I’ve said this before….my favorite part of this job is working with our Makers. I love every single story I hear about people following their passion. And, after all, passion breeds passion.
I spent 20 years selling my family’s small production wines. I’ve hit the streets, worked with many many wholesalers and I know the struggles of the business.
A few thoughts that might help the small producers out there:
Know that if it were easy, everybody would do it.
Small businesses are challenging. And the alcohol industry is extra challenging with the regulations, taxes and reporting. So, take pride in the fact that you are accomplishing something that is not easy to do. Take a deep breath and move forward, step-by-step. Most Makers who are successful have had huge ups and downs. In tough times remind yourself that things will improve and move forward. You have to be extra resilient in this industry. But the payoff is awesome.
We are in the business of selling fun!
Despite all the challenges of small Maker life, enjoy this! Our industry is filled with some of the most interesting people. We get to drink great wines and spirits, go to fabulous events and eat amazing food (tastings, wine dinners, galas). This is so much better then selling widgets, right? Also, the more you show people you’re having fun, the more you sell the lifestyle. Remember to share the “fun” on your social outlets. After all, it’s another piece of your story.
Trust your instincts.
Craft wines and spirits are meant to be authentic and reflect who you are. People remember personal stories and those stories ultimately sell products. The look and feel of the package, the recipe of your product or anything else that’s unique--it all makes a difference. Trust in yourself and the journey….that will lead to success. Over the years, various sales functionalities (internal sales people, brokers, sales and marketing companies) gave me excuse after excuse of why our products were not selling. Ultimately, the best salesperson for your brand is YOU and you will know if your brand is resonating, especially if you’re working the market. Be true to yourself and your customers will know.
Become high tech.
There are so many amazing tools for Makers to track and monitor their business. It could be something as easy as Quickbooks for accounting and inventory. As a tech company, we are geeked out on Google analytics. Any Maker should be using it to see where their web and social traffic is coming from. Also super important are regular email campaigns. We find that Mailchimp or Emma work best for our Makers. Google docs works great for documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Hubspot for CRM. And of course LibDib for three-tier compliant sales.
And remember, If you need help doing something, it’s out there. Just look for an app or service and I’m sure you’ll find it. Keep up to date on your skills or hire someone to help if you aren’t tech savvy. Today’s consumer is tech savvy and it will pay off to bring your business up to speed.
Small Maker’s with passion are MY passion. I want everyone to succeed with equal access to the three-tier marketplace in a compliant and efficient matter. Happy selling!