You are very likely marketing your business in a less than inspiring way. I sure was.
Do you spend a lot of time talking about your clones, soil, or special barrel regimes? How your particular Chardonnay is long in the palate or perfectly balanced? And tend to highlight that you've been doing it for 10, 20 or 50 years? If the answer is yes, then your marketing needs to be more captivating.
The 15 minute TED Talk by Simon Sinek linked below stopped me in my tracks. (Warning, watching it will likely be both exhausting and invigorating.)
Before watching Sinek deliver his presentation, when approached by prospective clients and asked questions about our agency, we would highlight our strong relationships, proven results and processes, regular results reporting and constant cycle of seeking continuous improvement in everything we do. Etc. etc.
All of this is still true; it just isn't a compelling reason to invest in our services. That's because Sinek argues that people buy your WHY, not your HOW or WHAT.
The good news is that your WHY is likely a pretty clear vision with which to reconnect. It goes right to the heart of your company. WHY do you love what you do? WHY does your company bring you joy? WHY did you start it in the first place?
In our case, our clients do not buy the HOW we do it (our cultivation of strong relationships, industry expertise, benchmarking results, hundreds of communications with journalists monthly) nor WHAT they receive (increased recognition, high ROI measured in earned media value, increased demand).
Instead, the businesses who are a fit with our family of clients connect with WHY we do what we do. They want to work with a wine focused PR agency that is inspired and driven by their WHY, and people who derive pleasure from cultivating the relationships necessary to achieve recognition for their vision.
Interestingly, understanding this produced a common thread amongst all of our clients -- something bigger than bringing delicious wine and food to market. Such as a deep desire to create a legacy, share joy, provide for others, or create a community or culture. Perfectly, really swallowing this makes for much better storytelling, which is WHAT we do.
It makes my day everytime one of our clients is featured by the journalists who work so diligently to bring compelling stories to their readers. What makes your day as a business owner?
If you would like to generate more recognition and demand in 2015, be sure to prioritize your public relations strategy. Effectively serving the media to build your brand starts with developing and an action plan and associated budget.
Why plan for and invest in media relations?
We have had the pleasure of serving the Knudsen family since summer of 2012 when we were hired to help launch Knudsen Vineyards. The project was immediately interesting to me given the family's deep roots in the Willamette Valley -- the family's patriarch, Cal Knudsen and his wife, Julia Lee, were early winegrowing pioneers. Over the last two years, we've provided the Knudsens guidance ranging from messaging and brand visuals to online marketing, sales allocation and media relations. And much more in between.
We just launched this September and I'm proud to say have already generated strong media coverage. Below are four factors in addition to serving excellent wine made with a passion at the proper price (which is simply the price of entry into our crowded market):
1. The family's willingness to participate in media events and host journalists at their property. This of course requires a commitment of time and resources, but as one of my wine PR mentors, Ed Schwartz, used to say: "There are three ways to get press -- a meeting with a PR person, a meeting with an owner or winemaker, or a meeting at the property." Not being regularly available to host and regularly meet with media on their turf drastically reduces your chances of achieving recognition.
2. The family's willingness to tell their story more broadly. For example, during the property lunch we served two vintage Argyle sparkling wines and a 1987 Knudsen Erath Pinot Noir in addition to the wine the family was releasing, 2012 Knudsen Pinot Noir. Page spoke about the property's history and links to other great wineries in the area more than the one wine currently available for sale. It's just not as interesting to journalists to taste one wine or hear one angle during what is for them a large commitment of time. I learned this skill on a very large level working with the Symington Family of Portugal for five years -- they created a multi-city Vintage Port Tour bringing together their own competition to tell their region's story.
3. The family's investment in marketing to ensure that their brand presence underscores the quality of their wine. It is very difficult for us to speak with media about how special a brand or property is when the company's online presence is lacking. A winery's website simply must use intriguing imagery and contain the simple tools that help media do their job -- a well told story, wine details and contact information.
4. Good old fashioned thank you notes. We all like to hear please and thank you, and not making time to thank journalists for attending and covering events is a big no-no. Page personally thanked every person who attended her media lunch and is quick to write notes each time coverage appears. We do this as a matter of course for our clients, but it's always nice to have a note come from an owner or winemaker.
5. Making wine available for media samples. This conversation began when we were discussing allocations as it's important that new brands both account for media and library samples. Promoting a wine without offering members of the media the opportunity to taste it is like asking a restaurant critic to rate an establishment without giving him access to the food.
In the grand puzzle of brand magnetism, your online presence is only a slice of the pie.
Brand magnetism is a combination of forces that a company produces to attract customers. It draws customers to you and the products or services you provide. This effort is not limited to having a “Sales” or “Distribution” plan – it’s a series of objectives used to increase your brand awareness.
Many of these objectives can be identified under the Trellis Growth Partners’ Brand Magnetism model such as: internal team commitment or management’s vision and strategy, the consumer experience or online presence. Each force has to work cohesively for maximum effectiveness.
A streamlined, organized website can be an effective avenue to introduce customers to your brand story and the products that you offer.
"Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” - Sir Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin
I'm a Branson fan for many reasons. He's a proven entrepreneurial success, inventive thinker, witty spokesperson and has a beautiful way of getting right to the point when making one. His branding quote resonates with me because it hits on two critical aspects of creating and maintaining a shiny brand: 1) you have to be committed to the process; and 2) you have to appeal to your target customers on a deeper emotional level. Branson also acknowledges that very commitment required can create cynics. (I'd add that cynicism multiplies when there is no performance measurement system in place -- when there is difficulty measuring the value of brand marketing, some companies stop trying, or worse, write it off completely.)
It is not enough to create a beautiful product or successful service. Owners and operators must continually and consistently communicate their brand's value to target audiences and through a variety of channels. In the wine, spirits and culinary industries we serve, all of which require a commitment to hospitality, these audiences consist of consumers, trade and media. Our primary communication channels are in person (tasting room, events, meetings), phone, online and via direct mail. This ultimately means that for our clients, we have a rather complex web of communication to manage or advise upon.
Recently, a new client asked me which communication audiences and tools were most important. He wanted to know which one we would do first, and so on. During the conversation, I realized that he didn't understand the sequential nature of brand communication. I explained that there wasn't a particular order; that in fact, we would be communicating with all audiences using all tools throughout the course of our project.
When I returned to the office that day, I challenged my team to develop a visual representation of our brand building philosophy, and I'm happy to report that I love the result:
The concept of magnetism reflects the necessity of attraction when it comes to marketing. Attraction is a committed state. It represents how successful marketers blend defined process (the science) with creativity (the art), and underscores with the force "squiggles" that is is also an active state.
Management vision and strategy, along with internal team commitment, are found at the bottom to indicate that they are the foundation; without both, the communication will not resonate as it will either lack direction, authenticity or engagement. Media and trade relations are the next building blocks, because they are gatekeepers who offer a way to reach a wider net of followers. The very top reflects the very important nature of consumer ambassadors -- typically your club members, who represent the heart of the operation given their loyal nature and ability to attract more dedicated fans. It is surrounded by the broader guest experience, paid advertising, online marketing and platforms, all of which directly touch consumers.
Our ultimate goal here at Trellis Growth Partners is to create brand magnetism for our clients, which we define as a successful state measured by shining increases in marketing and sales metrics. In my next post, I'll discuss how we label and measure this success.
- Dixie Huey, Proprietor
I recently explored, How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything... in Business (and in Life). Author, Dov Seidman, a noted leadership expert, demonstrates that the nature of today's fast-paced, information-driven, social media enhanced environment has changed the nature of reputation and culture building. As a marketer and management consultant, Seidman's message struck an important chord.
If you haven’t heard the buzz about Pinterest, the ultimate virtual bulletin board site that takes social sharing to the next level, you may be missing out on a new medium to reach your customers.
Pinterest is a virtual platform that allows users to organize and share photos and videos found on the web.
In September of 2011, I posted about using business milestones as catalysts for growth. Surveying your key stakeholders -- customers, trade accounts, distributors, etc.-- is a method for gaining an understanding of your business's current position and perception. The knowledge acquired from a survey is also a great tool for charting a course of action forward to achieve your next milestone.
Recently, while speaking at SOWine2, I had the opportunity to enjoy a design presentation given by Richard Roberts, Creative Director at Palazzo Creative in Seattle. I was pleased to connect a name and firm with some work I'd already admired -- Palazzo did the re-branding for L'Ecole 41, a known Walla Walla based winery, which I saw during the Taste Washington event held in Portland two months ago.
Richard noted that good design has three key characteristics: consistency, transferability and ability to project extrinsic cues about the brand promise. For a new brand, design consistency is about keeping look and feel similar throughout all marketing materials. (In a broader marketing sense this also means consistent messaging, placement and promotion.) With an established brand like l'Ecole 41, consistency can be more challenging -- with a redesign, there is a question of what design elements should remain the same and what should stay in the past. I love how Palazzo maintained the brand's iconic school house image, but elevated its positioning by transforming it into a more serious package with less classic color and polished design.
Transferability means that the design works in different mediums. For wineries, this typically means that it works for logo, packaging, and marketing materials. A very important area for wineries to consider is how the design will appear on the shelf. I've seen beautiful work that just doesn't work given the rather small amount of label "real estate" on wine bottles. Additionally, fonts and nuances need to be easily translated to other marketing arenas. L'Ecole 41's new website features its revised logo with the new color palette and tone. An example of poor transferability would be a wine label that doesn't translate to a website, ad or other collateral.
The ability to project extrinsic cues is perhaps the most challenging since it's multi-dimensional. The l'Ecole 41 label sends a message of an upscale experience that has an element of the old world but is not stuffy. It speaks to the very good and consistent quality in the bottle. When designing for a wine brand, you must always consider what message the design is sending, and make sure that it appeals to the audience of buyers you've targeted.
This of course means that you should start with the buyer in mind... in my next post, I'll discuss how to get the most out of your experience working with designers and creatives.
About our blog
Commentary on all things marketing and more.