Andy Borbely is the National Advocacy Director for BARE Zero Proof Spirits. Previously, he served as the Advocacy & Events Manager for Papa’s Pilar Rum, Hemingway Rum Co., and as the Lead Whiskey Guardian for the Midwest Region at Angel’s Envy. Andy is passionate about promoting non-alcoholic beverage alternatives and plays a key role in driving the mission of BARE Zero Proof Spirits.
What are your top 3 tips for building relationships and working with influential accounts?
- Do not look for shortcuts, put in work to build authentic relationships
- Nothing is ever more effective than time spent in an account, actively listening
- Do not conflate YOUR priorities with the priorities of the account; look for opportunities to align them. Do not force an alignment when none is present.
What strategies or approaches do you find most effective when building relationships with influencer accounts?
Andy Borbely: Center your expectations around the account’s relationship to you…not the other way around. Realize that an account’s relationship with your brand will begin from interest, affiliation, or relationships…but in order to have a significant impact within an influential account, the relationship should always gravitate toward mutual opportunity. Do not conflate “presence” with “opportunity.” What is your product doing within the account? Who does it serve? Who is selling it and who is buying it…and why? Once both parties understand these answers, they can work together to create or amplify opportunity.
Featured Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Working with Influencer Accounts
What are some common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid when working with influencer accounts?
- Avoid pushing too hard too quickly.
- Know the difference between a relationship visit and a sales visit.
- Watch the clock & watch your surroundings: even on a scheduled visit, an unexpected service “pop” or an understaffed afternoon is no time to do business.
Once you’ve secured shelf placement, how do you keep your product on their shelf/menu?
- Remain present in the account. Show up and learn the names of barbacks, bartenders, and servers. The more you remain a fixture in an account, the more your brand will remain a fixture in an account.
- Posting well-curated photos to social media not only delivers value for your brand, but for the account as well. In addition, it provides you the opportunity your visit to be seen by managers and decision makers who might not have been present when you made your visit to the account. The more these decision-makers know you are present in the account, the more likely your product is to remain there.
In terms of staying updated on emerging trends and generating fresh ideas, what are some ways you do this?
- Actively engaging social media is a good tactic for staying updated on emerging trends…but spending time in accounts is better. If you are relegated to social media, don’t just “like” on cruise control- take time to study what an account is posting. Read captions, observe glassware & garnish, note who is creating cocktails, take time to notice if the account is partnering with specific brands or hosting charitable events. Resist the temptation to “like” and move on. Take the time to notice what new and exciting things are going on in an account & what they’re excited about. If you can do the same things in person, do so!
Are there any emerging cocktail trends or products that you’re keeping an eye on?
Andy Borbely: Zero Proof Spirits! Ha!
How do you use social media to engage with influential accounts and expand brand reach?
- Like, share, and comment on key account socials. The more they’re in your algorithm, the more you will be in theirs.
- Survey the account’s social media and do your best to photograph & create content in a manner that will be usable for them in the form of a repost / share. Try your best to match their style- even if you don’t come particularly close you will hone your own digital photography / social media skills!
What are some strategies for fostering brand loyalty or long-term partnerships with influential accounts?
Andy Borbely: Under-promise and over-deliver. No matter how your brand chooses to engage or strategize, long-term band loyalty is built upon a foundation of promises kept. Even small markets start to feel quite large quite quickly once commitments begin to pile up. Make sure you are keeping track of your commitments and fulfilling them. Accounts might not always praise you for keeping your word (as it is expected) but they will certainly react negatively to a broken promise. In fact, sometimes the strongest relationships are forged by a second brand stepping up where another had previously faltered. The value of moving at the pace of your promises cannot be overstated.