Tag Archives: beechworth

Craft beer, brewery trails and Bridge Road Brewers

For the latest in our series of Hume region business case studies, we spoke to Ben Kraus – owner of Beechworth’s award winning Bridge Road Brewers.

Business overview

Bridge Road Brewery started in 2004, moving to the old coach house on Ford Street and opening to the public in 2005. Today, the Beechworth brewery also operates as a bar and pizzeria, and their beer is sold around Australia. At the 2012 Australian International Beer Awards, the brewery brought home ten awards for their products.

Web and social media

  • The Bridge Road Brewers website has been a key part of the brewery marketing strategy since they opened, providing brewery and beer information, an online store, and links to the business’ social media profiles.
  • The brewery is listed on several information portals – however, Ben notes that it can be difficult keeping information current across all of them. Beechworth now has three different online directories, leading to a lot of duplicated information.
  • Staff are very active on social media, using Tweetdeck to manage their Twitter and Facebook accounts. They also receive alerts from keyword searches – listening for public discussions about Beechworth, their beers and the brewery name. The latest print run of beer labels now have the Bridge Road Twitter and Facebook accounts listed, in addition to the website.
  • The brewery has been trialling Google AdWords for around six months. They generally don’t target people who are already searching for the brewery, as Beechworth is far enough away from the major cities that it needs a special trip to come and visit. Instead, the AdWords campaign focuses on people who are looking for information about buying beer online – directing customers to the online store.
  • Currently, online direct sales are fairly low in volume, but the store infrastructure is now in place to handle higher demand for this in future.

Brewery trails

Beer tourism attracts some very serious beer fans, who plan trips based around brewery visits – much like the visitors to the region’s vineyards and wineries. These fans tend to be very active on social media – letting people know where they’re going, picking up extra cartons for friends back at home, and reviewing the places that they visit. Websites like the Crafty Pint and Brews News cater to fans of the craft beers and microbreweries.

Bridge Road Brewers are also part of the High Country Brewery Trail – a collaboration with Black Dog BreweryBright Brewery and the Sweetwater Brewing Company to encourage visitors to visit the high country and explore the four breweries.

Ratings and reviews

Like many of the businesses we’ve interviewed for the Digital Hume project, Bridge Road Brewers are listed on TripAdvisor. Generally, the brewery staff check review sites after busy periods like school holidays and long weekends, when many more customers are visiting the town. These also tend to place the most pressure on the business, when the brewery is most likely to book out their dinner tables. TripAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for restaurant and accommodation reviews, but Ben notes that the size and number of reviewers on the site can cause problems. When anyone can leave a review, there are no controls over whether those people actually visited the business – potentially letting inaccurate reviews bias potential visitors.

The review websites, blogs and forums used by the community of craft beer fans are generally seen as more valuable to the business, as they get exposure for the brewery among an audience who are more likely to travel out to the brewery, order online, or sign up for a Posse membership. As with any small business, it’s important to understand your target market and know where to find them online.

Digital economy planning at Indigo Shire Council

For the latest in our series on local government Digital Economy planning, we spoke to Will Rickwood from Indigo Shire Council, covering the Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen and Yackandandah regions.

 

Will talks about businesses in the Indigo Shire that have been highly active online: from the earliest days of the web, to the widespread adoption of social media. Will discusses examples such as web developers WWW.ART (previously covered in our Case Study series here) and Beechworth’s Bridge Road Brewers (who have built a strong following on both Facebook and Twitter). Winemakers from around Beechworth and Rutherglen have also combined blogs, websites, Facebook and Twitter to promote the region online.

Successful businesses share a willingness to innovate and find new ways to improve their business promotions, online sales, and access a variety of other advantages. Barriers to the adoption of online tools include skill shortages within businesses, and a lack of time to explore them properly – especially among small retailers. Local government also has an important role to play in raising awareness and providing training to businesses, in order to prepare them for the digital economy.

The Indigo Shire also contains numerous examples of how the local community can work to promote their region online, such as the Beechworth Online website, official visitor guide and mobile app. The council  hopes to apply this approach to online tourism promotions to other areas across the region.

Web design and regional communities online, with WWW.ART

Our latest case study looks at Beechworth’s WWW.ART web design services – winners of the Excellence in Professional Services award at the 2012 Indigo Shire Business Awards. Owner/operator Fiona Larkings has been helping businesses across the region get online since launching her business 14 years ago.

Business overview

Since 1998, WWW.ART Design Services has built a strong portfolio of clients from many different industries across the region. We specialise in building cost effective easy to navigate, well-structured web sites for businesses and organisations of all sizes. We work closely with our clients to provide a personalised service, helping them to design and maintain effective, individually tailored websites.

We provide a wide range of services for our customers, from the design and construction of new sites, through to ongoing maintenance, social media integration and email marketing solutions. One of our earliest projects, the Beechworth.com community hub now has over 110 businesses and community organisations on the site, and attracts over 8,000 visitors each month.

Tell us about the web technologies you are using in the business

  • Our website acts as a showcase for our services, and a portfolio of our current work.
  • Google Analytics provides us with detailed statistics on our website traffic.
  • We’re familiar with a range of domain management systems and hosting technologies, which we use to register and manage client domains, and provide web hosting services for our clients.
  • An email marketing system helps us manage our mailing list and contacts.
  • We also have a business presence on social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Using Webinars for training enables us to keep up with the latest changes in our industry, without constantly needing to travel to metropolitan areas.

What benefits have you gained from using these tools?   

We are an internet based business, so without access to these tools our business would not exist. Where possible, we aim to educate all of our clients about the benefits of using these technologies to help them grow their own businesses.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the NBN arrives?

The increased speed the NBN offers will help us to do better business, and provide faster delivery of speed for client websites.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies? 

When setting up a website, find a professional website designer/developer that knows about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Rather than thinking about how the website looks and then later discovering that it doesn’t work, these two elements should work together. Your website developer should also be able to clearly explain the elements required to construct a website, so that you know what you are paying for.

Make sure that your website allows you to update your own content, or that your developer provides support if you find this too difficult. All businesses need to have an online presence so that they can be found in this fast moving world.

You can find out more about WWW.Art through their website, Facebook page or Twitter account.