Category Archives: marketing

Experience – Borrow someone elses

“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it. – Steven Wright

Never a truer statement spoken. Winemakers live by this motto as they craft their blends, each year learning from the previous year’s mistakes. This is why we have regions tied to single grapes, or styles of winemaking. Without others’ failures and triumphs we would not have Pinot Noir in Burgundy, Sherry in Jerez, and Port in Portugal.

Sadly, however, lack of experience often stops people from trying new things, afraid that the experience they seek is a prerequisite to trying something new. It’s not. There are many ways to gain experience, both by trial and error or from building on the experiments of others.

Surprisingly, today many wineries are still waiting to see if social media works. Ryan O’Connell of O’Vineyards recently heard a press attaché in France tell a group of winemakers the following:

“…you can’t share a story on sites like facebook or twitter. She also highly distrusts blogs and advises winemakers to be skeptical toward them. She assures us that she isn’t on facebook….”(via)


It’s time we all move on.  Social media does work. End of story. Blogs are just publishing tools, and bloggers are people that use them. Facebook and Twitter are communities, and at any time in the history of the world, communities can be found building commerce, telling stories and sharing ideas.

If you don’t believe it go out and look at the experience of others, and then join the conversation with the rest of us, using our experience as you see fit.


Success Stories (feel free to ask them what they think):


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Do you speak my language?

I noticed a really interesting new tool on Facebook today, and I’m not often impressed by Facebook at the moment.

Translate This link on Facebook
Translated Facebook Status Update BingAfter

Amusing automatic translation on Facebook

It appears that when a Page (not a User Profile) posts an update to their wall, readers will see an option appearing below offering a translation.

[I’m not entirely sure how it decides this, but presumably it checks the language of the text and compares it to the default on the machine you are using.]

Most importantly ALL Pages have been opted IN automatically (typical Facebook!) so you are using this already if you have a Page active and you should therefore know about it.

When this was launched a month ago it was only for a few languages (Korean, Japanese, Russian, Taiwanese and Chinese-Hong Kong), but as of very recently (today?) it seems to work for Italian, Spanish & Portuguese into English, so I assume a lot more languages are now available.

It even appears to work in the comments to be able to continue the discussion.

Benefits of using a Page

Making your content available to users who may potentially be interested, but who do not speak the language you prefer to write in, means that a great deal of interesting wine content can now spread around the world.

The big question will be the quality. The post I saw this morning was from Spanish to English and was perfectly adequate, but others have reported that the tool (supplied by Bing in this case) is not particularly effective. Interestingly, there is an option for users to install a Translation App which allows you to submit a modified translation. The Page Admin then, presumably, gets the option to approve and select the best translation, however when I tested it this morning, this process seems a bit complex and will need some refining.

I expect the quality of translations will improve over time. Mechanical translations have been available for some time, but often meant browser plugins or copy & pasting text. Now admins can use the tool to publish content quickly, so it could mean a lot more content is suddenly available.

Just one more reason that brands, wineries and businesses should remember to use a Page for their communications and NOT a fake user Profile page. You have been warned!


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Talking about influence, elitism and wine

On a highly unusual day in London recently I was lucky enough to be interviewed twice on similar topics – the coming together of wine, blogging and some measure of influence.

This blog, in large part thanks to its longevity but also some very active and loyal followers, regularly appears on lists of “top wine blogs”. Of course, there is no easy or accepted way of defining what these top blogs are, and every time this comes up, the usual discussions arise (see my recent post about the UK Wikio rankings). However this is measured, it means that those of us involved in publishing it get asked to share ideas and our ‘secrets’ with others, which is always fun and good for the ego*

The first interview was with Cision UK, a PR services company, and I will share that with you if/when the video is public. We had a bit of fun with this one.

I also met with PeerIndex, one of the leaders in the field of online influence measurement. I wrote about online influence on this blog in the past (“Writing Under the Influence of Twitter” and “Measuring Influence or Communication Skills“). They asked to interview me for some thoughts on influence and wine, and the result is this video, shot on location at Around Wine (thanks to the very generous Daniel, aka @winerackd). Please excuse the lighting which makes me look like I’m wearing Tim Minchin style mascara:

One of the quotes which seems to have caught some people’s attention was:

“I have no influence. People who follow me make me have influence, so effectively they are the influencers.”

This may seem backwards, but the point I was trying to make is that influence is being viewed backwards. The individuals with lots of followers do not necessarily have the ability to influence the behaviour of others. We ought to be looking at how these particular users represent the shared interests of those in their networks.

I can’t make anyone drink a bottle of wine … but if you can convince me that I should drink yours, then maybe you’ve got the message right that will make others do the same.

Trying to target bloggers as mouthpieces for PR messages doesn’t work, but learning to engage with them is a great way of engaging with consumers in general.

Just a thought.

* It also goes to prove my point that any measure of “influence” is self-referential because if you are seen as influential, you attract more attention, links and interviews … and therefore more success which then means more “influence”

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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?

Continue reading

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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