Marketing plans are much like crafting a cocktail — if you leave one ingredient out — it can throw off the entire drink. If you use only one ingredient (like social media), it’s not really a cocktail, now is it? Marketing entails more than social media, and it may be one reason you do not have a full-scale marketing plan yet, but what do you include? If you’ve set out to tackle your own marketing plan, here are the top five things you won’t want to leave out.

Social Media

We all know social media is essential, but sometimes doesn’t it feel like we’re just posting to post content? Use your marketing plan to dig deeper into thoughtful content, and that includes considering the voice and tone of your content, the overall look and feel of your photos (cool, warm, bright, etc.), how often you will post, social campaigns ideas, micro content, and more. Your social media plan can also include work with social media influencers. If you’re feeling bogged down by posting on social media, considering using a scheduling software such as Buffer, or Later.

Competitor Research

Do you know who your competitors are? We often hear in distilling that companies aren’t worried about what other distilleries are doing in terms of production and marketing, but understanding the competition helps create a baseline for your own marketing. Understanding trends in the industry can help you decide which direction to move your marketing, and social media.. Here are a few things to research:

  • Where are competitor products sold (online?)
  • Are competitors’ running social media campaigns?
  • What kind of events do they plan and execute?
  • Which publications have covered the competitors; products?
  • How many people visit distilling industry websites?
  • Which keywords they rank for in Google searches?
  • How many people follow them on social media?

How do you find out all of this information about your competitors? Work with a marketing agency, or a 3rd party website such as SEMrush. It may seem like spying but this is all information available from basic searching.

Search & SEO

Once you know how your competitors are stacking up in the digital space, you can set new goals for which keywords you will rank in Google seaches, and how you’ll drive more traffic to your website. Why does any of this matter? 81% of consumers will research something online before purchasing it (even if they can’t buy it online), according to Adweek. Do you know how often and when consumers are finding you online? If not enough, be sure to add this into your marketing plan.


Your website should, and can be a marketing tool, if you utilize it effectively. Even if you can’t sell your liquor online, think about how you might use your website to grow your company, and create a lifestyle around your brand that consumers want to buy into. Going back to that aforementioned 81% of people researching purchases online before buying in-store, these consumers will judge your company based on your website. Does your website engage the consumer, and create trust around your brand?


Are people drinking less gin in February? Maybe it’s time for a campaign to remind consumers about certain products. Base advertising campaigns on data when possible. While it’s really not that simple, campaigns can help push you ahead of other brands in your space. A campaign can consist of imagery, messaging, a blog post, and social assets. Next comes promotion on social media. Campaigns don’t have to promote your product directly, but rather promote the lifestyle that supports drinking your product.

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Karen Locke
Karen Locke is founder of High-Proof Creative (, an award-winning branding and marketing agency for the craft spirits industry. She is author of “High-Proof PDX: A Spirited Guide to Portland’s Craft Distilling Scene” was a food and drink writer, and worked at marketing agencies for nearly 10 years prior to launching High-Proof Creative. Karen has been published by GQ magazine, Bon Appétit, Sip Northwest, and more. Karen joined the Women’s Distillery Guild as a board member in 2018, and currently serves on the board of the Portland Culinary Alliance. She is also member of the Women of the Vine & Spirits.