A Marketing Lesson from Bourbon Makers by Jason Falls

One of my greatest challenges as a photography business owner is time. Between managing my studio, photoshoots and post-processing, my day is filled to the brim and sleep is in short supply. Still, I never compromise on the quality of my service or client communications. Jason Falls, founder and editor of Social Media Explorer, puts it succinctly in his article, saying that good communications, like good bourbon, takes time. I’m excited for Jason’s contribution as he is a leading thinker, educator, speaker and consultant in the world of social media marketing, public relations, digital marketing and communications.

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Post By Jason Falls

The dichotomy between the making of bourbon and the marketing of bourbon is amusing to me. Working with some of the most recognizable brand names in the spirits category isn’t unlike working with any other top-tier company, product or service. Marketers, public relations counsel and even social media strategists have to be nimble.

“When can we get that done?” said in a tone that suggests tomorrow morning is too late is a popular question fielded by those in the advertising, marketing, public relations and social media industries.

This isn’t a bitch session about my clients. They’ll know this is all true. Bear with me.

While some of the best communications ideas in the world were created in that hyperventilation chamber of death that is client deadlines, the one thing lacking in most approaches to market is the appropriate amount of time to ensure the program, campaign or effort is done right, or at least well.

“Everyone is competing for time,” Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal told me in a Vocus webinar I moderated. He was referring to public relations professionals competing for the time and attentions of journalists. But the statement can be made as an umbrella for the world.

I’m competing for time and my clients, agency, family, blog, extra-curricular activities, friends, fitness and personal hobbies are competing against me. (Note that I didn’t put sleep in that list. It is currently drawing the short straw.)

As a result of the cacophony of buzz that is our lives, we seldom have or even think to take the appropriate time to ensure what we’re doing is done well. Look closely and you’ll probably find a misspelling or awkward sentence here I would have cleaned up had I taken enough time. We do it with our clients or company. We do it with our meals or sleep. We do it with our friends and family. Some of us do it there too much and too often.

Bad PR pitches? Not enough time was taken to carefully craft them. Bad social media execution? Not enough time was taken to fully digest the possible challenges and outcomes or not enough time was spent being responsive to the audience. Bad advertising? Not enough time was set aside for quality checks, audience testing or research to ensure the strategy matched the collateral.

But good bourbon can’t be rushed. Many bourbons have age statements on the bottle. Knob Creek, for instance, is aged nine years. Nothing anyone does can hurry the aging along. Nine years is nine years. If it isn’t nine years, it doesn’t go in that clever little square-ish bottle. Other bourbons, like Maker’s Mark, is bottled to taste rather than age, so there’s no age statement on the bottle. But it still has a sweet spot window of aging that can’t be changed because more bourbon is needed.

In order to craft an ideal product, bourbon makers know the most important ingredient is time. We should all take a lesson from that philosophy.


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