Paige Seager knows that it takes a lot more than flashy marketing campaigns to generate buzz and build brand awareness in today’s competitive industry. As the Founder and Managing Principal of Next Level Marketing, a leading brand activation agency for beverage companies, her team takes a highly customizable, data-driven approach to building premium brands.
We caught up with her to learn more about Next Level Marketing, the cannabis opportunity, future projects, and more.
ForceBrands: Tell us first about your background and what led you to launch Next Level Marketing in 2005.
Paige Seager: I worked in medical device sales prior to joining the spirits industry in 1999 where I worked on the supplier side for Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine, managing the company’s Brand Ambassador and sampling programs. I co-founded Next Level Marketing in 2005 when Allied Domecq was sold to Jim Beam and Pernod Ricard. My experience working collaboratively between sales and marketing teams, and understanding the business from the supplier side provided a great foundation for Next Level. We manage every program with a customer mindset and our goal is to deliver quality programming with true value. I’m proud to still be working with some of our first clients at Next Level.
FB: What sets Next Level Marketing apart from other marketing agencies?
PS: It’s the people. I am so fortunate to have the hardest working, most dedicated team of people, both in our HQ office and in the field who have been with us for many years. They work around the clock making sure that we are on top of every detail of every program, and are servicing our clients with the highest standards. Our team brings their A-game every single day.
FB: What are some memorable achievements or projects you’ve been most proud of since launching the company?
PS: There are a few clients and programs that stick out in my mind. I have been so fortunate to work with Suntory since we started the company. One amazing moment was in 2014 when our Yamazaki Whisky Brand Ambassador, Neyah White, won Best American Brand Ambassador at Tales of the Cocktail. I could not have been prouder for one of our team members.
Another project that I’m really excited to work on is Brockmans Gin. We have worked with Brockmans since they first entered the U.S. marketplace, and it’s great to be part of the brand’s success.
Tito’s is also an amazing team to work with. I’m a huge fan of all the charity work they do.
FB: What inspired you to move into the cannabis space?
PS: Cannabis is a natural progression for us. There’s a shift going on in the cannabis industry right now from marketing production and cultivation techniques to offering consumer retail experiences, and this is exactly what we do at Next Level.
We specialize in bringing brands to life and creating an emotional connection between the consumer and the product. This business is extremely competitive and the companies that adopt a brand-centric approach will have a massive competitive advantage.
FB: How do you envision Next Level Marketing implementing its strategies to build cannabis brands?
PS: We work closely with each client to customize marketing programs, and ensure that we are connecting with consumers at the right place, at the right time, with the right message. Also, we are known for our reporting, and I think cannabis companies are hungry for data right now since everything they’re doing is new. They need to know what’s working and what’s not so they can invest in the right tactics. We have a large team of professionals that are the eyes and ears of everything happening at the consumer level. We customize the type of information they collect, analyze results, and provide fast, actionable recommendations to improve the marketing efforts of our customers.
FB: What excites you most about working with cannabis brands?
PS: I love to see how companies market their products to set themselves apart from the competition, and how we can get involved in bringing that to life for them. Once you move past the negative stigma associated with marijuana, you look at the industry through a different lens. Many industry leaders got into this because they were attracted to marijuana’s health and wellness aspects, and that’s something I’m also passionate about. Oh, and did I mention that this is BIG business? The legal cannabis market in the U.S. totaled $10.4 billion in 2018 and this number is expected to grow to $26 billion by 2025. There is nothing but opportunity here.
FB: What’s ahead for Next Level Marketing? Any exciting projects or plans you’d like to share?
PS: We have so many fantastic projects on the horizon, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future. Right now, we are working on evolving our technology so that we can provide real-time results for our clients and be able to better analyze our activations for continuous improvement. We also have some really fun new clients who we are working with. There are so many amazing new brands hitting the market this year and we are thrilled to be part of their future!