What Indie Artists Can Learn from Maker’s Mark Word-of-Mouth Campaign

Maker's Mark - Photo by M. Scott Mahaskey for Army Times

Maker’s Mark founder Bill Samuels Sr. hated advertising.
When he put his son in charge of marketing the brand, the allocated budget was fixed at $1000. There wasn’t much you could do with that. So Bill Samuels Jr. took a different route. He focused on developing relationships with people who cared about good bourbon. He approached the Kentucky horse racing crowd, introduced the product, and slowly turned them into brand advocates. They eventually turned their friends onto Maker’s Mark, and on it went.

Maker’s Mark didn’t burst out on the scene.
For a long time, they weren’t widely known. But ever so slowly, out of the middle of America’s heartland, a passionate following was being assembled. Today, Maker’s Mark maintains the same conviction to its marketing efforts, continually building relationships with that same person-to-person care.

A single fan is an army of advocates waiting to happen.
If you’re a writer, a musician, a filmmaker – an independent artist of any kind – you know how hard it is to reach people when you have little to no budget. The good news is you don’t have to take over the planet any time soon. In fact, it’s smarter to go easy when you’re introducing your work to the world, because it gives you the chance to truly see how people respond, or don’t respond, to what you’re doing. A dialogue like that is worth more than any marketing campaign, because it shows you how to tweak what you’re doing to reach more people.

Start your own word-of-mouth campaign.
To give you a sense of how that’s done, here’s Todd Spencer of Doe-Anderson (Maker’s agency of record) sharing their 10 guiding principles to creating lasting customer relationships and passionate brand ambassadors.

Also see “How to Build an Ambassador Program” by Edge Collective >

Header photo by M. Scott Mahaskey for Army Times

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