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Archive for the ‘California wine’ Category

missedTargetBasically inseparable, sales & marketing most often seem to completely misunderstand each other.  Marketing, loaded with creative talent, big thinkers and sometimes a budget to back that up, creates tools, information and events that can make or break a brand, a launch, a quarter.  Sales, always on the go, focused on low hanging fruit, relationships and quotas provide the revenue that can make or break the company.  So how can such a close pairing, like steak and cabernet sauvignon, so often be on completely separate, parallel, uncomplimentary tracks with each other?

SAME:

The product

The team/company

The Goal

DIFFERENT:

The job

The how, when, where, who…

The mindset

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Since I worked first in marketing then in sales in the wine industry, I’m currently fascinated with seamlessly tying the two halves together to function as a successful, profitable wine sales & marketing unit.  With input from colleagues and customers, I look forward to a thoughtful and provocative conversation that offers a basic and varied set of solutions here.  Digital marketing, social media and e-commerce have changed the way we shop, buy,  research and share. Internet opportunities, apps and experiments pop up and multiply quickly so I look forward to evaluating them for the wine industry here as well.

Your comments are essential.

Thanks for participating.

PS.   In the series to follow, data from the Forbes article that also referred to sales & marketing as Mars & Venus (an apt comparison) will be posted and referenced with valuable details about marketing lead generation and sales response time.

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A giant thank you to my esteemed colleagues, wine lover bloggers and interested spectators who have watched with interest, fanned up with passion or snickered with disbelief about the “Banned in ‘Bama” issue turned campaign that peaked as the summer was pedaling to its end.

President of Hahn Estates, Bill Leigon, also passes on his gratitude and respect for the online wine media, bloggers and social media he’s praised for years  in the latest Wines and Vines Guest Editorial. It is likely too small to read here…but I wanted you to know what you’re looking for in case you come across it in the industry magazine.

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Another example of social media’s power in action.

Cheers.

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SMicons2Now that social media in wine and hospitality seems mainstream, facebook fan pages are de rigeur, and the twitter, flickr, fb, digg, etc. logos are plastered everywhere, there’s something significant missing in the translation of the message on connecting.  Referring back to the cocktail party analogy, would you host a party and not be there?  Invite guests to your home to connect and entertain them and leave everything up to a catering staff for interacting with your guests?

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I sure hope you answered no to both questions.  If you did, why on earth would you launch a social media program and issue automatic direct messages to your guests?  Why would you post generic, monthly or weekly messages (imagine a PA system a la high school) announcing, shouting at people something they didn’t ask you about?  Do you understand the concept of real conversation?  If I come to your home, I’m excited to see YOU…and if you have the butler answer the door, the bartender entertain me and the cook tell me loads of information, guess what…I’m probably not coming back.  Nor will I tell my friends anything positive about that experience.

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Maybe you’re mislead by the cold, technological tool in front of you…your laptop (i-phone, Storm, whatever).  What you must not forget is that there are real, flesh and blood, passionate people on the other end who love wine, hospitality, their friends, family, travel, SCUBA, or whatever FAR more than they love your bottom line.  While technology extends our reach by several orders of magnitude greater than we can imagine, you cannot lose your sensitivity, your listening skills, your inter-personal talents in the hopes of automating connection.  Businesses hoping to increase their business without getting involved, asking questions, caring and listening are doomed to fail, and fail on a large scale in public.

Our friend @winebratsf is right.  And she is doing businesses a service by letting them know what she wants and why she’s there.  Many people I know just “unfollow” a business that gets impersonal, automated or uninteresting.  If you can’t make the personal investment in the relationships, you are in the wrong place.  Give more than you get.  Provide value.  Care.  Share.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.  Cheers!

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2006 Pinot Noir face

This week while we discuss and discover new technologies in wine marketing  this weekend in Wine Country, California during the Wine Bloggers Conference 2009, in Alabama the Beverage Control Board has ordered all Cycles Gladiator Wines pulled from all markets in the state of Alabama as the label has been deemed “pornographic“.

In 2006, the Cycles Gladiator wine label went through complete label approval on both the federal and Alabama state level, but only now in 2009 is it being questioned:  According to an article released today, July 23, 2009 in Lagniappe online here:

Bill Leigon, president of Hahn Family Wines of Napa Valley, Cal., said the ABC did, in fact, approve the label when the wine came into the market in 2006, but suddenly changed its mind late last year. He said they were unaware of the new ruling until now when it was deemed pornographic. Leigon said this is a new phenomenon for the company, which has sold more than 600,000 cases of Cycles Gladiator across the United States and around the world since 2006. No one else has complained about the label art, he said.

  • For full disclosure, I still work for Hahn Family Wines, owner and winery for Cycles Gladiator Wines.
  • Cycles Gladiator has been a Top 10 Value Brand 2 years in Wine Business Monthly (2006-2008)
  • Cycles Gladiator Wines have been awarded years of Gold Medals throughout the U.S and beyond.
  • Cycles Gladiator Wines have received years of great wine reviews and blog posts: Here (Rick Bakas), Here (Dr.Xeno/WineLog) and Here (Cork’d) among many.
  • Cycles Wine Supports Cyclists in the Sea Otter Classic, Tour of California and LiveStrong among others.
  • The Cycles wine label won an award: The 2006 from the American Graphic Design Award (by GDUSA, which is funny since it is a vintage piece of art from 1895, France).

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It has been centuries that cultures have waged argument and discord over what is art and what is porn.  How bizarre after the musical Hair (40 years ago), the Piss Christ (20 years ago), Robert Mappelthorpe (30-40 years established) and Madonna’s Sex (17 years ago) among a broad cannon of erotic and provocative art that we can not agree to disagree…yet still maintain our democratic values.  But censorship will continue to threaten freedon when politics, morals and religion is in question.  Meanwhile, men and women all over the U.S. are celebrating the freedom of Cycles Gladiator, the bicycle, the human body and a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s raise a glass…Cheers.

CG Metromint shot

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Giant strides are very exciting.  In our industry, a slow, seasonally affected, growing, pressing and aging pace sometimes takes over and causes our progress to lag a bit behind faster moving industries (tech, TV, advertising…to name a few).  So when the wine industry makes a leap, it generates a wave impossible to ignore, exciting to watch, and exhilirating to participate in whenever you can.  This summer in particular, Social Media in Wine Marketing has taken that giant stride, nay leap forward opening up imagination, possibility and interactive wine marketing experiences new in the wine world.

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Contributing to the leaps forward upto and including the summer of 2009, credit must go to the Wine Bloggers Conference, Twitter Taste Live, The Open Wine Consortium, the Bloggers Tasting and Planting Forums to name a few; accessible, frequent, groundbreaking online interaction between wine lovers, wine bloggers and the wine industry building a critical mass, connecting technology with everyone and anyone with a passion or passing interest in wine.  Then there is the Murphy-Goode, Really Goode Job campaign.  Regardless of what you think about the job (temporary, contractually a quagmire, and possibly vague in its mission) or the campaign (missing some basic social media fundamentals, mysterious in its process, depersonalized), the gimick of the search has splash landed as one of the top 10 topics we wine bloggers talk about.  Some of my favorite Wine Bloggers were on the MG top 50 list (some are still on the top 10 list).  Add to that the VinTank promise to donate $100K in Social Media strategy consulting if Murphy-Goode selects one of the VinTank 4+ and the buzz has gone viral.

LesOpportunity abounds.  And I gotta say that the coolest crest of this wave in Social Media evolution this summer in our industry, in our little Wine Valley has to be St. Supery (and specifically, Lesley Russell’s work) choosing to search, strategize and carve out a position for a highly experienced full time Social Media director to fortify their marketing team. The shift to new media is now working from within the wineries, connecting with and hiring people from a food, wine and social media background. Smart?  Hell, yeah.  Without the gimmick but with a thorough sifting and months of their own experience, St. Supery jumps in the rest of the way.  Their resume of social media history from 2008-2009 includes Lesley Russell speaking on panels (including the ZAP/ Wine 2.0 Social Media Panel and the DTC Summit Panel, “Relationship, Relevance and Results”), Twitter Taste Live wine tasting, a Bloggers Tasting Forum, multiple-avid participants on twitter, real facebook fan page development, and a series called “The Divine Wine Encounter” for trade wine folks.

So we’re talking about St. Supery’s newest hire, Mr. Rick Bakas.  I can’t wait to see what happens now…And I couldn’t be

RBakasmore delighted for St. Supery, the Bakas family and for Napa Valley and the wine industry.  In their continuing leadership in social media marketing, I’m excited to watch them execute a thoroughly thoughtful strategy with great wine, talented people on their team and a tremendous growing network of real and virtual fans.  It also may mean that social media/wine lovers will have a winery to call home in the Napa Valley, a headquarters to start or finish their wine quests…and a place that gets the brilliance and social value of the technology that connects us.

As if we needed an excuse to raise our glass, these are exciting times.  Cheers!

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3551197983_34e03c5214_bAn extraordinary Saturday in May in the Santa Lucia Highlands last weekend yielded one delicious afternoon.  With a dozen or so wine and food bloggers, Hahn Estates was the first winery to establish the Bloggers Block, a 1.5 acre plot of vines, planted in part by said bloggers, dedicated to the work, passion and appreciation of the complimentary relationship among these wine lovers.

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Andy Mitchell (Director Vineyard Operations) and Paul Clifton (adorable winemaker at Hahn Estates) and their vineyard team shepharded the noob farmers teaching them about this plot of land, the 720′ elevation in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the soil, the vines (828 Clone/Pinot Noir), the irrigation, the row orientation, etc.  All vines may be found on Google Earth where anyone can watch the growth of these baby pinot noir vines.  Check out the Google Earth flyover of the winery here.

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Essentially it was a day that social media wrought where friends and associates came together to dig in the dirt and laugh together while learning about the beginning, middle and end of wine production.  Not bad for just a few hours. After planting our vines, bloggers enjoyed a picnic lunch and wines made from the vineyards where their vines were planted.  The pinot noir in the Hahn SLH, among others were featured as the conversation covered everything from vineyard experimentation to your favorite twitter app for the i-phone.

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It is still hard to put words to the perfection of the day.  It sounds cloying, overblown and off the mark when I reach for the grand adjectives and expressions to summarize this day of planting and connection.  One most apt description of all of us is to say that we were like kids in a candy store…and there was a kind of rapt adventure and play about the day’s activities.  And still there was learning, out-reach and …well, you probably understand anyway.  You seem like a wine lover to me, so I’ll share more photos of the day and leave it at that.  I hope you’ll come to the next Bloggers Tasting Forum or host your own.

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And who wouldn’t love a romp thru the vines in an open air Yamaha 4-wheeler?

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You KNOW the Brix Chicks did!

Links to fellow blogger posts and attendees to follow soon.

Photos courtesy of Philip Woodrow, Hahn Family Wines Director of Marketing and Communications.

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The VinTank report is certainly a chunk to sink your teeth into.  Still, my current mission is how to apply all these skills and passions for social media (we know it works) to the bottom line in sales…now that I’ve joined the sales team.  We’ve talked about them thus far ad nauseum here, on twitter and in person as we’ve laid the ground work for what this new thing, online connecting via web 2.0, is and how it applies to business.  

1winedude

So with a nod of appreciation for Dude’s work and a rush out the door on my California BevMo and Whole Foods Wine department tour, we’ll all be enjoying a round of conversation and response to the latest report on social media in wine throughout real and virtual portals.  My favorite point currently lost in the comments debate on Dude’s blog is about millenials: “…they don’t respond to the mindless, unidirectional marketing tactics that have been the staple of the “traditional” marketing machine.”  Furthermore, despite the incredible headway made by the VinTank study, most stat lovers will never be satisfied because the meduim of measuring stats for something like social media won’t even be completely embodied by a dollar sign, a case sold or a wine club member convert…alone.  Perhaps in old school speak, how would you measure and quantify the value of the Rotary Club?  For an individual or a community?  Sure, there would be numbers you could point to…but I guarantee that would not be the whole story.

This is more like a movement where participation is decentralized, diffused and more democratic.  The power and influence is spread out.  Anyone who doesn’t like that will certainly knock it down (and we’ve seen that a lot throughout the past years).  Meanwhile, let’s raise a glass, remember the wine and talk as much about the magic in the glass and sharing that bottle together.

wineTweetCheers!

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