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This is my personal pet peeve: Rudeness.  Much of the time it is a mindless, stressed, rushed person that pollutes the air at work, either omitting the basic manners we’re taught as children or steam rolling by in a self-involved fog.  Certainly we have ALL been there. However, in addition to increased stress, time wasted, decrease in creativity & ability to solve problems, the negative impact affects morale, productivity, quality of life and did I mention productivity?  There are two great articles on this topic:  A blog post on the Harvard Business Review, You’re Rude Because Your Boss is Rude, and an article in the HBR January 2013 magazine, The Price of Incivility.   Is this a pervasive problem?  According to the HBR poll from that article, 98% of thousands of workers polled “reported experiencing uncivil behavior at work.  In 2011 half said they were treated rudely at least once a week.”  The HBR study found “Among workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility, 48% intentionally decreased their work effort, 47% intentionally decreased time spent at work, 80% lost work time worrying about the incident, 66% said their performance declined, 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work, 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers…”  Here’s another article from Forbes Magazine that highlights our technology and information overload that contributes to stress and overwhelm.  In it, psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., says “the accelerated pace of office life has us made us lose touch with common courtesies once taken for granted, like saying, “Good morning.”

BeNice

We are in the hospitality industry.  (Hospitality: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.)  I strongly believe that our colleagues, co-workers, clients, (both B2B & B2C) and community are the front line recipients for that hospitality, which starts with polite behavior.  As part of the sales & marketing industry, I know developing brand advocates and devotees is a successful path to profitability.  That means converting the company people 100% to your brand first and then from there expanding your reach to everyone who comes in contact with your company, your product, your service, your brand.  One excellent example of this philosophy is articulately written and practiced by ING Direct founder Arkadi Kuhlmann: “It’s not leaders who drive business; it’s the culture they create, and sustain, that drives it.”  This is expanded upon in his book The Orange Code and has become Kuhlmann’s calling card, his brand.  I had friends that worked at ING Direct for Mr. Kuhlmann.  They all said that after their orientation, “we bled orange for that company.  It was the best place to work.”  Can you imagine the employees’ increased desire to succeed, to be there, to achieve, to totally ‘kill it’ when it came to doing their job for that company?

A few basics on civil behavior at work.

DO:

politeList

DON’T:

Swear Flagrantly.

Be Late.

Bury your face in a computer or smart phone during conversations or presentations.

Gossip, spread misinformation, tell inappropriate jokes or stories.

Groom yourself at work beyond the basic touch ups. (ok, maybe this is an odd one, but seriously people, taking your whitening trays out of your mouth at the lunch table is gross)

I realize this barely scratches the surface when it comes to elevating our behavior, our branding, our success at work and the atmosphere we create.  The reference links to books, blogs and articles offer meaningful depth into the subject.  There’s a lot to think about when it comes to civility at work.  We have gender, cultural and generational differences that can demand slight but distinct differences in behavior.  Awareness is key.  Managers at every level are unaware of reasonable guidelines and their own infractions.  So we have to not only learn, teach and model polite behavior (or hospitality), but also acknowledge, reward and prioritize it.  Is it part of performance evaluations, hiring interviews, event reviews/debriefs?  In conclusion, because we are in the hospitality, lifestyle business, it can not be emphasized enough that high quality civility, hospitality and good manners MUST be a priority at work.  Why?  Quality of life, better productivity, improved creativity, insightful problem solving, greater customer retention, greater employee retention, healthier atmosphere, decreased stress,  and perhaps most meaningful to those in charge: significantly higher profitability.

What do you think?

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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

target

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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WnVCover

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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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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shackles_undone

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.

dtc1

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

btf1

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.

andybtf

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.

btf10

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!

btf2b

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

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Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Jeff Stai: Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Are you a winery for bloggers? That means you support, acknowledge and encourage bloggers to engage with your winery.  How many blogs do you subscribe to? Talk about? Do you know any bloggers by name? Face?  I think I’m starting a new campaign, a regular post about Wineries for Bloggers.  Wineries that acknowledge and support the work of wine bloggers will also be recognized and appreciated for their forward thinking, progressive business acumen and twenty-first century-ness.  Wineries that put Social Media to use are leaders in the wine industry and will be noted.

I’ve been polling bloggers about what they want from wineries for the wine industry.  It was an informal poll via e-mail, twitter, conversations, and blogs. (I’m no Nate Silver www.fivethirtyeight.com, hence, informal poll) While I currently work for Hahn Family Wines, I publish this blog separately, outside of my work there.  (in essence, I sometimes feel like I straddle both worlds, the wine marketer and the DIY blogger.)

Bloggers’ requests are pretty obvious and seem so simple considering their influence, passion and dedication to their work.  Which brings me to another point:  So many wine bloggers do it for love.  Blogging likely doesn’t qualify even as a second job and most are lucky if their costs are covered by ads or supplemental support.  There is a LOT of discussion going on about credibility in their industry, thanks to the first ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference, and that conversation will continue I’m sure.  Rest assured, bloggers are not “bought” and are careful to reflect honestly their tastes, interests and values.  They are a fun, educated, decent bunch of people we should all be so lucky to call friends.

Back to the question at hand:  How can wineries contribute to the wine blogging part of our industry?

Here’s what bloggers said: 2996275573_806732a3cb

Wine Bloggers want acknowledgement, appreciation, respect.  Frankly, many wine bloggers are as influential as any press, newspaper or print media when it comes to wine.  They should have similar access, special blogger tasting forums, events, passes, discounts and wineries that are proactive in reaching out to them.  But that means you have to know them.  This is wine marketing and social media at its finest.  Twentieth century marketing as Marta Kagen put it was “The old communication model…a monologue.”  Social Networking is the new communication model which is, she says, “…a dialogue.”  The numbers that back up this assertion are ridiculous, as in overwhelming, in support of a new model.  (see What the F**K is Social Media)  By all means, approach bloggers to come join you, but get to know who they are and what their blog is about.  And if bloggers are coming to you, wineries, they are passionate about the industry and what you do, say yes!  Can you spare your winemaker for 5 or 10 minutes? Or maybe the Vineyard Manager?  Say “yes!” Anyone who is invested in the story, the vineyards and the juice.  Welcome the wine bloggers.  Understand that most wine bloggers will likely know more than your average tasting room employee.  Maybe not about your brand, but about a diverse cross section of the wine world in general.

Look, even if they don’t LOVE your wine, they’ll appreciate your courtesy, customer service and other merits.  Wine is such a personal and varied product.  And wine bloggers are here to stay.  The most recent count has the number of wine blogs near 1,000 world wide.  I believe audiences will sort the quality, humor and content for themselves.  Bloggers that aren’t meeting standards just won’t last.  The internet is an ultimate democracy;  yes, access is fairly easy, but those with influence have something valuable to say, to contribute and possibly they have a good editor.

My recommendation to wineries is to start reading wine blogs.  Subscribe, engage, connect.  “In 2008, if you’re not on a social networking site, you’re not on the internet.” (from What the F**K is Social Media)  You’ll have to catch up someday.  Wineries that don’t know any better will learn the hard way.  Wine brings people together and so does social networking.  There is a perfect convergence of populations here;  One where wineries, bloggers and wine consumers win.

Are you a winery that supports the blogging industry?

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Thanks to the following bloggers/twitterati for contributing to the conversation: @winebratsf, @juicecowboy, @sonadora, @winequester, @jugshop, @alexlewis, @scaldron, and many others across the bloggosphere.  Thank you for your contribution to the wine world.

And special thanks to Ward Kadel and Megan Kenney for sharing their Wine Blogger Conference photos.

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