Yes We Can

Rosanne & Johnny Cash“The key to change… is to let go of fear” … Rosanne Cash

Change, Change, Change

Anyone who has lived through the last 3 years, has an awareness that in these transformative times fundamental social change has occurred. You were along for the ride whether you wanted to be or not. Oh, this isn’t the Woodstock Nation’s form of radical social change, or, even the Brown vs The Board ofBrown vs the Board of Education Education emotionally charged social change. In this current period symbols of change were not as visible. No long haired flower children in strange colorful clothes, no angry mobs, no Lester Maddox with his ax handle, and no burning Woodstock posterstreets. The agents of change fit-in as well as ‘The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit’ fit into his era. Most likely you woke up one day and saw that significant cultural change had occurred. Buried in the details of your daily existence, the greed and hubris of those that created the current economic conditions driving this period of change went largely unnoticed until the meltdown. The meltdown which hit as quickly and as surely as those planes hitting the TwinTowers on 9/11. And, as this was happening an evolution of just how it is we communicate concepts, ideas and beliefs rapidly evolved. Into the void stepped a political marketing machine whose brand plan was consideredChris Matthews News Sunday on MBC revolutionary, and was widely disregarded by most professional political pundits. It was an often repeated Sunday broadcast network news analysis that the candidate and his team using these new symbols and social media platforms had no idea what they were doing. And then came the Iowa Caucus. Without regard to your personal set of political beliefs, it seems to be obvious that you as a wine marketer should be studying the observable lessons of the Obama Presidential campaign marketing tactics and the campaign’s use of new media tools with the understanding that how we as wine MarCom managers now communicate and market brand has fundamentally changed.

A Short Case Study in Contemporary Brand Management

Barrack working the crowd on the Campaign TrailIn any brand marketing campaign, the essence and essential truths of the brand must be distilled into a viable message. The message must be replicated and repeated through the use of images, words and symbols. Through the message a visceral connection must be made between the brand and the targeted audience for success to be North Carolina Rally for Barrack Obamaaachieved. In an effort to achieve this success, through effective marketing research, the campaign was able to identify a target audience based on demographics and attitudinal predisposition. A significant portion of this identified audience had a presence on social media. The Obama campaign was an early adopter/implementer of social media platforms. MySpace was dominant in the social media space at the beginning of the campaign, and so an Obama fan page was created, and interested individuals rushed to join the club. As Facebook and then Twitter gained traction, accounts were created to engage voters, and as the Shepard Fairey's Barrack Obama 'Hope' posternumber of fans grew so did the channels for communication and a pool for fund raising was established. Individuals who contributed to the campaign were given an opt-in choice to receive important updates about the campaign and election. YouTube was also a major factor with numerous short videos featuring endorsements, narrative story lines and music like the Will.i. am. ‘Yes We Can’ video featuring the mantra of the ‘Change’ message for the, Yes We CanThe iconic Obama ‘HOPE’ poster was created by street artist Shepard Fairey, and became instantly recognized as the visual image of the campaign. Third party endorsements, utilizing the ideas of co-branding and borrowed interest, were achieved, with Oprah’s endorsement gaining worldwide press coverage for the Obama campaign. A masterful use of message, image, social media, endorsement and third party advocacy. There was significant push-back against this campaign, but the execution of an integrated brand management plan through the fidelity to the perceived authenticity of message, the engagement and involvement of the many, and a transparency of the process, insured the successful conclusion of stated goals. So, are you to going to mirror this model and move your brand(s) forward towards the adoption by your targeted audience resulting in purchase?

An Even Shorter Conclusion

writing a checkAs I stood in line at the local Safeway this morning the three customers ahead of me all paid by personal check, and I’m thinking ‘people still use checks?’ If you want to live on a cash basis, haven’t ATM cards been around all of our adult lives. This slow adoption of tools made available through technology, even in this technologically sophisticated area of the country, seems to be endemic in the marketing arena of the wine business. I’m not sure if this is ego, uncertainty, or fear of the unknown. But I am sure that those that are frozen by fear will likely not survive in these uncertain economic conditions, or have afrozen in fear chance of thriving in a turnaround. Given the vision allowed by the distance of time and with my apolitical marketing mind-set, I can see the clarity of vision of the Obama presidential campaign, and their effective use of all the current tools available to even wine marketers. Ones that are available for use without the necessity to build a war chest on the scale of a political campaign. Difficult times should light the fires of our creative marketing imaginations. At this time in history, we have to be thinking better, faster and cheaper. One of the key lessons to be learned is that ubiquity doesn’t trump authenticity. The basic idea that I’ve learned sometime in my marketing experience is that while political skills matter there are no magic bullets, or one size fits all solutions for today’s wine marketing challenges. But, identifying, targeting and engaging your consumer audience before, during and after the sale is essential, essential to conceiving and executing your winning wine marketing brand plan.

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

13 thoughts on “Yes We Can

  1. Social media is the rock and roll of this generation, at least according to this: The more your parents say it’s bad that they don’t get it the more kids want to explore.

    The more that the establishment says that Google makes you dumber, twitter makes you ADD, and facebook doesn’t help you make real friends, the more kids are going to want to rebel, just like rock and roll was said to make you impure and lascivious.

  2. I love that you mention that you have to engage “after the sale” – I have seen many brands think this means putting people on an email blast. I think that in this new social media world, it could also be following up and simply letting people know it was a pleasure to have them at the winery or at the restaurant, etc. Part of this ‘change’ is that personal connection.

  3. Pingback: » Yes We Can « Think Wine Marketing | Brand Marketing Tips

  4. Thanks for the post John. To add to Shana’s comments above, technology can extend your reach and then some, but personality and personal touch are very important and can make a significant imprint on consumers. Sales can get you a new consumer and tools like social media can help you retain them, which is key in an over-saturated wine market.
    Obama’s team did a fantastic job of identifying “fans” and leveraging their voice. Wine marketing should do the same.

  5. John..thank you for a soul searching piece…in the midst of dramatic change our lives have become very different whether anyone in the wine business wants to acknowledge it or not. I know that when people go into survival mode they tend to shut off the world…yes…they do still go about their lives but more as robots then as integral parts of society…in a piece I posted yesterday called “Should we be Looking for Superman” I think many of us are trying to get a message to people who just aren’t listening…in an exchange with a friend she said that maybe they will get the wake up call after a few go bankrupt..and won’t that be a shame that the world loses some wonderful winemakers because they could save even a little passion for their sales & marketing effort!

  6. NICE post!

    And I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen paying by check at my local Trader Joe’s here in Los Angeles. In 2009. It amazes me. Not only does it take a long time (compared to the ATM/PIN pas de deux), but I, too, thought it went the way of the dodo years ago! If we checked the security cameras, I’m probably standing there in line with my jaw agape.

  7. Hi!

    Wunderbar post and well written. Thanks for sharing in Facebook or I wouldn’t have found you.
    Coming from Europe I was very struck by folks still using Checks! So much so, when I started a Chase bank account some weeks ago I didn’t even know what the heck to do with them! I was shocked that what we consider normal banking services are ADD-ONs here. Anyway…

    The other point you touched on that I really ‘feel’ is engaging consumers AFTER the fact. That’s really where I’m coming from with entertainment marketing concepts. Hopefully I find more serious partners wanting to ‘go there’ with their wine related products and services.

    Viral marketing and the associated media is definitely where it’s at! I’m promoting Sommelier James King over the next few webisodes here. Would be great getting you on the show if ever you’re up for it!

  8. Now I’d like to add that I’m surprised…about how many are expressing positive thoughts about John’s statement concerning the engaging of consumers after the sale…I read it and just thought…OK Business s usual….but reading the comments makes me wonder…you meant wineries aren’t doing this on a regular basis???? Simply stated…that makes a consumer..A Client!

    They really better giddyup if their sales and marketing skills are that weak. You just don’t win consumers overnight and you certainly don’t make consumers into clients in a few days!

    • Mark, just looking at the sales equation – in my experience there seems to be in a very large segment of the wine biz a lack of understanding re. the concept of using classic CRM program protocols, to track the sales process from inquiry to lead to contact to presentation to offer to close to win to reconfirmation, thus making an interested stranger a lead then a prospect then a customer and then creating a client relationship – would have my dad tuning over in his grave. Some of the really sharp wine companies such as Gallo have had the discipline to incorporate this into their corporate culture. But then Gallo seems to be doing AOK in these challenging times. So, yes that’s exactly what I meant.

  9. John…yes my dad would turn over in his grave too…like some many I am communicating with, its not time to criticize but rather a time to suck it up, decide on the right solution and go for it….someone today told me that maybe in 18 months wineries will be at the point to start adopting social media…I do have a bit of experience with internet consumers and they (the wineries) can’t afford to just sit it out.

    What do the Italian’s say “from your lips to God’s ear”…well we can try can’t we!

  10. By engaging the consumer in social media, the wineries have an opportunity to close the loop and engage the consumer directly. By doing so, it is easier to get to their head through identification and to their heart with their personalty. Personal connection=brand loyalty

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