Archive for December, 2009

Academy of Wine Communications-FLX: Invitation to our next meeting

Attendees to Our Info Meeting at Heron Hill Winery

Attention Finger Lakes wine PR & marketing professionals:  This is an open invitation to you to our next meeting on Thursday, 12/10/09.  Hope you can join us!  UPDATE 12/7/09: Meeting location is at Ravine’s Wine Cellars, 14630 State Route 54,  Hammondsport, NY 14830. Please RSVP to melissa (dot) dobson (at) avantguild.com before 12:00 noon tomorrow if you’ll be attending.

Hi all,

For those who haven’t discovered us, the Academy of Wine Communications is a group of wine communications pros based in Napa, CA (history http://academyofwine.org/awc/about/history/) with a developing chapter here in the Finger Lakes. Our goal is to bring wine communications professionals together to share and discuss hot topics and the latest developments in the wine PR & marketing industry. Additionally, the AWC strives to provide resources to wine writers and bloggers. We held our first small info meeting last month and now moving forward with our next meeting. We’re planning monthly meetings through April and then will reassess meeting frequency during busy season.

The next meeting of the Academy of Wine Communications-Finger Lakes Chapter is set for next Thursday, 12/10 from 12-1:30, meeting location is still TBD. If you have or can suggest a winery (preferred) or restaurant (that serves a lot of local wines of course!) where we can either bring in our own lunches or order lunch, please reply back ASAP. Also, if you plan to attend, please email me back by Monday to RSVP so that I can plan for the appropriate venue.

Here’s what we have lined up for our next meeting:

* Hot topics

* Recent wine PR/marketing challenges

* Best/worst practices

* Blogger relations

* Chapter Officers

* Meeting calendar through April

* Open floor (as time allows): share current initiatives, recent events ie Spit & Twit, books, resources etc. (please feel free to bring any books, websites etc. to share)

Don’t forget, you can list yourselves on the AWC site’s wine PR directory http://academyofwine.org/awc/resources/wine-pr-directory/

I’d love your help in spreading the word to anyone involved in Finger Lakes wine PR and marketing interested in attending our next meetings. The main home page for the AWC is academyofwine.org, check out the resources tab for: Job Board, Useful Links, Social Media including blogger relations tips. We’re also updating on the Academy of Wine Communications Facebook Fan Page. Your suggestions and feedback are welcome there too. (Will be closing down the AWC-FLX fan page very soon, so please join the main AWC page)

Hope to see you all soon.

Thanks so much!

~Melissa

melissa (dot) dobson (at) avantguild.com

Humbled Wine Consumers Want Luxury Products Made by Real People

Visitors at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards (photo provided by Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards)

Recently, this excerpt resonated with me and I thought of you.  It’s from “What Will 2010 Bring for Fine Wine Sales?” the preliminary findings of Silicon Valley Bank’s  Annual State of the Wine Industry Report for 2010-2011:

“…the fine wine business at some point in the past decade began to believe the product was about an expensive purchase and ego-based conspicuous consumption. The industry now finds a humbled consumer still wanting luxury products, but products made by real
people
, and not just expensive brands without a soul. Each producer has to figure out new ways to touch every one of its consumers in an authentic manner. That is the good news for an industry connected to family business, the earth, and hand made production.”

Keeping this in mind, have you adjusted your PR, marketing and social media efforts to speak to these discerning consumers?  I realize that these types of individualized, personal interactions can be very time consuming.  However, a combination of recurring touches can help your winery to connect with its enthusiasts, their friends and your new customers.  Make your campaigns about them, not all about you.  Thinking about a new event concept or wine club offering?  Ask your customers for feedback, what they like about your current events and wine club, what they would like that’s different, what a comfortable price point is.  Let them get to know your people, your winery dog, your wine club members, that special something that you have to offer that sets you apart from the winery up the road.  And of course, talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on daily at your winery,encourage and answer questions on your Facebook fan page, become a resource of wine information.

My husband and a couple of girlfriends and I took a day and toured a few wineries on Seneca Lake recently.  After our second tasting, we sat out back at one of a group of tables set up for customers to sit and enjoy a bottle on the patio.  We struck up a conversation with a group next to us.  They were regulars to Finger Lakes Wine Country from Maryland.  They were loose with their feelings after a day of tasting and didn’t hold back.  My husband Rich asked them what kept bringing them back to the region, always curious about these things after numerous conversations with me about it.  The most vocal of the bunch didn’t hesitate.  She said point blank, “What brings us back and makes us buy wine here?  It’s all about selling the experience to us.  We visited one winery where the wines were not good at all, but it was a fun place, we enjoyed our time there so we bought some wine.  Then there was another new winery with a young husband and wife as the owners.  They told us their story on how they’re just getting started, we liked their wine but more than anything, we liked them and wanted to buy wine from them, so we did.”

Another example of the loyalty that personalized marketing can make for wineries is illustrated in comment #1 by JLBrown in this recent post by Eric Asimov on the NY Times’ wine blog “The Pour” titled “The Mystery of Marketing” :

The dumbing down/dunderheading of wine marketing makes me crazy.

Want to see a vintner that really gets wine marketing? Check out Hafner Vineyard (http://www.hafnervineyard.com/). I was introduced to their wines several years ago by a direct-mail piece that was so unforced and so evocative of their product that I bought. And bought. And bought. I have become a raging fan.

The product is wonderful, but the personal touch to marketing really sets them apart. They understand that wine is a personal experience, and that they are in the enjoyment business. They do everything possible to make obtaining and enjoying their wines a special, personal experience.

— JLBrown

Okay, these are just a couple of examples, but as much as wine quality is important to sustaining a winery’s business, please don’t forget how important your back story, your dreams and aspirations, your “one thing” that sets you apart, those personal touches by real people…are to your customers.  A few quick things to think about:

  • Does your website, email and newsletter copy come from an authentic voice or does it sound stiff and corporate-y?
  • Does the “About Us” page on your website tell your personal story and philosophy and does it have pictures of the people and maybe the four-leggers that are the core of your winery brand?
  • How does each “touch” feel to your customer?  Will they want to come back to you for more of that feeling and share your story with their friends and family while opening a bottle of your wine?

I wholeheartedly feel that here in the Finger Lakes, the people here, the experience provided, the beauty of the region, the family-owned wineries that feel like home are also very important to many wine tourists as they carefully weigh out where and with whom they’ll spend their money in challenging economic conditions.  What brings your best customers back to see you and purchase wine from you regularly?  What are you doing to emphasize those qualities?

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