Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend my first WITS – the Wine Industry Technology Symposium. While i have often wanted to attend, my work obligations prevented it. Until now.
Why was I so excited about this event? Primarily because, and if you’ve been reading this blog for some time you know, at long last technology is successfully and measurably crashing in to wine industry.
WITS brings together industry professionals, technology leaders, social media gurus, and people that work with the tools and the people so mentioned. As a career software professional, with an emphasis on CRM and CRM based ecosystems, I have always championed the use of technology to make you work faster, smarter and more successfully – with less human capital.
Gone (or perhaps while not gone, greatly reduced as people begin to deeply feel the pain of isolated databases) are the days when siloed solutions work for businesses; particularly in the wine industry, having databases of wine club members here, and then a database of DTC customers there, along with trade and media over yonder, is disjointed and confusing in the best of circumstances. It presents challenges, and what is interesting is that while these challenges are not as unique as the industry would like to believe, many in the adult beverage industry have shied away from technology as a part of the solution to these problems. Today, in 2014, with the number of technology companies that are customized specifically to the wine industry, this paradigm is shifting. Small companies are no longer to able to function without a centralized data warehouse and streamlined system of record.
By building a better mousetrap, leveraging existing technology and tools, businesses can uncover more information and truths about their customer behavior that can lead to smarter sales. But, Social CRM, Social Listening, and Digital marketing are augmentations to existing customer database tools. And in this case, a customer is a customer – whether we are talking about DTC, trade, a distributor, or the media. It’s how you handle each type of customer that matters. It is impossible to build a successful social CRM (sCRM) program on top of a black hole of data; first – build the mousetrap. Then, build it better.
CRM is, at the most basic level, the tool that you use, to manage the complete cycle of customer information. This can include anything up to and including wine club orders, online orders, and email marketing tracking, but it doesn’t have to. Those are all add-ons that augment your core information.
One of the most important factors in today’s market is social CRM (sCRM); as an adjunct to traditional CRM, sCRM allows you to find, track, and respond to what your customers or potential customers are saying about you. Why? You might be asking yourself. Simply put, listening to what is being said about you allows you to be proactive; this can also be a marketing tool. More importantly, sCRM allows you to engage with your customers are a personal level. If you haven’t figured it out by now, engagement is king. If you aren’t’ engaging, you might as well be dead. How and where you engage can vary (more on that in a later post) but engage you must.
The good news is that today, with tools ranging from as simple as Google alerts and the free version of Hootsuite, to Hootsuite premium and Vintank, all the way up to Radiant6 and more advanced marketing automation platforms, businesses can make engagement easy. But to do so, you need to be tracking, alerting, and responding to these touchstones. Customers want you to engage with them and if you don’t – they will drop you like a bad box of wine. Do you know what your customers are saying about you? How do you respond? Just take a look at some prime examples from Twitter and Facebook, in response to Comcast or Frontier Airlines. Listening is key, but responding is king.
With the use of some tools and human expertise, you can find new paths in to in depth knowledge at your fingertips. The benefit of a CRM solution in the cloud, or Software as a Service (SaaS) is that they are not one size fits all. CRM solutions are flexible, customizable, collaborative and unique. They allow you to integrate multiple tools in a single ecosystem. The most successful examples combine CRM, marketing automation, digital marketing, and inventory management in a single solution network, but you can start small and build your way up as your business grows.
So ditch the Excel spreadsheets and join the revolution! Social CRM doesn’t exist in a bubble, but it is the new methodology for businesses. The tools available to you today can be inexpensive and easy to use (though inflexible), all the way to custom implementations, and all the way in between. True CRM allows you to manage and build upon your relationships with your customers. My personal belief is that you need several components that all work together to provide data analysis, tracking, and listening abilities. What those solutions are, depend on your budget, needs and size.
For more of my thoughts on CRM in wine, please see:
Why Your Wine Business Needs CRM
Still have questions? Comment here or reach out!
How did we get here AGAIN. I feel like we’ve had this conversation every year, since the year I began blogging. Initially, it was a question of bloggers, online writers, whatever you want to call us, being irrelevant because we were the unknown factor. Then it was an issue of credibility. Now, it would appear, that a few people have taken it to the opposite extreme, and make a leap to the assumption that we are irrelevant because no one is reading us due to overload.
While it may be true that people don’t read wine blogs the way they “used to”, it’s also true that there are a lot more of them out there. Many of those are noise, and not as impactful as the handful of those who have been writing for more than a year and are a known entity in the blogosphere.
According to a post by The Hosemaster of Wine (take this with a grain of salt people, regardless of where it was published), no one reads wine blogs. No one? That’s a curious statistic given my analytics and inquiries from interested parties who clearly read my content and ask questions, inquire about engagement, or ask me for ideas or speaking proposals. The industry is interested and reading wine blogs, because they are seeking ways on how to engage with bloggers; the proof of this is all around us: at the International Wine Toursim Conference in 2011, I discussed engaging bloggers, and this year at the Wine Tourism Conference, I will again be discussing who wine bloggers are, and how to work with them.
I think the key takeaways here are that you need to ensure that your blog and posts are relevant, engaging, and frankly – interesting. Clearly, people are tuning out copy cat tasting notes, badly done videos, and the like.
However, the accusation that wine blogs have turned in to online diaries of what I ate this week is missing the mark. Wine, in the context of a person’s life, is relevant when paired with life activities. Which would you rather read? This Cabernet was tasty. I had it alone, while sitting at my desk. Or, this cab went deliciously well with my steak Diane as it brought out the flavors of x, y, and z.
Clearly, people DO love a good story and are seeking that information on these blogs. Which brings me to a great segway — this year at the Wine Bloggers Conference, one of the sessions will be focusing on creating compelling content. This is a critical skill to have, and if you are finding yourself losing traffic, or not engaging your audience, then you need to be at this conference.
For me, I am all about engagement. I speak at wine related conferences regarding engagement. I tell people about engagement. I will also be speaking at the Wine Bloggers Conference about Positioning Your Blog. This is a great time to rethink what you are writing about and why, and think about how you might be tuning out your audience. Do you even know who your audience is?
I engage with people every day as a part of my job. They might be strangers, but I am required to network to be successful. Blogging is no different. I might not tell every winery that i visit that I am wine writer, but when I talk to people about wine, if the conversation comes up, yes I will mention it. I am connecting with them, and they are engaging with me. The vast majority of my readers are not wine bloggers. Most of my readers are first time visitors, who were searching for specific information.
Yes, there is wine blog fatigue. So don’t be boring! Make the story take center stage. Engage your audience in the story of the wine, and how you found the wine. I say throw caution to the wind and talk about the weather that day, if you were in the Alps, or in Dry Creek Valley. All of these factors contribute to the story, which is the central point of the blog.
Even those blogs that are purely tasting notes can still be engaging and interesting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Search. Connect. Engage. Search for content that is meaningful to you and your target audience, in keeping with your blog’s theme or goals. Connect with your audience, whether that is on social media or directly from your blog. Engage with that audience by being an interactive part of their wine world.
As I unpack my bags from my adventures in Croatia & Italy at the International Wine Tourism Conference next week, I am often asked why do you do it? Why do you blog? And, more importantly, why do you go to this Wine Bloggers Conference, every year, in the odd locations and the cool, in less flush times and not?
Well, I’ll tell you. It started in 2008, at the “Flaming-O” (Flamingo) in Santa Rosa. That was the beginning of a core group of intensely dedicated and passionate wineaux that also loved to write. Back then, six years ago, (holy cripes!) it was a smaller group and the conference was just an experiment.
Who were these upstart wine bloggers? Why were we all getting together? There were no end to the questions, but – we were overwhelmingly well received by the Sonoma County wine and tourism scene. So much so, that many connections I made that first year are now dear friends and colleagues. Several have gone on to more luminous careers in the wine industry.
The following year, I was so excited by my developing blog and writing style, and my blossoming friendships, that of course – I returned to the Flamingo or WBC09. There, divided between Napa and Sonoma, we explored more wine, culture, and the being of a blogger. Once again, despite Napkin-Gate (you know who you are), it was an educational, hilarious, convivial, liquid weekend of passion and education.
In 2010, we were invited to Walla Walla, Washington to explore the eastern Washington terroir. Of course I went, off with anticipation and gusto. What is this W2 wine? How will it taste? Mind you, I first stopped in Portalnd, for the most memorable experience at any WBC to date; The Double Decker Donut Decadence Wine Tour! A select group of blogger
brethren hopped on PDX Double Decker, a converted London City Bus, and hit the road to the Willamette, fueled on sugar and caffeine. I will never forget that trip, and we had Part Deux in Carlton this past year.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, before we meandered off to Virginia for WBC11, I had made fast friends with Mary, Doug, Liza, Amy & Joe and more. As a result, we created our own label of sparkling wine, an effort to embody the sparkling personality of ourselves, and our shared passions. I still have 4 bottles stashed away somehow. Can I smuggle one to Penticton?
In Virginia, I met East Coast that I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet, and tasted some…interesting…wine in impossibly hot weather. Yes, there were great Cab Francs and lovely Chards. And then I got food poisoning. The most memorable tweet from that event must have been “Where’s Thea? She’s not tweeting! Is she dead?” To which I replied “No, but I wish I was” as I prayed to the porcelain god for 3 days.
Fully recovered and squealing with glee, we headed up to Portland last August for what is probably the largest gathering of wine writers, wine industry professionals, wine amateurs who wanted to party, and a smattering of Quixicotals and maybe Shriners. You’re probably wondering what happens when you mix these people together: the answer – nothing good. Though the Quixicotal wives really did like wine and were happy to take spare samples off our hands as way of apology for the loud crew taking over.
So why do I travel around the country (and the world) to blog? Why do I spend a great deal of tiem and money travelling for wine, drinking wine, learning about wine ? Simple, it’s my passion. Discovering new regions and experiencing the people and wine culture are an eye in to their lives. Learning from other writers helps me writer better. Every year, every conference, every bottle, hones my skill and helps me determine my best self in my best voice. Yes, that voice changes year to year, month to month. Passions change. Directions shift.
But it’s still me. And it’s still about the story. The story of the friendships I have made over 6 years of blogging and WBC events; the story of every bottle of wine; the story of the new winery that happens to be owned by someone I lived next door to when I was 8; the story of how wine tourism has evolved; the story of my personal adventures in wine tourism.
So, it is with great anticipation, and Veteran status ribbons, that I look forward to Penticton in June. It’s my birthday weekend, and it’s another region for me to explore and think about.
Why do you blog? Why do you drink wine? I write about wine because it’s my passion, and I attend these conferences and network with other writers for community.
Thank you to MyWineConcierge.com at TheWinedUp.Net for reminding me about the passion and the reason I do this, and providing us with an opportunity to stay at the Penticton Lakeside Resort for free! And in case you were wondering, The Wined Up is donating $5 for every entry to the contest to the WBC Scholarship for every entry, so get on it!
- April 2, 2013
- bloggers, Social media, special events, Wine Bloggers Conference, Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship
- contests , The Wined Up , WBC Scholarship
- 7101Comments (2)The+Wine%26%23039%3Bd+ing+up+to+the+Wine+Bloggers+Conferene2013-04-02+14%3A13%3A05winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D7101
As we leap in to 2013, I am gearing up for a year of possibilities; a year of trips; a year of experiences; a year of wine! I am excited to be participating in the 2013 Internatinoal Wine Tourism Confernece, this year in Zagreb, Croatia. As i prepare for that adventure, I am reflecting back on what I have learned about wine tourism over the past 2 years, since I was in Portuagal at the 2011 Wine Tourism Conference.
Wine tourism is an ever evolving thing. At it’s core, it is the travel and tourism of people that are seeking destinations orbiting wine and food. But, it is an evolving industry. There is a boom in growth in wine culture, in the US, and internationally.
Those who define themselves as wine tourists tend to be more affluent, with a higher level of education and also tend to spread the word about their experiences when they return home. With over 90% of wine tourism happening as an adjunct to visiting friends & family, there is an untapped market that is ripe for the picking.
Given that, in my small area, there are over 1000 wineries, with more than 2000 in the state of California, how do you stand out? How do you identify your target audience, and attract them to your business? As a wine tourist myself, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number of offerings in a small wine region. Selecting which establishments will benefit from my business is always a taxing exercise. When I am alone, I target places I have never been. However, how do I select destinations when I am in a group? What makes you stand out? Being unique and being intriguing is a key factor in this over saturated market.
As I plan my trip to Croatia, the state of wine tourism in the US and beyond is in the forefront of my mind. After being piqued by the conversations that occurred at the 2012 Wine tourism Conference in Santa Rosa, I am excited to explore this topic more. While I had already set my discussion topic (with my fellow blogger and co-presenter Liza Swift of BrixChicks) I am infinitely curious about what other people do to attract wine tourists to their regions. I spontaneously broke in to lengthy (geek) discussions while in Portland recently about how their evolving urban wine scene is unique to the area, and different from the Willamette Valley (more on that later).
In California, there is so much more to wine tourism than the well known grape producing regions of Napa & Sonoma. There is an entire culture of wine and food that is a large economic part of the state’s bottom line. But, outside of those primary tourism destinations, and perhaps some of the regions made famous in Sideways or Bottle Shock, do you know about the smaller, alternative destinations? Creating a brand identity for an international tourism audience is paramount to success. You don’t want to be foreever known as the winery where Miles drank from the spit bucket, or one that produces (gasp!) Merlot, if you can’t express why your Merlot is out of this world. This is true for any wine region that wishes to enhance their wine tourism audience.
So, as I get ready to pack my bags, and investigate wine tourism around the world, I task you to think about these two things:
1. If you are wine tourism business, what are you doing to create a unique message to attract visitors?
2. If you are a wine tourist, what attracts you to a new (to you) business? What keeps bringing you back to your favorites?
- January 9, 2013
- California, Media, PR, random musings, Regions, Social media, special events, Travel
- BrixChicks , International Wine Tourism Conference , IWineTC , wine , wine tourism , Wine Tourism Conference
- 5819Comments (8)What+exactly+is+this+wine+tourism+thing%3F2013-01-09+15%3A35%3A02winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D5819
I’m sitting here in the lobby of the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, at the 2nd annual Wine Tourism Conference, in Santa Rosa, with fond memories of the Wine Bloggers Conferences of 2008 and 2009. The buzz is certainly different, with industry reps. tour operators, writers, and print media outlets, but the buss is here.
Spending a brief morning at the trade show, I saw many faces I knew, but I also saw many faces I didn’t. Up and coming wine regions that you would not think of were represented, and I was looking forward to learning more about them.
All sorts of industry professionals were represented, including tour operators, wineries, tourism associations, PR firms, and of course – those pesky bloggers! I was looking forward to both getting to know these great group of people ,but also learning what the challenges in the industry are, and how we, as new media representatives can help.
Of particular interest to me were the challenges that individual regions have attracting visitors to their wine destinations. Both on a personal and semi professional level, the topic fascinates me. Additionally, the age old question of how ot engage with social media and how to utilize new media. I am a social media freak, and if you have known me since the first Wine Bloggers Conference, you know that I am also a twitterholic. While some of this has waned in recent years due to professional and personal obligations, it is still a fiery passion.
In addition to my social meida addiction, I am passionate about finding out how I can help bring the wine business in to the 21st century uses the tgools of the trade. These tools include CRM but also include business practices and methodologies that are universal across businesses.
So, where can wine take you? Stay tuned this week and I give you some of my insights, ideas, eye opening moments, and observations from the Wine Tourism Conference.
- November 26, 2012
- bloggers, education, events, Media, PR, Social media, special events, technology, Travel
- CRM , Flamingo Hotel , Santa rosa , Sonoma county , wine tourism , Wine Tourism Conference , WINETC
- 5803Comments (0)Where+can+wine+take+YOU%3F2012-11-26+06%3A14%3A37winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D5803
This week marks my 9th Dreamforce, the annual user conference for Salesforce.com. As one of the largest (ok maybe the largest) CRM tool – at it’s core SFDC provides the basic building blocks of a CRM tool. Of course, now, 15 years later, it’s so much more than that. This week promises to be a bit of a crazy one, as usual, filled with great sessions, learning experiences, networking, and dare I say parties.
As I get my body ready for the anticipated lack of sleep, and over filled brain, now is a great time to refocus on the fact the wine & CRM are a natural match. The philosophy of Customer Relationship Management is one that has been struggling with in the wine industry. In 2012, only a handful of software companies have solutions that suit the wine industry, but even fewer industry companies are getting the concept of CRM as a tool. That is changing, and the next few years are an exciting time.
Why does your wine business need CRM? We all know it’s a tight market out there. How do you plan to sell more wine this year? How do you plan to segment your customer base? Too many times do I get emails from wineries that don’t know my needs or wants. Why aren’t you paying attention to me as your customer? You know I bought 5 cases of pinot last year, so what are you doing with that data/ world of the customer?
Keeping in mind that CRM is not a four letter word, many potential customers are scared off by the very concept as a 400 pound gorilla. Putting the technology on the backburner for a minute, the methodology is the first hurdle to overcome to a successfully customer relationship philosophy. Viewing the big picture is, and should be, the end goal of a consumer focused business.
As I head off to the conference, now is a great time to share some posts about CRM as well as my interview with Paul Mabray, founder of Vintank, about the future of CRM and technology in the wine industry. Where will the wine industry go from here? How can we help you get there?
Get your creative juices flowing and start thinking about CRM! For news from the field, please follow #df12 and my twitter alias!
I’ve often said that relationships will get you farther than anything in this world. Whether that is a romantic relationship, a business relationship or a platonic relationship, it is that connection and interaction that forms the road to future endeavors.
Recently, at the Wine Bloggers Conference, three winery representatives formed a panel to discuss the winery view of bloggers. Hot on the heels of How Bloggers Influence the Wine World, this session was a lively conversation between the established media, digital media, and three winery employees.
Ed Thralls is a wine blogger who is now working at the Windsor family of wineries in social media marketing. Christopher Watkins is the manager of retails sales & hospitality at the Monte Bello tasting room for Ridge Vineyards, and also the author of 4488: A Ridge Blog. Finally, Sasha Kadey is the Director of Marketing for King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon and is active in social media.
Here, with three very different examples of winery views, as well as bloggers, we discussed how winery work with bloggers, how bloggers can make themselves more visible to wineries, and what they look for in a partnership. These three are some of the biggest fans of social media and bloggers, and work hard to ensure that they are engaged with the blogging community and that bloggers are engaged with them.
Bloggers, and digital media in general, has the unique ability to be agile and fast. There are very few mediums as flexible as the online writer has access to. Gone are the days of paper galleys that go for approval, and are they print in large batches. Today, we have the ability to not only write on the fly, but also edit that on the fly. Change your thoughts on a topic, and it is a simple process to edit and add a note to a post after the fact, and call attention to that. Digital media, according to Watkins, affords the writer flexibility and leverage that cannot be accomplished in other environments. Digital writers can maximize, and should maximize the tools they have access to, since they cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Thralls, who began his wine career and social media campaign as a blogger himself, now runs the social media marketing efforts or a large winery family of brands. He goes on to state that the relationship with bloggers and writers is different today than it has been with traditional PR and writers. Because of this, it’s necessary to pitch them differently. Gone are the the days of email blasts to the bloggers on his list; bloggers and online media require a different approach and different engagement.
Conversely, bloggers who are pitching wineries also need a different tactic. Bloggers should not be intimidated about approaching wineries. As we discussed in the Are Bloggers Influential session, as an online writer, we need to go out and make it happen. But that doesn’t mean that the thousands of wine bloggers should all pitch the same winery or brand in the same way. How are you unique? How do you stand out? The opportunities are endless as wineries are flattered any time a blogger reaches out and expresses interest in covering your brand in any way.
As a blogger, it’s important to build relationships with wineries and wine tourism, but you need to have a pitch in mind. It’s far easier to write about a wine that you are having for dinner, but what can you do to stand out? It’s harvest season right now; that means wineries are a hive of activity, and a wealth of information. Have you approached your local winery or region about staying in a guest house so you can be the first one up at the early light of dawn, to watch the grapes come in? We have the unique ability to dig around behind the scenes and learn details about an operation.
As a blogger, we are one of the many. There are literally thousands of “wine blogs” in the US today, and many thousands moire around the world. How can we stand out at a winery and make them take notice of us? This actually isn’t very complicated – it’s all about expressing interest. We can do that by being active, writing regularly, being passionate, and engaging with the blogging and wine business community. This is more important, according to the panel, than maintaining a narrow focus of content on our blogs.
One method that wineries use to measure this interaction and passion is the relative activity level in social media. with Klout being a hallmark (more on that later) of social engagement these days, it is one method to gauge how active a writer is in the greater online community. Unfortunately, Klout has changed some measurements of social influence and is no longer the best method for measuring these things. Smart winery markets know this and also look at engagement on tools such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blog commentary. It’s all about engagement. All three of the panelists agree that the full cycle of engaging with the community is much more important than someone who blogs frequently.
Another factor that wineries are looking for is a clear and individual voice. When developing your blog style, it’s critical to use your own voice and maintain that clearly and consistently. your voice is your key. That said, each brand is looking for different people. While you might be appropriate for Big Label with an Animal, you might not be appropriate for Small Winery on a Mountain Top.
In the end, i’ts about being authentic and staying true to who you are. There is an attraction to your uniqueness that wineries will flock to. Doin’t blog, just for the sake of blogging; make sure you have something to say, and even better, something to say that is unique. quality is better than quantity. Engagement is better than one directional conversation.
When you are fully engaged in social media, you are active on multiple platforms, and engaging on multiple levels. Evidence of this engagement, whether it’s using Alexa, Kred, or Klout as a baseline, is more important than large amounts of followers or frequent posts. To engage your audience is to build your audience and build your credibility.
While there have been a few examples of bad blogger politics, whereas the offenders are clearly digging for free tastings, samples, or experiences, the vast majority of bloggers are honest and integrous people who are looking to learn and share their experiences. Relationships with bloggers build the long tail consumer business that a winery thrives on. If you build a relationship you build a customer for life; conversely, if you sell a bottle of wine, you sell a bottle of wine.
So, where will you go from here?
- September 17, 2012
- bloggers, education, Media, random musings, Social media, technology, Wine Bloggers Conference, wine blogs
- bloggers , blogging , Christopher Watkins , Ed Thralls , King Estate , ridge monte bello , Sasha Kady
- 4285Comments (13)The+View+from+the+Top2012-09-17+14%3A45%3A17winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D4285
I’m still catching up and formulating my thoughts about the Wine Bloggers Conference, but as I do so, I thought I’d share with you another conference that I’m excited about. Ok actually two conferences!
First, in November, I will be attending the Second Annual Wine Tourism Conference, here on my home turf of Santa Rosa. Last year, 200+ wine tourism professionals, bloggers, and media attended the first conference in Napa. Due to popular demand the conference is now an annual event, run by our friends at Zephyr Adventures (the folks that brought us the WBC).
The Wine Tourism Conference (WineTC) was created, inspired (at least in my opinion and observation) by the International Wine Tourism Conference, to provide hard information about the important and growing industry of wine tourism in your region, as well as the region that conference is held in. Spawned by the International Wine Tourism Conference (more on that below), the WineTC attracts wineries, wine tourism professionals, wine associations, tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, PR professionals and media who writes about wine and tourism.
Please follow on twitter using the hashtag #winetourismconference for all the lastest news!
The second upcoming conference that i will be participating in is the 2013 International Wine
Tourism Conference. This time,
the event will take me to Zagreb, Croatia! I can’t tell you how excited I am to learn about the area and some of the wines of the region. I look forward to spending a few extra days exploring the region; after all, Croatia is the birthplace of zinfandel.
You may remember that in 2011 I travelled to Porto, Portugal to speak at the IWINETC on topics of engaging bloggers (view my slides). This time, I will be teaming up with my friend and fellow blogger Liza Swift of Brix Chicks to discuss new ways of attracting wine tourists to your hidden gem of a region.
- September 3, 2012
- bloggers, education, events, Media, PR, Social media, special events, Travel, Wine Bloggers Conference
- International Wine Tourism Conference , IWineTC , Wine Tourism Conference
- 4856Comments (2)We+interrupt+this+train+of+thought...2012-09-03+14%3A00%3A00winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D4856
Wow! My recent post on the need for CRM in the wine world has really sparked some inspired conversation. This is an exciting time, as the more people are talking and thinking about CRM for the wine industry, the more educated they can become.
Today, Silicon Valley Bank presented their annual State of the Wine Business webinar, which reinforced the need for an integrated CRM solution at even the smallest wine business; the ability to capture, track, manipulate, and analyze data is capital if you are trying to grow a business in this ultra-competitive market.
And still, wrapping your heads around the concept of CRM as a communication methodology as well as a technology is a tricky proposition, and even as an experienced professional it is something that takes time and education to accomplish. As the wine industry is notoriously slow to adopt new tools & technologies, they continue to struggle. This however, appears to be the year of change. As markets become younger, and boomers begin to age out of the fine wine market, the GenXers are a huge market force ready to take their place. With the dot com mentality of the 34-49 year olds, we are better situated financially and more aware of the enabling technologies that can benefit the industry.
One of the most important topics of conversation has been why smaller wineries should adopt a CRM philosophy (and therefore a tool), and how it can benefit them. In addition, the question of what tool to use is key. To help wade through the milieu, here are some of my thoughts on that.
First, do you currently think in a CRM frame of mind? Keeping in mind that CRM is a mindset as well as a tool, do you understand the full picture of your customer data? Do you want to? There are several CRM solutions you can choose from. But before you even start thinking about what tool to use, you need to be prepared to shift your business practices and thinking in to a CRM frame of mind.
CRM need not be a 500 pound gorilla on your back, nor is it a four letter word. The mere mention of the acronym can draw snark from even the most tech savvy people, and makes small to midsize wineries cringe with fear. Remember that CRM is a business practice and philosophy first and foremost, and enabling technology second. You may not be aware that your current solutions architecture (website, ecommerce, emarketing solution) may already have some inherent CRM functions within. Investigate your existing systems to see what you can leverage.
The important thing is that you find a tool that allows you to view all aspects of your customer data in a single source and that you are not replicating databases across multiple systems. The impact of having siloed databases can wreak havoc, result in multiple versions of the same customer, mass emailing snafus and general grumpiness from both the customer and your employees who are wrangling the data.
There are solutions for all budgets, from simple and low cost, to complex, customizable and more costly. The question is, what do you want to do? What is your business or marketing goal? Can you get there with your current data and tools? How much time and money are you willing to invest? Do you have the visibility to the data you need at your fingertips?
Have questions? Need help? Drop me a line.
- April 17, 2012
- Social media, technology
- CRM , Relationship Management , salesforce , SFDC , Silicon Valley Bank , Social media , State of the Wine Industry , tools , wine , wine business
- 3078Comments (0)CRM+is+not+a+four+letter+word2012-04-17+17%3A20%3A07winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D3078
Rhone baby. That is the word of the month! Happy March 1st, and happy Rhoning. If you haven’t guessed by now, you should have your wine glass packed, and your taste buds ready for a Rhonetastic celebration!
On March 24-25th more than 100 producers of American Rhone wines will be on hand in San Frnacisco to pour over 500 wines to delight your taste buds.
The Rhone Rangers tasting is the largest gathering of American Rhones in the country, and you and 1999 oif your closest vinopanions will be able to taste some pretty stellar examples of the Rhoney juice.
This year, there are several swoon worthy events:
Saturday, March 24
Rare Wines – Taste the Unusual
It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone…It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone
Oh sorry, Tom Jones just popped in to my head. But really, when you think about the unusual Rhones, I hear Picpoul to Counoise screaming out. This seminar will be an indepth tasting and discussion about the whackiest and rarest Rhone wines you can think of. Bourboulenc anyone?
Wine & Swine, A pairing of American Rhones with Bacon – ba-ba-bacon? And wine? Say no more. I mean really. Wine bloggers are known for their obsession with bacon. I don’t know why, but somewhere in the bylaws of wine bloggerdom, it states “thou shalt have bacon” and “no bacon shall go untouched”. And since everything tastes better with bacon, especially chocolate and caramel covered bacon, and with wine, this is going to be an amazing seminar. Trust me, I’ll be there.
Finally on Saturday night…
Gonna keep on dancin’ to the
rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night
Yes, the Bay City Rollers will be appearing live on stage at the Firehouse!
Ok fine, not really, but a girl can dream. In reality, 17 wineries will be hosting the Winemaker Dinner at the recently renovated and oh so swanky General’s Residence at Fort Mason. My friends at The Girl & The Fig (drool) will be catering this debauchery laden event, and you can meet & greet those winemakers
brave enough pairing their wares with the scrumptious vittles.
After diner, a live auction aka Fight Club will be featuring wine, unique wine country experiences and travel packages donated by the host winemakers. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to help educate the next generation of American Rhone winemakers.
Sunday, March 25
If you have survived Saturday, Sunday’s seminar will be showcasing Love, American Style, aka Syrah. Cool climate, warm climate, 10% co-fermented with viognier, no viognier, purple die, que syrah syrah. People do strange things with syrah in there here parts, and you can figure out what you like (or don’t) for yourself.
Teeth purple yet? Well hang on because it’s time for The Grand Tasting. Over 500 Rhoney wines from American producers will be poured, spilled, swirled, and sniffed at the Grand Tasting. Food trucks and vendors will be around to help you soak up all that delicious wine so bring cash.
Ready to get your Rhone on? Tickets are now on sale and the public is invited to purchase them online at www.rhonerangers.orgor call (800) 467-0163. Ticket prices are as follows:
- Weekend Pass: $185 – All seminars and VIP Grand Tasting
- Winemaker Dinner & Auction – $150
- Grand Tasting – $45
- VIP Grand Tasting (includes early admission) – $75
- Seminar 1 – Strange & Unusual – $45
- Seminar 2 – Swine & Wine – $65
- Seminar 3 – Syrah $55
I have a pair of tickets to give away to ONE lucky reader! Let’s face it, no one likes to drink alone. Or rather go to a wine festival alone. Except for me. So, to enter, in the comments below – tell me what Rhone you would pair with bacon and why. Yes bacon! You guys know I cannot resist a good pork product! For bonus entries, tell me who producers said wine in the US. Ticket contest runs today through Friday, March 9th. Winners selected at random from comments.
Meanwhile, I will be galavanting around Priorat, researching Iberian Rhones. Yep. Research. Such hard work this!
Happy February everyone! I can hardly belive it’s still “winter” here in San Francisco, given that it’s in the mid 70s, and the sun is shining. Time to get out and enjoy some crisp sparkling delicious Cava!
Cava is Spain’s version of sparkling wine, traditionally made from indigenous white varieties – Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada. Most Cava is made in Catalonia, a region at the north east tip of Spain. Cava must also be made in the méthode champenoise, whereas sparkling wine made in other (shall we say, less than desirable in my opinion) methods may only be called vinos espumosos (sparkling wines).
I am so excited that in 3 short weeks, I will be spend a whirlwind week, learning all about this magical elixer, from the masters of Segura Viudas.
Some of the activities I will be participating in are:
- An Assemblage master class, where we learn about the traditional cava grapes, terroir, region and climate.
- A blending session, where we will learn to create our own special bubbly blend
- A cooking class to learn about the regional cuisine
- Meals paired with the wines of the region
- A side trip to Priorat, one of my favorite regions. Did someone say Garnacha? Monastrell? Garnacha Blanca? Pack me a straw!
And did I mention, they are rather fond of jamon in Spain?
And now, a bit more about my hosts, Segura Viudas:
Segura Viudas has developed a reputation as a premium cava producer, with the property dating back to the 11th century. The brand was born in 1959, and the wines were first released in 1969. The Ferrer family of Barcelona, who owns brands like Gloria Ferrer and Frexinet, purchased the estate in the 1980s making it a global competitor.
I’m looking forward to learning more about cava and the Catalonia region of Spain! As you might now, I was in Spain & Portugal last year, when I spoke at the International Wine Tourism Conference. At that time, I took some extra time and explored Madrid, Rioja, and the northern regions, so this will be a great way to round out my Spanish adventure. I wonder if I can accidentally miss my return flight and get lost in Barcelona?
Watch out for tweets and posts from the road! Can I do this all with just my iPad? I hope so!
Wine does a lot of things to people. It evokes joy, it livens your tastebuds, it might even make you melancholy. It can also make you a little Sideways. When last we saw erstwhile Miles and sidekick Jack in the novel Sideways (and the subsequent movie which while it’s one of my favorite wine movies ever, is not exactly true to the book…ok most movies aren’t but still. If you haven’t read the book READ THE BOOK!) Jack was married (perhaps ill advisedly) and Miles was reconnecting with The One – Maya.
Now, several years have passed, and Vertical explores Miles’ life after Santa Barbara. If you remember Sideways, you know that Miles has a troubled relationship with his mother. Now aging and unwell, Miles has the unwelcome task of caring for her, and helping her move to another state so she can spend her final days with her estranged sister.
Miles has tried and failed, and tried again, quit drinking, and is attempting to ride out the success of his now published novel, without much luck. The demands of his publishes and commitments for press engagements are pushing him in to a hole as deep as the one he was in when the book wasn’t publishable at all.
Bring in Jack, who’s philandering ways and hard drinking habits have now landed him in hot water woith his now ex-wife.
Both a buddy road trip story and a bittersweet look at the life of two middle aged best friends, Vertical explores the relationships of two friends, for good or bad, as they muddle through the difficulties of every day life, love, alcohol abuse and aging parents.
Vertical is tragically sad in places, and hilariously funny in others, in a way sideways was not. I find it much more real, honest, and open in looking at the realities of life.
I can’t recommend this follow up enough, particularly if you read the book Sideways, and didn’t just watch the movie. Vertical follow it up with the realities of fame, the perils of life, and how you balance the two.
I’m thrilled to announce that Rex will be speaking in person at the 10th Annual Pinot Summit on February 25th in San Francisco. After hosting a #winechat twitter session a few weeks ago, I find him engaging, self deprecating, humorous and absolutely delightful. You can follow him on Twitter as well.
I hope you can join us for this one of a kind event! Tickets are $130 for a full day of Pinot tasting, educational seminars, and the Grand Awards. Alternatively, you can opt for the Grand Awards tasting only.
I am trying to do more book reviews now. I read like someone from Freaks & Geeks, and occasionally I get press copies for review. This one however, I bought for myself.
Participating Wineries – some of my faves are on this list!
- Villa Maria
- Kumeu River
- Craggy Range
- Vinoptima (Gewurtztraminer)
- Trinity Hill
- Ata Rangi
- Cloudy Bay
- Saint Clair
- Spy Valley (Envoy series)
- Pegasus Bay
- Felton Road
- Mt Difficulty
- Quartz Reef
Wine: The final frontier
These are the voyages of the Wine Brat, Thea.
Its 5 year mission (yep, it’s true. I’ve been blogging for five years!)
To explore strange new wines
To seek out new bottles and new producers
To boldly go where no wine blogger has gone before.
These are the voyages of a wine bloggers writer and lover, trying to discover more about herself and her passion for the grape.
Recently back from a weekend in Virginia at the Wine Bloggers Conference, where both New York Times wine critfc Eric Asimov and London Financial Times wine writer Jancis Robinson gave a key note speeches, my thoughts are jumbled and varied as I think about how to be a better blogger.
Both Jancis Robinson and Eric Asimov challenge the word, and somewhat the concept – of blogger. Is "blogger" still really a valid term? Bloggers are wine writers who chose to publish on line. Traditional print media authors choose to publish on paper. Writing is what brings us all together, today. Love, true love (of the vine). I am still getting used to this idea. I am a proud blogger and I like to refer to myself that way, because if I call myself a wine writer, the mass public naturally assumes that I write for a publication. Perhaps we should be called "online wine writers".
As wine writers, Jancis challenged us to do more investigative research before we blog. Er write. While the core value of this makes sense, I question the validity of her challenge; I am not a journalist, nor do i wish to be one. While the most successful wine bloggers (not in terms of making money but in readership) have similar core writing styles, none of them assume or claim to be journalists. Nor do I. I try to be accurate and truthful in my writing, but in the end – my blog is just my blog, and musings of what I feel like talking about. one of the major reasons that I decided not to pursue writing with an online wine magazine was because I didn’t want to be subject to the editorial rules that come with being a professional writer. I write this blog so I can express my thoughts in a meaningful way, and I hope that you enjoy reading it, and share with others.
One vital point that Jancis made during her speech was that writers, print or otherwise, need to sit up and take notice that while the book is not dead, the delivery method of the written word is changing. Online, kindle, ebook readers, print, newspapers, magazine. Essentially, they are all the same thing – but the delivery method is different. I have an ipad, but most of my books are just that – books. That said, the Kindle / iPad / Nook market allows you to give readers the option of how they will choose to accept delivery of your material. I read blogs primary via an RSS reader. Some people read blogs via the web or on their phone. The point here, is that you must make your material available and readable for all sorts of platforms, as well as an international audience. Don’t localize too much or you are putting yourself in a box; I write primarily about American wines, but just one click on Google Analytics, and I know that I have international readers. The balance is maintaining my wit and style, while limiting colloquialism that would be lost on an international readership.
A key point that both Robinson and Asimov were keen to make is that if you are an online writer, you are also your own editor and publisher, and you need to understand what this means. My task is to digest these nuggets with a blogger’s mindset, and interpreted to suit your needs. Jancis further implored us, as wine writers in an online world, to hone our writing skills. I work at this every day and in every post; but there are, sadly, too many blogs that use poor grammar or just don’t make sense. If you are a
blogger online wine writer, you should ensure that you are taking the time to digest your thoughts, and work & rework your written words. Writers of all sorts go through multiple iterations before their words are put to print. I think we should do the same. Posting things that are not well thought out just add ot the misconception that bloggers online wine writers are hacks that don’t know what they are talking about. While I don’t think I need an editor to write a blog, I DO think I need to self edit – even if it’s at the most basic level of spelling. I believe I need to understand how to structure a sentence so that it makes sense and expresses my thought coherently; I also believe that to write a piece for a n audience that won’t hear my inflection and comedic wit, that i need to think about how it looks on the page, and not how I sound when I say it out loud.
Occasionally, writers suffer from a thought block or an uninspired lull. I am not immune to this but I have found that reading other blogs and using tools like Creative Whack Packs can help blast me out of lull. Another key trait of a good writer is admitting that you don’t know something. I hope that you see that in my writing; I don’t know a lot of things, and I’d rather admit that, than make something up. There shouldn’t be any fear in admitting the unknown. One of the keys in being to be open an honest in this is fostering a community, both of readers, and other writers, who you can uses as a resource. Encourage new readers to be engaged. Wine can be a scary subject for someone just starting to enjoy it, and when you get too esoterica and off on tangents, you will alienate some readers.
The following day, Eric Asimov, author of the New York Times column formerly known as The Pour (now incorporated in the Diner’s Journal), shook up the room my telling us that we shouldn’t write tasting notes. I emphatically disagree with this statement -0 and even though I think it was really meant rather flippantly, I think many in attendance are taking it too literally. I am spinning this with my bloggers mindset, and ensuring that my tasting notes have a place within the story of the wine at the focus of the post. We are, after all, wine bloggers (wine writers wine writers wine writers. I will get this down eventually!). To not write a wine review or tasting note for a year, if I take Asimov at his word, would cut out a large amount of wine blogs who are talking about the wine.
In fact, in a simple poll that I did on Facebook, I asked my blog readers if I should write more reviews, less reviews, or something entirely different. While the majority of respondents said they wanted me to write more about the winery, location, or the STORY, they also indicated that they wanted the tasting notes in context. So, for my part, I will try to make sure I write about why I like or dislike a wine, what emotions it evokes in me, and why I think you should try it, and try to stay away from triple berry crunch descriptors. After all, my schnozzberry might be your razzleberry.
The key takeaway I have from Eric’s speech (which I might add, I read on twitter, and watched online after the event – since I was suffering the creeping crud at the time) is that in order to write about wine, you need to learn about wine. Tasting wine is not enough. You need to experience wine. How do you do that? You drink a lot of wine, you explore wine, you read about wine, you learn about wine, you experiment with pairing wine with food. Why this is important is that it can give you the perspective to be able to think about situations in a new light. I knew, before going to Virginia, that the VA wines that I had tasted were probably not the best examples of what the state has to offer. I didn’t like VA wine. But, I went to VA with an open mind. I decided, before I went, that I was going to taste VA wines and yes, they might suck, but, then again – they might not. And, I’m happy to report, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the wines I tried. This changed my pre-concived notion about wines from the area, and I’m more apt to try a wine from someone off beat as a result.
So go forth, and learn. I am my own worst critic and I often question if I write well, or if I know anything about wine, so I am ever striving to learn more and do better. The secret to success in most things is to be on a continuous journey of education. I know what I like, and I chose to write about that because that’s what I know. The unconformable challenge, is to learn about what I don’t know, and to share that journey with you.
Wine blogging has evolved. Even if you write your blog out of passion, as I do, writing with professionalism and knowledge is key to being heard. That doesn’t mean your blog shouldn’t express your voice, but it does mean:
- Learn your subject matter
- Dive in to your material, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper
- Be honest
- Ask questions
- Be inquisitive
- Be welcoming and gracious
- August 1, 2011
- Media, Social media, special events, technology, Virginia, wine, Wine Bloggers Conference, wine blogs, wine tasting
- Eric Asimov , Jancis Robinson , online wine writers , wine bloggers , Wine Bloggers Confernece , wine education , wine writers , writing
- 2119Comments (3)Lessons+on+being+a+better+blogger...writer...or+whatever2011-08-01+20%3A38%3A51winebratsfhttp%3A%2F%2Flusciouslushes.com%2F%3Fp%3D2119