Get In The May Mood

There is a lot going on in the month of May.

Mother’s Day is coming up fast.

Think of different ways to wish a happy Mother’s Day to mothers and others. For example, if you are a winery that produces and sells Cabernet Sauvignon, wish happy Mother’s Day to Sauvignon Blanc, the wine that is the mother of Cabernet Sauvignon. Do the same on Father’s Day with Cabernet Franc.

Many people have May birthdays.

Invite your customers to join you for their birthday, with any customer who comes in during the week of his/her birthday gets a birthday surprise. I will leave it up to you to decide on the surprise, though it could be a flower, chocolate, preferential pricing, a coupon for their next visit, or access to a special offering or person – just to name a few.

There is something special going on every day in May. Here are a few “special” days during the month of May: Today (May 3rd) is Paranormal Day, Garden Meditation Day, School Nurse Day, Lumpy Rug Day (really!), for example.

Looking at a calendar for May shows me that every day in May has at least three special designations and some days have up to seven “special” designations. Some of them are important, such as May 28th which is Amnesty International Day and some less so, May 27th Cellophane (Scotch) Tape Day.

By the way, May 25th is National Wine Day, so you have plenty of time to get ready for that.

A tip of the glass from me to you, and have a great day no matter what you choose to celebrate!

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Are You Missing Marketing Opportunities?

There are very few times when you are talking to others that you can’t take advantage of marketing your business. I don’t mean hijacking a conversation with a long monolog about your company. Keep your comments brief and make the conversation interesting, leading the person or people you are speaking with to ask you for more information.

For example, when someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you say? Are you specific, “I own a winery” or “I work for a winery,” for example, or do you talk about working for or owning a small business? Then have ready a quick sentence about something the company does that will differentiate it from other wineries. It could be a special event; an uncommon varietal or a charitable association, an interesting location or the way the business is managed.

As with people, all businesses are different. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the differences but they are there.

To get to the root of what makes your business different start a list and keep adding to it. Ask your managers, employees, and customers what they think is different about the business. Once you have the list, create short stories of just a few sentences for each point of differentiation on the list. Keeping it short is important, as it’s easy to get carried away when you are talking about something that is important to you, though may not be important to someone else.

If you know your audience you may point out individual differentiations that will resonate with the people to whom you are speaking.

For example, you are out walking your dog and get talking to someone else who is walking his/her dog.  What is different about your business that may include the dog? Is the dog the wine club mascot or do you donate a portion of the proceeds to the ASPCA or other animal rescue fund? Knowing this small piece of information may bring this stranger into your winery.

Telling a short story makes your business more memorable and the more memorable you can make it, the better chance you have of getting people who may not know about you pay you a visit and make a purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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More on Making Your Emails Count

Last week we talked about emails and how to make them more effective. We covered in more detail when to send emails. Today we have a few more tips.

Getting Attention: When you send an email, the first thing your customers see on the left hand side is the name of the company or person who sent the email. So why is it that I am still getting emails from companies whose company name is shown on the left hand side and who then repeat the name of the company in the subject line? You are wasting valuable real estate and your best chance of getting readers engaged.

Segmentation: Most businesses have lots of people on their email lists, but they send the same email to everyone. Segment your emails to fit the different categories of customers. Look at how much the customers buy, how often, when and what. Take the top ten or twenty percent of your customers, those who support your business regularly, and send them a different email than the customers who purchase from you occasionally. The email to occasional customers should encourage them to visit you more often and give them reasons to do so.

Personality: Each business has a personality, as do the people in the business. Bring out your personality in your emails. If people are used to having fun when they visit you, add some fun into your emails too. Let your customers see the real you (unless you really are a grump, then let someone else write the email).

Stories: Are you telling stories in your emails? Short stories can captivate visitors. Stories are entertaining and will increase sales. Mention something that happened in the business, for example how you were able to solve a customer’s problem or meet a need. There are lots of different ways to make your emails more enjoyable and interesting for your customers. So don’t stay with the same old thing. Take a step forward.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Making The Best Wine Is Not Enough

I have been reading a lot lately about sales of wine going down in 2016. With the baby boomers buying less and the thrifty millennials being more cautious about their purchases, it seems that the amount of wine sold over the next few years is expected to go down.

Additionally, the number of wineries throughout North America is expected to climb. This is in part because the wine industry is primarily an industry of passion and not an industry of reason, which means that the number of wineries and vineyards is going to increase and when these people decide to grow grapes or make wine, the first thing on their mind is the product. While following up very closely behind the product should be marketing and sales – it isn’t.

Unfortunately, marketing and sales invariably fall a very distant second to the processes of growing grapes and making wine. I have been teaching wine marketing studies to winery and vineyard owners and employees at various colleges and universities and spoken to enough winemakers and grape growers throughout North America to know that the belief is that if growers and winemakers make a good product, it will sell.  That is just not the case.

To stay ahead of the game, as the wine business becomes more and more competitive, it is critical that a clear plan for the marketing and sales of your product should very much be a part of the general plan from the very beginning. If your first thought is that you want to buy a vineyard or open a winery, your second thought should be how the product is going to be marketed and then sold.

I know that marketing and sales plans seem like a lot of work and they can be, but you can start with the basics. If you would like an outline of a simple marketing/sales plan, let me know and I will send one out to you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Marketing – It’s So Simple

I was reading a book the other day, the autobiography of a man, Jack Petchey, with whom my Dad was in the Fleet Air Arm (a name for the British Navy air force) in World War II. Mr. Petchey and my Dad were good friends during the war and for a while after the war. Jack went on to be very, very successful and because of his success wrote an autobiography.

Jack Petchey started working at 11 years old for a greengrocer (shop selling vegetables and salad ingredients) in the East End of London, where, he says that he was taught his first lesson in marketing.

When he first started at the greengrocery, he was given, by the owner, a large box of tomatoes and asked to polish half of the tomatoes and not the other half. After he had finished polishing the half of the box that was supposed to be polished he was told to put them into two piles. One pile of tomatoes (the ones that were not polished) were given a lower price, while the tomatoes that had been polished were given a higher price.

Jack asked the owner why the tomatoes were two different prices, at which time the owner told him that some people like to buy cheap and some people like to buy expensive.

While we all know that some people don’t buy if things that are (in their estimation) too expensive, we also know that some people don’t buy if the things that they are considering purchasing are not expensive enough.

Make sure your pricing varies so that you can appeal to both those people that like to get a bargain price and those people who are more comfortable buying something that they fits their ideas of quality and what (in their opinion) is an appropriate price.

Remember: never underestimate people’s willingness to spend money to impress their friends. Whether they impress their friends with how little they spent or impress them with how much they were able to spend on a product.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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A Great Way to Learn

This week I am in Portland, Oregon for the VESTA curriculum conference. For any of you that don’t know about VESTA (I can’t imagine there are many), it is the Viticulture, Enology Science & Technology Alliance. This is a national grape and wine education program that combines the flexibility of online instruction; instructor guided education from industry professionals; and crucial hands-on experience under the guidance of an experienced mentor at a vineyard or winery close to where you live.

VESTA has classes on everything you would need or want to learn about viticulture, enology and the business of wine including marketing, finance, etc. The students are from all around the United States and the online format makes it simple to attend.

So what am I doing in Portland? In September, I am lucky enough to start teaching a class for VESTA, VIN 271, Advanced Marketing. The class covers all in the different facets of marketing in the wine industry including:

  • Understanding the importance of marketing
  • Create a viable marketing plan
  • The meaning of branding
  • Keys for developing packaging
  • How marketing and sales technology facilitates success

And much, much more!

The live class meeting takes place once a week via a web-based conference system. Participation in the live class meetings is required. It is an opportunity for the instructor (that would be me) to go over weekly topic highlights and for students to interact with the instructor and fellow students through questions and discussions. Students are expected to be ready to ask questions and actively participate in the discussions. There are also course assignments include weekly readings (online lectures/presentations and print-based materials) that are posted on the online course site. And, of course, there are quizzes, two exams and participation during the live class.

It is going to be a great class and I have and will continue to compile lots of information keep the class interesting and relevant. It should be fun.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Have Tea, Will Travel

I just returned from a week in the Midwest, working mid week with the wineries of Iowa and then on to Illinois for some time with the wineries in the Northern region.

After flying into and staying in Des Moines overnight, I drove down to Two Saints Winery in St. Charles to present a full day seminar, then took off for Oskaloosa to visit Tassel Ridge Winery. From there it was a three-hour trip up to Galena, Illinois.

I was listening to the radio as I drove up to Galena and was told of a tornado watch around Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, which I was passing at the time. I am happy to say that the tornado did not materialize in that area though Illinois got hit. I have no idea of what to do in a tornado, having only lived in England and California, neither of which is known for tornados.

Galena, Illinois is a picturesque little town, obviously a tourist town, with lots of wonderful shops, restaurants and a few wine tasting rooms and my stay at Galena Cellars, where I presented another full day seminar, was fun and interesting. Thanks Chris (Lawlor-White) for your wonderful hospitality! I would definitely like to go back to Galena and take in more of the wineries in and around that area.

It’s so gratifying to see the wineries in these areas doing so well and making a variety of wines that suit their climate, some dry wines, some sweet and some in between. Their enthusiasm for their products and dedication to their profession is inspiring.

Wine clubs are catching on in these areas, with a few in Iowa and more in Illinois and even more in the planning for a number of wineries. In both states, I tasted some lovely Seyvals (one of my favorite grapes) as well as Marquette and Chambourcin. The French hybrids are doing very well in the Midwest and the wineries understand the grapes as well as the demands of their customers.

The only thing I have to remember when I travel to the Midwest is to make sure that I have plenty to teabags with me, as it’s hard to get a cup of tea in many restaurants. Which is the reason for the title of this blog. But as long as I have terrific people to work with (and the Midwest has plenty of those), can get a good glass of wine, and remember to bring plenty of teabags with me, I am set.

So thanks to the wineries for their wholehearted welcome and to the people who worked hard to put the days of training together. It’s always a pleasure to come to the Midwest and I hope to be back to see you soon! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A tip of the glass (and the cup) from me to you!