Posts Tagged ‘e-Marketing’


Yesterday the annual Free the Grapes Direct to Consumer Symposium was hosted at the Meritage Resort in Napa.  For our 50 state union, there are few, if any substances as regulated in this country as alcohol.  In their words, “Free the Grapes! is a national, grassroots coalition of consumers, wineries and retailers who seek to remove restrictions on wine direct shipping. Our goal is to augment, not replace, the three-tier system with limited, regulated wine shipments from wineries and retailers to consumers.”  Indeed their work is essential for our industry.

The conference offered some interesting insights on hospitality and customer relationship management from beyond our own industry as  well as insights from a few successful wine industry executives describing their own best practices making the difference in their business.  There were some specific details in the Iron Marketer Challenge segment and a detailed presentation of  “aspirational customer service programs” from the VP of Best Buy that I thought warranted taking notes.  On the heels of a timely release from Lesley Berglund’s WISE Academy, what was left untouched by the conference pointed me to this educational program.

No doubt there was great value in the day including the exhibit hall and the sponsors appearing there.  The only things I thought were missing are as follows:

  • 1.  A much deeper and more detailed set of solutions for direct to consumer questions and needs including hospitality training, e-marketing, online presence, social  media, and wine club management.
  • 2. A better execution of the sessions and use of the internet/social media/networking back channel.  There was no twitter search tag (perhaps because only a handful of tweeters were on during the conference?).  So we created our own tag #DTC.  This is as much for the attendees as for the folks on twitter who didn’t attand but were curious to listen to the day’s events.  Similarly, presentations, links, power point decks, etc. could have been and should have been made available in real time…or immediately after the presentation.  We’re told they will be available next week.  I think there were missed opportunities here.


With 7 sessions and only 2 time slots (sessions 1,2 & 3 were at 1:30, sessions 4,5,6, & 7 were at 3:15) I could not attend more than 2 sessions.  There were 3 or 4 sessions I thought could have been valuable to me, so it is possible that the deficits I listed above were detailed in a session I couldn’t attend.  On the technology possibilities listed above I watched and experienced them during the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City.  What a great standard they have set.   And the technology is not out of reach for a Napa conference.  There is an opportunity being lost that is well within our reach. Check out this fantastic post about using the back channel to add value to a conference.

I certainly understand that conferences are a bear to produce and my evaluation comes with the hope that we all work with constructive criticism to make our work in the wine industry better by leaps and bounds.  There are a few conferences in our industry (Wine 2.0, WITS, WBC) that I applaud for surveying their attendees for feedback.  I know as a presenter I value that response and use the feedback to prepare the next time I am in front of an audience.  So it is in that spirit that I offer my thoughts here.  The need for DTC training, conversations and networking  is too great to go without.  Thanks for working to fill that need.


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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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