You don’t need much money when you have a good product and a great story.
Tito Beveridge, a geophysicist whose last name foretold his true calling, had been making his handmade vodka for 5 years already by himself in Texas’ first legally permitted distillery and selling it out of a shack in Austin when I came along 10 years ago and offered to help him out for free.
With 19 maxed out credit cards and no fundraising efforts panning out to support his distillery Tito was at a point when he had to find a way make it or resign to another failed business.
When you have no budget, your only marketing option is to share the product and tell the story. Fortunately Tito’s story was a good story to share.
Tito did not set out to take over the world. He wanted to make the best tasting vodka for a price his friends could afford. He did not want to drive his price up with fancy packaging and he wanted to make just enough money to live in Austin, measuring his happiness and success within the day. People were ready to support an underdog like Tito and to know that a real person was making this vodka they loved so much by hand.
In Texas, and Austin in particular, supporting one of your own is a point of pride. Soon customers who had first tasted Tito’s product in Texas were asking for it and sharing it with friends in bars all over the country.
As demand grew we needed to share this story in a bigger way, but still had few funds. The time was right because Social allowed Tito’s Handmade Vodka to maintain its integrity as a word of mouth brand on a national level. What I love about Social is that we can continue our culture of thanking each person, sharing our life working with Tito, news, and can continue to connect with people enjoying Tito’s Handmade Vodka while spreading the word. Additionally our customers continue to engage with the development of our brand as they share their input and questions and I respond promptly personally.
As of this moment, our rapidly growing numbers of followers total over 50,000 and to be true to our organic word of mouth nature, we don’t use promoted tweets or ads to gain followers and we simply engage with them 7 days a week.
A recent survey of vodka drinkers found that of all the major brands, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is still most discovered by word of mouth above all other forms of marketing and we believe it is in large part, due to our constant engagement with our loyal consumers.
Elizabeth Bellanti has served as a Creative Pioneer for Tito’s Handmade Vodka since 2003. Prior to working for Tito she worked in marketing for Pepsi, Jim Beam, Exxon and in the Arts. She is also an avid dog rescuer, lives in Austin and can be reached on twitter.
©2015, The Tomorrow Project, LLC