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sales & marketing

DIGITAL SWITCH Amid the pandemic, distillers turn online to market their brands. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink nearly every aspect of our daily lives and business operations, sales and marketing budgets are certainly not immune. In order to see how distilleries across the nation have adjusted in 2020, we sought out the advice of Derek Tenbusch, VP of marketing for Lonerider Spirits in Holly Springs, North Carolina; Jeff Kanof, the VP and co-owner of Copperworks Distilling Co. in Seattle; Brad Neathery, co-founder and CMO for Dallasbased Oak & Eden; and members of the team at Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, including founder Michael Myers, CFO Murray Arenson, market development director Emily Rhoades and VP of business development Phillip Rawleigh. All of them have found success in digital offerings via social media and more. What are some unique ways in which you’ve shifted your marketing budget due to the pandemic? DEREK TENBUSCH: With little to no ability to do live events, we took the majority of our marketing budget and shifted it to online marketing, primarily social media. We have also been using the time to create more online content. Also, because we wanted to continue to support the bars and restaurants that have

always supported us, we spent a considerable amount of our time and budget helping to promote them, even though they really could not sell any of our products. We tried to regularly feature places that had curbside pickup and delivery options available, and later featured places that began doing limited outside seating. DISTILLERY 291: In 2020, we had planned on transitioning our budget from traditional marketing to digital. So when COVID-19 hit, we were already moving in the right direction. As we grew our virtual presence and utilized e-commerce, we increased our marketing spend. To keep our local and national markets engaged, we created a virtual tasting room utilizing Facebook Live & IGTV to host daily check-ins and happy hours with guest bartenders. We launched #291quarantunes—live music sessions Sunday through Friday—that support local musicians and are still happening today. In the wholesale market, we hosted virtual training sessions for outside sales reps as we opened distribution in new states and virtual GSMs with Michael Myers sharing our 291 story on Zoom to our national distribution partners. Additionally, Murray Arenson created a six-week online conference to assist retailers operating in our new normal. Emily Rhoades and Philip Rawleigh created a

Among other initiatives, Distillery 291 launched a digital music session during the pandemic.

video email campaign to stay connected to our sales accounts and keep them informed with changing regulations, sales trends, new products and more. JEFF KANOF: We’ve gone a lot further into creating videos for posting online. … Another thing we are doing this year is our 12 Days of Copperworks campaign where we’re posting a special offer each day from Dec. 1-12 on our social media accounts. Our brand isn’t typically focused on discounts and deals, but we are trying not to leave anything on the table during COVID-19. That campaign has created some amazing engagement thus far. BRAD NEATHERY: We have a very rigid business plan with disciplined leadership, so in the midst of COVID-19 and the market taking a downturn, we simply stayed the course, keeping our attention on the business plan. … Since we could no longer pursue many of the in-person sales activities that ordinarily demand our resources, as well as tastings, events, and brand activations being shut down, we simply reallocated that budget to areas that we could control and manage, primarily digital marketing, brand collaborations, social influencers, PR and growing our distribution footprint. How frequently are you reassessing your marketing strategy during the pandemic? TENBUSCH: Almost daily. One silver lining of doing the majority of your marketing online is that you can essentially monitor the impact of your efforts in real time. This has allowed us to make much quicker changes to our approach, target demos, platform choices and so on. KANOF: We are making changes week-byweek. We’re constantly brainstorming to try to come up with new ideas to reach customers. Our prime location has always been our main customer acquisition strategy. With our tasting room space being closed, we’ve had to discover new ways to find customers. Luckily, we are a very small team so it is a bit easier to make these decisions and pivot on a dime. Are you finding you’re investing more or less to stay connected with your consumers in a contactless world? How so?

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JAN UARY 202 1 

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M

Profile for americancraftspirits

Craft Spirits January 2021  

A publication of the American Craft Spirits Association, Craft Spirits Magazine explores the art, science and business of distilling.

Craft Spirits January 2021  

A publication of the American Craft Spirits Association, Craft Spirits Magazine explores the art, science and business of distilling.