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Nascent distiller and full-time marketer from Asheville, NC

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Hello to all from gorgeous Asheville, NC, USA.

I'm at the very beginning stages of considering a plan for a microdistillery and have found this forum to be unbelievably useful. I spent many years in the "other forum" learning the basics of distillation and found ADI when I started kicking around the idea of going pro.

As the conventional wisdom in opening a microdistillery seems, inevitably, to be "don't quit your day job", I'm planning to merge the two. You see, my day job is running a media and marketing company, Sisyphus Media. For a number of years, I've been catering to any business that came along with the money and motivation to start marketing their business.

I've always considered the notion of catering to a niche, but couldn't think of one that wouldn't eventually become an anchor. And then, WHAM, it hit me like the ol' proverbial ton of bricks - the adult beverage industry! I can offer my services as a marketer while I get to know people in the community and learn more about the business, regs, licensing, etc.

Marketing Philosophy

Now, more than ever, selling a product is driven by telling stories. The most amazing product ever produced, be it liquor or wicker, will languish until the market catches wind of a compelling story.

Take, for example, Riedel Glasses. (Full disclosure, I borrow this example from Seth Godin's excellent book, All Marketers are Liars Tell Stories).

George Riedel and his people fervently believe that the enjoyment of wine is directly related to the shape and quality of the glass from which it's quaffed. Several high profile wine reviewers have become Riedel's cheerleaders and have made the Riedel Glass a must have item.

Trouble is, in double-blind taste tests there is absolutely zero discernible difference between a $1 glass and a $20 glass. None.

Riedel sells millions of dollars worth of glasses every year. He sells glasses to intelligent, well-off wine lovers who then proceed to enjoy their wine more than they did before.

Marketing, apparently, makes wine taste better (Godin, 4).

Understand, I'm not talking about lying here. I'm talking about uncovering the story of your business that will become your "unique selling proposition". It might be you, if you want to be the face of your company. It could be your particular terroir. It could be damn near anything. But, like Riedel, you have to believe it.

An invitation

I'm already working on the story for my microdistillery and I'd like to work on one for yours.

As I'm not yet up to speed on the regulations for labeling and advertising, and much prefer to learn these details with my feet in the fire, I don't feel comfortable storming out of the gate, guns a-blazin', selling myself as the savior of distillery marketing (at least not yet!).

I'd like to discuss the possibility of offering a seriously cheap marketing package to two or three interested members of this forum. If you're interested, let's talk.

(I certainly hope this is an OK thing to offer in my very first post. I read the rules carefully and they didn't seem to suggest there was any reason not to.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure who else, if anyone, acted on this post, but I've been very impressed with Sisyphus and Carl's knowledge of startups and their use of electronic marketing. They are quoting a package for me, but even if that doesn't work out I think I've learned quite a bit from our handful of conversations. I know must members of this forum are further along in the business than I am, but if there's anyone looking for a specific marketing plan or a quick overview of where they stand, I'd suggest giving Sisyphus a call. Carl wasn't at all pushy, and actually guided me in a direction that will require fewer resources than I originally anticipated.

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Thanks for your referral, Jeff. I'm now in conversation with four distilleries, discussing marketing plans, social media, web identities, etc. It's been fantastic to learn the different ways people are going at this business, some funded, some busting their backs to build everything by hand.

You truly are a scrappy lot and that certainly makes crafting stories much easier. I look forward to many more conversations and hope to meet as many of you as possible. I wish I could carve out the time to get to the conference in Denver. Maybe next year...

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