This spring I got to enjoy a Chicago Cubs spring training game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. While at the game, I met someone who simply amazed me- in fact he knocked my socks off! He was unlike anyone I have met before. He was Mark the Beer Guy.
Now Mark the Beer Guy is a beer vendor but he isn’t just any beer vendor. He is different; definitely different. Throughout the game, I watched him, watched him work the crowd, watched how he served his customers, and watched in awe as baseball fans waited patiently in the Arizona sun for Mark the Beer Guy to make his way over to them. As I watched him, I thought to myself “Business owners could learn a lot about marketing from Mark the Beer Guy.” Here are some lessons that he taught me:
1. Create a Memorable Brand
“Mark the Beer Guy” was once just regular old Mark, who sells beer at sporting events. He created and built a brand by figuring out what his “thing” was, in this case, being a professional beer vendor and then taking action to become known for it. By branding himself, as “Mark the Beer Guy” and creating memorable, positive experiences with his customers, he built a national following.
2. Build Relationships
Mark takes his brand and travels all over the country selling beer at different sporting events including spring training games in Arizona and Minnesota Twins regular season games. Despite being in different cities all the time and selling to a stadium full of people, Mark focuses on building relationships with his customers. As a result, people ask for him by name and they won’t buy their beer from anyone else, even though he’s selling the same beer at the price as all the other beer vendors.
3. Care about Service
It isn’t only Mark’s commitment to being the best Beer Guy there is or his ability to create immediate connections and build lasting relationships in the time it takes to sell a beer that makes people want to give him their business. He has created a following because he cares about more than just selling beer. He cares about his customers and the quality of service he provides to them. People ask for him by name because he remembers their names, the names of theirkids, and what he talked to them about the last time he saw them, which may have been last season. People won’t buy from anyone else because he makes them feel special and turns the beer buying experience into something more than a financial transaction.
4. Stand Out from the Crowd
“Mark the Beer Guy” is the only beer vendor that I have ever met that has a personal baseball card as a business card. The baseball card has his photo and lists some highlights of his vending experiences from previous years. Ever season Mark makes a new baseball card and his customers clamor for them, eager to add to their collection of “Mark the Beer Guy” baseball cards year after year. But it isn’t just his baseball card that makes him different. He is also charismatic, entertaining, and a lot of fun. He takes an experience that wouldn’t even be memorable with another vendor and turns it into something magic.
5. Be Consistent
The other thing Mark does that makes all of this work as well as it does and that ensures customers will keep asking for him and giving him their business is that he is consistent. Year after year, regardless of which venue he is selling beer at or how many people he has served that day, he provides the same level of service to every customer. People can count on him which is why they are willing to wait in the Arizona sun to get their beer just so that they can buy it from him.
Anyone who is in the business of selling things or servicing customers can learn a lot about marketing from Mark the Beer guy. I hope you get to see him in action sometime… (Oh and by the way, the Cubs won!)