise, I'ld be Charlie Sheen by 10am every single day.
And don´t get me started on Facebook and Twitter... full of "Look at me!"-marketing.
Don´t get me wrong: It's OK to do marketing in social media and in newsletters, but you have to do it with moderation or you´ll ruin it for yourself and possibly everyone else.
Lesson 2: Silence breeds quality
Some of the best beers in the world are made withing the walls of Trappist monasteries by munks who devote their lives to prayer - and the noble craft of brewing.
These munks do - contrary to common belief - not live in total silence. However: they speak only when necessary and take great pride in communicating as effectively as possible. By minimising distractions they can focus on the quality of their work and their quest to receive and exercise the will of God..
Think of the trappists when designing websites. Stop giving 14 call to actions on every page, stop asking for unnecessary info in sign-up forms and stop the marketing fluffy fluff happytalk!
Instead think of how you can install more silence to your website. What can you remove to make your communication more effective?
Lesson 3: Always stick around for one more drink. That's when things happen.
Who leaves the party early? Bores and people who are not really interested in being there.
Stamina is important whatever you do, and if you really want to succeed - especially in marketing segments like brand building or SEO - you have to stick to it. I´m all for flexibility and speed of change but if you're leaving too early you´ll miss the fun.
Lesson 4: Listen to good bartenders
When asked for recommendations on "a good drink", the best bartenders will always reply with something along this line: "Do you like them sweet or sour?"
Good bartenders know segmentation and tailoring to customer needs. They find the drink that suits you, not the drink that suits them.
Being interested about what the customer actually wants is a very profitable habit.
Lesson 5: Always buy the first round
Buy someone a beer, and they will buy you a beer back. And throw in a shot! or a Fernet.
The concept of freemium is well established in the software business, as it is in the "first fix free" drug dealing business, but can it work for everybody? You bet - just look at the rise of content marketing - it is built around giving out knowledge. And nobody knows your business more than you - so start a blog, write a whitepaper or a presentation.
Point is: Giving is a great way to build trust and start a relationship. Give the idea - sell the system.
I remember buying a round of jello shots to a group of Dutch and South African backpackers in Ios, Greece. Turned out one of the best nights out ever. I was getting free drinks left and right. Still email them once in a while. But that night also taught me:
Lesson 6: Do not try to outdrink a guy wearing a "The Liver is Evil and must be Punished" T-shirt
I love competition, but some battles you just can't win. In search, small boutique hotels could never outrank sites like hotels.com or the big hotel chains for high volume searches in Google. And they could never match their PPC or display ad budgets.
So ... am I saying they should just give up?
No. But we have to be smart on where we choose to compete. If we can find longtail phrases and get a result, thats great! Can we tell better stories than our competitors, fantastic! And for a small boutique hotel there´s Tripadvisor where size doesn´t matter.
Lesson 7: Too much will kill you
Over time too much alcohol will kill you, and it´s the same with marketing. If you send emails too often, people will ignore them. If you over-SEO your website, Google will throw you out. If you have too many call to actions on your site people will choose the wrong one or give up choosing.
For the PPC-lovers: A friend of mine was doing PPC for a company that's in the kid's birthdays business. So he used adwords keyword tool to generate hundreds of varieties around the term "birthday" and thought "I´ll just select all, throw them in there and see what works." What he forgot was that he had dynamic keyword insertion in his ads so some of them read: "Hitler's Birthday: Celebrate it at [Client's Brand]"..
Lesson 8: Use a measuring tool
Bartending is a craft, not an art. They use measuring tools to get their mix right.
We still come across huge companies are not using analytics. Who don't know which part of their online marketing that works, or how the different tactics play together. Who have no idea which terms they are findable for and who even run PPC campaigns without knowing which terms or ads are driving conversions.
Use analytics or you'll end up with a marketing mix that is either too sweet or to sour - if drinkable at all!
Lesson 9: Never use prefab cream
Nothing beats a good Irish Coffee on cold winter nights, but ordering this drink is always done with a bit of fear. Are you getting the delightful smooth coffee drink, or are you getting the awful prefab aerosol cream version that goes flat after 30 seconds? ("Now I know how my girlfriend feels!")
Be original! Don't use stockphotos. Politically correct people laughing and pointing at computer screens does the same to your website as prefab cream does to Irish Coffee: Makes you wanna go somewhere else!
Lesson 10: Add some ice
I'm all for being as effective and to the point as possible. A lot of companies overdesign and overemotionalize their marketing when what they really need to do is just say "This is the product. Here´s what it does for you. Click here to buy".
However, some go full monty and though effective for some time, the overly simple websites become boring. You have to add some ice, some coolness, to keep people coming back.
Lesson 11: Creative constraints
Ever had a brew in your hand and no opener in sight? I know about 50 ways to open a beer without a bottle opener. I can use teeth, shoes, lighters, knives, spoons, another bottle, belts, iphones ... well, I stopped myself that time, but the point is:
When you remove the tool you normally use - it forces you to be creative.
So think: How would you do marketing if you had no money? Or if you had no website? or if...
These people in some way or another inspired these lessons and/or deserve a thank you:
- Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston for this must read blog post on Trappist monks and silence.
- Sean D'Souza for continued awesomeness at Psychotactics. (There's a lot of his thoughts in what you just read)
- Matthew Smith for inspiring Teodor Bjerrang to make Frontend 2010 a beer afficionado sanctuary.
- Christian Heilman, Molly Holzschlag, Eric Reiss and Michael Brandvold for being/encouraging hellraisers.
- Paal Fure and Trond Gudbrandsen for sticking around for one more drink.
- Anja Schönhaug for lesson 17: Distillation takes time.
- Bring for making good lager ..
- Brewers and bartenders everywhere.
Leave a comment here or invite me over for drinks at @kaaregarnes