Networking Matters More Than Ever

Oscar Wilde“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about.” … Oscar Wilde

In a modern computer centric world our Rolodexes have for the most part been replaced by CRMs. We’re wired and connected through our desktops, laptops,Rolodex netbooks and smart phones. We tend to ping each other rather than talk to each other, through connections on Linkedin, Facebook, FriendFeed and Twitter. How we identify and track our networks has changed, however it is still clear that the power inherent in networking has never been more important than in today’s product saturated wine market.

This week I received an e-mail from a dedicated reader in my blog network who made the following observation on contemporary interpersonal communications: “With all the focus Screaming Eagle Labelon social networking, I’m worried that the signal gets lost in the noise…So much noise that the point of social networking – building relationships – can get lost. Especially if you’re trying to sell high-end wine, you need deep relationships with consumers, not ones created in 140 characters or less. Facebook will never replace face-to-face meetings, lunches, interview, etc. It can augment, but not replace.”

Dear Reader:

The specific idea behind my blog was an attempt to raise the level of discourse concerning the field of contemporary wine biz marketing issues, and the concomitant desire to create a dialog with my readers. Part of this contemporary marketing landscape is the need for the effective application of e-marketing skills as applied to our complex, saturated corner of the CPG category. Of course there are often no real solutions in a single microblog post people talkingexpressed in a 140 characters. But perhaps there are answers and solutions in the resulting conversation. Effective wine marketing is a series of integrated actions leading to planned outcomes, trackable through specific metrics. Social media is a brand awareness tool that works only in concert with effective implementation of channel strategies, field brand execution, promotions, pricing, etc. Murphy-Goode’s current promo would be inauthentic, and ineffective if they didn’t have their brand house and e-house in order, and a fully developed network of guests, customers, clients and fans. Murphy-Goode is effectively reaching out to existing and new customers, creating additional brand touchpoints.

In an attempt to clarify the role of Social Media on improved brand performance, please note an observation from Pahlmeyer Chardonnaymy experience and noted marketing research in that wine consumers have a limited # of brands, or varietals in their preference set(s). Any mentions from good print reviews, to a product placement in a Demi Moore movie, or a write up by Alder Yarrow in the Vinography wine blog will tend to place one’s brand on the tip of the consumer’s tongue, and tend to predispose and shape  consumer  purchase activity, the goal of any cogent marketer. Also, winery sales management need compelling reasons to communicatNoisee to their distributor partners, gatekeepers and consumers. If a certain number of mentions, perceived as noise, predisposes a positive response from the audience, all to the good. The conversational noise of the Social Net can be be filtered into viable wine marketing buzz with the use of the Social Media aggregation and syndication tools from So, yes the Social Media digital handshake augments, supports, and sometimes drives commerce as a new part of old school wine industry networking best practices.

My blog is 1 of approximately 4 million existing weblogs that are written in total and 1 of about 250+ wine marketing blogs. My readership is targeted to a specific niche market, the emerging tech sector of wine marketing, i.e., CellarTracker, VinTank, Cruvee, AbleGrape, etc., also including the winery brand management, marketing research, consumer insights, anacademic analysisd strategic planning arenas. To limit my discussions to just deep academic analysis and thought, would perhaps limit readership, and in turn limit an understanding of the Social Media e-tools now available. But, please don’t confuse brevity with lack of thought or insight. Although reports like the foundation VinTank Social Media White Paper, are perhaps more important in moving the awareness needle forward, the bloggersphere performs a key wine business communication function . I’ll concede that many blogs are personal journals, quickly written, or restatements of news feeds, and that some may disappear without reader remorse. But perhaps blogs are like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlets, Red Meat issues meant to stir the pot, with some postings leading to a positive, meaningful discourse that moves the conversation forward.

Wine NetworkingAlthough I’ve focused my blog on wine business Social Media issues, hopefully I’ve done so with the POV of pragmatic integration. My goal has been to move at least one person to be a better wine marketer.  I don’t have all the answers, just a part in the real world approach to contemporary wine marketing that works. Marketing that works because it includes talking to and more importantly listening to our customers. Yes networking matters more than ever because we’ve now included the end user as a focus of that network. And, while our handshakes are now often digital, they hopefully convey the modern wine marketer’s intent to form meaningful, nurturing adjunct relationships in the new wine marketplace.

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

10 thoughts on “Networking Matters More Than Ever

  1. If you’re a wine business social media guy that does marketing consultation as you state — you might want to make sure your twitter account, facebook page and blog name match-up, that’s social branding 101.

    Also, it’s blogosphere — not bloggersphere.

    • Jeff: Thanks for your input. Just to let you know that while blogoshere is the more common usage, bloggersphere is equally correct, and since you gave me a corrected term, I’m assuming that you understood the reference. Guess had you googled the term you might have seen that. Also, I’m a brand marketing person writing on brand marketing issues. I’m a wine marketing person. I’m not a social media guy. I think that’s a title that belongs to Biz Stone. I’m addressing marketing issues and incorporating social media commentary as part of the larger dialog. This is just the beginning of a series of articles on wine business marketing that will cover at least the next year.

  2. Look, I get that a computer will never replace face to face contact but the fact is these things are great marketing tools and they are mostly free.

    As a small winery, I spend a large amount of time in my cellar. At the end of the day I can let people, who are interested, know what’s going on there. I have events, I post them, people come and we have our face to face. The ones who come to my events and engage in face to face but did not come throught the web channels are asked by me to become an e-friend. It really enhances the relationship and allows further access, for both parties.

    We are in a unique biz that allows for both face to face and e-connections. And I get the “all the noise” comment because it is daunting to keep up with all the different venues for self promotion on the web. I tend to favor facebook over twitter and linkedin but I also don’t want to let those connections go stale or unused. We now run in the world of Wikinomics and if you don’t use it, fine, but I personally think its mistake.

    I may point out that some things can be a bit over done. When I get 10 posts in one day from the same source that is not a personal friend, I feel bombarded. What people may want to consider is something meaningful and less intrusive then minute by minute plays. When I get that John tasted this and the John tasted that, I’m out. It does become noise. So less is more but the wine biz is benefitting vastly from this and I am an advocate. A recent convert (I’ve never been a techie) and I will say not only has it helped my business but I feel much more in contact with many of my customers. I know what’s going on in their personal lives. I didn’t have that as much from the face to face contact that I only had a handful of times a year, when I visited a market. I feel it enhances my face to face, it does not replace it.

  3. In fact, I did Google it. If you consider equally correct to be 13,400 references for “bloggersphere” versus the correct “blogosphere” at over 21M references, you would be accurate.

    By your rational, equally correct equates to .0006 percent for one usage versus the prevailing.

    I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but in your own words you indicate that “I’ve focused my blog on wine business Social Media issues.”

    For credibility purposes, it might help to get some of the basics right. Biz Stone, while a brilliant entrepreneur and current co-founder of twitter isn’t considered a social media guru — he an entrepreneur that founded and Twitter. His own blog hasn’t been updated in over a year.

    If you want to see a list of these social media folks Google Ad Age 150.

    Finally, there would be no blogging without RSS and Dave Winer is credited, largely, with the technology underpinnings for making that happen.

    again, without RSS blogging is merely updating a web site.

    Again, not trying to be a jerk, but some of your statements are semantically questionable against prevailing social media understanding.

    • Jeff: First of all, thanks for reading my post, and taking the time from your schedule to post a rebuttal. Even though there is no last name associated with your comments,I understand your desire for privacy, and, in fact consider your behavior to respectful, and your points well stated. Though you do seem somewhat argumentative at the moment. If I thought your intent was to be a jerk, I would not have approved your comments. I believe that open, respectful dialog is important. I’m disappointed that my use of language doesn’t meet your standards, or that you found my post wanting. Since, my posts are public, it has been my expectation that some if not all would meet with criticism, even regarding semantics. Thankfully S.I. Hayakawa won’t be reading my blog.

      BTW: This is what I wrote in my current post re. the focus of my blog: “The specific idea behind my blog was an attempt to raise the level of discourse concerning the field of contemporary wine biz marketing issues, and the concomitant desire to create a dialog with my readers. Part of this contemporary marketing landscape is the need for the effective application of e-marketing skills as applied to our complex, saturated corner of the CPG category.” If I’ve not met this expectation and as a result have lost your readership, while regrettable is perhaps unavoidable. It’s time for us both to move on, One last question, semantically, when does ‘guy’ = ‘guru’?

  4. ear Mr Corcoran

    I enjoyed your recent blog on networking etc, and can only say that I wish it was all accurate: we have been trying for a while, via Twitter, to reach out to these millenials you refer to, as we firmly believe that wine education has a valid role to play in this surge towards wine knowledge, and then especially wine education via e-learning (
    Because we were concerned that our name was too ‘European’, as in non-American, we even set up a sister wine college: The International Wine College ( in the hope of attracting the attention of USA-based millenials.

    However, even though the interest via Twitter has been encouraging, we still have to register a single USA-based wine student! This will no doubt be because of our name, perhaps our courses are not relevant, seem to be too ‘difficult’, or are Americans simply not interested in getting a proper wine education, preferring to follow the instant ‘advice’, referrals and tasting notes, of all the so-called wine ‘experts’ doing blogs and video clips?
    I would be interested to hear your views on this phenomenon.


    Derek Koch
    EWA & IWC

    • Derek: Actually, while wine sales in the States continue to grow, the percentage of age appropriate individuals who enjoy wine is still quite small. There are many educational opportunities in the US for those who have an interest, and these classes are often over subscribed. Also, in major metro areas, especially in wine producing areas, there are weekly tastings from local, regional, and international producers. Individuals have the opportunity to taste and to converse with the source. There are also colleges and universities in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas and New York that teach viticulture, fermentation science and wine marketing. Even the very prestigious Harvard Business School has an active wine club, and executes at least 1 or 2 consulting ventures per year. So, the desire and opportunity for wine education in the USA is in fact very robust. You might want to reach out and form a partnership with the new Wine Spectator School, or one of our national Wine Educators, such as Kevin Zraly. By the way, having lived in Europe, France, Germany and Italy ,and having studied fermentation science at Dijon, as have a number of my friends in the wine business, it is my experience, that the taste of American wine consumers tends to be more eclectic across the socioeconomic spectrum than in many area of Europe, Australia, or S. Africa. Best of luck in your ventures.

  5. 05/27/2009


    Your buddy Jeff needs a tune up or should I say a tone down. Must be one of your old Linsly
    classmates that is selling grape juice to Krogers.


    Big Brother

    • Howard: Thanks for your support. Jeff is not my first critic. As you know yourself, once you’ve become a public figure you’re open to differing opinions, even a Jeff’s ad hominen argument. The literary wit Dorothy Parker once said, ‘I don’t care what is said about me, as long as none of it’s true’

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