The Fatal Flaw

There's a major reason why most marketing and social media for booze quickly turns into a gigantic snorefest these days: everyone is portraying themself as the hero of their own whiskey journey. Here's what I drank last night. Here's me with the bottle. Everyone take a look at my personal glory. 

The thing is: we need heroes. However, when we present our message to the world, we just need to remember who the hero is in the story we're looking to tell.

If you look at whisky from the marketer's perspective then you know that people perceive themselves as the center of their experience. The customer is always the hero. As humans with egos, we all wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and wonder what adventure awaits us. No one ever wanted to be Superman's brother as a kid. We all wanted to be Superman himself. Because we are always our own protagonist, we're not looking for competition in that role. All good salesmen know that they are not the hero of their customer's experience. They are the guide. They are Obi Wan or Yoda to Luke. When I'm in the store on the sales floor, I am Mr. Miyagi, not Daniel-san. It's not about what I can do, it's about what I know that can help the hero along his or her quest.

As I've written before, there are plenty of best-selling tomes that back up this psychological strategy.

The fatal flaw I see most often today with those looking to connect with readers/customers/followers/etc is a misguided role reversal. It's what happens when whiskey customers look to become whiskey influencers and forget they're no longer the center of the story. They continue playing the hero, conquering their way through mountains of bottles, taking names and batch numbers along the way. They still think it's about them.

It isn't though.

When you're the one being served, it's all about you. However, when you're starting your own blog/Instagram/message board/ad campaign the roles must change. Simply put, no one wants to watch someone else be the hero of their personal whiskey story. They want to know one thing: how does what you're doing help me?

I've written this spirits blog since 2009 and in the endless myriad of articles I've posted over the years you can count the times I've shown a picture of myself on two hands. I do write about my experiences and opinions, but that's because as a guide you must show some credibility. At first Luke thought Yoda was just some annoying alien with a ridiculous voice. It wasn't until he used the force that Luke was willing to listen. Thus, you have to prove a level of expertise over a subject matter before people are willing to hear your message. From that point on, however, you must continue to focus on helping the hero towards his or her goal. 

As a guide you need two important things: authority and empathy. I would argue that you need more of the latter.

In the era of points and ratings, empathy has become less of a factor in marketing, which is ultimately why it all blurs together. The messages are either about me, me, me, or they're robotic formulae that compute wine and whiskey into numeric values. Neither is very compelling as a customer hero looking for a little human guidance. 

Nevertheless, the empire is growing.

As someone who has long believed in the force of empathy when it comes to human interaction, it's disheartening. You see ego and money getting in the way of real enjoyment and passion. That's why both Obi Wan and Yoda ultimately went into isolation. 

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll