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Archive for the ‘Wine Bloggers Conference’ 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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Conversation among wine industryprofessionals, marketing strategists and wine bloggers this week includes talking about some kind of Wine Blogger Certification, or a standard that ends up with a Seal of Approval in order to quickly and easily provide bloggers access to events, wineries, industry programming and so on.  I can see why some business people might seek such a …label, but I wonder about a simplified structure and I have many questions about how, why, wherefore.

The very counter-culture nature of blogging defies this kind of labeling and classification.  The bloggoshpere is the untamed frontier and an exciting place to find opinions, stories and recommendations. I have certainly heard people post that “some bloggers just want free (stuff) wine”.  But as I have spent some time reading wine blogs and actually spent time with the wine bloggers themselves, it is not an easy (usually unpaid) job to wine blog.  Any level of credibility or readership is hard earned and maintained by a level of quality, personality and humor.

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I have been a regular advocate for blogger access to the wine industry in the same way we grant access to traditional media and press.  Wine bloggers have an outreach that can potentially go deeper and beyond traditional print media…at least in the wine industry.  Just recently Hahn Estates hosted the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and ZAP will have a sponsored Bloggers Lounge offering bloggers free access to the 2 day event.  So far, these beginnings have suggested tremendous success in blogger/wine industry relationship building.   The expectation is that this access will directly benefit not just bloggers and wineries, but the consumers.  With greater access to information, recommendations and outreach, we aim to convert more people into wine lovers everywhere.

So, how would you classify bloggers?  They are a complex and various group of wineophiles from all over the world.   The current count is over 1,000 wine blogs and growing.  How would you define which ones get credentials for the wine events and which ones don’t?

  • By Readership?
  • Quality of writing?
  • Their own level of wine education?

And what if the wine blogger…a really great one…isn’t interested in the credential?  Most of the wine bloggers I have met are stunningly smart and busy with day jobs, families, hobbies and fully packed lives.  And as I have said before, they do their wine blog strictly for the passion of it.  The Wine Bloggosphere is better off because of them.  I would hate to see them squeezed out by beaucracy or obstacles that have less to do with a passion for wine and more to do with sorting that helps marketers achieve ROI.

What are your thoughts?

Graphic courtesy of Google Images.

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Sure.  Why not?  Our goals may be different, but our passion for wine is shared.

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Yesterday Hahn Family Wines hosted the first ever Bloggers Tasting Forum at their offices in Napa.  (disclosure: I work for Hahn, but do not write this blog as part of my employment for them.)  Bloggers, winemakers, winery Presidents, winery owners, a journalist, a filmaker, a Director of Vineyard Operations,  and a PhD candidate studying bloggers were all in attendance.  There were also wine lovers who create content either via podcasts, (Vintuba.com) or a wine search engine (1,000 Corks).  Most folks were from the bay area, but some came from as far as Los Angeles, Tennessee, and Washington state.  The goals:  1.  To taste some of Hahn’s finest examples of Santa Lucia Highlands terroir, learn a bit about the AVA and each other.  2. Continue the conversation about wine bloggers and wineries working together.  How could that work?  To what end?  And how do bloggers and wineries manage credibility and integrity in exploration of the Wine World 2.0 experience.

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The variety of guests made for a fascinating and significant conversation.  Here’s what I took away from the event at first blush:

  • We’d like to host the Blogger Tasting Forum regularly, maybe quarterly. And perhaps at different wineries.
  • The variety and inclusive nature of attendees was essential to the chemistry in the room.  People from 3 guest wineries were there.  We poured from 2 who brought their wines: Twisted Oak, and Pianetta.  I wish Judd had brought Humanitas and Schlumberger.
  • There are absolutely a number of opportunities for bloggers and winereies to work together in ways totally appropriate and in ways that add tremendous value to the consumers experience, the bloggers experience and the wineries’ business.
  • The shift of influence in the wine world from old print media to new on-line media, especially in the form of blogs with character, variety and accessibility to the variety of wine lovers out there is essential to the success of a growing wine industry.  I can’t overstate this enough.  Those born digital are a massive, significant segment not just of the on-line world, but re-creating the on-line world.
  • Anything wineries can do to contribute to wine bloggers readership will help the wine industry in general and wineries and bloggers in specific.  It is the best, most interesting and direct access between wineries and consumers to cultivate conversations.  The more the better.
  • Anything bloggers can do to cultivate relationships with restaurants, wine bars, and their wine buyers to participate in their blog conversations and/or connect with the restaurant/wine bar blog could also have a great impact on the winery, blogger, consumer conversation.  Those wine directors and sommeliers are the influencers we’d love to have join the conversation more often.  They make the decisions about which wines appear on the wine lists.  Bloggers:  if you have them contributing to your blog conversations, wineries and many segments of the industry will absolutely HAVE to follow along, or get left in the dust.

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The questions that remain are many:

  1. How do you measure the value, i.e. the bottom line, for how a blogger can positively influence your wineries’ business?
  2. What is in it for the blogger?  Readership?  Wine? Consulting/writing fee?  Access to their subject?
  3. What does the wine consumer and wine blog reader gain by this collaboration?
  4. Is it enough to maintain your own integrity if you disclose the nature of the relationship between the business and the blogger?
  5. Another important question, squarely in the laps of bloggers, was so well put by Joe Roberts from 1WineDude:   “Heaven knows I’ve got no problem whatsoever being courted by winemakers, PR contacts, or the wine media in general (in fact, my view is that it’s about time this has happened). The trick is maintaining the willpower to keep a unique, individual, and (hopefully) credibly opinionated voice as a blogger while the “courting” ramps up.

Based on what Bill Leigon, President of Hahn, Adam LaZarre, winemaker and Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations had to say yesterday, yes, Hahn wants to sell more wine: AND, “…we all have a passion for wine, we’re interested in educating people about our wines, our Central Coast wine region, our winemaking practices.”  And frankly, in the new media world that is 2.0, it is more possible to have a far reaching, diverse, informed conversation with more people without filters more than ever before.

So to the evolution of the conversation, in person, on-line and over a glass of wine.

Cheers!

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Photos provided courtesy of Thea Dwelle and Lisa Adams-Walter and Chris Butts.

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It’s getting pretty weird out there. Well, it probably has been for awhile. So what are you going to do about it? You have some options: My least favorite and perhaps one of the most popular positions is the fetal position. Either mentally or physically, people may consider adopting a curl-up-until-it’s-over attitude. And maybe that works for some people. However, while I don’t look forward to crisis, I do recognize the opportunity for, leadership, new deals, new connections and being the carrier of light across the darkness.

Marketing, PR and all new e-marketing opportunities are bursting with possibility right now. Twitter has posted their Top 50 Tweeples (are you connected to them?), AND is partnering with Current TV (watch their amazing “Hack-the-Debate” programming of the Presidential debates posting real-time tweets). YouTube is experimenting with click-to-buy placement with Amazon.com. Blogging, Video blogging and many other forms of Social Media are exploding with popularity while corporations race to figure out how to maximize advertising in web’s social-sphere. The video version of Twitter, 12Seconds.TV is about to go public, currently in their alpha testing phase. The Wine Blogger’s Conference is completely sold out in Sonoma County with special guest, Gary Vaynerchuk this month. The list goes on as Facebook upgrades their applications and races to keep up with their users. Google is working on a browser (Chrome) that, when completed, will change the way the average Mom, Senior and student not just uses the web, but interacts with and seamlessly integrates online experiences within their lives. If you think that is dramatic, I haven’t emphasized enough how life changing all of these tools will be.

So what does all this mean to you?

You still have a minute to figure out where you will fit in. But only a minute. When New Media goes super-nova, you could be left unconnected. And thereafter, you’ll be running to catch up. Whatever your business, you must find out how you will thrive online. Meanwhile, the bottom line is still your communication and connection to your customer base. Nurture and nourish that relationship; especially during tough economic times. They will remember that and thus be even more loyal customers. A sense of connection, security and belonging is important anytime within our community; it is invaluable during these times and will go a long way in defining the quality and commitment of your online community. You’ll extend your reach and achieve greater bang for your marketing buck this way, while offering something of value to your client base. And they won’t forget that. You can’t beat being human. It’s way better than being a corporation…even if you are a corporation. (for more details on this perspective, check out this post on the Silicon Alley Insider) Then you become that light in the darkness…and that light is contagious.

I have two thoughts from Bill gates to leave you with.

“There will be two types of businesses by 2010- those that are online and those that are out of business.”

“The Internet will help achieve “friction free capitalism” by putting buyer and seller in direct contact and providing more information to both about each other.”

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