We like potential customers to know we exist and we want the opportunity to explain the amazing technology we bring to the craft distilling industry. To that end we spend money on marketing.
Basically, our marketing strategy takes two directions. First, we create a lot of free content and share that via the iStill Blog, Distillers Weekly, and via Linked In and Facebook. Secondly, we visit tradeshows.
The online part of our marketing strategy targets generic demographics and regions. It allows us to reach a global audience. We do not have to spent a lot of money on our online campaigns, since we already have many thousands of followers. That makes it a relatively easy and affordable way to reach new potential customers and to explain the distilling solutions we bring to the industry.
The tradeshow part of our marketing strategy is more targeted to specific regions and markets. Tradeshows allow us to reach a specific audience. Since the money and energy expenditure involved in participating at a tradeshow are huge, we tend to only attend tradeshows in our biggest markets or in the market segments we want iStill to penetrate.
Having now experienced how tradeshows operate in the craft distilling industry for over seven years, we are amending our marketing strategy. Yes, online will stay the same. No, the tradeshow part will change. Let’s dive into the why and how.
There are two major reasons as to why we are revising our tradeshow policy. First, too many tradeshows are self-serving and organized by for-profit organizations, that don’t care about you starting a distillery. They rather have you spend that money with them instead. Many tradeshows are preventing rather than stimulating the industry to grow. They are money traps and you are the ones paying the price.
How you can distinguish the bad ones? Here are a few clues:
- Do they have a medal competition for which you have to pay to participate?
- Did the number of medals increase with the growing number of paying participants?
- Is the tradeshow a platform for paid consultancy presentations?
- Do those presentations leave you more bewildered than before?
The more of the above questions are answered with a “yes”, the more likely it is that you registered for an inferior product. Paid medal competitions are a great source for tradeshow income. The more awards you hand out, the more participants you get (and vice versa). The consultants that perform on tradeshows usually aren’t paid. The paid presentations are another great revenue stream for the tradeshow organizer. How the consultants share in the spoils? They get to baffle you with bullshit, enlarge your problems, and make sure you definitely need to hire a consultant.
How they get away with that? That question is simple to answer: in the land of the blind, one-eye is king. You know less and are in need of information, they pretend to know it all and that’s why you visit and spent money.
Secondly, tradeshows are losing their relevance quickly. In times of the internet, there are easier ways to connect. In times of Covid-19 there are smarter ways to connect. Did you see how all of the tradeshows all of a sudden CAN go online, these days? Interesting …
And talking about relevance … how about tradeshows highlighting – or at least supporting – the technological advancement the craft distilling industry so desperately needs in order to compete with Big Alcohol? We haven’t seen much effort there, as most distilling tradeshows love the financial contributions of legacy still manufacturers too much. Traditional equipment suppliers hate innovation. They are making money of you just fine. Why have that business model disrupted by new technological break-throughs, right?
Having answered the “why”, here is more on the “how”. From now onwards, we’ll only participate at tradeshows that put the industry interests before their own interests. And we’ll only support those that support the technological advancement of the craft distilling industry. To put it bluntly: the rest of them, the ones who’s business goal seems to be to screw you over for their own benefit, well, they can go f*ck themselves.
We have seen too much of the crap that’s going on behind the scenes. From rigged medal competitions (where sponsors get to pick the winners), to thieving organizers (that land sponsorship money, raised to finance traineeships, in their own pockets), to tradeshow hosts that make a living out of reselling your commercial information (while you pay for the entrance ticket).
Our industry deserves better than that. Our industry will get a better treatment than that. What we’ll do, to help achieve that, is this: we’ll start our very own tradeshow. Its characteristics? Here you go:
- It will be free of charge to visitors;
- Everybody can participate;
- Information will be shared free of charge;
- Customers rank product and service providers based on their user experience;
- Product and service providers are invited to discount tradeshow visitors;
- Yes, technological developments will get attention;
- No, your information will not be used commercially;
- No, it won’t have a medal competition! 🙂
I feel that we are in a unique position to make a difference and to show the industry how much real value a genuine tradeshow can offer. “A unique position” as in:
- We have a thriving community with hundreds of craft distillers;
- The iStill Blog produces content every second day;
- And sees 50.000 visitors per year, reading well over 100.000 posts;
- iStill’s Facebook page has over 20.000 followers;
- And reaches over 1 million people per year;
- Our website http://www.iStill.com attracts 50.000 visitors per year;
- With over 200.000 pages being viewed;
- Our eNewsletter “Distillers Weekly” has 2.500 subscribers;
- And grows with around 100 new readers every week.
To put things into perspective: our online presences is already way bigger than all the craft distilling tradeshows (genuine and less than genuine) combined!
Give us a few months to set it up. Stay in touch. Share your ideas. Propose our initiative to others that might be interested. Reach out to me directly and inform me of companies that deserve to participate. Service or product providers, that want to help craft distillers advance: email me and let’s figure out how you can participate. And if there is anything I forget, please let me know that as well.
The iStill Tradeshow is coming to town …