Posts Tagged ‘“Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing”’

Announcing Social Media Basics Seminar for Businesses in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Social Media Logos by Sean McColgan.

Have you and your staff been struggling to understand social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr?  Is exploring this something that is still on your to-do list?  Be on the lookout for an email invitation to an upcoming Social Media Basics seminar for businesses in our local community. In part, the invitation reads:

Dear Finger Lakes Wine Country community,

Please join Morgen McLaughlin, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing and Melissa Dobson, owner of Melissa Dobson PR and Marketing, for a full-day session on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 from 10 AM-3 PM at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel to address the basics of social media, answer your questions and talk through how social media platforms can help you to create connections with your customers and drive sales.  This will be an intimate, interactive session where your questions and input will be welcome.

Our goal is to educate you and your staff on the different social media platforms and help you to determine
immediate next steps to get your program planned, up and running.  Details to come, but among the key topics
we’ll flesh out during the session are:

* What is Facebook, Twitter, Open Wine Consortium, Flickr, YouTube, top wine blogs and why should I spend time there?
* How do I engage in social media in an effective manner and elevate my company’s brand to my target audience?
* Best practices/worst practices.
* Who should be the voice of my business?
* Current business examples-social media.
* Blogs:  should I start one?  What do I need to consider?  What are the advantages of engaging via blog comments?
* Why should I care what someone is having for lunch?  Isn’t that a waste of my time?
* How does all of this discussion help me to sell more wine, room nights, and tickets?

I would love to hear your questions on social media here so that Morgen and I can address them during the session.

Check out this recent report from FOX Business News on how Ford Motor Company is using Twitter and other social media platforms to humanize the Ford brand and interact and connect one on one with people in an effort to engage in valuable conversations with them.

In an exchange on Twitter with social media visionary Rodney Rumford, Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company summed up their philosophy on the advantage of engaging on Twitter, “It allows us to humanize the brand by connecting 1:1 with people, and it publicly demonstrates our commitment to conversation.”

Take note:  this type of conversation and engagement is now expected by customers and prospective customers.  It’s an important part of long-tail marketing efforts.  And I think you’ll find it to be a fun and engaging way to attract like-minded customers and keep in touch with your biggest fans.

Preparing for the PALATE Showcase in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Organizers of PALATE

Organizers of PALATE

2008 certainly helped to elevate the image and awareness of the emerging world-class wine region here in the Finger Lakes. But now that we are on the stage, what do we do to keep the spotlight here and turn interest into increased wine sales?

I’m strongly in favor of creating opportunities to get to know the faces, wines, food and art behind the buzz. Events that are intimate, upscale and personal can introduce newcomers to the region and enhance relationships with those already happy to call themselves raving fans. As I’ve mentioned before, the people who make up the industry here are its biggest asset in my opinion.

Next month, I’m proud and terribly excited to be a part of the organizing committee on PALATE: A Wine, Food and Art Showcase in Finger Lakes Wine Country…more specifically here in my city of residence of Corning, NY. I was invited to contribute my ideas to the event by Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, Corning’s Gaffer District and the ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes. Our challenge is to bring all of the ideas for the showcase to life on a shoe-string budget and represent the best offerings of the industry here.

Some of the highlights include:

More to come. It will be fun to capture the excitement of the industry and present an opportunity for wine lovers to meet and experience all that there is to offer here in our wine country. I feel that this event will attract a new breed of wine lover to the region, those who are in the “core drinkers” demographic described as those who drink wine the most, usually several times a week or at least 3 times a month, are responsible for 88% of wine sold in the US and tend to be better educated, more affluent and with more disposable income. (From Wine Marketing & Sales by Paul Wagner, Janeen Olsen and Liz Thach) If you’re a winery who has been looking for opportunities to get in front of these “core drinkers,” this event may be the way to do that. Ultimately, we would love to drive attendees up to the tasting rooms, so we’re exploring ideas to lure them up to your wineries. Let us know what special opportunities you have to offer to PALATE attendees during that week and we’ll help get the word out for you.

Report: American Association of Wine Economists-“Modeling Perceptions Of Locally Produced Wine Among Restauranteurs In New York City”

Manhattan's BAR VELOCE uploaded from BAR VELOCE's flickr stream

Manhattan's BAR VELOCE uploaded from BAR VELOCE's flickr stream

I was just alerted to this paper by Twitter friend Tish of WineForAll.com. The abstract summary of the paper written by Trent Preszler and Todd M. Schmit for American Association of Wine Economists reads,

“Poor perceived product quality, an inadequate sales force, and intense competition from wines produced elsewhere are common reasons cited for why New York wines have not achieved broad acceptance in the New York City (NYC) market. NYC restaurant owners, sommeliers, and chefs were surveyed regarding their perceptions and purchasing decisions of wines grown and bottled in New York State. Factor analysis was applied to examine the structure of interrelationships among key indicators of product perception, and an ordinal logistic regression model was used to identify the characteristics of restaurants that show a strong propensity to adopt local wines. The results indicate that a NYC restaurant’s type of cuisine does not affect its propensity to adopt local wine, nor does a restaurant’s desire to offer a large, geographically diverse wine list. The perceived collective reputation for a wine region’s excellence in one particular grape varietal was found to be the most significant factor in the probability of adoption of local wines in NYC. An important implication of these results is that being local is not enough, and New York winery stakeholders could establish a more prominent presence in NYC by emphasizing their collective reputation for particular grape varietals.”

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Wines produced in New York (NY) have traditionally been shut out of the upscale New York City (NYC) market. Nearly 75 percent of gross revenue at small independent NY wineries is earned directly from consumers in the winery tasting room
  • Market impediments for premium NY wines could be underscored by the long-standing association of NY with high-volume jug wines made using native and French-hybrid grapes.
  • Price is another factor, with lingering doubts by consumers that local wines can justify the same prices as imports.
  • Sommeliers experience wine differently, using intrinsic cues such as flavor, aroma, and color to guide buying decisions, and are driven by different economic motivations.
  • The most important factor influencing wine purchase decisions from this sample of upscale NYC restaurants was the wine’s “Quality for Price Point.”
  • Factors of relatively less importance included “Personal Relationships” that related to personal relationships with wholesalers/distributors or the winery/winemaker , as well as wholesaler/distributor wine recommendations.
  • The absence of strong NY wine sales in NYC is not necessarily due to a predominantly negative image of the product quality, nor to high prices. Instead, low sales in NYC can likely be attributed to the lack of any specific image at all. The regional brand identity of NY wine is not strongly defined because it is not explicitly communicated, and therefore is not universally understood by those who set trends in the culinary industry. A coalescence of marketing goals and principles among NY winery stakeholders could make a difference in this regard.

But wait, with all of the acclaim that Finger Lakes wine, especially Riesling, has garnered this past year, will we see an increase in the adoption of local wines in New York City in the coming years?   A strong, focused effort to communicate a world-class wine message is being made by Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association and the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. (Disclosure:  both are clients of Melissa Dobson PR & Marketing)  Although I have mentioned the locavore trend as one that may help to gain a foothold in the trendy, upscale NYC market, this paper states that “it is simply not enough to base a marketing platform on being local unless it is accompanied by strong associations with excellence and focused production priorities.”

Communicating with sommeliers requires a separate, focused strategy.  This article in Sommelier Journal was a nice one to begin educating them about the region.  Perhaps some follow up with NYC sommeliers is in order, and may be on the agenda already.

It seems clear that the wheels are in motion with communication strategies being executed to elevate the image of the Finger Lakes wine industry and Finger Lakes Wine Country.  As my friend, Michael Wangbickler at Cave Man Wines Blog recently stated while we were speaking about communications strategies, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Is There a Great Divide Among Wine Producers in the Finger Lakes?

As I’ve come to understand more about the present state of the Finger Lakes wine industry, a few key topics seem to bubble up to the top consistently. One that I find to be important is the question of whether or not there is a divide or segmentation of the wine producers here based on the types of grapes being planted and produced by each winery.

The Finger Lakes wine industry has a history steeped in plantings of native varieties such as Concord and Catawba and some of its best-selling wines still reflect a significant demand for these wine varietals as well as for hybrids. It seems that there is a bit of a divide amongst those producers who are catering to this sweet wine-drinking consumer, in some ways the lifeblood of the region, and those who are throwing themselves into producing vinifera varietals such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Franc in a dry style that are attractive to a more sophisticated palate, for those wine geeks and foodies among us.

And I’ve seen wine lists at wineries that incorporate both sweet, native varietals and vinifera. Where is the future of the Finger Lakes in regards to native vs. vinifera? Do you feel a divide amongst producers with one side all for producing the sweeter style wines vs. those who are much more interested in perfecting their vinifera offerings? Will vinifera varietals continue to put the Finger Lakes “on the map” as a serious world-class wine producing region, overshadowing the image that clings to the region because of its history of producing sweet wines? I wonder if there should be a separation in marketing efforts for the two segments. Are the sweet wine-only producers dragging the vinifera producers down in terms of the perception of Finger Lakes Wine Country? Or is there some way to use the diversity of wine offerings available in the Finger Lakes to our advantage and tout the region as one that offers both ends of the spectrum, appealing to many types of wine palate?

Morgen McLaughlin, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, offered these observations on the topic, “I think the reason that many wineries still produce sweet wines is because they sell better in tasting rooms. The drier, vinifera wines do well with journalists, restaurants, retailers, and with certain consumers. The wineries in the Finger Lakes rely heavily on tasting room sales (over 80% of sales for many wineries) and at the end of the day the wineries need to stay in business. Even those producers who focus on dry-style vinifera wines have at least one “cash cow” wine. Maybe not always a native or hybrid blend, but something with residual sugar. Most people talk dry but drink sweet. Why do you think Kendall Jackson has sold so much Chardonnay. They added some residual sugar and saw their sales skyrocket.”

(Full disclosure: I work with Morgen and Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association on projects on a regular basis)