In a Wine 2.0 World It’s All About the Conversation

images-1“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much”
… Yogi Berra

It is my experience that the best time to innovate is in time of crisis. Business historically exhibits up cycles and down cycles. Right now, we’re either in a bounce, or the cycle has started a long slow trudge out of the financial abyss. It is evident that case good supplies are tightening, as wineries winnow down inventories of their ’06’s and ’07’s. Our wine distributor partners are ordering via the Dell Computer model of just in time. Restaurants that were case buyers have become bottle buyers, and retailers have reverted to post millennium stock reduction strategies. At this point, the wine market is forecasted to continue growing, albeit at a slower rate.

A quick review of a recent down point in the economic life of North America, reflects that crisis and necessity are the mothers of invention. 9/11/2001 had a significant short termimages-2 affect on wine consumption. At the time wine inventories in all channels were inflated, and recent vintages had been panned in the press. Fred Franzia and ‘Two Buck Chuck’ came along to absorb the juice at the value end of the market, and the series of vintages over the next six years received significant acclaim from print critics in the know, cementing the category we have come to know as ‘cult Sidewayswines’. The buddy wine film Sideways was released, and demand for Pinot Noir wines shot through the store roof. Prices for wines of all categories above $5 a bottle increased as a result of market dynamics, with the strongest growth in the segment of wines above $15 bottle. For a full review of the economy’s relationship to wine sales in the last 25 years, please read Vic Motto’s article ‘Wine in a Downturn’ in the Global Wine Partners January 2009 newletter, VinSights.

Several factors have mitigated the effects of the global banking crisis on the growth in overall domestic wine sales. The pool of wine consumers in the US has grown by 25 million in millennial selecting wine at Safewaythe last six years as  millennials have adopted wine as their beverage of choice. The relatively cheap dollar in relation to other currencies and drought in Australia have diminished market share for most categories of import wines with the exception of Spanish wines. Smaller recenttapas  bar and Spanish wine domestic wine grape crops related to demand, and a wine industry tuned into the consumer sales cycle, have case goods inventories in balance, or in some pricing and varietal segments short, softening downward pressures on wine pricing. This even as we experience channel consolidation and shifts in consumer purchasing patterns.

Given the law of unintended outcomes, a new way of communicating brand has occurred as well. Computer work station, laptops, netbooks, and smart phones, as exemplified by the Cork's iPhoneiPhone and Blackberry, are now ubiquitous. This generation of new wine drinkers is indeed the personal computer generation. Communication has evolved from the desktop to a more portable format. What started out on AOL as instant messaging, moved to Yahoo and MSN, continuing the migration through MySpace to Facebook and now Twitter and FriendFeed. Texting and IMs have morphed to become micro blogging as a way for friends, communities and businesses to communicate. It is now all about the conversation.

The mindset around social media is it’s all about having a conversation with your friends and not about advertising to an audience. As Jeff Stai, at Twisted Oak has often stated, ‘it’s the modern equivalent of the office water cooler conversation.‘ Sorry, Don Draper, the Mad John Hamm as Don Drapper, Mad menMen model has peaked and, like Sisyphus’ rock, is rolling downhill. Understandably navigating this new multi platform brand awareness strategy can be intimidating and challenging, and the utilization of unique tactics  for different touch points can be daunting. Wineries need to develop a set of targeted tactics for each platform such as podcasting, You Tube, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, while including traditional media in the mix in an effort to create brand awareness. It is important to note that this takestwitter commitment, and managers who aren’t just digital savvy, but who understand that the dissemination of key communication points is now a complex exercise. It may also take the insight that maybe it’s more important to listen than to talk. Today’s consumers choose with and to whom they engage. The current key marketing question is not how do I manage my social media relationships, but rather it’s how do I nurture them.

a really Goode jobLets take a quick look at the Murphy-Goode’s promotion ‘A Really Goode Job’. Their print ad reads – “Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent. $10,000/mo (6-month contract), wine country housing included for a good communicator who is Web 2.0 fluent..blogger, videographer, tweeter..excellent written and verbal skills, engaging presence, at least 21-years old, wine lover”. The folks at Murphy-Goode, have established solid broad market distribution. They’re utilizing print, website and social media platforms to tell a fun story. Their have their ducks in a row. Prior to the start of this social media campaign there wasn’t much of a digital conversation going abouA Really Goode Job Annoucementt Murphy-Goode. Now if you check-out Twitter search for ‘Murphy-Goode’ or ‘A Really Goode Job’ you’ll be able to observe all the buzz that this promo has developed. And that’s just Twitter. If you check out the freemium search feature at Cruvee, you’ll see that the conversation about Murphy-Goode has elevated above the din in a noisy, brand saturated marketplace.

question-mark.jpgHow does your winery compare? What are you doing to innovate, and create brand buzz? Are you engaging in the conversation? The Murphy-Goode program has legs. Publicity and brand awareness will follow the selection of the successful candidate. The stories, videos, blogs and conversations generated by the new Murphy-Goode ‘Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent’ will continue to engage customers and fans. As soon as you go on the Murphy-Goode web site and vote for your favorite candidate, take time to think about your digital media strategy, and how your winery will engage customers. clients and fans in the conversation.

Note: Copyright © 2009 Think Wine Marketing® All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “In a Wine 2.0 World It’s All About the Conversation

  1. Our winery has grown ten fold in the past decade. And everyone wants to know, “What makes us different from other wineries?” The most important thing that I try to tell our customers is that we no longer just sell wine at Merritt Estate Winery… we’re selling an experience. Between catering weddings, hosting tour bus groups, planning our three annual festivals and working with celebrity athletes of all kinds, we can’t become an “advertisement” to our customers. We need to create an experience and conversation with our customers. Building a relationship outside of Buyer/Consumer is so important in this business. This is a great blog topic, and it is a popular trend as well.

  2. This is a great post and something that is close to our (Cruvee’s) hearts.

    Your statement:

    “The current key marketing question is not how do I manage my social media relationships, but rather it’s how do I nurture them.”

    This could not be more on target and the sooner that wineries understand this concept the quicker they will be able to start engaging. The key is to listen, monitor and engage with the consumers who will inevitably assist in creating progressing their buzz.

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  4. Your one comment reminds me of that old saying “that God gave us one mouth and two ears so use them proportionally.”

    I understand that Murphy-Goode created someting from nothing and that is great for the winery but just not so sure that turning this into the wine industry’s version of American Idol is the smartest move…instead of the “slickest” approach shouldn’t they be looking for someone who can integrate all levels.

    And your comment about nuturing relationships echos my posts about being human…that first and foremost this is a “social” site. Edwin has got the concept correct…if they can get his words into a digital version they should be successful!

    My hope is that many of the wineries out there will take the time to read your words and (more importantly) embrace them with their actions!

  5. Wow, it is also about “leverage”, which you could be doing too!

    For example, did you submit this article to any one of many pr-article submission sites to let it pass an even larger audience?

    What about twitter? You tossing out some tweets now and then? How are you leveraging Twitter?

    marktnorman, ideally a social media guru (which is the position Murphy-Goode is looking to fill) would understand that 65% of his/her job is to “teach” others in the “industry” how to leverage the social media… there is an african saying: you can travel fast if you travel alone. But if you want to travel far, you will travel in groups.

    Same applies for Murphy-Goode. After this initial media hype, the greatest challenge will be in finding those media affine wine-industry people to “mastermind” and push the whole industry further.

    My question to you is: how are the wineries out there “to embrace” the words written above?

    • Andrea, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my post. I’ve written a series of post that give specific examples on the pragmatic use of social media as part of integrated brand awareness and marketing plans. It is my belief, based on significant experience, that there is not one answer. The social net provides new tools for any marketer. It not about leveraging social media in some cynical exercise to achieve one specific outcome, but a legitimate outreach to increase brand awareness. In my opinion, the Murphy-Goode position isn’t meant to, nor an inherent obligation to function as a guru for the wine biz. It seems that the Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent position role is to start a conversation with consumers in a transparent and engaging way. There may be internal metrics assigned to this job, such as increased display activity, in tandem with on-the-tip-of-the-tongue consumer brand awareness resulting in increased velocity and lift, and increased on-premise activity; new wine club memberships; increased impressions in traditional media, and increased views and stickiness on the now expanded Murphy- Goode web. Oh, BTW: my strategy for attracting eyes seems to be working.

  6. Keyword is that the whomever is responsible for the interaction and engagement, they should be transparent. It take some time to build your reputation as well as your brand through these mediums. However it doesn’t take any time at all for people to see if your intentions are solely to market to them.

    • Evan: Couldn’t agree more. Social media is all about transparency. If you’re not your authentic self, the social media version of the smell test comes into play very quickly. If one’s intent is just to market to, and not engage with, you’re in the wrong venue. Build has to do with acceptance by your peers, and the bar for that is somewhat high. Your validation emanates from others, and has too pass the test of time. My Mom would always say, ‘Slow down Cork, Rome wasn’t built in a day.’

  7. John,

    I look forward to sifting through your archives to understand your take on “pragmatic use of social media as part of integrated brand awareness and marketing plans”. My appologies for not having taken the time this morning to actually shuffle through some of your previous articles.

    I also do not believe there is ONE avenue to go. However I do toss this whole process (and take into consideration the various “characters” in the plot — the little group of Goode Hopefuls sending in their 60 sec. claim to fame) through my mind and really wonder if what you write is actually/probably what the people at Murphy-Goode are thinking:

    In my opinion, the Murphy-Goode position isn’t meant to, nor an inherent obligation to function as a guru for the wine biz. It seems that the Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent position role is to start a conversation with consumers in a transparent and engaging way.

    First off, I appologize for the word “guru”, I used the incorrect term: the term MG uses on the job description is “social media whiz”.

    So, are they looking for a transparent and engaging social networker or a transparent and engaging social marketer?

    Let me try to explain where I understand the difference:

    Charles Heflin had a great post up yesterday: Social media marketing mistakes where he defines the difference between the two. Scrolling down through the comments he sums it up quite nicely so: “You cannot market in networking environments. You can syndicate and distribute content there but it can’t be promotional…”

    Earlier in the article he states:

    One of the biggest mistakes that Internet marketers make is believing that they can launch a social media marketing initiative inside of social media networking environments (like Facebbook, Twitter, etc.)

    And he goes on to explain why this is so. As a winery marketing guy, I am sure you know this far better than I do.

    This is why I talk about leverage. My point was in no means meant to take anything away from what you were saying, rather it was to point out that I find it hard to believe that anyone is willing to pay 60K for a campaign which drops off dead when the 6 months are over. I am painfully aware that this might be showing how ignorant I am about marketing budgets in the wine business. Perhaps this is just peanuts?

    Yes, Rome was not built in a day. Exactly. This is why I believe(d) that MG was looking for a social media whiz to come in, setting up systems and building a “departure strategy” while blogging and twittering away happy little annecdotes about the lovely Sonoma County.

    (Oh, I would love to go into the “wine industry” collaboration idea, but I am afraid I am getting to wordy… a weakness? Perhaps…)

    Off for the evening and I will return and look forward to your archives!

    Ein schönes Wochenende (you do speak some German, don’t you?),


  8. If I were to boil it down just a bit, I’d refrain from using “social media whiz” as I believe Murphy Goode and Kendall Jackson are evaluating the true marketing effectiveness of using Social Networking and Media to promote their products. This takes more than just someone who knows FB, Twitter, etc… but rather someone who understands the market, demographics, has a presence to promote the products, etc. The social net tools are merely “tools” in my opinion and that the corporate marketing strategy must be served via that media.

    • Ed, please note my reply to Andrea. There are most likely goals and the concomitant metrics associated with this program. I don’t know if it’s about promoting M-G products as much as a brand awareness campaign incorporating social media tools. If it’s just seen by the community of followers as a pure pitch, the program won’t have authenticity. Although, I’m sure there will be ancillary promos that field sales will execute, especially in the formative days. And that traffic to the site, and the Healdsburg tasting room will increase; and that there will be a tic-up in sales. This only works because M-G has solid broad market distribution, and they have their e-house in order. It will be an interesting program to follow.

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