Five Minutes with Jim & Kirk from Azunia Tequila

index.htmWe always get the question from clients wanting to know what is the latest and greatest social media solution. Our answer, sorry, there is not one and there will never be one. The real answer is that each form of social media is a series of micro-communities that when integrated with the right message at the right time will synergistically impact or leverage your traditional and online campaigns. To better explain this, we sat down with former Ketel One executives Jim Riley and Kirk Gaither who set out on their own to launch Intersect Beverage which represents Azunia tequila and Regional tequila. We wanted to get their take on how Blue C Advertising has helped guide them through the social media realm, what they’ve learned so far and how social media can be a valuable asset to any company. 

The popularity of social media has really exploded over the last couple years. How is Intersect Beverage and its associated brands utilizing social media? 

@AzuniaJim: In terms of brands out there I don’t see many spirits brands using social media, that’s what’s exciting for us and why we got involved. We want to maintain that cutting edge in our business and bring the fun back to our business and spending time on Twitter and Facebook is important in getting our name out there. 

Azunia is all about fun, in fact it’s even mentioned in the Intersect Beverage mission statement. Tell us about how some of the social media communities (Facebook or Twitter) have made your jobs fun and thusly showcased the fun aspect of the brand to its consumers.

@AzuniaKirk: (laughing) I think the coolest thing is being able to keep tabs on @AzuniaJim. 

Seriously though, from the sales side, when you talk to customers that are trying to figure out how to connect with consumers and we start talking about Twitter and Facebook, their eyes light up they get excited that we’re connecting with consumers online and it’s then they realize the benefits beyond the classic advertising and the classic online stuff that’s been done before. 

@AzuniaJim: One example of a way we’ve been utilizing social media to showcase the fun of our brands is, if we’re at a bar or restaurant and we’re having some cocktails, we can immediately share what were experiencing at that moment. We have the ability to talk about what’s happening right then and get immediate responses from people that wish they were there, or people who are on there way to join us, or people who are stuck at home and they want to follow what’s going on. It’s very powerful to connect with so many at one time. 

More importantly, for a startup brand like us. We’re in five states, and we have friends and family in 50 states, so sometimes you have people in Minnesota saying “gosh I wish I was in California having a margarita while looking out at the harbor in the Azunia offices or with the team from Azunia up in Aspen having drinks at theRitz Carlton.” That’s just some of the fun side of it, letting people join in on what we’re doing. I call them armchair travelers and basically we’re allowing people to be armchair travelers with Azunia Tequila by sharing our experiences on Twitter and Facebook. It’s basically because we’re sharing the experience in real time. 

Does social media work within the demographics that Intersect Beverage is targeting?

@AzuniaJim: Absolutely, our audience is people 21 – 35 years old, who are tech savvy and interested in what’s going on now and what the new trends are. That’s roughly the same audience that’s on Facebook and Twitter and we love utilizing Facebook and Twitter because it’s not typically done in the spirits and beverage business. 

So it would be safe to say that Azunia is stepping out beyond the typical business model and reinventing yourselves constantly by using social media?

@AzuniaJim & @AzuniaKirk: (Together) Absolutely. 

What has Azunia learned since beginning to use social media? 

@AzuniaJim: The group at Blue C Advertising has been very helpful with designing our social media plan and guiding us but the overall premise is simple. Be yourself, be honest, be transparent and open. Realize that people are tracking you and they are genuinely interested in what you are doing what the brand is doing and that they’re not afraid to make comments. We haven’t seen anything negative but we have seen some questions about where are we going next. We’ve also seen questions about why we choose to be in one state as opposed to another. It’s really opened up a lot of arenas of dialogue for us, which has been a learning experience. In short, it’s a constant suggestion box that helps us adapt faster to help our customers better. 

In fact, this discussion is part of that example. It’s a response to our customers about why Twitter and Facebook are important to us, how social media is utilized and the value we get from it. 

Can you give us an example on how you used Twitter or Facebook to build an immediate buzz surrounding an event or with a customer? 

@AzuniaKirk: A good example is from one of our customers in New Jersey, Bridgeview Liquor. They do a lot of online shipping and the day they accepted Azunia tequila they had links online and posts on Twitter and Facebook. Within 24 hours they had consumers asking for Azunia and that’s pretty powerful. 

We often host dinners or tastings where we get people showing up because of what they saw on Twitter or Facebook. We love the immediate response that these mediums create and that beats a flyer, bumper sticker, direct mail or billboard any day. 

Since you began experimenting with social media. Are you seeing more interest in consumers asking for your brand?

@AzuniaJim: The important thing to note about social media is that it creates an arena to have dialogue. So you’re introducing customers to your brand and it gives them a chance to say “what is this brand, what does it mean to me and if I do like it, where can I get it?” Then we can give them an immediate response, tell them about the product and respond about of where they can get it based on their geographic location and where it’s sold. For example, I had a customer who was interested in finding out where he could buy Azunia tequila, I looked on his Facebook profile and found out that he lives in Rancho Cucamonga. Immediately, I was able to respond and tell him that Azunia is sold at BevMo and which stores were close to him. That’s pretty cool. 

In short, with the immediate dialogue, we’re seeing immediate results and feedback. Sometimes we even get thank you notes from consumers about how much they liked the Azunia. That’s what’s fun for us because you don’t get that kind of immediate feedback from a magazine ad or billboard. 

As a new startup brand we’re not everywhere, and we admittedly know that, but we are able to share where we are at and what we are doing, so people don’t need to look for us elsewhere and try to discover us. In short, it’s all there, in one place on Twitter and Facebook. We can have immediate dialogue and direct them straight to the venue or event where they can share and experience Azunia. What could be better? 

On the flip side. We’ve also had some successes by going into an potential account that is tech savvy and explaining what we do online through Facebook and Twitter and they immediately accepted our product because they know the power of Facebook and Twitter. As Kirk explained regarding Bridgeview Liquor, within 30 min of us posting that they had our product, Bridgeview Liquor sold six bottles of Azunia. 

What are some quick factors that you’ve seen work well through Facebook and Twitter?

@AzuniaKirk: It’s really about bringing them into the experience. Telling people about our tequila, how it tastes, showing how people are enjoying our product an enjoying the experience of having cocktails. It’s all about the experience because the experience relates back to the fun. Facebook and Twitter allows us to do this with an immediacy that instills the curiosity for consumers to want to try our brand. 

@AzuniaJim: A reason why we believe it’s important to be involved is because it allows an opportunity for us to have an immediate dialogue with our customers to get to know not only our brand, but us in general. It also helps us educate our consumers if they have questions on taste and growing techniques which thusly deepens our relationships with consumers and also with our distributors. In short, we’ve got ongoing channels of dialogue that will last a lifetime as long as they are connected to us through Facebook and Twitter.

Is it more genuine for a brand to have it’s own Facebook or Twitter account or does a customer or consumer find it more genuine to be talking to the faces behind the brand?

@AzuniaJim: It depends on how you position your personal sites and pages and your corporate sites. As long as you’re genuine in the way your are speaking to others and if you’re honest and have something relevant to share, people will pick up on that. Once you start making it too corporate or shallow and there’s no depth to your brand or what you’re saying then you’re going to lose friends and followers. I’ve already disconnected from some brands because their tweets and posts had no personality, no education, no value. Our personality and our passion is what were all about and it shines through in our corporation and our products. We love what we do, we have fun doing it and we enjoy sharing it with others. 

What can you suggest to someone who’s wanting to get on Facebook or Twitter for the first time? 

@AzuniaJim: Don’t be afraid.

@AzuniaKirk: To coin the Nike phrase, “Just do it.” It’s not going to bite you and you’ll find some great friends and people because of it. 

Do you often find yourselves while working with others asking them about if they are on Twitter or Facebook. 

@AzuniaJim: Absolutely, I have dropped my Twitter name to others (@AzuniaJim) because they have questions about what I’m doing or where I’m at and its fun to stay in touch with others. Especially if you travel a lot. This is especially important for other companies and people where a lot of travel is part of their lives. Kirk and I being partners, we always know where each is at and we’ve been able to stay in touch and know what each is doing and what needs to be done. Not only that but all our friends and followers know exactly what were up to also. 

@AzuniaKirk: What’s also fun is that we are able to be constantly involved with our consumers and customers as opposed to other companies who have to hide behind some large corporate infrastructure or board room. It provides a personal touch and we like that. 

Where do you see the Azunia brand and Intersect Beverage as a company in two or three years as a result of using social media?

@AzuniaJim: I see Azunia and Intersect Beverage as a brand and a company that people will aspire to be around because we stand for bringing fun back to our industry. Above all else, this is the entertainment business, it should be light hearted and people should be having a good time. In this business it’s not all about corporate mergers and concessions. This business was started for a reason, to enjoy a the companionship of friends, the camaraderie found at a bar or nightclub, and a nice cocktail. Which is pretty much what people look forward to at the end of everyday. 

In case you haven’t noticed, you can follow Jim and Kirk on Twitter @AzuniaJim or @AzuniaKirk and Azunia Tequila on Facebook http://bit.ly/tX8N0 or at http://www.azuniatequila.com

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