When Steve Beauchesne opened up Vankleek Hill, Ont.-based Beau’s Brewery with his father in July 2006, they chose to bottle their marquee lugtread lager in big, 600 ml bottles rather than the industry standard.
It was a way to be distinctive and stand out on the shelf, he explains. It also has less packaging than a six-pack, for about the same amount of beer, so it’s good for the environment.
“It’s also reminiscent of the quart bottles you used to get in bars,” he says. A perfect touch of nostalgia for a microbrewery to add to its product.
Beauchesne, the CEO of Beau’s Brewery, is particular about all aspects of marketing his firm, beyond the bottle. He says he wants it to be transparent and honest. He’s cynical about marketing and hates it when a beer label is misleading – like when it claims to be a country beer but is really brewed in a city warehouse somewhere. So he wants to change the way marketing is done and use Beau’s brand as an example of that. That’s why when it came time to register a domain name for the Web site, he chose to register beaus.ca instead of beaus.com.
“It’s a great way to celebrate being Canadian,” he says. “Having a dot-come would have sent the exact opposite message.”
The Ottawa-area brewery only sells its beer within Ontario, so attracting Web visitors from a particular geography was important. The vast majority of his traffic is from Canada, but some other microbreweries from around the world do visit it after having a conversation with a member of the Beauchesne family (Steve’s dad is still the president). “It’s something I’m proud of, when I’m giving my Web site address and I can point out the dot-ca at the end.”
More than 2.1 million dot-ca domains have been registered since John Demco and a group of volunteers at the University of British Columbia opened the registry in 1987. The registry was transferred to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) in 2000. Most Canadian businesses prefer registering a dot-ca domain over a dot-com (49 per cent vs. 17 per cent, according to a CIRA poll.)
Beau’s isn’t the first dot-ca domain registered by Beauchesne. He remembers that before the dot-ca address was available, the only options were to register a generic top level domain (gTLD) such as dot-com, or dot-net. He as pleased when a Canadian option was available and his old rock and roll band, Constable Brennan, registered its Web site as a dot-ca.
With the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) introducing new gTLDS, Beauchesne will soon have other branding decisions to make. ICANN has already introduced four new gTLDs to the Internet’s central database for the domain name system on Oct. 23. Those new domains are all in non-Latin scripts, including Arabic, Chinese, and Greek, and may begin operating before the end of November. But more gTLDs are to follow – operated by bidders like Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Google.
Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. has applied to operate the dot-beer registry. Based in the British Virgin Islands. In the public portion of its application, the firm explains that it intends to operate the dot-beer registry as a “readily recognizable and identifiable name for content and communications about the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage,” it states. “The .BEER domain will better enable manufacturers, those who operate on either small or large scales, to more appropriately target consumers and beer advocates.”
So would Beauchesne consider registering a dot-beer address?
Yes, but only to protect his copyright from being claimed by someone else, he says. “I wouldn’t change my business card for it.”Beau’s beer is an ingredient of this soap, which is sold through its online store.
Here’s some Web site marketing tips from Beauchesne:
- Keep the design simple: Beau’s Web site allows users to navigate without getting too lost in information and continue to dig down for more details when they’d like.
- Use as a Web hub: Beau’s posts to its Facebook and Twitter accounts and uses press releases too, but all of those assets drive back to the Web site. Assume that someone visiting your site is already interested in your product and is looking for the whole story. Make exploring that as rich an experience as possible.
- Do e-commerce: Beau’s not only sells their beer online (only available in the Ottawa area for home delivery), but also sells clothing, merchandise, food products, and tickets to its annual Octoberfest event. For Beau’s, the e-commerce store isn’t a huge revenue generator but generates a lot of good will from customers that appreciate it.