3 Marketing Lessons Learned from Oktoberfest

If you like beer (and even if you don’t), you’ve probably heard of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. Maybe you’re even one of the seven million people from across the world who travels to Munich for the 16-day-long event. This year’s Oktoberfest kicked off on September 21st, and just wound down yesterday, October 6th.

In 2012 alone, Oktoberfest visitors drank 6.9 million liters of beer and ate 116 oxen — so it’s safe to say the festival is a pretty big deal. Each year, approximately fourteen beer tents are scattered across the fairground, complete with carnival rides, Bavarian restaurants, beer lovers in traditional Oktoberfest costumes, and souvenir shops. And every year, the event only gets bigger.

With a reputation that no other beer festival can touch, and increasing attendance year over year (let’s remember — this event goes all the way back to 1810!), the people behind Oktoberfest must be doing something right. Let’s take a look at a few marketing lessons that we can take away from Oktoberfest, and see how we can apply them to our B2B businesses.

Stick to Your Traditions

Just like the marketing landscape, the beer industry is always changing. From bottle shapes, labels, and taste, there are several aspects that are constantly in flux. But while many of the breweries at Oktoberfest adapt to these changes, one in particular does not: Augustiner Bräu. Established in 1328, their beer has hardly changed since they started producing it. They haven’t changed the shape of their bottle; they don’t advertise; they don’t export their beer; and they’re the only brewery at the festival that still serves from traditional, wooden barrels. And yet — their beer has been voted almost unanimously as the best beer at Oktoberfest.

Augustiner Bräu does a great job embodying the age-old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While many marketers feel inclined to constantly iterate and innovate, there’s something to be said for sticking with what works. It may be tempting to forsake old marketing campaigns and brand standards, but staying true to the brand you first created can be invaluable, especially when it comes to fostering a devoted following of brand evangelists.

Know Your Audience’s Pain Points

At Oktoberfest, you can expect to see several things: costumes, tents, carnival rides, and people holding a beer in one hand. You would think this would make eating difficult, but Oktoberfest’s food vendors come prepared for this one-handedness, often only selling food that can be eaten with one hand. With this one adaptation, Oktoberfest visitors can easily carry food with them as they walk from tent to tent, leaving them with a free hand for beer.

Instead of viewing this one-handedness as an inconvenience, vendors are capitalizing on it by providing exactly what their customers need. Similarly, marketers should be identifying pain points among their audiences and making sure that their marketing strategy directly addresses these points of concern. Do you already know that your customers are strapped for time, or are looking for better analytics systems? Be sure to include these pain points in your marketing messages, and indicate how your product could be the best solution to fit their needs.

Create an Experience

Oktoberfest isn’t all about the beer (okay, it’s mostly about the beer). It’s also about the millions of people who gather together over shared passions and interests (which are, admittedly, still beer-related) in an environment where they can meet new people, relax, and have a good time. All in all, Oktoberfest is an experience, beginning with the tapping of the first keg by the mayor and ending a full sixteen days later, energy still high as visitors leave excited for the next year.

B2B buyers are beginning to expect the same kind of enjoyable, personalized experiences out of modern marketing. As marketers, we should always be thinking of ways to build an experience around our marketing campaigns, whether that’s an interactive website or microsite, a helpful video series, or a contest hosted across multiple social platforms. Whatever it is, make sure it’s as enjoyable and helpful as possible for your customers, so they always leave on a positive note.

Have you ever been to Oktoberfest? What marketing lessons can you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!