We are the trade association for craft brewers around the US, so we promote and support - as well as protect - all the small and independent breweries in the US.
There are around 7,000 of those right now, almost 5,000 of those are members of association and we do everything from supporting them through publications and information conferences and events that cover the gamut from government affairs support, to quality and safety, raw materials access, as well as supporting just the Craft Beer enthusiasts as well.
We have our whole homebrewers association, so people who are interested in homebrewing can become a member of the American Homebrewers Association and they can get all the information that they would need to support their home brewing hobby, as well as people who are just interested in craft beer in general.
So we have craftbeer.com which is one of our websites which just talks about everything in the beer industry. There’s a lot of things about the types of styles of what people are tasting, where they are going and enjoying their beer - just beer culture and what brewers are doing out there for the customer side of things.
We have our whole professional division and we also have our more home brewing and brewing enthusiast.
[Craft beer] that is where we have seen the most growth in the past 5 years; even in just the past 3 years we’ve grown leaps and bounds.
I’ve worked at the Brewers Association for almost 5 years now. When I started, the level or the amount of craft breweries in the US was below what it was pre-prohibition, so those levels - there were over 4,000 breweries in the US then, and as of 5 years ago, there were less than 4,000 and we’ve grown that number. Now we’re sitting just over 7,000.
So in the past 5 to 3 years we’ve seen exponential growth and lots of excitement behind it but at the same time when you see that growth in a business, you really have to help support that and that’s what we’re here for.
Because there’s things on the government side of things, whether it’s the federal government or state government that we help support, all the way down to people getting their raw materials...and how do they do their marketing plans?
All of a sudden you have that much more competition in your industry and you have to be smart about the way that you market, smart enough in the way you run your business, whether it’s with finance or safety or employment hiring across the gamut.
As the association for craft brewers, we touch on all those aspects and provide that information to our members.
We run the wide gamut of our marketing from digital to events to social media and print marketing as well. We see the real need to be able to reach out to our membership base, whether it’s on the professional or amateur side in multiple different ways because sometimes you never know how they are taking in that information.
So, whether it’s a printed postcard we sending to highlight a resource we have or an event, to social media telling people online what is going on in the industry and how we can help them. We cover everything. We’re a pretty small company - I think we’re upwards mid-60s as far as the amount of employees we that we have here. Our creative department, there’s five of us and we also have a web department, IT, lots of support departments as well that we work with but we work hand-in-hand with our professional divisions on the homebrewing side and the professional side. And across other departments like our member services and our warehouse that we have for all of our events.
GoProof - the majority of it is used through our print pieces. That’s one of the easiest ways to use it but, however, we do see the ability to bring in more than just print with video and… lots of times when there’s something like say a web banner or something like that we’ll continue to use GoProof.
Because, at the point before you’re publishing it, it still could be considered almost a print piece so far as how that is shown in GoProof.
So we run, as I said, a wide gamut of all the pieces we create, along with our events. We just finished up a huge here in Denver, our Craft Brewers Conference, where we had over 14,000 brewers from around the US that come in and go to all the different seminars at the event.
We have pieces that are the size of the side of a building down to a little card that you may get on a table somewhere and we run all those through the GoProof system, so that our marketing team and professional divisions can comment on those pieces and we can get them updated and correct.
We also have a program for an event like that and most of our events do have a program of some sort that shows them what’s going on, the schedule, all of our sponsors and additional information they need to know about the event.
That’s been super-helpful to use through GoProof reviews because we have multiple revisions of it and then making sure everything is good to go to press.
Another aspect we have to our business is our magazine publications. So we have primarily 2 magazines: The New Brewer which is for our professional division, it goes out 6 times a year to all of our professional members and has similar to what I talked about with all information that would provide or help them with their business and articles about what's going on in the industry, whether it be with raw materials, equipment safety etc. So that’s a publication we put together every other month.
The opposite month to that one going out we have a publication for the homebrewers that's called Zymurgy magazine and we do the same type of thing there but for the homebrewer.
The other aspect we have of our company is brewers publications. It’s a division of the Brewers Association and typically every year we put out 2 book publications. This year was a bit unique and we went for 4 publications! We’re still in the process of 2 of them - one of them is already published, the other should be coming off the press end of next week [May2019]. So the other 2 we’re still in the process of building those out.
And those are everything from style guides, so they talk about a style of beer and the history of that style. Also we just put one out about draft beer quality management, so making sure your draft lines are clean and how you keep up a draft system, whether you’re at a brewery or a retail location.
And then we have one coming out this fall that’s small brewery finance, so it talks all about how you would run your finance at your small and independent brewery.
So, run the gamut of topics for our book publications. Those are pretty in depth, usually anywhere between 200 and 400 pages and a review system like GoProof really helps streamline the process of that, going through multiple reviews and leading up to press time.
I’m sure we’re in line with how a lot of people have done it, or still do it!
Prior to GoProof, we would print things out and pass around a folder. Sometimes it’s big enough and has a binder clip on it! And that makes it way around to everybody in the company who’s reviewing it.
Obviously there were downfalls to that as far as the timing of things, pages getting lost, people’s handwriting sometimes isn’t so clear! So we would route those around in a folder with a checklist on the front of it that would say: OK, you’re reviewing this, the next person is so-and-so, drop it off on their desk when you’re done.
What we would run into there is it would get dropped off their desk and not followed up with, that person may be out of the office for the afternoon - possibly multiple days! And creative were tasked with following that around and making sure that it continued through the proofing process. As you can see, not the best when it comes to time management there!
So with GoProof we’ve seen that huge improvement of being able to streamline that process, bring our review time down.
The amount of time it now takes us to do a review using GoProof is drastically less, which also allows us to be a little more nimble with our production timelines.
The @mention is a game-changer for us because people already know how to use that based on project management software applications that we currently use has that function. We also have different messaging applications that we use that has the @mention function as well. So people are used to it, so it was fairly easy to transition people into that.
Being able to directly comment to somebody and have them get a notification that they need to go and look at something and respond to a comment has saved a lot of time. It also adds to the collaboration factor, as we do have some people in the company that are not on site in office.
Prior to [GoProof] people would write a question down on the proof that was routing. If it was going to that person next it may or may not get answered, if they actually saw that! If the person they were asking that question of had already reviewed it, it would usually come back to creative and there’s still an outstanding question on it.
So now with the @mention function, that person gets the notification that they need to respond to something and then there’s that great back and forth within the comments, even if it’s just their direct answer ‘Hey, do this...’ then all of sudden when creative get that back the designer working on it knows how to proceed.
Or, there can be multiple back and forths within the comment feature where those people are having a conversation about how to resolve that issue.
So the @mention has reduced the time it takes to have those collaborations but also at the same time increased collaboration because now people know that there’s a question asked and something needs to be resolved.
IMPROVED COLLABORATOR ENGAGEMENT
Yes I believe so. There’s still some of that learning curve of people having to check their email to make sure that if a notification came through that they address it. Sometimes email can build up on people and they tend to forget them or not be able to go back through.
So if somebody’s already gone through and done their review and added their comments as a collaborator, we still have times where they might have to be nudged, which is another great function - that you can kind of ping them that they need to do something and take action. So sometimes that function helps to be able to say ‘Hey, do you mind jumping back in here, I know you’re already finished.’ But usually the notification through an email will do enough that they will see that and say ‘OK, I need to get back into this.’
The other factor that really helps with the @mention, even if somebody doesn't make a comment on it to respond to that question, is the designer - when they get it back - they see who was @mentioned and they understand ‘OK this person probably had the answer for that, I can go and find that out now.’
Whereas before on the paper copies, there would usually just be a question and you’re like ‘I don’t know who has the answer to this question!’ So it kind of works both ways and I think overall, it is a little bit of a culture shift for some people but because, as I said, the @mention has been used in some of our other applications, people understand what that means and tend to get back to you quicker than they would on a paper piece or you having to follow up with them after the fact.
I think it [GoProof] is working great for the majority of our uses. It is a time-saver, especially when you think about it on the back end when a review comes back with changes requested. To be able to use the [Adobe® Creative Cloud®] extension to see directly where those comments are and to see them within context, which I think is really huge.
Prior to that, in our project management software there would be comments like ‘Page 2, paragraph 4, line 2 - change these 3 words’. And, yeah, that’s fairly direct when you read down through it...
But now with GoProof being able to click on the comment, all of a sudden you can just copy and paste it and it’s brought you to that location on that page. Saves a lot of time.
And I think with some of the new functionality GoProof introduced with being able to sort through by page or by reviewer or by comment etc. has really streamlined that process as well.
So when we are able to export directly from say [Adobe®] InDesign®, have the review done and then take all those comments back through within the design program, it’s been a game-changer for us.
There are times when we don’t use that as much because, say, it’s a big banner for an event and there’s 5 words on it but you just want the look and feel and for marketing to approve the words on it; in that case it might be just a ‘Hey, here’s the PDF loaded in.
Or even sending it from the GoProof extension within InDesign or [Adobe®] Illustrator® but we may not use the back end of it where we’re looking through all the comments directly in the file because typically there might be 1 or 2 comments and it’s not needed in that situation.
But I think that’s also where there’s the nice flexibility of GoProof that if we want to export a PDF and load it through the browser function then we can do that. Or we can go through the extension and use that functionality if we know that there’s going to be heavy comments that we would like to use that functionality for.
When we have something that is say a postcard 2-sided or even a piece that’s 10 pages long and we have it in a single document, the extension can be a game-changer for us, as far as speed and accuracy.
They [my copy editors] like the reviews in the proofing through GoProof because they’re able to see the comments from all the collaborators from around the company no matter what role they have outside of the editorial process, as well as being able to make their own comments through that.
Working with GoProof has been great. Working with the support team there - there’s always somebody answering my questions and whether they have a direct answer or they say they’re gonna go research it or they have a suggestion on how we could work that into our workflow, it’s been very easy to work with GoProof and just a very friendly environment. So that’s always been great!
On the side of using the actual product day-to-day, making sure all your collaborators you are working with understand how to use it and training them up front, whether it’s the training that GoProof offers up front and having everybody kind of sit down and understand the basics of it. That can work out really well for all the collaborators.
But I also find it’s a one-on-one interaction, where I’ll sit down with a collaborator and say ‘Hey, here’s some ways to streamline your process.’ So instead of making 5 comments on top of your own comment, you can edit your own comment or you can do different things like that that will help them.
So I think that the basic training that you set up upfront with whoever your collaborators are, will go a long way.
GoProof is very intuitive, it’s really easy to use, the tools are all right there and they’re self-explanatory. But I think collaborators tend to not always dive into them and know which tools to use, so upfront, as the Art Director and the person who implemented this tool out in our company, I think it was really helpful to go around and make sure people knew how to use it properly.
The ability to attach files into a comment is huge for us!
We have, like I mentioned before, our events that have tons of sponsors for it, so when we produce a piece that shows all our sponsors, we like to show all their logos. In the past, if any of those logos needed to be updated and sometimes there were 10, 20 - up to 50 that needed to be updated, we would just get an email that would say update X, Y, Z and they’re all attached here.
Now, we get a simple comment that says ‘Update’ and right there, the new logo is attached from our sales team and the designer can download it, add it to their links files and the logo gets updated.
We’ve seen a reduction in errors that way, we’ve seen a reduction in having to go back into a second review and the sales team having to make a comment again that they’d already made in the first review.
It also helps out a lot if there’s two paragraphs of information that needs to be updated. Instead of someone typing that out into a comment - they already have it in a Word document or in a text document, they can just say ‘Update to new copy’ and they attach the new document there.
Streamlines the process a ton, compared to when we had chicken scratch on paper proofs routings in the office before. The designer has less error on their side trying to interpret it, retyping it. Now it’s just copy, paste and things are done!
So those are a few of the small things that are really liked about the GoProof application and just the functionality of it.
Overall, a great experience with GoProof. It was a big culture shift for our company to move to this but I think now, a little over a year later, it’s common practise and people are just doing it naturally.
Little bumps in the road here and there, as there is with any new process or procedure but like I said it’s been great to work with you guys through those.
It’s great to see that you guys are always progressing and moving forward with it!
[Running time: 22m 40s]
Jason Smith was talking to Emerson Welch, Marketing Director of GoProof. If you would like to share your own experience of GoProof under our Spotlight, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and an idea if what you’d like to share with the GoProof community.