The Genius Marketing (and Curious Demise) of Jack Daniels 

4 Tasting Experience

The Guest Family holiday vacation in 2019 landed us in Nashville. At the last minutewe decided to make the 60-mile trek to Lynchburg to tour the Jack Daniels Distillery. What an amazing job they do at the visitor center and with the tour of the plant! We learned the whiskeymaking process and enjoyed a sample flight of their spiritsEverything was presented in a way that made it fun and memorable. 

I would certainly enjoy meeting the marketing team behind this franchise. They have made some very creative moves that are noteworthy. For example, more than 20 years ago, my husband, Tom, and I visited this location when the visitor center was barely more than a shack. He signed up for a mailing list of promotional items and, through a twist of luck, ended up a “squire.” We had no idea what that meant at the time, and after our visit we kept getting mailings that I found annoying. It talked about “a parcel of land” he supposedly owned on property now that he was a squire. After several years of what I saw as junk mail, I called and demanded our address be taken off the list. They seemed offended that I would ask, but agreed to stop sending materials. Good! 

Fast forward to today. When we arrived on the property, instead of a worn-out building, we found an elaborate welcome center and a beautiful white home with a plaque indicating it was the squires house. Remembering he used to get these mailings, Tom went inside to inquire about the squire. Turns out that it actually is neat to be a member of this group. They offer a whole bunch of exclusive gift items and discounts to the special people who belong. They make it sound exclusive and only available to those who have been referred.  

After quick search, they found he was still in the system and agreed to reactivate his account. Next, the host offered to take us in a special vehicle up the hill where the “parcel of land” is located. Its basically a hill overlooking the distillery and you can claim any spot as yours. This entire adventure is a cross between playing pretend and being part of an exclusive club. Marketing genius!  

How can you make a club of loyal followers? Are there other ways you can make each customer feel like they’re getting exclusive access or service? 

Side note: One interesting thing I learned on the tour is how Jack Daniels died. Turns out he got angry one day and kicked his safe because he couldn’t get it open (apparently, he had trouble remembering the combination). The injury to his foot was severe and turned into an infection, which lead to blood poisoning and death. Lesson? Control your anger and always write down your passwords.  

An entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP is a “go-to-resource” for customer service excellence. For more than two decades, she has shared her practical point of view on customer service and staff development with audiences and companies across the country, blending real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. Her latest book, The 10¢ Decision: How Small Change Pays of Big, presents her most sought-after and impactful strategies to find and retain the best staff and highest-quality customers while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

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