When my associate/partner/friend Michael Perlis successfully got me to agree to take on consulting clients (yes it took awhile) my only concern was that I didn’t want to do any less wine writing. So, instead, after every pitch we made was accepted, I gave up some of my non-wine writing gigs.
It was obvious to us that anyone who wanted to hire a consultant needed some help. A client would tell us what they want accomplish, we would do a study of their business, and then come back with our proposal.
Some clients said yes to everything; they were not on the edge of losing their businesses, and we were only there to market a well-conceived plan. This has been the case with the wine fests we have assisted in marketing.
However, other businesses, such as wineries and restaurants, called us in for help that required them to give up something to do something new. Much like I did.
And we could also see that those companies, like a marriage on the verge of a break-up, waited a long time before calling in a counselor. And their immediate reaction to our proposals, well, they were like a knee jerk kick to our stomachs.
Our proposals (which is a timeline of changes we wanted to make before bringing in new customers) are made to help insure that a new customer would return. These clients had a habit of just checking off the items at the end of the proposal.
This is a very shortsighted way of “Give me the reward now and it’s enough.” And, if I can go back to the marriage counselor scenario: One visit with a counselor is going to straighten out years of a miss-managed marriage?
We think not. There is a difference in marketing and consulting; and the consulting has to come before the marketing. If that’s not what you are looking for, you are not looking for us.
If your model isn’t working – listen to what we are trying to do to change it. Whether it’s training a restaurant staff on wine service or changing a hard-sell approach in a winery, this is why you hire us to consult, then market.
Which brings me to the title of this column. One client, exasperated with me as I quoted negative Yelp reviews, wine pricing, management techniques and basic branding said, “It’s just wine.”
That three-word sentence really got me thinking.
If your business is wine know this: There are reasons, beyond common business logic, why people drink wine. We can’t even go total screw cap because of the “romance” of popping a cork. Wine drinkers are not like beer drinkers; give us a nice crystal glass to taste from. Don’t hold my bottle of wine between your thighs as you retrieve the cork. Don’t open my bottle of wine behind the counter. Don’t serve yourself a sample of my wine unless I offer it to you.
And from there I’d add more: Don’t pitch me anything if I didn’t ask for it. If I said yes to a taste, that’s a taste. Wait for me to ask for more. No one wants to dine in a restaurant or taste at a wine bar where the staff has an agenda. If I wanted to buy a timeshare I wouldn’t sit in for the 90-minute or more sales pitch, I’d just buy it.
Play nice, don’t bad mouth other wineries or restaurants. Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties have done a lot to market their wine trails. Each winery is vested in return business and having each winery look good. And wine people like to “shop” at more than one winery when out for a day of tasting – these trails get that, and so should you if you want to see growth.
Michael, when I told him about this conversation said, “Our new slogan is IAATW. It’s All About The Wine.”
We aren’t selling cars. We are selling wine. Take a lesson from Clos Pepe winemaker Wes Hagen, “The perfect meal is 33 percent wine, 33 percent food and 33 percent company. I’d rather drink shitty wine with this group than the best wine in the world with a bunch of d—-.”
Yes, I could go on, but you’d have to pay us. And we don’t work with d—- either.