By Clare Goggin Sivits On January 17, 2024

Why Local Partnerships Help Local Distillery Marketing

A person sits at a high-top table in an otherwise empty tasting room near a copper still.
Getting customers into your distillery’s tasting room requires more than just digital in your beverage marketing strategy.

When it comes to marketing your distillery, the most effective place to start is in your backyard. Marketing craft spirits locally solidifies your most loyal customers – the ones who are close enough to become regulars in your tasting room. And while there are several ways to make your mark around town successfully, what you might not always consider is the power of partnering with neighboring businesses and organizations.

Going it alone as a small distilling business, you can accomplish some things. Recruit alcohol marketing companies, and you’ll cover more ground and extend your resources, for sure. But teaming up with the company next door or a local organization that shares your goals amplifies your efforts organically.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to who might make a good partner locally or how to strike up and maintain that relationship, we created this guide for you. Scroll on to learn how to network and build a foundation toward better local marketing.

Start with the Neighbors on Your Block

Since you pass them every day on the way to the distillery, you may already know the people who own the shop on the corner or the restaurant down the road. Perhaps it’s time to invite them to the distillery for a complimentary cocktail and start making nice with them before you suggest working together.

When it comes to this type of partnership, it needs to be tailored specifically to the type of business you’re looking to partner with. For instance, perhaps you could offer to host guests waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant. Maybe you can sell baked goods from the local bakery, offer a discount to anyone who just got a haircut at the salon next door, or recommend the small boutique across the street. Even offering to hand out information about the spa around the corner could go a long way to creating that relationship.

Of course, these partnerships are a two-way street. If your distillery is ready to assist a neighbor, that business should return the favor. Before you put any of the above into action at your tasting room, ensure that the other business is willing to start sending customers your way too. To make it easier, offer a suggestion. Put together some materials, like a pamphlet or a coupon that the businesses can easily hand out. It’ll be an easy way for them to send traffic to your tasting room.

Explore Complimentary Businesses in the Neighborhood

Businesses making products that complement or enhance craft spirits exist everywhere. Some of them may be operating closer to you than you might think. Take a look at local syrup companies, glassware or barware manufacturers, or even coffee roasters for when you’re stocking the tasting room bar.

When it comes to these sorts of products, it makes sense to work with local producers because you can work together to communicate with the same market. If you need anything for your cocktail menu or for your non-alcoholic beverage selection, going local helps show your regulars that you’re a part of the community yourself while giving a boost to your partners.

In return for a name-drop on your cocktail menu, you might negotiate a discount on products or get some sort of placement at the other business’s storefront.

Join the Local Distillery Row – Or Build One

Combining forces with other distilleries in the area can also be a boon to your business. At first glance, it may look like you’re teaming up with the competition but a mutually beneficial arrangement helps both parties gain customers. As they say, all boats rise with the tide so take advantage of that. One way to do so is by being a part of a distillery row or trail.

The partnership will naturally attract visitors who are interested in craft spirits and looking to learn more about the local scene. They may be tourists or locals but they’ll come through your front door thanks to the distillery trail and discover your spirits. How you welcome those visitors will determine whether they become loyal customers. It might be wise to develop a program specifically for the distillery trail visitors, offering a deal or a signature cocktail.

If your region doesn’t have a distillery row, consider pulling one together yourself. It can be a big undertaking but the benefits are well worth the effort. If you need a hand with it, we have a lot of experience in this area. Give us a holler and we’ll walk you through it.

Contact the Nearest Destination Marketing Organization

When it comes to marketing to tourists and travelers, destination marketing organizations or DMOs are the best resources. These groups typically work with convention and conference organizers to host large groups of people but they also develop programs that promote the city, state or geographical area. They want to bring people to the neighborhood, so you’re already benefiting from the work they do.

By connecting with the DMO that oversees your locale, you can access information about upcoming events that might draw visitors to your tasting room. You might also benefit from teaming up with the DMO on marketing efforts. After all, they’ve got the resources to promote your business to a much wider audience – possibly even an international one.

If you can provide a service to event organizers or meeting planners through your relationship with the DMO, you may draw even more benefits. For instance, if you have enough space in your tasting room to host large groups, you could offer that up during larger conventions or events. It could get you a bit more favor in any upcoming promotions.

Check-in on the Regional Distillery Association

Aside from the regional or state DMO, you may have access to other organizations that can help you reach your local audience. For instance, many areas have distillery associations. These groups provide resources to members and deliver insights about local audiences that individual distilleries may not be able to access.

Additionally, this is another way to team up with fellow distilleries and learn from their experiences in marketing locally or working with other businesses. It can be a helpful membership to have.

If you’re not sure whether a local association exists in your area, the American Craft Spirits Association keeps a list of many of these organizations and groups here. Take a look and explore what might be available to you.

As with all marketing operations for a distillery, many of the above partnerships may come with local or state regulations that you need to be aware of before you move forward. Check-in with your marketing agency or talk to the distillery association to get more information about what you can and can’t do.

It’s probably pretty busy in the distillery and building or maintaining all of these relationships can be time-consuming. Consider contacting us and we can offer our alcohol marketing expertise and help with all of the local distillery marketing efforts you need.

Clare Goggin Sivits

As a marketer with a strong writing background, Clare Goggin Sivits has worked in the beer, spirits, and wine industries for nearly a decade. She oversaw digital marketing for a small wine startup as well as a craft brewery and distillery with a nationwide footprint. A Florida ex-pat, Clare now lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to write about craft beverage marketing and the industry as a whole.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *