The Conversation

Naked City Detectives, Harry Bellaver, Paul Burke, & Horace McMahon“There are eight million stories, in the Naked City. This..has been one of them.”Stirling Silliphant (The Naked City ABC TV series 1958-63)

The Rain

The sound of rain, and just not the sound of rain falling, but the sound of people talking about the rain at the end of what had may just have been the perfect vintage, seemed to divert attention away from the economy, at least for the time being. While the rain, and all the wine country conversations that the rain started, provided a welcome relief from the constant drone that it’s hard out there. It’s really not the time to take your eye off the ball and to forget the market challenges inherent since the onset of the ‘Great Recession.’ For each winery and each winegrower or vineyard owner there’s an unique story. The folks on the flats in mid-Napa Valley likely had a different take on this year’s growingDoug Shafer giving his take on Vintage 2009 season weather than the folks in Calistoga, Carneros, the Vaca or Mayacamas ranges, or in Western Sonoma County, Mendocino, the Willamette Valley, Walla Sun and rain in Oakville, CA looking at the RObert Mondavi Tokalon VineyardWalla or in Santa Barbara. While each unique story suggest a similar outcome, this is a vintage that will unfold over the next several years. Perhaps the critics will pronounce estimates of Vintage of the Century or speculate that the rain has dashed all hopes for a positive result. Perhaps I lack the prescience or the hubris to judge the future of an entire vintage during harvest and crush, but I do have an understanding that a vintage is the sum of the individual experiences of each participant. And, I have an understanding that it’s in the telling of your story that will connect you to your customers.

The Bounce

In this brave new world of permission marketing, and in this time of growing consumer detachment and cynicism driven by the perceived systemic failure of our financial and Henry Paulson,  Bush Treasury Secretary governmental institutions, a review of your traditional marketing message methods has been necessitated, even as the mixed message on the state of the economy is being delivered by traditional mass media. A mention of the names Paulson, Geithner, and AIG tend to initiate a gag reflex in even the most jaded observer. However, today the DowTimoth Geithner, Obama Treasury Secretary Jones Market Index reached a 12 month high and once again climbed above 10,000, in part driven by reports that Goldman Sachs made record profits in Q3. Also noted as a sign that the climb from the bottom is underway are stories in Ad Age Talent Works that Google is Hiring again; and The New York Times reporting that Apple profits are up 47% on Strong Mac Sales. The story on the state of the wine business is even more mixed. Like the citizens of the Naked City, each wine business has its own story, some up by 10%, some flat, and some down 30%. Many wineries are going through an extended period of stress. Vic Motto, Co-Founder, Chaiman and CEO of Global Wine Partners, a St Helena, CA wine industry iBank recognizes the industry wide stress; but, doesn’t see a significant long term dislocation in wine consumer’s buying behavior. Having heard the sea change story before, most recently with the Vic Motto, CEO and Chairman of Global Wine Partnersprediction that Two Buck Chuck would drive consumers permanently away from luxury wines. Didn’t happen. It’s Mr Motto analysis that the American wine consumer is ‘aspirational’ and that wine is and will be viewed as an ‘affordable luxury.’ I’m also in the camp that believes wineries that survive this very tough period will likely, at some point, see a return to the pre-recessionary trends in buying patterns. In an October 15th Associated Press interview, Safeway CEO, Steve Burd sees signs of the turnaround in an uptick in the coffee sales mix and a move back to growth in the premium wines segment.

The Conversation

Technology has provisioned wine industry CMOs with a whole new marketing tool kit. Technology is a tool to be used and appreciated, but not one to be viewed as the long hoped foThe CLUETRAIN Manifestor silver bullet. How we now communicate with our customers has dramatically changed with the development of the web, email, texting, blogs, video, Facebook and Twitter. And in this new paradigm there are three words that have become the mantra of this new technological world in which we all now communicate our stories: transparency, authenticity, credibility. I’d like to add one word, human. This commonsense point was first made in ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto,’ by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Wineberger, first online in 1999 then in print in 2001, Copyright © by Basic Books. BTW: a 10th Anniversary edition of this must read biz book is now available. While the 10 year timeframe has dated some of the jargon, the core concepts of the treatise remain, especially those listed in the seminal 95 THESES:

  1. Markets are conversations
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived
  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice

The first five points in the “Cluetrain’ 95 THESES are a construct that is now an unavoidable communications directive for your consumer facing business. People grow your grapes. People make your wine. People sell your wine, and people buy your wine. Your story, while sharing traits with almost all others in wine’s corner of the CPG market, is unique to your circumstances.

The Case Study

Mike BenzigerIt was harvest time in the fall of 1994. Mike Benziger came out of the winery office to check on the grapes to judge when to start picking on the Family’s Estate Vineyard, located in a collapsed caldera on the Sonoma Valley side of the old dormant Sonoma Mountain volcano. Times were good. The vineyard was always busy from the days of the Glen Ellen Winery start-up through the launch of the premium value tiered Benziger Family Winery. Wines that always over delivered. Mike should have been smiling, but instead he looked troubled. He cocked his head as he stood on the edge of the vineyard, puzzled that he heard nothing. Nothing at all. Just up the hill at his home in Jack London State Park, he rememberedBenziger Family Winery Ariel Shot hearing birds chirping madly as the sun broke through the morning fog. But as he looked down the neatly groomed rows of vines, he noticed that there wasn’t a wild flower, a weed or a blade of grass on the bare dirt underneath the vines. As he walked the rows, Mike noticed that there were no bugs on the vines or flying through the air, no dragonflies, no butterflies. Stopping and reflecting he knew what was bothering him, the vineyard was no longer a living space. Mike thought a moment and considered his options. He knew that this wasn’t the way things should be. At that moment in time he vowed to change the way things had been done, to change the conventional wisdom of how things had always been done. This ancient bowl had supported life Benziger Family Winery Bloggers Visitfor millions of years, and in just a decade of intensive modern farming that had all changed. But, it wasn’t working any longer, and the Benziger farming practices needed to revert to the old ways, to the ways defined by closed system agriculture. Benziger Vineyards needed significant cultural change to recreate a new living farm. And change they did, after 3 years of concentratedThe Insectary at Benziger Family Winery study, a sustainable, biodynamic vineyard started to take shape. The first step was to establish biodiversity. So island gardens were established within the vineyard space to help support beneficial insects; and between every 10th vine row a bed of host plants and flowers were seeded to support a vineyard population of the good guys. Sheep and cows were introduced as natural lawn mowers, with their waste the base of a closed system compost program, so that no chemical fertilizers would ever be needed or would ever be used. Land that was dead just ten years ago was, in less than a decade, now a classic biodynamic closed system living farm. Earth, nature and man came together in a special place that happens to be in my backyard, just north of the town of Sonoma.

Mike Benziger & Kathy Benziger Threlkeld talking with the wine bloggersOn Saturday, October 3, 2009 I had the opportunity, along with a group of wine blogger colleagues, to hit the Benziger Biodynamic Trail at the Benziger Family Winery on Jack London Ranch Rd, just up the hill from the village of Glen Ellen. Our tour group had the opportunity to interface with Mike BenzigerKathy Benziger Threkeld, Colby Eirman, Director of Gardens, and Winemaker, Rodrigo Sotto. The passion in the delivery, even from the well practiced folks at Benziger, was  impressive, especially in closeColby Eirman, Director of gardens at Benziger family Winery quarters over 3 hours. This was a one-on-one conversation and the telling of the story, starting with that moment of enlightenment in 1994. There wasn’t any ducking questions in the active exchange of ideas. We weren’t being sold on a story. We were being invited into an experience. This was a conversation between humans. A few points really stuck with me. The first was that ‘the wines weren’tRodrigo Soto, Winemaker at Benziger Family Winery necessarily better, but that they were different.’ That they reflected this place. The second point that hit a nerve with me was that ‘each year the wine was a time stamp of the vintage.’ Not once were scores mentioned as a descriptor of any of the Benziger grown and produced wines that we tasted that day, although the Rodrigo Sotto’s wines have gotten rave reviews and scores in the traditional wine press. My take away from the day with the Benziger Family and team members was one of transparency, authenticity, and credibility. A team that understood that their plan, in a world now dominated by pull marketing, was that by communicating in this human voice missionaries were created, replicating the message and influencing friends.

The grandchildren of the founder of Park Benziger & Company, and the children of the founder of Glen Ellen Winery, Bruno Benziger are well versed in the finer points of wineNow that's biodynamic, at Benziger Family WInery marketing. But, change must be in their DNA. First selling Glen Ellen, then converting a 200,000+ value brand to a slightly more than 110,000 caseMike Benziger pointing out the native raptor population at Benziger Family Winery sustainable, biodynamic super-premium/luxury brand, while changing their farming practice as stewards of the land. In a time of declining circulation numbers and disappearing newspapers, an effort has been made to maintain contacts with the traditional press, in both the wine and consumer lifestyle focused print media arenas. The Benziger marketing team has fully embraced new media, including Twitter, and wine bloggers. Benziger POS is also available as an online deliverable, further enhancing the green story, while insuring the timely delivery of product sheets, neckers, sell sheets and cut case cards on an as needed by market basis. If you go to the Trade/Media section of the Benziger web site, you can download the Chris Benziger narrated video sales presentation which is a masters class in wine brand marketing. And, if you ever find yourself near Glen Ellen, stop-in and take the tour. As a small family wine marketer, you need to identify and mirror the success stories. The Benzigers have successfully differentiated their wine brands in this difficult, brand saturated market. And, by the way, their wines just aren’t different, the Benziger wines exhibit a specific point of view and IMHO are damn good.

The Story

Mike Benziger in the wine caves at Benziger Family WineryThe Benziger family and team recognized that their best path to the market was through their authentic story told in a human voice to groups of consumers, members of the trade, and to traditional and new media writers. A story that has been replicated to the point that in 2008 almost 175 million media impressions were created. Even though the Benzigers produce in their Demeter Certified Winery 1.32 million bottles of wine, the consumer impressions and strong word of mouth campaign along with a vibrant visitor center program help to create demand beyond the produced supply.  Through their objective mastery of pull marketing tactics, tactics based on an authentic and credible story, the Benzigers have been able to not only create an awareness envied by any enterprise wineco, but a model for any family wine business. The question that now begs to be answered: what’s your story and what are your winery’s marketing plans to maximize brand awareness and sales in what continues, even as the turnaround starts, to be a challenging marketplace?

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

Revisiting Wine Marketing 101

Leo Burnett“If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally, without screaming or without tricks.” … Leo Burnett

Chicken Little

Yes indeed, the sky may be falling. The Great Recession, which in the 6 months from September 2008 through March 2009 stripped in excess of $6.6 trillion from USA personal wealth, may be with us for awhile. The access to credit that drove US consumer spending behavior and the economy has largely evaporated. Although consumers have paid down debt at aiDepression Bread Lines coming soon to your neighborhood record pace, banks continue to reduce credit availability, expecting to retract an additional $1.5 trillion by lowering home equity loan access, consumer credit card limits and commercial lines of credit, restricting the ability of the US economy to recover recent spending patterns. Something lost in the swirl of marketing images from luxury Paneri Watchesconsumer brands such as Panerai Watches, Hasselblad, Hermes, Ferrari, Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Michael Kors, et alia, is that under the aura of glitz America has been on sale for quite sometime. Just like disco, to many consumers the idea of the luxury brand may be dead, at least for the foreseeable future. Value has coexisted with the concept of brand as long as brand has existed. It’s the yin and yang of the retail continuum. Walmart created explosive growth in the 1990’s with the concept of everyday low prices, and then created significant competition to chain grocers with the introduction of consumables in both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Costco has been in the game for awhile, and has become a major factor in wine sales. Target introduced the idea of designer products at value pricing, and now will match Walmart pricing toy for toy this Safeway Cut Case Wine Display w/Sale pricingChristmas. And then there’s Amazon. Amazon is no longer just your bookstore, but now a major online retailer across several categories of consumer goods and electronics. And, as soon as the compliance situation, delayed by the well documented situation at New Vine Logistics, can be sorted Amazon will be a major factor in wine sales. Trader Joe’s introduced the concept of healthful foods at value pricing back in the 1970’s. With the latest US Labor The Economic Elevator's going SouthDepartment statistics pegging the jobless rate at 9.8%, this is a dramatic understatement of the now real number that’s closer to 17% including people no longer actively looking for work and those now underemployed and working non-benefited minimum wage part-time jobs. It’s not surprising to see major retailers and grocers follow a strategy of value pricing. For anyone in this neck of the woods if you’ve been in Safeway recently the major merchandising theme is SAVE, and the yellow sale tags are inescapable. Lucky stores are following their philosophy of everyday low prices. And overriding this is a spirit of the new consumerism. It’s now cool to be frugal and save money.

The New Wine Consumer

San Francisco TrafficAs I worked my way to the Mission Street Garage traffic slowed to a crawl, in part due the rerouting of traffic away from Market Street. I was in the process of doing a NorCal broad market survey of grocery and independent package stores for a privately held family winery client, and it was time to break for lunch. Since my last two stops were in SoMa, I was headed to the food court in the Westfield Center, and to Charles Phan’s ‘Out the Door.’ Even though it was only 12:30 on an early October Friday, the joint was jumping. The food court was packed with shoppers, most holding multiple bags. The noise level sounded, well actually felt, like a low roar, creating a sense of excitement not present in the City’s shopping Out the Door at the Westfield Center, San franciscodistrict for several years. One of my early retail lessons at Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Village, was to look for the bags in shoppers hands as an indicator of a good or bad day, and this looked like a good day. All of this economic activity seemed to be driven by the aggressive mark-downs and clearances in the stores in the Center. Pricing motivated by the need to make room for holiday merchandise, and these pricing strategies seemed to be working. Consumers have been on the sidelines, even during the recent back to school shopping period in August. But sharp advertising and in store media seemed effective at getting shoppers to reopen their wallets. The efficacy of the various campaigns will be reflected in each stores daily flash reports. The tide may be turning, however slowly, as consumer sentiment seems to be Inflection Point Graphdriven by value, with the economic thermostat having obviously been reset. An economy that now seems more driven by consumer needs rather than by wants. And the need for value seems to be paramount as a new inflection point in consumer purchasing behavior has been reached. So, in an age of cash for clunkers, extended unemployment benefits and tight credit what can we do as wine marketers to meet the contemporary challenges of the market. Let’s take a quick revisit to the basics of consumer packaged goods marketing (I’ll try not to be too wonky) by first asking the following questions:

  • Who are the buyers?
  • How much will the buyers pay for my wine?
  • Where and how will the buyers purchase my wine?
  • How do I create buying situations?
  • Is the customer happy after purchasing my wine?

Marketing 101 Revisited

  • Product – the want satisfying offering of your winery (branding, packaging, product features)
  • Price – what you charge for your wines. Price is a measure of value. Price in the marketplace is a rough measure of how your consumers value your wines
  • Promotion – the communication of information between your winery (the seller) and the potential buyer in a defined channel (Place) that tends to influence attitudes and behavior
  • Place – making goods and services available in the right quantities and locations when your customers want them, resulting in the transfer of ownership from producer (your winery) to your customer/client, taking into account strategies and tactics applicable to any middlemen, brokers, marketing agents, wholesalers and retailers

Wine Business Monthly Top #0 US Wine CompaniesToday most wineries are micro marketers. Even wineries in the WBM Top 30 approach the market on a segmented basis. Micro marketing is the ‘performance of activities that seek to accomplish an organization’s (your winery) objectives (selling your wine on a timely basis) by anticipating customer or client needs (marketing research) and directing a flow of need satisfying goods (your wines) from producer (you) to customers/clients’ (via DTC, DTT, broad market).

It is important to understand that we are no longer in a wants period of aspirational or conspicuous consumption, but in period of meeting the specific identifiable needs oAbraham Maslowf your targeted audience. Without entering the maze of Abraham Mazlow’s ‘hierarchy of human needs,’ here are the basic definitions of wants and needs and demands:

  • Wants – desires for specific satisfiers of deeper needs; i.e., the particular choices (including types of products/specific brands) that consumers aspire to buy to satisfy perceived needs.
  • Needs – a state of felt or real depravation of some basic satisfaction (the difference between a consumers actual condition and their desired condition).
  • Demands – wants for specific products that are backed by an ability and willingness to pay for them.

Wine Consumers at Benziger WinerySo, as wine marketers it is important to understand that we don’t create needs. Needs preexist marketers and their brands. A marketers function is to influence wants. A good marketer takes the initiative in stimulating and facilitating commerce. A key part of this function is understanding the market and your consumer. So, how can one identify the best possible markets, and then influence consumer purchasing behavior? Engage your marketing research resources and ask:

  • Who are the people with identified wants?
  • Where are these people?
  • What’s their purchasing power?
  • What’s their buying behavior?

Having asked and answered the above questions, what degree of market exposure do you want, or more importantly can support with your production, allocations and resources, human and capital?

  • Intensive (ubiquitous distribution for large production, enterprise wine companies)
  • Selective (by channel for mid-sized winecos, or for products within an enterprise wineco where price dictates targeted distribution)
  • Exclusive (small- family winecos with limited channel distribution, or luxury brands model)

Having now identified your market and your desired level of targeted distribution, what sort of consumer behavior response do you want to engender – routinized response behavior or adoptive response behavior?

Routinized Response Behavior – the regular selection of a particular way of satisfying a need. This is typical of low involvement purchases, generics or purchases motivated by price or perception of price.

Adoptive Response Behavior – the demand for a specific product that meets, on a regular basis, the hierarchy of needs of a buyer, and the continued ability to purchase your wine(s). This is typical of high involvement purchases, usually of products (wines) within a consumer’s brand set.

Sale tags on all the winesAs a marketer, if you plan to sell your wines in a saturated market based only on price, in essence creating a commodity and not a brand, in what has to be by nature a rapid depletion exit strategy, then the idea of routinized response behavior is the way to go, and pricing and display allowances will be your primary marketing tactics. However, if you want to build a brand even in this challenging market, then engage in marketing tactics that create adoptive response behavior within your identified consumer set.

Wine Consumer Adoption Process

Awareness – comes to know your wine(s) through your brand awareness plan that may include category specific magazine reviews, scores, story placement, newspapers, blogs, forums, and social media.

Interest – the ease of finding information on your web site, forums, blogs and traditional wine press. Events like Twitter Taste Live, open that Bottle Night or Tweet-ups.

Evaluations – providing information and access to your wine. In addition to the traditional wine press new points of information such as Cellar Tracker, AbleGrape, and approximately 800 wine bloggers are a resource that you need to identify and utilize.

Trial – the chance to try before committing. Wine by the Glass, in-store sampling, winery tasting rooms, winemaker dinners.

Decision – to adopt or reject. A whole set of modifiers come into play, such as varietal, pricing, packaging, where and when available to purchase.

Confirmation – the reinforcement that the decision is good. This can be in the form of availability or rarity, appealing to cultural values (sustainable or biodynamic wines), based on acclaim, reviews or a wine blog, or on the affirmation from friends or family.

The Game

Twins beat Tigers in one game playoff 2009Without a thorough grounding in classic CPG marketing fundamentals and a clear understanding of wine brand marketing concerning human motivations in regards to purchasing behaviors, success in today’s highly competitive and product saturated marketplace is not likely for your winery. This somewhat academic take, a departure from my usual ‘how-to’ articles was written to encourage you, your winery’s marketing officer, to think about your current brand plan. Concerning your brand – what is it that you do and why do you do it? Is it working? What would you do differently? What are you doing to differentiate your wines? It’s not a time for indecision in your consumer facing wine business. Faced with declining sales in his collection line Michael Kors quickly introduced a consumer approachable ready to wear line and is thriving in a brutal retail market. Yes, times are tough, and consumer behavior has been reset, but commerce moves on. It is important to be in the game, so sharpen your pencils and fire up your synapses. Preparation and planning = performance.

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

It’s Time for Imagination

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is  limited to all we noimages-1w know and understand, while imagination  embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and  understand.” … Albert Einstein

images-1-1 All the recent economic and financial story headlines and news feeds that we all receive, read and attempt to digest have led to an industry wide case of psychological indigestion. There is often significant cognitive dissonance in what we want to achieve with in-place business models and the levels of brand  performance  necessary for survival in these recessionary times. We can either retreat to our cellars, heads-in-hand, or rethink our models and create new ways to improve brand success. Sitting down with key staff and analyzing sales and distribution numbers used to be a monthly routine, but this process has now become a weekly, if not a daily exercise. We collectively obsess in the analysis of our flash reports and wonder when and if in the near term there will be a turnaround. Well, soon perhaps, but it’s been my life and wine business experience that difficult times call for imaginative solutions – imaginative solutions that will position your winery to survive in the short term and to thrive in this transformative economy.

The Situation

images-2The closure of the fulfillment/compliance firm New Vine Logistics this past weekend was met with a audible gasp heard throughout wine country. Today we can hear the scramble as a significant number of wineries try to recover their wine, meet individual state and federal compliance requirements, and communicate in the midst of chaos with their customers, clients and fans. In the spate of news articles, analytic pieces and blogs on the subject it became apparent that many of the wineries, the ones that relied solely on a DTimages-4C channel model for sales may need to rethink their distribution. A good case study was discussed a few months ago when I hosted a tour of  three west Sonoma County Pinot Noir producers for a group from HBS. At each stop the same question was asked by the group about the breakdown in the winery’s distribution model. All of these still successful wineries had the same answer: 50% DTC, 50% three tier sales focusing primarily on-premise, but with growth in independent retail and mid-chain sustainable grocery. All three wineries understood that a diversity within their models allowed significant flexibility to refocus priorities as market dynamics changed, and market dynamics have changed, and will change again.

Although a few cult wineries are holding even on club sales, most winerieimages-5s have suffered increased resignations, or clubs shipments placed on hiatus resulting in diminished DTC sales performance. The national wine wholesale channel is no longer open to distributing unproven brands or brands that belatedly realize, with the recent pressure on DTC sales, the need for other tactics to sell and distribute wine. The time to create you own revenue enhancement opportunities is now.

The Lesson Plan

dreamstime_6009024.jpg Although it’s tough out there, it’s been tough before. Something we tend to forget this after periods of  meteoric growth.The US wine business is a product saturated, dynamic and evolving industry  meandering  through peaks and valleys on its way to maturity. But a little imagination on how to market, distribute and  sell you wine brand(s) will help in overcoming even significant obstacles on the path uphill. There are so  many distribution options available to wineries in DTT, DTC, or three tier models just use focus and creativity  in building your base channel strategy.

If your brand has limited distribution, then you have a lot of distribution voids. Start locally. No matter what you call your wine images-6country, you want to achieve distribution in local key reference accounts. Tourist come from all over the world to visit, to taste and to eat. If your wine is on a local must visit restaurant wine list or as a wine by the glass feature it creates not only trial but awareness. If you’re a Napa Valley winery, target the wine list at Cole’s, Tra Vigne or Bouchon. I was at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma last year when a distributor friendimages-3 from Texas ordered a bottle of Radio-Coteau. He’s now Eric Sussman’s Texas wholesaler. Years ago, Schmitt-Sohne, an unknown German wine brand without US distribution, established a tasting room at Disney’s Epcot and within 1 year had distributors in 50 states growing today to be one of the most successful of German wine brands in the States.

In order to build sustainable broad market distribution start building a key lighthouse and/or multi-unit on-premise account base. Begin in your immediate local market, then as production grows expand regionally. If you’re lucky enough to produce wine in a state that allows DTT distribution, or you’re working with a firm such as Inertia Beverage, key on what is now called national accounts.

images-7 Although SW&S’s Mel Dick always advises building your brands on premise  today I believe in a more diverse      distribution strategy. The ascension of the local mid-chain grocery provides quality distribution alternatives for fine    wine  sales. If you’re in St. Louis, you want your wine in Dierbergs, or  in Cleveland at Heinen’s, or at Nugget    Markets in Sacramento. And on a regional or national level distribution and features at Whole Foods will result in    significant sales. If you have a new brand that has garnered 90+ reviews from The Wine SpectatorThe Wine Enthusiast or The Wine Advocate and your goal is regional distribution in club stores such as Costco – then it’s achievable.

If you have unsold wine, understand that the burgeoning private label business is boomingimages-31. Rather than spending resources to launch a second label, consider the development of a private label wine for a regional beverage chain, a  mid-chain Grocer or with an emerging sommelier. The aforementioned Heinen’s in Cleveland offers Vin Hunter, a label developed by Wine Director Ed Thompkins.

Consider distribution in control states. For example, if you’re a small winery and decide to sell wine in Pennsylvania you will be in the PLCB speciality store system opening up the special order market to a state closed to most out of state winery DTC efforts, while providing the ability to access the important on-premise markets in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

ian-jpg1In order to drive more guests to your winery plan more effective promotions. Ch Ste. Michelle and Robert Mondavi do this through summer concerts. But this tactic is not just for the iconic destination properties. C.Donatiello has a great summer concert series – most of which are free. Newbies get to discover great wines, associate the wines with a memorable time like Gomez’s Ian Ball’s birthday concert and become members of a growing fan base.

Offer freemiums, such as online complimentary or twofer tasting coupons. Offer free ground shipping oimages1r additional discounts based on quantity purchases. Host a  group of local or visiting wine, food or travel bloggers such as the recent Hahn  vine planting forum, the St. Supery annual bloggers forum, or the Twisted Oak pre-WBC bloggers party.  Establish and maintain your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Don’t treat winery social media accounts as hard sales tools, but occasionally offer specials such as the first chance to get limited production wines. Initially limit this to your contacts, but count on this offer going viral.

images-21Focus on improving your customer service. Recognize the importance of your guests. Greet every visitor with a smile. Over deliver on their brief experience. Call your customers and thank them for their phone and internet orders. Let them know about any events, tastings or winemaker dinners in their home market. Solicit ideas and suggestions and then listen. Reward your most loyal customers at least once per year with an in-house members of the tribe event.


images-5This list is not meant to be comprehensive. The above ideas are just suggestions meant to engage you the winery chief marketing officer and to encourage your brand building creativity. You have responsibility for your winery’s success. There is no one out there to hold you’re hand. Bury any inclination towards hubris and arrogance, and listen to what the market has to say. Pay attention to other wineries, big and small that are successful, and study just what it is that they do to create sales. Have the right staff with the right skills in place. Invest in resources, even as margins are squeezed. Spend time in your best markets and keep your eyes and ears open. Keep your pants up and your head down. And be prepared to work harder and smarter than ever to achieve the tasks at hand, but do it with a smile on your face, and the attitude that failure is not an option.

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

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.

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.

Wine 2.0 Strategies for Maximizing Distributor Work-Withs

womens final Martina Navratilova“Just go out there and do what you’ve got to do”
… Martina Navratilova

An analysis of the US wine industry today, reveals that the meteoric growth rates across all pricing segments above $5/btl of the last 7 years has significantly slowed. The word emanating from those in the know has been that ‘if your sales are flat, you’re up’. Not words that are of comfort to your CFO, or ones capable of instilling confidence in your angel investorstateofthewine200jpg2s. On Monday, May 4th, Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group released their annual ‘State of the Wine Industry’ 2009-2010 report by Founder Rob McMillan and Division Manager Bill Stevens . While the tone of the SVB  annual report was sufficiently dour, reflecting the immediate past and the current liquidity crisis facing many wineries, a tone of optimism was revealed in the on-point recommendations for marketing and selling wine utilizing the internet and social networking tools.

chart1Looking at the Dow Jones index, and noting anecdotal observations from key retailers, restauranteurs, winery national account managers and my time on the streets, it seems as though the bottom has been struck, and we’re in the early days of a long recovery. The stock market hit bottom on March 9th and in a series of bounces is trendingMorton's Steakhouse higher. An inside source at Morton’s confirmed that customer counts and guest check rings have recovered to pre-August 2008 averages. Conversations with retailers in major metro markets revel that although the first quarter was soft, the availability of wines once only sold on-premises have helped to energize sales in Q2 . My winery national account sources have noted that requests for submissions of Sales Presentationbetter wines has increased in the last 3 weeks. If your channel model includes your active participation in the three-tier system, these are all signs for optimism. But, to turn optimism into results you should be prepared to get out of your office and spend time on the streets working with your distributor partners. So, are you in position to take advantage of this upturn, or are you waiting for the market to come back to you? Yesterday, in reply to an extended lunch invitation, I received this text message from a winemaker/owner: “Thanks, John – working in the Texas market at the moment. Chicago last week. AZ and St. Louis before, earlier this month. Feeling like a sales & marketing guy.” If this isn’t you, it should be.

Cakebread CellarsMy first experience with a real work-with, happened just a few months after returning from Europe. The niche Florida distributor that was my first post grad school employer was soon acquired by National Distributing, and I was given the job as wine manager for the Orlando office. NDC had just started to represent Cakebread Cellars in the Florida market. Central Florida was the home to Walt Disney World, my pre-grad school employer, and the location of super heated hotel and restaurant development. In a series of faxes thatOakville Grocery went back and forth between Oakville and OrlandoJack Cakebread, the founder, noted that he wanted to call on key on-premise accounts only, including Disney, based on the list that he had provided. Once I had scheduled the stops, Jack called and confirmed each appointment before heading East from California. At the time, I thought that this was a bit over the top. However, it was a successful trip for Jack and for Cakebread Cellars. We sold every account, in part thanks to Jack pre-qualifying each account. I learned my work-with lesson well that week of identifying, qualifying and closing key lighthouse accounts.

Jack CakebreadJack Cakebread’s methods still work today. Targeting key accounts, planning your calls and executing/closing still matters. But, today we have so many more tools at hand to maximize our distributor work-withs. Distributor and market consolidation have taken leverage away from all but the largest suppliers. We are in the midst of an accelerated round of supplier andJean Arnold Sessions wholesaler mergers. Jean Arnold Sessions is correct in her assessment that for a winery to be successful today one needs to spend available time and effort in managing the market, rather than managing one’s wholesaler. Oh, though it is important to work with and through your distributor who’s primary job is to sell service and deliver your product within their assigned market. Your distributor manager will request, require and appreciate your efforts.

The organization of your market trips and work-withs needs to start with a plan that articulates specific, reachable objectives. Start by organizing your CRM program to target, track and follow-up with each market work-with account. Market knowledge is a necessity. But, if you’re going to a market that’s new to you, research, research, research. Set targets by channel and account. Call each account and identify with whom you need to meet, and then qualify the account. If you’re selling Mendocino Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, and one of the restaurants that you’ve targeted only sells small production Piedmonte wines, well take them off your list. Communicate to and confirm with your distributor partner by email and telephone just what you are doing.

Before departing for the market post a summary of your travel plans on your Facebook Fan Page, and contact bloggers and tweeters to let them know that you’re coming to their market and would HdR Tweet-uplike to arrange one-on one tastings, or a tweet-up.  If I were to sell wine in Denver, the first person I would call would be Rick Bakas, blogger and tweet-master. As you work the market, find out if your new Chris Donatiellocontacts are on Facebook or Twitter. Get their social network info and add them to your CRM. As you achieve success through product placements, such as WBTG for June, tweet it. Link your tweets to your Facebook page. Success follows success. Include pictures of your accounts, and your contacts. This is not only good will, but it will inform your local followers, who in-turn will tend to support this restaurant placement. All of this is happening in real time, and, not as in the past, weeks later in a follow-up letter. Chris Donatiello does this and has created a buy-in for the C.Donatiello Winery by posting updates and keeping his friends and fans invested and engaged as they follow his market travels.

Restaurant Line-up TastingAs the day progresses, arrange to do 1 tasting per day at a key line-up for all new or existing placements. Instead of just one salesperson selling the wine, you’ve now informed and created 10-12 new sales people. Once again using your CRM, exchange social networking information with the crew at the restaurant. By inviting them to follow your updates on your social networking sites, you’ll keep them involved and keep them selling your wines. In an effort to increase your viral reach, ask the just sampled staff who have actual experience with your wine to post reviews on sites, such as CellarTracker, AbleGrape, vinquire, or VinCellar. This isn’t the Chicago politics of my youth, but a request for honest appraisals of your wine by informed wine consumers to be posted on sites frequented by other inquisitive wine consumers.

When you return home, post the story of your trip on your winery blog.  Summarize yourChecking Accounts Sold achievements in an email to your distributor/partner. Hand write the requisite thank you notes. Download information from your CRM contacts list. Add and follow your growing list of contacts to your social web. Then read in detail and in real time the appropriate account sold reports, which you’ve of course retrieved  online in the form of a CVS file directly from your distributor partner’s data server.

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

Building Brand Equity Through Social Networking

Jonathan Winters“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!” …Jonathan Winters

Does the static, the noise, the 60 hertz hum of the social web seem meaningless and nonsensical to you? At least that’s what I’m hearing on the street from a significant number of winery principals and brand marketers. This not an unschooled group, but in these times oShopping for Winef economic malaise, this group of neo-luddites seems to be wedded to traditional, conservative brand marketing plans, even as the wine market continues to flatten, in fact contracting for the competitive frame of wines with bottles priced above $10. We can all observe with a degree of chagrin the increase in wine club resignations, the slowing of sales of cult Napa Valley Cabernets , the downward shift of pricing segments , and margins that being are squeezed, if not in fact evaporating. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate one’s options. Stand idly by and let your neighbors seize the moment, or join the conversation and add to your brand awareness, value and equity.

While to some degree, it is understandable that the popularization of social networking is viewed in some quarters with a jaundiced eye; however, if used as Biz Stonea method to initiate a conversation with and to engage your customers and clients, then social networking is and will be an effective tool to add to your marketing kit. Seeing where you are is nice, but seeing where you’re going is key to your business success. Utilizing all the new media tools now available will help you to be transparent and real, and to facilitate the interaction with your customers in a human way, and to demonstrably build brand loyalty.

Case Study: The Retailer

Wine Library TVBring on the Thunder! The game changed on 2/21/2006 as the very first episode of Wine Library TV premiered as a video wine blog from a then moderately successful liquor store in Springfield, New Jersey. The originator and star of the show was Gary Vaynerchuk. The setting was reminiscent of so many public access TV shows from the early days of cable, but Garyvee had an ‘it’ factor. He didn’t fit the mold of the self-important, elitist wine critic. Instead of a suit in a halo of hubris pontificating about a wine known only to the cognescenti, Garyvee was one oGaryVeef us. He made wine accessible. He wasn’t talking to us, he was conversing with us. Oh, he knows his wine, but he wants to share this knowledge, as demonstrated by his commitment to a production schedule for WLTV segments that most of us would find onerous.

From this modest beginning, Gary has engaged just about every social network and web 2.0, wine 2.0 community to build his brand. WLTV was the first video wine blog podcast on the then new iTunes. He has a presence on facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and has crossed over to traditional media with one best seller 101 Wines, with a new book deal just inked.GaryVee on Late Night with conan O'Brien Gary has appeared on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Ellen Degeneres Show. Gary has established credibility for both his store and personal brands, by honestly displaying his passion, and by being real. I was on Twitter one night involved in a lively conversation with New Zealand wine writer/sommelier Jules van Cruysen on just which retailer in the States was Gary Vaynerchuk Presentsthe biggest supporter of New Zealand wines when Gary Vanyerchuk entered into the discussion and sent a couple of links to support Jules’ argument. It was past midnight in New Jersey, and I’m just 1 of 301,831 of his Twitter followers. This is not only hustle, but passion personified; and, this is being at the very top of your game. I’m sure that the money is nice, but Gary is genuinely motivated by the conversation, and in the conversation has found success.

Case Study: The Vintner

Jeff StaiJeff Stai is an imposing figure online, and in person. Standing head and shoulders above the Crushpad tasting crowd, he was easy to spot, even back in the corner. From an organoleptic point-of-view he was pouring the best and most distinctive wines at the tasting, It was apparent from the start that based on the Twisted Oak buzz on Twitter, that this was a wine that I needed to taste, and Jeff was someone that I had to meet. The first meeting happened at the February 19th Jeff Stai at the bottlenotes TastingbottlenotesAround the World in 80 Sips’ tasting at Crushpad SF. Twisted Oak Winery was founded by Cal Poly Ponoma grad, and experienced computer industry electrical engineer, Jeff Stai and his wife Mary in 2001. I became aware of Jeff Stai, proprietor, and chief marketing guru at Twisted Oak Winery located in Calaveras County, California just above Angels Camp on Highway 4, shortly after signing onto Twitter in late December, 2008.

Twisted Oak Warning SignThe conversation among my wine industry friends centered on the wacky premise of “Take your Rubber Chicken to Work Week”. Intrigued and motivated to do a little research I added Jeff as one of my tweeps, which he quickly accepted and reciprocated. I clicked onto the Twisted Oak web site, and then onto his El Blaggo Torcido and got the rest of the story. I ran into Jeff again at the Wine 2.0 Expo 2009 tasting at Crushpad, in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. It was as if Jeff had camped out for this April 2nd event. Same corner, and still easy to recognize, and still pouring some of the most distinctive selection of wines at the tasting. Appropriate to the tenure of Wine 2.0 , Cece Salmon-Lee posted a to-the-point short video interview of Jeff and his social networking Jeff Stai in the Tasting Rppmphilosophy . Of course Jeff, who is one of the hardest working marketeers in the wine business, was busy either at the winery or on the road pouring his mediterranean varietals for old and new fans His whereabouts, his promotions, his appearances all promoted and discussed by Twisted Oak fans and friends on the social web.

In order to engage his customers in conversation, Jeff started his blog in May 2006. He has established an account on Twitter, a fan page on facebook, and iReuben's Blends an active participant in wine forums. He conducts with his social networking friends his annual TYCTWW in early February, and then posts photos on the winery blog. Next is an annual contest consisting of customer, friends and fans submitting backside copy for the ‘Ruben’s Blend. Fans in the know, know Reuben quite well. In fact Reben is the guest of honor at The Rubber Chicken Roast at the winery in Vallecito. Jeff has been having a lot of conversations with a lot of people. The Winery, while in a gorgeous place, it’s definitely not on Hwy 29 in Napa.  Jeff, in response to my question on how an electrical engineer landed at a winery in  Calaveras County,  answered “mostly, I fell face first into it…”


I was recently in St Helena for a client meeting. On the way south, I stopped at an iconic Hwy 29 winery to say hello to some old friends. It was 3 PM on Welcome to Napa Valleya Friday afternoon, usually a busy time for Napa Valley wineries, even in the off-season, but only 10 cars were in the parking lot, and the tasting room was empty. This winery has little or no social web presence. Perhaps a case of resting on their laurels, but they just aren’t engaging in the conversation with their guests, customers, clients or fans. Which is too bad, because they’re producing really nice wines across all price points. The folks at the winery were bemoaning the economy, the bleed from their wine club, and the resulting diminished revenues. Perhaps by focusing on the goal of customer retention and build in part through social media interaction,  positive results will be the likely outcome. If only my friends got it.

Target PaintingGaryvee and Jeff get it. The current economy is at best stagnant, and the effects on  wine businesses are now well documented. Yes, you’re going to have to work harder than ever to succeed today. You’re going to have to shake  a lot of hands, and talk with a lot of people, either digitally or in-person. If you don’t get it now, I hope you get it soon. Isn’t this the perfect time to connect with  your targeted customers, and to start engaging others in conversations about your brands?

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