Currently I am 30,000 feet above California having just completed a whirlwind 20 hours in Los Angeles. Now our BevStrat team is heading back to New York do to the same. What is it that we did in LA? and are going to do again in New York. I wish it was a movie premier or some hedge fund event that makes our collective families a lot of money. Alas, it is not. Not even close.
Four times a year we meet with our makers around America, Europe and Australia to just listen. Not to talk and not to recommend, but to listen. To hear them regale the stories of what drives them, why they do what they do, and why their brands needs to be sold into market. Often times I feel as though the makers that make killer wine, beer, and spirits that we market, and national distributors sell, feel as though their job is done when the wine leaves the vineyard, etc. It can be argued it just begins at this point.
So today and yesterday in LA we met with makers that told our sales teams about history, ingredients, passion projects and technique. All of these stories and yarns make your products so much easier to sell. Through our lens we often meet makers that make spirits in a warehouse with 50 other brands. We meet brewers that use co brewing spaces around America and we meet vintners that use crush pads to make their libations. Those experiences, while part of the adult beverage ecosystem do not stir men’s souls. We used to sell a vodka that the maker told us was handcrafted not fully understanding that being one of many is not a brand story and not handcrafted. The consumers want a story to believe in and SHARE with friends.
When we goto market, or better yet when you go to market, that story is the difference between a purchase and a non- purchase. Sales people in off premise and somm’s or mixologists in on premise cling to these stories to hook the purchaser. When I was a retailer, it was not so easy to sell a story over just a label design. #truth. Creating a memory or an emotional attachment with the purchaser is a huge factor in selling or not selling. There is a reason why SGWS and the like send their sales teams to distilleries, wineries, and breweries. Sure it can be a sales perk but more realistic is that an experience makes a memory and a memory makes a sale. These experiences are used 24/7 in all parts of the sales cycle in both off and on premise.
So in this love letter to authenticity, please remember that brand story is critical and furthermore when the maker screams the story from the hill tops it can and will lead to increased case sales. I am not pontificating here, this is a real statement that I have experienced first hand. When I was so much younger, I was made a “Friend of the Widow” at Clicquot. I partied with Felluga, I drank beer with Pete from Pete’s Wicked Ale, hung with a Rothschild, and was out all night with a Mondavi. Those events have helped me sell booze my entire life and helped us sell and resell a brand story. Those memories are a direct translation to the selling process.
I encourage my readers, and thank you by the way, if you are a “maker” of your items, scream it. Yell it, talk about it, blog it, and get in market to share it. We are on the road to listen. We are on the road so that our clients that are makers can share the brand story, so we can do the same in our sales cycle. More importantly, however, makers should know that the real effort comes in the selling not the making. Not to minimize anyone’s craft, but your audience is out there, and they want to hear from you Mr. Maker.
We land in NYC in a few hours. Some coffee and a shower and we will be at it again. Mouths shut, ears open, and hearts full. We will be taking notes the entire time.