What a Moonshiner Taught Me about Inbound Marketing

Moonshine and inbound marketing? This is not a gimmick post, stick with me, I promise there’s substance here, but first I need to give you the back story.

In the late '90s the scene in Atlanta exploded, drawing celebrities, rich kids from North Fulton County, and everybody in between to the ATL. It was like Antebellum Georgia inbred with New York City in a bizarre, David Lynch kind of way.

Skyline of Atlanta

Photo credit: Tucker Bair

Back then I was young, immature, and drawn to the allure of the scene.

On one particular evening, in December of ’99, I was at club called Eleven50 (not the kind of place you’d expect to find a Moonshiner) and met the protagonist in this story.

It seemed like everybody in the club knew him, respected him. But he didn't fit. After a member of his entourage told me he supplied actual moonshine at parties for A-list celebs and local socialites, I was intrigued.

At that time I’d only been in marketing for a year, but I was obsessed with understanding why people made buying decisions, and how you could earn people’s trust. I felt there were marketing lessons I could learn from this guy.

Back in ’99 the term inbound marketing didn’t exist, but the concept did, it always has. And now that I’m pursuing the ‘altered state’ of inbound marketing, I can look back on that brief period of my life and understand I was learning foundational principles of inbound marketing.

5 inbound marketing lessons from a Moonshiner

There’s a lot to the story I’m intentionally leaving out in order to keep this post succinct. So here we go.

1st lesson:

Don’t send people to a crappy/scammy looking landing page and expect them to convert. Your stock photos and fake sounding testimonials aren’t convincing anybody.

Create a safe, contemporary, and aesthetically pleasing place where you can earn people’s trust and do business.

People would actually come to this Moonshiner’s house to do business. He wasn’t bottling the White Lightning in a busted up shack that looked like a scene out of Deliverance.

2nd lesson:

Have a well developed knowledge-base. Speak with authority. And if your copy bores people more than a Clint Eastwood movie, fire your copywriter and hire somebody who can write something hypnotic or amusing. At the very least, stuff people can relate to, written in the proper context.

The moonshine inbound marketer

This guy could hold a conversation about anything from the Bolshevik Revolution to Fleming’s Left-hand rule to why the ‘76-‘77 Montréal Canadiens were the greatest sports team ever. It was fascinating.

3rd lesson:

Build authentic relationships to maintain sustainability and longevity.

If you merely have transactional relationships with people, your job as a marketer sucks because you have to continually come up with gimmicks to get people’s attention and their credit card.

4th lesson:

If you have a good product or service, get top dollar for it.

I saw this guy markup his stuff by 425%. And people paid it because the quality was superior. Now I’m not advocating inflating prices, but please, don’t compete on price and don’t be so ashamed of your price that you bury it into obscurity on your landing page.

Price isn’t a factor when people convince themselves you have what they need.

5th lesson:

Referrals matter. Like really matter.

Any marketer with half a brain cell knows referrals matter. In this guy’s case, he obviously wasn’t launching marketing campaigns to get clients. It was all about referrals. Happy clients sent new clients. There was a compounding affect happening.

The lesson is, if you spend more time earning trust, nurturing relationships, and fixing your horrendous landing pages, you’d spend less money on ‘marketing’ because your clients will do the marketing for you.

So there you have it. Would I ever repeat this type of field research? Absolutely not. But it was one of those life experiences I’m able to draw on as I continue to develop as an Inbound Marketer.

Comments are appreciated. Even if it’s just to tell me to never blog again.

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  • http://twitter.com/michoscopic Michael Kwan

    Please never blog again.

    HAHA! Joking – you made me write that. Very nice article, though I’m actually more interested in your other article about headlines. But I had to comment :P

    • http://www.davidmcohen.com/ David Cohen

      Ha! Good joke. Yeah, my other stuff so far is way more interesting than this one. Hope the one about headline writing for Google+ was helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/michoscopic Michael Kwan

    Please never blog again.

    HAHA! Joking – you made me write that. Very nice article, though I’m actually more interested in your other article about headlines. But I had to comment :P

    • http://www.davidmcohen.com/ David Cohen

      Ha! Good joke. Yeah, my other stuff so far is way more interesting than this one. Hope the one about headline writing for Google+ was helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/michoscopic Michael Kwan

    Please never blog again.

    HAHA! Joking – you made me write that. Very nice article, though I’m actually more interested in your other article about headlines. But I had to comment :P

    • http://www.davidmcohen.com/ David Cohen

      Ha! Good joke. Yeah, my other stuff so far is way more interesting than this one. Hope the one about headline writing for Google+ was helpful.