When Bill Samuels, Jr. was a younger man, he dreamed of being an architect. But as some point during his college education he began to turn his focus to the sky. He moved into the aerospace program and began a career working on fusel nozzles. Unfortunately for Bill (but fortunately for the safety of his superiors) his aerospace career was cut short after a small mishap in the R + D lab which projected a fusel nozzle through the ceiling of his floor, the floor above him, and into the C-level’s offices…
Luckily, no one was injured, but Bill was in a position where he now needed a new job, so doing what most of us would do…he called his father. Bill suggested that he join his father and take his “hobby” to the next level.
Bill Senior (a sceptical man) asked his son, “Well, what can you do?”
To which Bill Jr. replied, “Well, I can make rocket fusel nozzles.”
“Well, we don’t make rocket nozzles…we make whiskey”, said President of Maker’s Mark Bill Samuels, Sr.
Luckily for Bill Jr., his father agreed to take him on in a business development role. Unfortunately, Bill Jr. had no experience in sales. After five years of little traction, Bill Sr. suggested that they contract the services of a marketing agency to help teach Bill Jr. how to do his job better. Unfortunately, for the account manager from the agency, Bill Sr. hated advertising
And so began seven years of monthly visits and presentations from ad agencies that were rejected time after time.
One day, the account manager for Maker’s Mark had an awakening: he needed to stop making suggestions and recommendations and start asking the right questions. The result: buy-in from Bill Sr. and a strong relationship between the agency and the client spanning over 40 years, which has resulted in exponential growth of Maker’s Mark.
Having an open relationship with your vendors and partners is crucial to success. On the flip side, an agency must take responsibility to be more than just an order taker. Having a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the company can only be achieved by asking the right questions. It has to go deeper than “Who is the target market?” and “What is your budget?” Understanding the personality of a brand, the corporate culture, and the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of that brand, is a vital first step for agencies that want to rocket their clients to the next level… and achieve out-of-this-world results.