Marketing Strategies – Your USP

In the last blog I posted, I pointed out the necessity of taking time to craft your personal story – a story that would resonate with consumers.

Now imagine you are at a social event and someone you barely know asks you – “what is it that you do?”

Can you tell them in 30 seconds or less? More importantly, can you tell them in such a way that your words open the door to more questions and perhaps even a full blown conversation?

At Prohibition University, I tell people that ” I work with people who are building craft distilling businesses to help ensure their success”. This more than often opens the door to a question – “how do you do that?”. I then ease into a discussion of the 5-day hands on workshops and the consulting services I offer.

This 30 second descriptor is called your Unique Selling Proposition (or USP for short).

Even if you are still in the planning phase of your craft distillery, I strongly urge you to start crafting your USP. It will not be easy. You may have to seek the help of friends, family and close associates.

Consider the following:

The marketplace has many Tequila varieties available. One that managed to carve out some market share for itself in the USA was Arrogante Tequila. Their USP was: We make our Tequila using only traditional stone ovens and not stainless steel autoclaves to cook the agave plant. Now, that’s unique. This is a USP that would quickly lend itself to a conversation with another person.

Consider the following USP from Kings County Distillery in New York State: We are the first distillery to open in New York since Prohibition. We make whisky using traditional copperĀ stills fabricated in Scotland, wooden fermenters built locally by Isseks Brothers and corn and barley grown onsite. We are a model of sustainable and traditional whiskey production.
Again, a conversation starter with its focus on tradition, local and sustainable.

Lastly, consider this one from a Canadian Vodka maker who uses neutral grain spirits from an ethanol factory and dilutes that alcohol down to 40% alc using water: We produce Vodka from Ontario sweet corn harvested at the peak of its sugar content and we use water freshly harvested from the purest source possible: high Arctic icebergs from glaciers over 10,000 years old. Catchy isn’t it? Such is the power of a Unique Selling Proposition.

At Prohibition University, we are here to work with you. If you need help to craft your USP or if you just need a set of ears to listen to your USP- give us a call. We would love to hear from you.

Marketing Strategies – Your Story

The craft distilling movement is growing in leaps and bounds across North America. While at first glance, this appears to be a good thing there is also a hidden pitfall or two in such rapid growth. Many seasoned veterans of the craft beverage movement are cautioning that they have seen this type of growth profile before in craft beer in the 1990s. These same veterans are also saying they have seen this type of growth profile before – with the Internet in the 1990s when everyone was beating their drum about their latest dotcom setup.

At Prohibition University we devote one full day of our 5-day Distillery Workshops to a thorough discussion of Marketing. I find it troubling how this Marketing session causes such pain to so many people. I have even had class participants suggest to me that they see no need to market. They will build a craft distillery and people will come to their door. I have had class participants who simply just do not take part in class exercises or take-home assignments. I can see why the industry veterans are issuing their words of caution.

If you are seriously thinking about launching a venture into the realm of craft distilling, I urge you to first sit down with a pencil and paper and write out your story. Who are you? What is driving you to get involved with craft distilled spirits? What type of spirit would you like to produce? How will it be different? Reality says that the marketplace does not need another spirit. Diageo, Smirnoff, Bacardi, Grupo Campari and the lot are quite capable of making enough alcoholic beverage to satisfy our needs and wants. If you cannot set down on paper your compelling story that crisply says who you are and why you are making a unique spirit and why it is different, then I hate to tell you – but maybe the craft distilling movement is not for you. If you are simply seeking to get involved in craft distilling because it is the latest greatest thing (just like the dotcoms were…), then please, please don’t go there.

Consumers buy on emotion and later justify that purchase with logic. Your compelling story is what will stir their emotion. With emotional jets stirred, the consumer will follow you and your lineup of spirits with devotion. Consider the following examples:

Heritage Distilling, Gig Harbor Washington: Have a look at the website for this craft distiller sometime. Owners Justin and Jennifer vividly talk about who they are and how their growing-up experiences shaped who they are today. This is the type of story that people like to follow. Small wonder then that Heritage Distilling is enjoying such good success.

Shelter Point Distilling, Vancouver Island, Canada: Have a look at the website for this craft distiller and in particular, look at the short video that tells their story. This is a touching tale of getting in touch with nature, growing barley and using it to craft a distilled spirit. This is what the consumer can emotionally connect with.

At Prohibition University, we stand ready to work with you to help you finesse your marketing story and get your craft distilling venture off to a roaring start. Give us a call. We would love to hear from you.