Zephyr Strategy

Zephyr Strategy provides digital marketing services to the beer industry.

The beer industry has gone through incredible growth and change over the past 20 years. Many new craft breweries have ridden the explosive wave of craft beer growth, which included ten years in a row of double digit growth.

However, the landscape has changed. Craft beer saw a sudden and dramatic decline in growth in 2016. The major alcoholic beverage firms are now competing successfully with craft breweries. The industry as a whole is facing increased competition from both wine and marijuana.

Now, when times get tough, is when the shakeout will occur. As the old adage says, never cut your marketing during a downturn. In this case, for the first time ever, many breweries will have to increase their marketing exponentially.

We at Zephyr Strategy are entrenched in both the beer industry and in digital marketing. If you are a brewery – or another business in the beer industry – we can help.


Zephyr Strategy only works in digital marketing. Branding is obviously critical, retail sales can be important, and both PR and print advertising are still relevant but this is not what we do. Instead, we focus on providing services in these Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing. Not sure what you need, check out our Getting Started Initial Analysis.

In terms of digital marketing, if a website is not aesthetically pleasing, mobile ready, and set up to funnel people towards “calls to action” (even as simple as signing up for a newsletter or directing people to events), everything else will be a waste of time. Because of constant change in website development, if you want to update your website it might be better to start with a new one. Yet effective websites need not be costly nor difficult to manage. Website projects are all project-based or hourly pricing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once you do have a website, you need to get found on search engines. We all know we should be correctly titling images, putting tags on pages, and using keywords on our sites. But over time, these aspects fall in priority and websites – even when created with SEO in mind – become poorly structured, at least in the eyes of search engines. Breweries, specifically, can benefit from “Local SEO” which includes optimizing a site for listing on geographically-focused websites. SEO Revamp ($1,500): If you like your website, an SEO Revamp might be all you need. We will work with you to come up with a list of your keywords, analyze your current website, and make changes to your internal linking, meta descriptions, title tags, image tags, page titles, and listings on local-oriented websites.

Content Creation
“Content is king” is a phrase that has been around for a decade but is still extremely important in digital marketing, for two reasons: 1) Search engines like websites that are fresh and 2) consumers want to visit websites that provide content of interest to them, not what companies want to promote. Having a News page or Blog on your site is critical and what you write on this page is equally important. Other forms of content creation include e-books, white papers, and original reports/analyses. Content Marketing Retainer ($500/month): We have found most breweries know they need to have a News or Blog page but struggle to keep it up. For far less than the cost of hiring a new part-time marketer, we will create one news/blog post per month, based on information you provide us.

Email Marketing and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Database
Every company knows they should be engaging in email marketing and most do, at least at a basic level. But engaging at only a basic level can waste resources and turn off customers, changing what should be one of the most effective, efficient forms of marketing into a negative. Effective email marketing includes establishing a CRM (even if it is just Mailchimp or a similar email program); collecting the right data; keeping your database updated; setting up email campaigns that include micro targeting; analyzing delivery, open rate, and click through statistics; and optimizing performance. Email Marketing Retainer ($1,500/month): With our Email Marketing Retainer, we will maintain your database, create and send email campaigns, analyze results, and modify the campaigns to improve performance. Campaigns include micro-targeting of your database by geography, interest, etc.

Social Media Marketing
Most companies engage in social media marketing and many in the beer industry do this quite well. Social media is the perfect way to relate a company’s culture – and the beer industry has culture in spades. At the same time, social media can be a time suck and some platforms, like Facebook, now are mostly “pay to play”. To be effective, social media should not just be a “push” marketing campaign in which companies promote what they want to say but an interactive platform in which listening is as important as talking, including responding on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Beer Advocate.. Social Media Assessment ($1000): We will analyze your current social media including platforms and engagement metrics. We will then recommend a future strategy, suggesting platforms you should engage in and social media management software.

Video Marketing
Ach! We have heard for over a decade that video marketing is the future but most companies still treat it as a diversion. It is certainly possible to make polished videos and there is even a chance one will go viral. But for most companies, the key is just to create simple , personal videos with a cell phone and then to distribute them effectively – via email, your blog, social media, or video platforms such YouTube. Video marketing is all project based.

Influencer Marketing (Bloggers & Writers)
Breweries passionately make great beers. Bloggers and writers, often for no pay, passionately help connect these beers to consumers. But you can also work with beer bloggers and writers via sponsored posts, sponsored Tweets, Twitter tastings, display ads, virtual tastings, blogger-written shelf talkers, and blogger press trips. The key is to find the right influencers, select the right medium, and be true to yourself. Influencer marketing is all project based.

Online Advertising
Most breweries do not advertise online. But some of the top breweries are now engaging in search engine advertising or the popular “retargeting” in which your ad appears on websites visited by people interested in your company. The beauty of online advertising is it can be turned on and off on a moment’s notice, can be targeted to specific needs, and can be tracked to ensure results are worth the investment. While online advertising is not for every company, it can be highly effective when used. Online advertising depends on your needs and your budget.

Once you are on board with hiring us to help with your digital marketing, we offer a  Statistical Analysis Retainer at $700 per month in which we provide you with a monthly report that analyzes your social media, website metrics, email marketing, and (if applicable) online advertising. Ongoing retainers are where the real value lies as they can help you eliminate the need to hire additional staff – and make your current staff more effective.

Get Started

We are happy to discuss digital marketing projects with you on a project or hourly basis. See our Services page for details. However, our most popular service is an Initial Analysis of your digital marketing in which we:

  • Externally analyze your website, search engine position, and social media.
  • Set up a one-hour phone call with you to discuss your digital marketing. This will be our opportunity to together run through the Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing step by step, analyzing not just how you are doing but what you could improve upon.
  • Create a one-page report that analyzes your digital marketing and makes recommendations for you to proceed, based on your individual situation and needs.

You receive four hours of our time and concrete recommendations for proceeding. Your investment is only $500 and one hour of your time. Yes, this is a precursor to potential future work together. However, the consultation and report are incredibly valuable and you are under no obligation to hire us for any additional services.

Get Started Now by completing our online reservation form.

About Us

Zephyr Strategy is based in beautiful and beer-centric Boulder, Colorado. We are a division of Zephyr United, a small company involved in travel, food, and drink. Everything we do revolves around things we love.

Here are our beer and marketing credentials:

In short, we are constantly practicing what we preach ourselves via our own social media, emailing marketing, SEO, and more in the above endeavors.

Our leadership consists of:

Allan Wright is the owner of Zephyr United, which includes Zephyr Adventures, Taste Vacations, and Zephyr Conferences as well as Zephyr Strategy. Allan has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has lived in six different time zones, and has traveled to 60 countries. He has been running Zephyr for 20 years. As the main organizer of three six food and drink industry conferences related to marketing, social media, blogging, and tourism, Allan has arranged for hundreds of speakers to provide talks on these subjects. In his spare time, Allan runs his own food and drink blog, Eat Drink Boulder, and enjoys the trails, bike paths, and soccer fields of his home town.

Beth Peluse is a digital marketing agency veteran with experience in a variety of industries including beer, wine, and food tourism, hospitality, event planning and management, pharmaceutical, and financial industries. Her work ranges from partnering with new brands to establish an identity and voice to breathing new life into existing and established brands through their online presence. Beth has spoken on digital marketing in the beer and wine industries at the North Carolina Craft Brewer’s Conference, the Wine Bloggers & Writers Conference, and the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference. A craft beer enthusiast at heart, Beth has a goal of visiting every craft brewery in the Chicagoland area on her bucket list – which continues to be a moving target.

Beer Industry Climate

The beer industry changed dramatically in the late 1970s with the advent of the first craft breweries, legal changes that allowed small breweries to serve consumers from their own taprooms, and a long, gradual change in consumer tastes. By the 2000s, the craft beer industry was booming, with 12 years of double digital growth from 2004 through 2015.

That tidal wave of growth will never be repeated. Consider these facts, courtesy of Information Resources Incorporated:

  • Craft beer growth dropped in 2016 to 6.7% from 15% in 2015. While this is still excellent, the mature western region (including the hotbeds of Seattle, Portland, and Denver) grew only 3.7%. And as a harbinger of things to come, craft beer grew only 1.7% in January of 2017.
  • At the same time, competition continues to increase with over 5,000 breweries in the US, 6,789 different beers sold in retail, and 1,385 new beers introduced in retail in 2016.
  • The big boys (AB InBev, SAB Miller, MillerCoors) continue to put more stress on the distribution and retail systems for all craft breweries by developing their own beers in the “craft” style and purchasing craft breweries,.
  • 28 of the 100 top brewers reported retail sales declines and more than half of the top 15 craft brewers lost market share (even while many recorded sales growth) in 2016. Large breweries are suffering as the number of breweries continues to increase, consumers continue to search out “local” tastes, and retail shelf space is unable to keep up.
  • Small brewers find it hard to compete in retail and are left only selling via their tap room. In 2016 when looking at IPA sales, which dominate beer styles, the top 10 brewers accounted for 52.5% of retail sales.
  • Beer as a whole is under threat from hard ciders, hard sodas, and hard seltzers; from the wine industry which is now selling wine in cans and even had the first wine ad during the Superbowl in 40 years; and from the marijuana industry, where according to a new survey 50% of US adults have tried marijuana, 10% have purchased it legally, 40% said they would purchase it if it became legal in their state, and 27% said they would decrease or eliminate their consumption of beer if they could take up legal marijuana smoking.

But for us, the beer glass is still half full rather than half empty. It just means you might have to be a little more proactive in your marketing.