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Sisyphus

What works and what doesn't in distillery marketing and branding?

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First of all, I'd like to say that it's my belief that we are all in this together. Competition between us small producers should help us all; just look at the micro-brewery industry. The spirit of this forum is so we can compete against the large and established distilleries. As consumers start to ask more and more for micro products, many will ask what else is out there. That's why I strongly encourage other start-ups in Wisconsin. Competition can be a good thing.

The North Woods Distillery has been in business for almost 3 years, but is likely still one of the smallest players in the state. I can tell you what doesn't work: using a website and facebook as primary marketing tools. Facebook is more about creating brand loyalty among established customers, but does little to get new customers. My problems include a bottle that is too tall, a weak brand identity, and ineffective marketing.

Recent marketing has included billboards, Groupon promotions, sales meetings with the distributor, a new label and press releases. Sales and interest seems to have risen recently, but it's too early to tell what is working. I've been reluctant to expand my territory, since I really don't have my marketing act together yet. Many new changes are in the works for this year including: brand ambassadors, increased tasting room promotions and quality of tours, more sales meetings with the distributor, and a new bottle and brand for out of state sales.

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