“We’ve been able to provide people with materials, templated materials, that deliver on our brand equities on a much stronger basis than what we were doing earlier, where people were pulling things out of nowhere and putting them all together.” –– Josh Hafer, Heaven Hill Brands
Heaven Hill was founded in 1935 and has grown beyond its traditional roots as a bourbon distillery to become the country’s seventh largest distilled spirits producer and marketer with a portfolio of well-known products. Heaven Hill has also seen its export business grow significantly, with products now shipped to more than 100 countries worldwide.
As a company that’s growing and maturing rapidly, Heaven Hill dedicates a tremendous amount of resources to their sales organization. A critical challenge was giving dispersed salespeople access to the materials they need to make the sale.
“Our sales team, whether they are selling to package stores, retail outlets, or...to bars and restaurants, they are not getting sales commitments in a traditional office or at a conference table where they can present a beautiful and well-executed presentation,” says Josh Hafer, Corporate Communications Manager. “They’re doing it more on the fly.”
Those sales teams are using digital resources to present the Heaven Hill brands and their bonafides. “The accessibility of those materials – that was paramount to everything else in an increasingly sort of deployed workforce that we have.”
Replacing FTP with a digital asset management system
Before implementing the Widen Collective® as their digital asset management (DAM) system, Heaven Hills had a “dinosaur FTP site that didn’t have a tremendous amount of capability or complexity,” says Josh. The accessibility and searchability of a DAM system were exciting, but also intimidating. “For an organization that runs fairly lean, complexity is not really part of our nature, so that was the biggest concern. How are we going to manage items? What needed to be done to get us set up?”
One of the reasons Heaven Hill selected the Collective was the support Widen offers. “Our customer success team walked us along the process. They were positive when we had wins, and they were understanding when we needed a little bit more time to figure something out, so that was something that we really managed to get past as a fear,” says Josh.
The Heaven Hill team focused on setting up their DAM system for their field sales group of about 65 to 100 users. This focus on one main user group helped the team define how to organize the DAM system. Input from their sales team guided details like setting up image conversions for commonly used platforms and scale sizes.
Launching the DAM system to their sales group
Heaven Hill started with a three-month beta testing deployment to a handful of some of the large-scale, sophisticated sales teams in large U.S. markets who have a big sales volume.
“We took really good markets with a variety of different distributor relationships and we tested the effectiveness against those varying sales practices. What we found was the DAM had attributes that everyone can use,” says Josh. They received praise from the sales teams for the system, its deployment, and the assets the system made available.
Soon after, they launched the system to all of their sales teams.
“The feedback has been overwhelming, frankly,” says Josh. A lot of the feedback has been about how easy it is to use and what a great mechanism it is for them to be able to do their job. He says the greatest benefit is “giving them everything that they need in an easily usable fashion that’s customizable for their purposes.”
Working with many graphic designers and agencies outside of their agencies of record to deliver different materials, like posters and menus, offered nice-looking materials but often worked outside the equities of the brand. “While we had wonderful pieces selling our materials, they were not delivering on the primary brand messages, and so we’ve been able to pull a bunch of that back,” says Josh. They now provide people with materials and templated materials that deliver on their brand equities.
Looking to the future of DAM at Heaven Hill Brands
With their earlier successes, Josh and the Heaven Hill team are eager to advance their use of the DAM system. They’re calling it “DAM 2.0.”
One initiative will be to optimize and deploy the DAM system to more teams, like their distributors. The added user groups will require additional governance but will enhance their ability to provide on-brand and up-to-date materials.
Another consideration is moving the DAM beyond just a sales tool. They’re exploring how the Collective could work with a curriculum-based software to use digital assets in their training content.
A third initiative will be to learn from the analytics provided by the Insights app within the Collective to better understand how people are using the system.
For the full story, listen to episode 11 of the Widen Implementation Podcast.
Episode topics include:
- How DAM supports field sales teams
- Implementing a DAM system with a lean team
- Training users and launching the Heaven Hill DAM system
- Assigning DAM responsibilities
- Why Widen is an excellent choice for fast-growing companies looking to centralize and manage assets
The Widen Implementation Podcast helps customers prepare for and execute their DAM system rollout. Each episode features conversations with a DAM champion who has implemented the Collective. We hope that these podcasts will equip future Widen customers with the tips and insights they need to execute their own successful implementation.
About our guest
For almost 15 years, Josh Hafer has served as corporate communications manager for Heaven Hill Brands, America’s largest independent, family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier. After 82 years, Heaven Hill Brands remains one of the fastest growing companies in distilled spirits, growing to the sixth largest spirits supplier overall. In his role, Josh directs communications for internal, external, and corporate communications. As a result, the Heaven Hill communications team tackles cross-disciplinary and multi-level challenges for media, customers, employees, and other industry stakeholders.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1999 with a degree in political science, Josh pursued politics before moving to a public relations agency serving Heaven Hill. He joined Heaven Hill in 2003 with an emphasis on trade media relations. In that time, he has tackled projects beyond his communications background, including social responsibility, public affairs, and resource development.
About our host
Bill Banham is a marketing and publishing professional based in Toronto. He is the founder of the HR Gazette and Iceni Marketing as well as the co-founder of the WorkingTech show and the InnovateWork event series. Bill hosts several CPSA podcast shows on topics including social selling and tech, business strategy, and sales strategy.
Listen to more episodes from the Widen Implementation Podcast series.