PourMyBeer is a next-generation self-pour beverage system that helps beverage operators around the world increase sales while decreasing waste and labor costs. PourMyBeer has over 6,000 taps in service at bars, restaurants, casinos, hotels, grocery stores, co-working spaces and more, and has customers in 24 countries. PourMyBeer customers include major brands like Whole Foods, Dave & Buster’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Caesars Entertainment, U.S. Airforce, Marine Corps, HMS host, Pizza Factory and others.
Tana Rulkova, who is the Senior Marketing Manager of PourMyBeer and also a marketing teacher in Bellevue college, joins us for this interview. Tana speaks about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the food and beverage industry, adapting marketing to the new normal, creating a support group within customers, and using Salespanel to align their sales and marketing.
00:56 Introduction to PourMyBeer
02:55 Marketing for PourMyBeer
06:15 Using Salespanel to bring data and sales intelligence to Pipedrive CRM
09:25 Adapting Marketing and Customer Relations during the Pandemic
14:33 Establishing communication between partners to support each other
15:53 Joining as a Marketing Teacher in Bellevue College
18:58 On Moving to America
20:01 Emphasis on Content Marketing and Social Media Advertising
Tana Rulkova Senior Marketing Manager, PourMyBeer
Nilangan Ray: How are you doing?
Tana Rulkova: Doing well, and you?
Nilangan: I'm doing okay, I guess. Due to the pandemic, things aren’t all that great. [Laughs]
Tana: Yeah, though I feel like I’ve already gotten used to it. At this point, I've learned to accept this as our new normal, so it doesn’t really affect me too much.
Nilangan: Yeah, everybody’s gotten used to it by now. Still, it has a way of getting into your head sometimes.
Tana: Yeah, definitely.
Nilangan: So, to start off, let’s first introduce our audience to PourMyBeer. What is PourMyBeer?
Tana: PourMyBeer is a revolutionary self-pour technology enabling faster and more efficient access to beverages. That includes anything like cocktails, wines, cold brew, or even kombucha, which is really popular here in the United States. You can enjoy this self-pour technology for any drinks you like by the ounce. It's a huge benefit that customers can taste any beverage by the ounce.
Nilangan: So I’m guessing your customers are mainly from the food and beverage industry, like bars and restaurants, correct?
Tana: Absolutely. But, you know, lately we've been seeing a lot of changes. I would say, especially before the pandemic hit, we've had other customers approach us. For example, racing venues, bowling alleys,, and even train cars. We also have several military bases. It's a little bit of everything. We actually just did an Airstream installation, too. So, PourMyBeer is definitely not just for bars and restaurants, as many people perceive it to be at first sight. We have probably 12 different types of establishments and businesses.
Nilangan: That's very interesting. So, for you, the market is constantly expanding as new opportunities present themselves in different segments.
Tana: Definitely. When I first came on board, I was told our target audience consisted of taprooms, restaurants, and bars. But now we’re shifting into office spaces, grocery stores, even hotels and hotel lobbies. It's definitely gaining traction beyond what it was originally intended for.
The PourMyBeer team
Nilangan: That's pretty cool. I’d like to hear more about how you're managing things during the pandemic and how things have changed, but first let's dive into the marketing of PourMyBeer. What are the marketing strategies you use for PourMyBeer and what has been the most effective for you?
Tana: I definitely run mainly on content marketing: creating valuable and helpful content that educates our prospects and leads in general. And since we’re in the B2B space and we don't sell anything cheap, our leads really do their research and, you know, they keep coming back to the website. So I always want them to find something new, something relevant, and hopefully something helpful on our website. And I work really hard on that. Given that I particularly like the hospitality industry, my hope is that basically all the restaurants, bars, and brewery owners out there would view PourMyBeer as one of those helpful brands that they still can come to for helpful resources, even if the software isn’t for them.
Nilangan: So you’re generating traffic from organic sources, like search engines?
Tana: A lot of organic traffic, yes. Most of it is marketing through valuable checklists and similar. Any sort of valuable gated content as a part of our blogging and pages with the information they're looking for.
Nilangan: What are the biggest marketing challenges you’ve faced while working for PourMyBeer?
Tana: Challenges? COVID! [Laughs]
That’s really the biggest one. But if I were to add to that, I’d say that it was to get everything organized at the beginning. PourMyBeer lacked a proper structure and organization. When I first joined, we didn't even have an onboarding process for our customers. That drove me crazy. We had no proper relationship management with customers or email marketing in place like the nurturing campaigns we have right now. Everything seemed pretty disorganized at that point. That was my focus for the first few months when I joined.
Nilangan: So, did you solve these problems using multiple tools and stuff like that? Or did you hire people?
Tana: Slowly and surely, I got all the different messy areas in the right place, or at least close to where I wanted them to be. I spent some extra nights to really organize everything the way I liked it. And I could see that the team was grateful, too. Putting some helpful tools in place was also important. Salespanel is one of them. I also really like Asana. It definitely helps me track what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and to coordinate and collaborate with my team.
Nilangan: On the topic of tools, you’re also using Pipedrive, is that correct?
Tana: Yes, that's correct.
Nilangan: What other tools are you using right now?
Tana: PourMyBeer was using Pipedrive even before I came on board. I had used CreateSend for email marketing but wasn't too happy with it. So I switched to ActiveCampaign. It has its own CRM, which I use for marketing purposes and customer relationship management. So, my sales team uses Pipedrive and I'm using the ActiveCampaign CRM.
Nilangan: How long has your company been using Pipedrive?
Tana: Over three years now, I think.
Nilangan: So, why did you start using Salespanel and how does it fit in your system?
Tana: I was the one who brought it in. I basically wanted my sales team to have a better visibility of lead activities: Which leads have visited our website? What they have viewed? How many visits have they made? How long ago did they visit our website? Things like that. This was something I was used to after using HubSpot in my previous job. I wanted to have the same visibility for my team. Pipedrive itself didn't have that and Salespanel was the perfect solution.
Nilangan: That's fantastic to hear. So, before using Salespanel, how was your process for importing leads from marketing to sales...like to your CRM?
Tana: I was using an app that populated the leads automatically for me. For the current sales team, it’s much easier to create more meaningful conversation with leads, because they know exactly what resources the leads are viewing and what features they have visited. For example, you don't want to send them the same case study or page if they have already been there a couple of times. Salespanel does a good job of providing them with only the most relevant information.
Nilangan: So, would it be fair to say that Salespanel provides sales intelligence to your sales teams?
Nilangan: How do you find our service and support overall?
Tana: Definitely very responsive and ready to troubleshoot if and when an issue arises.
Nilangan: That's fantastic to hear.
Proudly boasting The Most Reliable System On The Market, PourMyBeer provides an easy-to-use system at a 20% decreased labor cost.
Nilangan: Addressing the elephant in the room, these last few months have been stressful for all of us, but I can only imagine how things have changed for your customers from the food and beverage and other industries, especially places where a lot of people gather. How are you managing the situation?
Tana: Of course, we had to tweak things. Who hasn’t, right? That's just the world we now live in. Basically, all of our content became COVID-related, as did all of our communication with the customers. I also updated some of our messaging, which left plenty of spaces on our homepage and around the website in general. Lots of video tweaks and things like that. I remember there was a moment in April when I looked at the whiteboard where I write down my tasks for the day and realized that everything was COVID-related. This made me pause and realize how different this spring was compared with the previous year’s, when I was slammed with trade shows and other small events.
Nilangan: Fast-forward to a few months later...the dust is starting to settle and although the marketing and the business have changed overall, many places are opening up slowly, especially in the US. What do you think of this new normal and how are you and your customers coping with it?
Tana: Unfortunately, it's a difficult time for many of our customers. We have customers that are extremely successful right now because they started doing deliveries and things like that. The big thing here in the United States is that people are used to going out to eat. Some don't like to cook at all. It's very different where I'm from. So, I don't think that the crisis in the hospitality industry is going to last long-term. I just think that it's going to severely impact businesses that are unwilling to adapt. Our modern and more open-minded customers are willing to adapt and they’re doing well. As long as they can remain open, they're finding their ways. And there are so many customers that surprisingly are even doing better right now during the pandemic than they were before. Of course, I'm really happy to see that. I wish everyone could be in the same place, but in the US one state varies from another when it comes to whether they can be open or not.
Nilangan: You mentioned organizing events for PourMyBeer. Now that those are no longer happening, what’s your new strategy?
Tana: Last spring, we were so busy with the National Restaurant Association show, the International Pizza Expo, and other, smaller events. I spent that spring running around like a maniac and flying from one place to another, organizing different events and spreading brand awareness for us. This spring was definitely very different. No flying; just sitting at home and working from my computer. [Laughs] But I worked as an events manager even before coming to PourMyBeer. So I love people. I love events. And I believe that there’s so much more when it comes to meeting someone in person rather than online. At this point, online events are all we have, but I strongly believe that in-person events will start to come back further down the road. I don't think that, in the long-run, online events will ever fully replace, for example, regular in-person events, getting to know people, and understanding our future PourMyBeer partners. It's just not something we like to do or where our hearts would follow.
Nilangan: So, what you’re saying is that because of the pandemic, you and your customers are adapting to new situations, but once the dust settles, the status quo will be essentially restored.
In the unprecedented times of COVID-19 pandemic, a restaurant operator in Florida was able to increase their sales by more than 500% with PourMyBeer's self-pour technology even at 50% reduced capacity.
Tana: Among the many things that we at PourMyBeer have started doing for our customers, we’ve had some helpful discussions with other PourMyBeer partners. That way, they can learn from the experience of being a part of the PourMyBeer family. Typically we choose somebody who has been running their business for at least three years. It's also always somebody who’s doing really well in terms of sales, sometimes even expanding into other locations and things like that. I feel really bad for our newest partners, many of whom joined us after the pandemic started. Imagine having to do a soft opening. You've just invested so much money in your business and suddenly the pandemic hits. I feel like this is a great opportunity for them to learn a lot from other experienced members and owners, because they can better adjust to whatever's happening right now.
Nilangan: We can only hope that things will get back to normal by next year.
Tana: Yeah, let’s hope for the best!
Nilangan: Now, coming to some of the fun stuff I found on your LinkedIn profile, I noticed that you have joined Bellevue College as a marketing instructor. Can you tell me about your experience?
Tana: I can see you've done your homework. This was quite random, to be honest. I've always most admired teachers who have actual professional experience in the field. And so, when I was asked by one of my former professors, Kyle Barber, who is now a dear friend to me, if I could help out with teaching an advertising class this spring, I didn’t think twice. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic, and I knew that all my travel had been canceled. I wasn’t going to be able to get out of the house much. And as I said earlier, I do love young people and meeting new people, so I knew this was a great opportunity that was going to keep me busy and distracted. And, to be honest, that's exactly how it has worked out for me. So I'm glad I said yes.
Nilangan: I also noticed that you were once a student at Bellevue College as well. How does it feel to go back now as a teacher?
Tana: Different, for sure. I’m more diligent than I was as a student; to the point of being a perfectionist, even. I think that, as a teacher, I'm probably a little bit more difficult and have high expectations because that's what I have come to expect from myself. And because I expect that from myself, it's fair of me to expect that from others. As a student, I felt like it was a little bit more stressful at the time, just because I had to balance paying the bills myself while working. Now, as a teacher, this is not my primary job. PourMyBeer is my main focus. So this was more just like, “I want to pass my experience to someone who can benefit from it and maybe, along the way, help some of these young students down the road get an internship or some important connections.”
Nilangan: Are you going to do this for a while? Or is this a temporary thing?
Tana: Well, I plan to. We'll see how long it lasts, depending on the pandemic, because things might change again once I have to start traveling for work again. But as of right now, I think I'll be sitting at home for a while. And because of that, I would still like to teach part-time, because I think it's a great experience. And to be completely honest, it's an entirely different perspective when you look at the same book as a teacher than as a student.
PourMyBeer: Join the self-pour revolution!
Nilangan: So, I’m guessing you like traveling? [Laughs]
Tana: Oh, yeah. I love traveling. I'm a European who lives in the US. I fly all over the place and travel a lot. I definitely love exploring.
Nilangan: Do you like America better than Europe? This is a personal question.
Tana: That's a relevant question. As a woman, I very much enjoy some of the freedom that I feel like America gives me in the workplace compared to the Czech Republic, where I’m from. I don't think it would be fair to compare it with all of Europe because the countries there are so different from one another. But, when it comes to that, I'm grateful to be here. And I feel like I have much better professional opportunities here. Besides that, there are so many great things about the US that I really like, and there are so many great things about Europe. At this point, both of them are my homes.
Nilangan: Before we close, would you like to share any marketing tidbits, hacks, or anything else that has worked for you?
Tana: There are just so many! It very much depends on the target audience one is trying to reach. But I would say that if you have the time and energy and like to write, content marketing goes such a long way. It's amazing. It can be very strong for getting people’s attention quickly. I think that Facebook ads can do that for very little money, as long as you target the right audience and play with your audience properly. For me specifically, retargeting audiences has been working particularly well. Besides that, just find your favorite podcasts or favorite books and go back to them often, because reading the same book or listening to the same podcast two years later brings up totally different perspectives.
Nilangan: Now that you’ve mentioned Facebook advertising and retargeting, I wanted to share something with you about Salespanel. This is a quick teaser and we will talk about this in more detail with you later. What we have is a personalized retargeting solution that can do a lot of things, such as only showing ads to people who are actually relevant to your business. Facebook advertising is pretty much in the B2C range, but we have it for B2B. For example, just because you get a lot of traffic on your website doesn’t mean that all of it is good. Some bounce around one page and some stay for a while. So, you can choose who you show your ads to.
You can also personalize for identified prospects like those already on Pipedrive CRM. Let's say somebody is on a particular deal stage. You can then tweak it automatically to show relevant content based on the deal stage. So, if somebody is close to buying and nearing the end of the pipeline, you can show relevant content that makes them take that decision to the next level. We'll share the details with you later, if that's something that would be helpful for you.
Tana: Yeah, sure. Definitely. I will be more than happy to read and learn more about that.
Nilangan: Okay. Thank you for joining me, Tana. It was wonderful talking with you, as always.
Tana: Awesome. Well, very good talking with you, too, Nil. Thank you.
An avid explorer, Tana finds both Czech Republic and United States homely.