In my role at Absolute I get the opportunity to wear several hats. One of the hats I enjoy the most is working with clients to develop strategies that will help them achieve their objectives. I’m one of those people who thrives on a challenge – the bigger the better I say. So when a young chemical engineer working in quality control at American Crystal Sugar came to us and said, “I’m starting my own liquor line but don’t know where to start to launch the business?” it was one of my favorite opportunities ever. Yeah! I get to work on another GoToMarket strategy!  Here we have a guy who had figured out how to make all kinds of distilled spirits from fun and interesting ingredients who also bartended in his spare time on the weekends. He could even source some ingredients from his parents’ farm near East Grand Forks. Talk about someone made for the craft distillery business!

A GoToMarket strategy is similar to a marketing plan except that it actually tells a company how to get started from a marketing perspective as well as a product or service offering perspective. Since companies often know what they want to do or make but are looking for a roadmap for how to get there, our role is to help show them the way. Once the research has been done to determine the competitive landscape, the path forward becomes more and more clear. Current consumer trends, especially when the work involves a product, are also important to take into account. Basically any contributing factor involved in the marketing and positioning of the product is considered as a path to success is developed.

Initially Tyler wanted to start the company in his home state of Minnesota. As many reading this might already know, Minnesota is home to some of the best known craft distillers in the nation. Prairie Organic, Panther, Vikre, Far North – the list goes on and on. As you might imagine in a business segment that is based so heavily on the story behind the brand, it was important to ask ourselves, “OK, how can we be different?” So our research continued to flesh out what facets of craft distilling and brand stories were already “taken” and where the best opportunity would remain for Tyler. Once we drilled down it became – pun intended – crystal clear. There is only one other sugar beet vodka in Minnesota, but it’s made from Wisconsin sugar beets. And then we had it – producing sugar beet vodka that was made from beets that are authentically and locally sourced from the Red River Valley was the perfect place to start. And with Tyler’s ties to Crystal Sugar he had something unique to the market – and so the sugar beet vodka was born. 

In subsequent months we also helped Tyler develop his bottle labels, get started on his marketing materials and get acquainted with one of the largest regional distributors. He was able to readily strike up a distribution deal with his well-thought-out product and position. He created samples of the new vodka for the distributor and his friends and family to try and the distributor was immediately on board. Everyone he tested it on said to him, “Tyler, you have a winner here.”

Just last week we saw on Facebook that he was shipping his first boxes of vodka to the distributor. Similar to that feeling when your kid is getting ready to walk across the stage at graduation, we all cheered him on through social media and email. We’re so proud to have been a part of his journey, from the experimenting with popcorn vodka just-for-fun stage all the way through convincing him to use his access to sugar beets as a distinct competitive advantage and later to making and shipping his first product. Tyler has set up shop just across the river in Grand Forks and is already dreaming about creating his sugar beet gin. We know that Tyler’s authentic and uniquely regional emphasis – as well as his apparently great tasting vodka – will make him especially successful and will make lots of people happy to buy spirits that are home grown.

If you have a new product or service to promote and are looking to break into a new industry, please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a Marketing Advisor, or contact us at