Straight talk


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I’ve never met Bill Samuels, Jr. But I’m sure I’d enjoy sitting down and sharing a cocktail with him. Maker’s Mark, straight up.

Mr. Samuels would, I’m certain, appreciate that sentiment. Not just because he’s the CEO of that particular brand of bourbon, but because that’s how he delivers his brand’s image. Straight up.

Mr. Samuels is planning for, as he phrases it to an email to members of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador’s Club, handing over the leadership reins. Eventually. “I am far from done yet, but one of the most important responsibilities of any CEO is to plan for a seamless, hiccup-free succession.”

Why is he thinking of this now? “The time has come for me to think seriously about management continuity and guardianship of the legacy here at Maker’s. I’m over 70, half blind, long in the tooth and probably won’t live forever.” Yes, straight up. And the job of his eventual successor, son Rob Samuels? “…to ensure that we don’t screw up the whisky.” Yes, straight up.

This, by the way, appears in a simple text email. No pictures or frills—just straightforward heart-to-heart. I have great respect for a brand that can send out such a simply formatted email, yet have it speak such volumes for its brand promise and voice.

Not that they’re eschewing the more modern. In a recent email to Ambassadors, Mr. Samuels wrote: “Despite my general discomfort with anything trickier than my laptop, our Web ‘gurus’ have come up with a neat little gadget for your iPhone. If you have an iPhone, iPad or an iPod touch, you can download a game that lets you dip your own bottle [the neck of the bottle in Marker’s signature wax]. Visit to see how it works.”

We at COLLOQUY have long admired Maker’s relationship with members of their Ambassadors Club. You can find a couple of samples of that relationship in action in our Loyalty Landscape collections—look for the heads “A Toast” and “Making a Mark, Indeed.”

If you have examples of similarly successful communications to share, I’d love to hear about them.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


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