Archive - June, 2011

Does your website have a mobile version?

photo credit @Flickr .m for matthijs

It was reported today that consumers spend more time on mobile apps than on the web. Really this is no surprise. It is the way the world works, big things become smaller and smaller as technology gets better and better. If we could go back in time and start the computer revolution today, no-one would design a big box that sits in a special room in your house as a way to get online. If we started from scratch, we’d probably begin with something a bit more “iphone-like”. Small, portable and always connected to the web.

Laptops are shrinking into “pads” and desktops are more and more specialized professional tools, which brings me to today’s question:

Do you have a mobile version of your website, version that looks good on a small screen and is easy to navigate? Have you even checked?

If you’re working with an open CMS system like WordPress, or something even more cutting edge like Posterous, you are probably fine.

If you know what a wordpress plugin is, you might try one of these out.

If these don’t mean much to you, then go and check out your website on a mobile app.

Here’s a tip: if your site has pretty moving things on the screen when you look at it, it’s most likely using Flash. And what does Flash mean? It means that no-one with an iPhone can access your site, and many others will quickly lose patience and go elsewhere rather than watch your site load. If you’re using flash, get a new site.

Your customers are more likely today to find you while navigating on their phone, than on a laptop. If they can’t interact with your site you will be losing customers and fans!

Any questions?

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The Return on Investment of Wine Education

… or why “consumers need more wine education” is wrong

It would appear to be widely accepted in the wine trade that if only consumers knew more about wine, the more, better (and higher profit) wines they’d buy.

“Consumer Education” in the form of brochures, seminars, events, newsletters, websites, apps, social networks, trips etc, form part of most every wine marketing plan (assuming they’ve even bothered). To quote one recent example, Tom Lewis (aka @CambWineBlogger) in a discussion on this topic initiated by Wink Lorch (aka @WineTravel):

(what we need is) more wine education, so people start to want better wines and feel confident about searching for them …

In other words, it isn’t a problem with the wine or how it is made available, it is really about a lack of knowledge. We can fix that. Right?

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Losing the plot

?????

It seems so obvious from the outside. Winemakers and wineries in a region should cooperate to promote the region and give consumers a clear idea of what that region offers to encourage them to give their wines a try. Yet in practice, when you delve into any region or country, what you see are arguments, divisions and recriminations.

It is something I saw a glimpse of recently during a trip to the beautiful region of the Langhe in Piemonte (thanks to Berry Bros & Rudd), but I stress that this was only the latest example of something I see everywhere.

The conversation started as “How can we (all) make people more aware of the Nebbiolo grape” … but quickly turned into a discussion about who should or should not be included, how “there’s really nothing else in the world like nebbiolo, and everyone should realise this”, and about the classification of vineyards.

Italy is already famous for its complex regional boundaries and multi-layered wine classifications. So how is it that wineries can possibly rationalise “making things easier/clearer for the consumer” by creating further sub-divisions of wine regions and new DOC’s?

I felt the odd one out when I implored the wineries to spend time finding what they have in COMMON that is unique instead of worrying about local matters, but how to explain this view?

Wine and Movies

Winemakers, their wines and their wineries are all great characters. On their own, each one is different, has its own background, personality and role to play in this world. Yet, individually, they are walking biographies, of interest only to the already devoted fans. They lack a context & excitement. They lack a narrative.

To quote an interesting article by Caro Clarke:

“Plot is what happens. Narrative is what the reader sees and hears of what happens – and how he sees and hears it.”

Movies NEED great characters, but they also need a narrative, a story that affects not just what we learn, but HOW we understand what it is all about. There has to be something that brings these characters together, gives them a way to express themselves, makes them interact, highlights their brilliance … and their flaws.

  • Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) needs Los Angeles, computers, satellites, guns and terrorist threats to make sense as a character, otherwise he might just be a moody, aggressive law-enforcement officer with a sadistic streak and a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • King George VI (Colin Firth) needs the pageantry and social norms of British Royalty and threat of war of 1930′s London to make us care about his fight with a speech impediment, otherwise he’d just be an unfortunate toff who wouldn’t make much money as an after-dinner speaker

Ultimately, there has to be something that engages the viewer and consumer and keeps them in their seats. THIS is what the region should be providing. But just like every movie needs its actors to play the parts, it also needs directors, screen writers and camera operators (and many more skilled folks, including Best Grips, whatever they are). A great movie only emerges when all of these people, and their skills, come together.

The same is true for wines. There are great wine makers, great wineries and amazing wines, but they make a much greater impact when they are put into a context that consumers care about and understand. EVERYONE needs to play their part in promoting the region, and the individuals involved need to learn to think of the overall effort as well as their own objectives.

Consumers are looking for ways to understand wine, so let’s give them the stories they need to convince them to bother paying attention, and then spend their hard-earned money on our wines.

In response to this, Vrazon is planning on running workshops for wineries and regional bodies to help them develop this concept for their own situation. Look out for announcements for dates and locations in 2011 and 2012 but we hope to have one up and running in conjunction with the 2011 European Wine Bloggers’ Conference

Let’s hope that in future we can tell more interesting, unique stories that make sense of the great wine characters that do exist out there.

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How to Effectively Engage International Participants in Tech and Wine Events?

What happens when you step out of your own “filter bubble” and participate in open discussions? We all need our assumptions and outlooks challenged on a regular basis to encourage ideas to develop and for the events to meet the actual needs of our audience, not just what we think they are. Gabriella decided to attend Vinocamp Lisboa to do this with a great bunch of friends and here are some of the lessons learned.

For those of you unfamiliar with Vinocamp, it is a technology and wine un-conference co-founded by Grégoire Japiot and Miss Vicky in 2009. Based on the Barcamp philosophy, the conference aims to merge wine and technology through informal participant initiated workshops as opposed to formal top-down lecturing.

Though previous editions of Vinocamp were hosted in Paris, Beaune and Carcasonne, this one was the very first to have trekked off French terroir and onto the Opaz home stomping ground of Iberia; hence, we felt it was doubly-imperative that we supported the event. Additionally, as we’re always trying to diversify the European Wine Blogger’s Conference (a Vrazon project), it was only logical that we spread the good word among groups that we typically don’t have enough interaction with (e.g. the French – a group very well represented at the last EWBC). So last week, I hopped on a plane and headed west, and returned with many great topics churning in my head.

The Power of Presence

Living in a virtual bubble, we have a tendency to assume that our support of an event through Twitter, Facebook, Livestream, etc is powerful enough to make a significant impact. We retweet relevant information, offer a salient comment on blog post, or simply parlay questions on live video, thus showing our interest in the given discussion. Though this methodology has its merits, the power of one’s physical presence, especially if you’re adding to the conversation, outweighs the virtual presence. Relationships are stronger when people come together in the same physical space, and the goal of what we do online should be to create more offline interaction, not replace it.

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