Musing from 30,000 feet flying from LA to Chicago. There are a few end-of-year comments that need to be made. I am coming back to Chicago after a brief 30 hours in LA working with two brands. For one brand the maker flew from the opposite coast and for the other the maker flew from another hemisphere. Makes me feel super lazy just coming from the Midwest. We were in Los Angeles to see clients, launch brands for year-end and perform a market survey.
I was looking around the table at our sales and marketing teams and the supplier, and I thought, “what a hard, hard business.” Not what we do exactly, but being a maker in the year 2018. As you know, there are only a select few brands that command mind and wallet share. The others, our client base, need attention, love, and to be sold. I was panning my sight left to right, and I saw an engaged maker, an eager sales force, and our marketing team all looking to give this brand support during holiday.
Holiday sales and really all sales in adult beverage is really just a game of betting on yourself. Don’t bet on your packaging, your social media influencer, do not bet on your juice, and do not bet on us. Bet on yourself. You are your brand advocate, head of sales, chief of marketing, CFO, COO, and quality assurance. Sure, you can hire those roles, or you can outsource sales (our role), but really, you are your panacea. There are support services for all that you need and will need to be successful. They all charge fees and that is just capitalism in our business.
Our best clients and the best makers share common traits.
- Long and short game
The first two are fairly obvious so we do not need to wax on with them but #3 is worth taking a shallow dive in.
We can all point to winners and classic flame outs in this space. There is not a day goes by when someone says, “do you remember XXXXX?” Or “what ever happened to XXXX?“ Brands come and go weekly, and there is not one thing you can point to that states: This intangible, is why XXXXX made it. I always say Jägermeister is the worst tasting product with the best marketing. I absolutely challenge you to find a similar mix of hard to swallow and hard not to buy brands.
Your long game is regular selling over a fixed period of time. Day-to-Day boringness of just selling a CPG item. The short game is how you drive sales when needed, how you enter a market, how you create demand for your product well ahead of supply.
When you make a decision to be a supplier of adult beverage you have made a decision to bet on yourself. Often times we meet brands in the creation phase. There is zero knowledge of three tier system, distributor management, and logistics. Somewhere along the way, they pass on responsibility of the brand to the distributor, the importer, etc. The best brands that have the most success are the ones that act as though every bottle sold is actually food on the table. That is how I run my business, and we recommend the supplier does the same.
My father would say, “do not make a bet you cannot win, that is just pissing money away.” Booze business proves that daily – bet on yourself.