Tag Archive - business

Give them Access, They Will Talk

Last week, the London International Wine Fair (#LIWF) saw the arrival of a new breed of exhibitor. This one was called “The Access Zone”.

The Access Zone was a combination of Press Office, Lecture Theatre, Consultancy Office, Networking Zone, Business Centre, Free Wi-Fi Spot and Sales Platform.

Instead of a stand being directed by a single company or brand, or acting as a neutral information or service point, The Access Zone was a place where ideas were exchanged, wines tasted and business contacts made. In many ways it was an exhibition within an exhibition. You can read some of the results here (thanks to @gabriellaopaz)

The organisers of the LIWF invited Ryan & Gabriella Opaz of Catavino.net, and my partners in The European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC), to help put together a site dedicated to Social Media in the wine business as part of the main event. This ‘hub’ was then home to all sorts of individuals and companies that wanted to explore the possibilities of social media for promoting wine, including this site as one of the main sponsors.

The users determined the content

What made this stand different was that all sorts of people in the trade were invited to give talks relating to social media tools and strategies. There were interactive talks on using facebook for wineries, wine fault seminars, promoting films, wine blending, personal branding (my own contribution), the launch of the EWBC 2010 in Austria, and more. The USERS determined the content, then stayed there to help others. It was about bringing our online social networks to life, and as such it was important to have the right people at the centre who could motivate and attract an interesting group of friends.

What did we discover? Well, in a show affected by the economic downturn and volcanic ash related travel woes, it was good to have a positive message to discuss. This was especially true online, but also in the trade press. The wine business is very interested in the potential of social media, but still uncertain as to how to achieve this. Having people there, not just us ‘consultants’, but practitioners, brands with experience and brands who invest in social marketing, they were able to get a better overall picture.

The stand was always busy, with a variety of bigger and smaller exhibitors coming to attend talks or meet someone on the stand, including generic wine bodies, wine journalists and winemakers. The stand also hosted Naked Winesspectacular selection process where their ‘angels’ selected a wine (video) to import which then sold out in less than 24 hours! (more videos here)

The Access Zone is not necessarily a model for every future exhibition. In reality, embracing social media is something ALL exhibitors should do, but while adoption is still very low and exhibitors and visitors are interested in learning more in a non-commercial atmosphere, the Access Zone model is probably one that more exhibitions around the world should emulate. I suspect that many other wine events will now look to have such a space, and will invite key players from around the globe to fill it.

Did you come along? What did you think? Worth repeating? Was there other content you would have liked to see?

Well done James!

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Value of social media tools: a wine label example

Do you doubt the ability of Twitter to offer valuable and tangible business benefits? Then check out this little example.

I was at the Wines from Spain tasting today and I met Sarah. In fact we were already “friends” on twitter in our various alter-egos as @thirstforwine and @bottlegreenltd but had not really met in person. In any case, this twitter-enabled chat encouraged us to taste some of each others’ wines, and in the process I was asked what I thought of this label:

Knowing that such things are subjective, I thought I’d ask for wider input, so I shared the photo with twitter. Within 20 minutes, I had 15-20 responses to be able to gauge a more general view. In this case, unlike my own personal luke-warm stance, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Check out some of the reactions below (some are not included as the messages are private):

  1. JohnG
    quaffability @thirstforwine I do like. Very nicely executed. But my first reaction is that it’s vermouth, and I think that is a problem.
  2. ryanopaz
  3. Duarte Da Silva
    wineboffin I like it. RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?
  4. Justin Liddle
  5. Fields Morris Verdin
  6. Champagne Warehouse
  7. Somewhere is Jeannie
  8. Joanna Harris
    joanna_h85 Love them!! RT @elliott_people: @thirstforwine – Bottlegreen are a great company, fab people and product!
  9. Golly Gumdrops
    GollyGD @thirstforwine It’s attractive, but at first glance I’d think – ooo is that Cafe Rouge’s new house wine label?
  10. Seven Springs Wine
    7SpringsWine @thirstforwine Yes I like it, different, standoutish on the shelves, looks a bit ‘devilish’. Tim
  11. Emma Blackmore
  12. Laura Lindsay
  13. Int'l Wine Challenge
  14. Àlex Duran
    AlexDuran_ Fine! RT: @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?
  15. Richie Roberts
    RichieWine Great label… RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like? (via @wineboffin)
  16. Nayan Gowda
    vinosity @WineChallenge @thirstforwine I would say more Nouveau than Deco, but I also like it a lot.
  17. Chris Carter
    ccarter126 Classy RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?

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How about that for value for business? With a properly planned out strategy for getting input and feedback from fans, friends and consumers in general, twitter and other social media tools can be very useful without being complicated or time-consuming. And they can be fun too!

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Go with the cash flow

LONDON - JANUARY 5:  Chancellor Alastair Darli...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

… or “How I will do my bit for the economy of this country via the wine aisle

For the last few years, pretty much since I started blogging, I’ve had something to say about the underhand way that the government uses Duty on wine to line their coffers, usually at the expense of the consumer, but by implication also affecting everyone else in the chain, from retailer to producer.

I have tried to argue that our Duty system, with high taxes on EVERY bottle of wine, no matter how good (or poor), have little impact on whether consumers drink to excess, which is supposed to be one of the reasons to raise the price.

I have tried to argue that lowering taxes would enable producers to invest more in the quality of the product and their communication/marketing, educating consumers to drink better, and drink more responsibly.

To no avail, of course.

Earlier this year, the Treasury admitted in a letter (during a campaign by Le Beast wines, Harpers, Drinks Business and Off Licence News) that:

“…alcohol duty is an important revenue stream for the government”

and

“The alcohol duty increases announced at Budget were not designed to tackle problem drinking but they will play their part in ensuring we can continue to fund the Government’s spending priorities.”

It seems that the anti-alcohol lobby and politicians are allowed to use these as justifications for putting Duty up, but when they get the money, they can then spend it on whatever they wish.

So, I’m changing tack.

Let’s be realistic: If the government needs money to shore up our economy and get people back to work (or keep them in work), then they will be forced to raise taxes. They could*:

  • tax me harder on my income, thus making me have to work longer/harder
  • tax me more on stuff I buy (VAT), thus discouraging me from buying that ‘stuff’ and thus not making money OR,
  • raise money from me while I am enjoying one of life’s real pleasures; drinking wine

To be honest, thinking about it like this (as I did when I went to sleep last night), I would rather be paying them extra dosh while I have fun, not while I work (of course, in my case I’m doing both).

So, Mr Chancellor (or simply Darling as we will now call him), I’m not excusing you. You could still do A LOT more to support wine businesses, producers, retailers, consumers and the health of this country, but as you do not seem to be prepared to do this, I guess I will just have to do my bit for the economy of this country via the wine aisle.

I hope you appreciate it!

And, Darling, when we start to emerge from this fiscal black hole you have helped to get us into, I trust you will do the decent thing and engage in a proper dialogue about what is actually good for the many responsible drinkers in this country.

Now, I’m off to pay some taxes, … by the glass.

* Of course, I suspect they’ll do all 3 of course! Watch out for 20% VAT, higher income tax and increases on Duty as a triple-whammy

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Find Wine with Style

findwineAt the recent The Wine Gang Christmas Fair I had the chance to taste lots of wines and meet importers and wineries from around the world. One of the ones that stood out for me was a small online retailer looking to sell wines in a novel way: FindWine.co.uk

Most wines in this country, whether in the supermarkets or independent merchants, are sold mainly by country. They might then be divided by region, price or even style, but the first arrangement is almost ALWAYS by country. Most (surviving) online merchants have therefore taken this format as well, and although you can usually filter by many different criteria, country still dominates the thinking.

The other thing most retailers have in common is that they generally list a larger range of wines that may then be categorised or tagged with tasting or buying information to help consumers decide between them. The thinking is, if you give consumers a broader range of choices, they’ll find something they’ll like … and buy.

The truth is, many consumers are not looking for anything too specific, and in fact are often put off by too much choice. They want a good deal, and a recommendation of a ‘good’ wine, so may well leave without buying anything.

FindWine decided, instead, to create a list with only 54 ‘slots’ that represent 6 different price categories across 9 different ‘styles’, and find just 1 wine that is a good example for each. The prices vary from under £5 to £15+ and the list of categories includes “zippy” whites as well as “soft-isticated” reds, so should appeal to lots of consumers.

I think what these guys are up to is very interesting, especially as their model allows them to buy good quality wines in small parcels so they can keep things fresh and change regularly. All we need now is a bit more interaction and visibility from the faces behind the business to demonstrate their passion for the wines and give us confidence they are choosing interesting wines for these ‘slots’.

On that note, watch this short interview I recorded at the show with John Critchley, one of the guys behind FindWine:

If you have used them, or tried their wines, do let me know what you think of their model and their wines. Is anyone else doing something similar?

(Update: I apologise to Mike Howes as this is in fact John Critchley, Mike’s partner at FindWine who I identified incorrectly in the video)

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Crush It! A book review

Crush It

Crush It

Well, I ‘crushed it‘ in one sitting on the plane on the way to Lisbon for the EWBC.

Gary Vaynerchuck’s Crush It! is a book intended for an audience of entrepreneurs ready to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media. These opportunities are easier to capitalise on in an age of ready-made blog platforms, template fan pages on facebook and free plug-ins to carry out necessary tasks, so I use the term entrepreneur to mean all those interested in starting their own money-making business, even those with minimal investment or risk.

That’s all of us!

The style of the book is very readable, and very “Gary”. You can hear him dictating the book, pacing back and forth in the room, stopping to make a friendly quip, probably about American Football, then launching back into his well-honed routine as if he had not left off. In fact, it is so much in the “Gary Vay-Ner-Chuck” voice that I had to read it at the speed he speaks, so I got through the book in an hour and a half!

As someone who has been following Gary, on and off, from fairly early on in his Wine Library career, including some of his keynote videos and his business site, much of this book is already familiar @garyvee stuff. It is interesting to have the presentation in one place for reference and in a form I can lend to others (even if video is more entertaining, it is harder to use to research and/or prove a specific point of your own).

The point of this book is not to give his existing followers something new, but to bring his message to those that have not yet committed themselves to social media but who think they want to know more. It is for Gary’s “posse” to give to others to explain their addiction, and for some of us, a useful basic checklist to refer back to.

One thing it is not, for the record, is a wine book, but the messages are still relevant to wine businesses.

If you want a highly readable, passionate and credible book on how to approach building your personal brand in, and through, social media, it is worthwhile reading. However, the world is moving apace and even some of this book is already outdated, so read it quick to get you up to speed on yesterday so you can get on with building your own brand today.

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