Membership

Kentucky Distillers Bring Class to First Membership Drive

By / Sep 9, 2014 The seal used on the membership packets. (Handout photos)

With the bourbon industry in the midst of a big expansion, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is pulling out all the stops in hopes of getting new distilleries in the state to join. Three words: copper membership cards.

Imagine that your industry is riding a wave of success it hasn’t seen since the good ol’ days. It seems no one can stop talking about your product. And you’re seeing membership levels that haven’t been reached in nearly 70 years.

Sounds like a good situation. So, what’s next?

In the case of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, it’s a membership drive—in fact, the first one in its history, which goes back well over a century.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be the leading voice of the spirits industry in the commonwealth for more than 134 years,” Joe Fraser, KDA board chairman and an executive at Heaven Hill Distilleries, said in a news release. “And we’re equally proud that our ranks have swelled to record numbers not seen in generations.”

But KDA’s 20 member companies are just a starting point, according to the association; it plans to recruit new members as the industry expands to new distilleries.

The invites, signed by the association's top executives, are bound in leather and include a copper membership card. (Handout photo)

The invites, signed by the association’s top executives, are bound in leather and include a copper membership card. (Handout photo)

One distiller said he’s not throwing away any part of the packet because it was so cool.

And much like a well-aged bourbon, the recruitment effort screams old-school class. The association is sending leather-bound packets, complete with copper membership cards, to every distiller in the state explaining what the association is all about. Its membership drive comes at a time when new distilleries are popping up across the state.

The marketing materials’ inviting message: “We’ve been waiting for you since 1880.”

Already, the campaign has drawn some positive notices from recipients:

In comments to Associations Now, KDA president Eric Gregory described the response so far as “tremendous.” The group has received a significant number of new applications and phone calls in response to the packets.

“One distiller said he’s not throwing away any part of the packet because it was so cool,” Gregory noted. “And we’re very pleased with the response on social media.”

What’s the snazziest member-recruitment effort you’ve tried out? Tell us about it in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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