Back Forty Beer Company Gadsden, Alabama
Back Forty Beer Company
“The Internet is the ultimate leveler, the revolutionary force behind companies like ours.”Brad Wilson, Director of MarketingBack Forty Beer Company has 23 employees.link www.backfortybeer.comIn 2008, Alabama had only two breweries, and it was illegal to produce or sell beer with over 6% alcohol. After touring 150 breweries in other states, Jason Wilson founded the Back Forty Beer Company to begin changing Alabamians’ tastes. “In the South, we definitely know food and we know flavors,” says his brother Brad Wilson, Director of Marketing. “But because our choices were limited, Alabama had lost some of its identity.” In 2009, Back Forty introduced their first beer, Naked Pig Pale Ale, followed by Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale. “The idea was to rekindle the idea of craftsmanship, hard work, and love for what you do, using good local ingredients and having an impact on the community,” Brad says.
The first thing they did, he adds, “was start thinking about how our company would look on the Internet. How would people find us?” They quickly turned to AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “All the cumbersome bureaucracy of the old marketing world was just immediately stripped away,” says Brad. “Google allowed us to craft our own message.” The company also started using Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of their online ads. Together these two Google tools constituted the company’s entire marketing program. In addition, Google Apps for Work helped the brewery’s scattered staff to collaborate and keep in touch through products like Gmail and Google Docs. And Google Groups helped them join other Alabamians in pressing for progressive new state brewing laws.
When Truck Stop Honey won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, distribution offers poured in from as far away as New York and California. The brewery added workers and moved into a 27,000-square-foot warehouse built in the 1940s. They continue to introduce new beers, such as Freckle Belly IPA, Paw Paw's Peach Wheat, and Trade Day Cuban Coffee Stout. Back Forty Beer Company has created a new brand and helped to transform a portion of downtown Gadsden. The company energetically supports its hometown—“we literally have not said no to any charity or community organization in seven years,” Brad says. “That’s what changes cities, when industries like this come to town. The ripple effect is enormous.”Back Forty Beer Company has 23 employees.link www.backfortybeer.com
Net Direct Merchants Florence, Alabama
Net Direct Merchants
“Google was instrumental in helping us attract our first prospects.”Rick Morse, Founder & CEO50 employeeslink www.netdirectmerchants.comNet Direct Merchants launched an e-commerce site in November of 2002, as a marketing experiment with a small company that manufactured made-to-order fireplace mantels. Soon, founder Rick Morse was watching the sales roll in. “We could see traction very quickly. And then it became, ‘Oh goodness, how do we support the interest?’ It was that moment when I realized our website was a sustainable business.” Using his initial success as a model, Rick began to add additional products and brands to his family of online offerings, including electric fireplaces, registers and grills, and tin ceiling panels. The web-based company relies on the Internet to reach customers and make sales.
Net Direct Merchants now operates several highly specialized product brands in the home-improvement and commercial-renovation markets. From the beginning, they have relied heavily on AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “As the landscape has gotten more competitive, it’s become more important to make sure that each dollar spent is contributing to making a sale,” Rick says. “Google Analytics helps trace activity so we can put more effort into things that are working and less into things that are not. Without that perspective, it would be very difficult to operate profitably.” With the combination of AdWords and Google Analytics, Rick explains, “Google has been a way for us to reach those people who are looking for the types of products that we have, and to isolate and market only to the areas that we can serve.” The company also uses Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube.
Today, Net Direct Merchants spends 75 percent of their marketing budget online, and has been recognized as one of the top 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. “I think Google's been absolutely critical to our success,” Rick says. “As we have grown, they’ve been a pivotal part in driving customers to the business. It’s where we got our start, and where we continue to spend a substantial amount of time and effort.”50 employeeslink www.netdirectmerchants.com