I spend a considerable amount of time listening to and telling stories. In this process, I sometimes confirm the truth, and sometimes I discover the truth. But, I really love finding the story behind the story – what really happened, who really invented the Internet, and is Hitch real. For the record it’s Tim Bernes Lee and yes the movie was based on a real man. Sometimes we get so lost in the legend or myth of what we know to be true that we don’t even think about the real story. In this day and age of the Internet, we still suffer from a misguided acceptance of what we see as true. Comedian Robert Wuhl makes an excellent case for calling this the “Liberty Valance Effect,“ lifting a still poignant line: “When legend becomes fact, print the legend” from the old John Wayne western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
In the old west that John Wayne portrayed for us in all his movies, we are introduced to a lawless dessert full of outlaws and John Wayne the presumptive hero for us all. Our hero did two things, fight bad guys and hang out in saloons drinking whisky; for the most part, not untrue. Except for a caveat that still impacts our culture today. Throughout the Civil War, westward expansion, prohibition, and World War II whisky remained a popular drink for the man of the west or anyone who wanted to be like him. The strength of the whiskey and burning sensation as you drank it was in itself the driving factors. With the popularity of whiskey, inefficient means of quick production to meet demands and transport at the time often led to shortages. It is in these times when demands for new drinks like tequila gained ground to make the United States the number one consumer of tequila worldwide, a story that old western movies and Boardwalk Empire don’t exactly tell.
You might be wondering why exactly I am telling you the tequila story. That is because today is National Tequila Day! I have been telling you stories of companies and organizations that are doing amazing things when it comes to engagement with their customers. Last time I told you a little about Tequila Avion and their role in the Socialcam acquisition, among other organizations. Today I am going to dive deeper and tell you why Avion is where it is today and why you feel like you kind of already know them: Entourage.
Entourage is easily one of my favorite shows, not necessarily because of its entertainment value, but because it I use it as a case study for how life should work. It is a great show to utilize social mapping to see how everyone can build and leverage relationships. The show follows childhood friends making their way in the world on their own terms and supporting each other in their dreams. Little did the rest of us know that is exactly how the creators of the show were living their lives. Doug Ellin, the creator of Entourage is a childhood friend of Kenny Dichter, Founder of Marquis Jet and Co-Founder of Tequila Avion with Ken Austin. Doug was talking with his childhood friend about ideas for Season 7, specifically how he needed a business for Turtle to run. It just so happened that Ditcher and Austin were about to launch Tequila Avion. Ellin picked up the idea and ran with it bringing Avion into pop culture, with a show that was so real, many of us took everything we saw as fact, like that billionaire Mark Cuban bought out shares of Avion.
It would be easy to attribute Avion’s success to Entourage but unfortunately; legend doesn’t contain all the facts. Many people believed Avion was a made up brand kind of like Duff Beer in The Simpsons. So when tequila drinkers went out or to the store, they weren’t looking for Avion. Where Avion made their mark is caring about their customers. They have the cash to compete with the bigger brands, but they behave like a startup of 22- year-olds. They have taken to Twitter, Facebook, Socialcam and the like to talk to and more importantly, listen to their customers. They ask questions, give answers, give tips, and talk about what matters to their consumers even if it isn’t always tequila. This is why they are winning; they are building relationships, not trying to close sales. If you go to @TequilaAvion you will see a feed of @ Replies not links to their site. It is the reason why someone like me, a 25-year-old who doesn’t even drink – is telling you their story.
Want to know the best part about this strategy, they are doing it right in front of your face on a public feed that everyone can read, and yet few people are paying attention. The big brands will no longer be able to compete in an economy that goes back to basics, if they keep hiring huge ad firms to produce a commercial a la MadMen. Care about your customers and they will care about you. The true cost of this strategy is also $0 but generates millions in lifetime revenue. Furthermore, they can back up their hype by winning awards as World’s Best White Spirit and World’s Best Tequila this year because of their refined quality. Tequila Avion is made from 100% blue agave grown in Jalisco, Mexico 7000 ft above sea level and unlike whisky will not burn when you drink it.
Today I raise a glass to Tequila Avion for National Tequila Day.
Here are a couple awesome recipes I found for this HOT day in the Mile High City. Chose Pleasure. Make your customers feel good about themselves and they will feel good about you.