I recently learned a few things about social media on my quest for a person to mow my lawn. I own a rental home that fortunately pays for itself every month. The tenants are good, the rent is low and the tiny little 650 sq foot home and 180 sq foot loft have been a good investment so far. Last summer (pre wine blog), I was eager to mow the yard, lay bark, pull weeds, and clean up the house. This spring, and now summer, more demands have been placed on my time (reviewing wine can be a full time gig, but someone has to do it). This got me thinking about the small business owner and social media.
There are usually two reasons to pay for any service. The first is lack of knowhow; the second is lack of time. I pay someone to change my oil because I never paid attention to my dad when he was trying to show me (that and I don’t want to monkey with it in the Lexus). I do my own taxes because I know how to do it. Plus, I find it kind of challenging to see how much money I can keep the government from getting each year. Now, I understand the second reason to pay someone…lack of time. I know how to mow yards. I actually enjoy the sense of accomplishment. This year, I find myself lacking the time to do it. The yard needs to be mowed. No one needs to convince me of the importance of a mowed yard. I just don’t have the time. $100 per month to keep the yard mowed now seems like a value.
This brings me to the comparison with Social Media and its integration into a business’ overall customer service and marketing strategy. No doubt you realize the importance of an integrated marketing and customer service strategy. No doubt you’ve heard the importance of social media, search engine optimization, and monitoring your brand. Chances are you just don’t have the time or you don’t have the knowhow. Unless you want to be the only business on the block looking all ghetto with weeds and ten foot tall grass, it might be time to hire a consultant to help get your social lawn in order.
Five Social Media Tips Learned From My Lawn Mowing Service
1. Just because someone calls themselves a lawn mower, doesn’t mean they should mow your yard.
The first guy I called had an ad on Craigslist. I called him, told him what I needed, and we agreed to meet at the house for a consultation before noon on Saturday. I postponed my Saturday plans to start at 1pm. As the morning progressed, I still hadn’t heard from Mr. Craigslist. Finally at about 11am, I got a call. No kidding, the dude seemed hung over from the night before. He barely remembered anything we talked about and wanted to stop by at 2PM. I told him I already had plans and that we agreed to “before noon” and said, thanks but no thanks…click.
Be discerning in your search. Make sure your “consultant/guru” follows through and is professional. There are a lot of flakes in the world.
2. Talk through the job so you know which lawn to mow and how you want it done
The second guy I called was from the phone book. His voice message was professional and he indicated that he would call back if I left a message. About 20 minutes went by and I got a call. We talked through the job, address and timing. We exchanged a bit of information and I waited for him to call back with an estimate. 30 minutes later I get a call back, “Did you say 4804 E 33rd?” “No,” I replied, “2804 E 33rd.” Okay, let me give you a call back in a few minutes. Luckily he didn’t mow the wrong house!
Be sure to clarify your struggles, objectives and goals. Don’t just hand over the reins and let someone take over your brand, voice and customer interaction. If you don’t make these clarifications, you may just end up mowing someone else’s yard and starting over again later.
3. Negotiate the price to fit what you need done
Once the guy found the right house, we connected to negotiate on terms and price. He offered to mow the yard for $50 the first mow and then $30 every week after that. Personally, I wasn’t ready to pay that. We negotiated it down to $40 for the first mow and $25 each week through June and then every other week in the hot months of July/August/September. I knew my budget. I know that paying to have the yard mowed every week in the hottest months of the year is a little overkill (especially since the tenants don’t water very regularly and I don’t weed-n-feed).
The point here is don’t just accept what the consultant/guru is offering. Do you really need ALL the bells and whistles to begin with? It’s okay to start with some of the basics and work your way into more consultation. Start with a Facebook page and some regular page updates. Move forward a little later with brand monitoring and SEO. It’s your business, move at the pace and budget you’re comfortable with.
4. Follow up with the work and clarify objectives
I rarely have a need to go to the rental house. The renters are great and the units pretty much run themselves (except that one time when the sewer pipe froze for 3 days. $6000 later…never mind). In this case, I was hiring a company that I knew very little about and I wanted to make sure they were following up on our agreement. For a few days I decided to alter my morning run so I could run by the house. The day after the agreed upon date I ran by and the lawn wasn’t mowed. “Hmmm, very curious,” I thought. I didn’t have time to follow up that day, but the next day the lawn still wasn’t mowed. Granted, I hadn’t paid any money, but I was still curious as to why things hadn’t been done. The grass wasn’t going to stop growing. As it turns out, I misunderstood the timing. When he said Thursday, I thought he meant the one we had coming up. He actually meant the next one in the line-up. All has been perfect since.
The thing to keep in mind here is don’t just hand over the task to someone and walk away. It’s important to follow up and check in to make sure that your agreed upon objectives are being met. If there is miscommunication, re-clarify goals and timelines.
5. Make payment on invoice and not up front
There is no way in hell I was going to pay a lawn mowing service up front for mowing the yard. The business I hired was great, they sent me a bill at the end of the month that was due upon receipt. I’m not paying up front for that type of service. Do the job and then get paid.
I believe this is true when hiring a consultant/guru too. Set an objective. Clarify the work with your expectations. Agree on a price for the work. Receive an invoice at the END of the month. If you’re not happy with the work or they’re not meeting your expectations, talk it through. We’re not talking rocket science here.
One other little bonus to add that I want to pass on that I learned from my Dad…watch and learn. I wonder how much money I could have saved in life, if I just would have paid attention to my Dad. Don’t just let the consultant/guru take over, watch and learn. Someday, you might be able to fire his ass and do it yourself.
23 Jun 2010
In honor of the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference Awards, I’ve come up with my own award categories. I’m a reader. If I retweet your post, I’ve definitely read it and chances are I’ve commented on it. In 2010 I’ve probably read and commented on 1000 different posts. While some people rail against the wine blog awards with half-wit comedic efforts and others offer more negativity to an already negative world with sarcastic squirrels (if you don’t know, don’t ask), I think more attention should be given to the people who passionately pursue the power of the pen and struggle with the subtleties of the sour grape. Some teach, some entertain, some evangelize, but all of them are deserving of recognition – even if it’s just in the form of a pat on the back from the 17 ½ people who read this blog.
Most Humorous Wine Blog Featuring a Squid – SuburbanWino
Joe combines witty prose, creative story-telling and creative pairings to create an entertaining collection of food, wine and life! Joe has recently attempted a squid and wine pairing that is not to be missed. While Joe’s life is now turned upside-down with the addition of his daughter Olivia, I’m one reader who will keep my feed reader attention toward his new posts.
Best Wine Blog Showcasing Supermodels with Wine – SuppleWine
Mike Supple’s site has it all. Wine reviews, trivia, cartoons, creative videos, articles and even the occasional super model with a bottle of wine (courtesy of his Wine in the Wild series). One recent video Mike did, blew me away with creativity and production. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Most Creative Integration of Pinot Noir, Sex, and Racks – SipWithMe
What can I say about Tamara Belgard. Wow, this girl knows how to write. While her love affair with Pinot Noir may turn NC-17 from time to time, Tamara can stiffen any limp day with a few whimsical strokes of her pen. Her writing is educational and entertaining and when she’s not conquering her goal to sip at every Oregon tasting room, she provides creative glimpses into a Jewish girls look at communion or fun wordless wine Wednesdays.
Wine Blogger Most Likely to Vote Himself Most Handsome Wine Blog – Clivity from OR_Wine_Blog
Don’t get me wrong, I like girls. I’ve been married to three of them. But Clive Pursehouse is a handsome dude…and he knows how to party! For some reason, Clive likes to refer to himself as the “handsome blogger.” Don’t believe me, read through a few of his posts at www.theoregonwineblog.com. All kidding aside, Clive is a great writer who brings a good balance of humor, wit and knowledge to each post! Since Clive’s not coming to WBC10, I’ll be accepting this award in his place.
Most Likely to Start a Wine Revolution – Millennier
Leah Hennessy is passionate, smart, and she a member of the millennial generation who drinks wine! Leah is showing the wine world the buying power of the millennial generation and providing insight on how to capture this emerging demographic. If you’re a winery who wants to be relevant still in 10 years, connect with Leah’s site.
Wine Blog Who Deserves More Recognition – VineGeek
There are some wine bloggers who are amazing, creative and downright fantastic writers that just don’t get the recognition they deserve. From his #mourvedremonday series to his intelligently crafted reviews and the always present “free association” image, Jim Wilkerson is a wine blogger you should be reading. His posts are fun without being verbose and they provide all the information you need to understand the wine, its origins and how it may or may not be suitable for you. Over the months I’ve come to identify with Jim’s palate and am confident that I can trust his assessment of a wine.
Just Wait, This Guy Will Be a Rock Star – FrankLovesWine
Mark my words, Frank Gutierrez is going to make his mark in the wine world. Check back one year from now and see where this guy is. Frank has an awesome eye for using video and photography for telling a story. Each of his clips is engaging and explores the heart of the subject in under five minutes. Recently he’s been doing work for industry giants, Mer Soleil, Belle Glos Meiomi, Caymus, and Conundrum.
Best Blog I’ve Only Recently Discovered – NorCalWingMan
Brian Wing is a blogger to watch. I’ve recently discovered Brian’s blog through his tweets (he’s an observation in doing it right by the way). Brian’s coming into his own as he refines his style and incorporates insightful reviews with food recipes, beer and even a little personal life. Brian’s style is refreshing and reminds me of the reason why I started my own blog…passion for wine. You have to check out his weekly food post, “Not Bad for a Thursday Night.”
My Favorite Washington Wine Blog – WAWineReport
I try not to bitch and moan too much. I’m a believer that being nice is always the best option. With no disrespect for any of the people nominated for “Best Single Focused Wine Blog,” I have to say that the absence of Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report is a gross error. Sean is one of the most respected wine writers in the state. His in-depth winery reports and reviews are not only top quality, they could easily be used by the wineries as PR pieces showcasing their history, wine making, and vineyard practices. Sean leaves no stone (or grape) unturned. WAWineReport.com is a labor of love for Sean and is a valuable resource for wine lovers. Take a look at one of his Weekly Washington Wine Round-Up posts to see how much he puts into each. Sean, you my friend, are a true champion of Washington wine.
Well, there you have it. While this may not be on par with being recognized by the Wine Bloggers Conference, these are truly people who are deserving of something…at the least, a glass of wine!
23 Jun 2010
Need a custom label for a wedding, non-profit event, business gift or product launch? Kirkland based, Northwest Cellars provides award winning wine with personalized labels! Founder Bob Delf spent 30 years in the software industry and worked as a CEO at three different companies. Bob’s passion for wine, keen business sense, and unique business model came together with wine makers Dave Moore and Robert Smasne to form Northwest Cellars in 2004. Bob and his wife Kathleen do all the blending work to bring their creation to market.
I was introduced to Northwest Cellars initially on Twitter. Bob participated in our two online tastings, WAMerlot and WAWine. Recently a good friend of mine, Rebecca Templeton became their wine rep in Spokane through her company Blends of Vino. I’m excited to help Rebecca get the word out about the personalized labels and have even been to a few events lately that featured Northwest Cellars wine.
But…How is the wine?
Rebecca knows that I’m honest in my reviews. I’ve reviewed another of her clients, Anelare Cellars, and didn’t care much for one wine, but really enjoyed their Saint Helena Syrah. So before I get to the review, if you’re in need of a custom label and you live in Inland Northwest, contact Rebecca Templeton at BlendsofVino.com and she’ll walk you through the process.
Now, on with the review:
- The Stuff: 61% Sauvignon Blanc and 39% Chardonnay from Columbia Valley, 13.5%ABV, 448 cases produced
- The Swirl: Extremely pale yellow in color with only a hint of tint
- The Sniff: I would bet $50 that the Chardonnay in this wine saw some oak. I couldn’t find anything in the literature, but the wine comes across with good lemon zest and a hint of vanilla and pears.
- The Sip: While adagio may be a musical term for at ease, this wine doesn’t strike the relaxing chord with me. It feels like it has a dual personality where the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc are fighting for position in your mouth. In one instance you can taste the strong grapefruit and citrus play and then a smooth oaky apple tries to come through.
- The Score: At $15, I could certainly encourage you to give it a try to see if it fits your tastes, but for me I can only score it 3 out of 5. Nothing off about it, but feels disjointed and unbalanced.
- The Stuff: 75% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon from Olson Estate, Roza Ridge and 3 Rocks Vineyards; 13.8%ABV, 3000 cases produced
- The Swirl: An interesting brownish rust colored purple hue that is showing some good signs of aging. Reminds me of cola.
- The Sniff: I love the nose of this wine. Strong dark fruits with leather, stewed plums, and just a hint of sweet milk chocolate. Fragrant and engaging!
- The Sip: Not your traditional Columbia Valley Merlot. Really loving the black tea, coffee and gamey meat components to this wine. Very complex in the mouth. The fruit is slightly thin on the front but the dynamic presence of the other flavors quickly engages your palate.
- The Score: At only $17 this wine surprised and mesmerized me. I loved the different interpretation of Merlot and enjoyed the soft, yet captivating flavors. I score this wine 4 out of 5. Be warned that if you love bright fruity cherry Merlot, this might not be for you.
Links you need
*Wine was provided as a sample with the intention to review
22 Jun 2010
Wine blogging has come a long way! In the last five years the underground media has become influential, creative, and controversial. The internet is the great equalizer in media. Blogs allow anyone and everyone with an opinion to chronicle their journey regardless of quality or accuracy. The beauty is that people have more access to more knowledge and information than ever before (and I’m not just talking about wine). As more and more wine bloggers enter the fray time will be the great equalizer as the public votes with their clicks to separate those of quality.
Any average Joe can blog. Their goals and ambitions vary from the occasional rant, wine journaling, promoting their local community to the ambitious trying to monetize their passion. With between 500-1000 documented wine blogs, we’ve been compared to barking poodles yammering for attention and even credited with exposing the underbelly of wine politics.
The Wine Bloggers Conference provides a medium for the more serious to hone their craft, network with others, and learn from the best. June 25-27, 300+ wine writers and media descend on the small community of Walla Walla, Washington where they’ll learn about the region, the Washington Wine industry, wine and food pairings and more. Wine bloggers will have the opportunity to learn from their peers and professionals with breakout sessions ranging from “Wine Blogging 101” to “What is the Future of Wine Writing.”
I sit down (via Skype) with two above average Joes who will be part of panel discussions.
Joe (The Suburban Wino) Herrig joins Ben Simons (Vinotology) and Andrew Lazorchak (Vineyard Vlog) for “Top Gun Wine Blogging” – The session is Sunday at 9:50AM. Description: Top Gun Blogging: A panel about you, the leader of your digital community, taking it further. A discourse on making your personal identity resonate, and how to establish a brand as a culmination of your behavior, thoughts and actions. A field blend panel attempts to tackle the many ways to intensify and add poignancy to your blog and your digital presence. Conversion, growth, and click-thru is a function of content + perspective + vision. What are you doing now, what can you be doing, and what should you be aiming for to pioneer your community through words and digital manifestations based on the real world around you?
Joe Roberts (1WineDude) is one of the most successful wine bloggers on the net. A nominee for “Best Overall Wine Blog,” Joe is consistently ranked in the top 10 of wine bloggers in traffic and engagement. Joe joins Jeff Lefevere (Good Grape) and RJ Hilgers (RJ’s Wine Blog) for the panel on Friday at 3:40PM. Description: “Advanced Bloggers will discuss high-level topics such as dealing with burnout, measuring your visitor statistics, interviewing subjects, and more.”
21 Jun 2010
Some of the best Rieslings I’ve ever had were tasted last week! I say that with the disclaimer that I’ve had Riesling from Washington, Oregon, Michigan, and a few from Germany. I’m not a Riesling authority, but from what I know about wine, from what I understand of my palate, from what I tasted, the six New York Finger Lakes Rieslings presented during #FLXwine were top notch in consistency, quality, clarity, balance, and flavor! What I find odd is that when I traveled 2800 miles to the largest city in the US, no one had Finger Lakes wine on the menu. None of the three wine bars we visited showcased their state. These wines had to travel 2800 miles to me. Because of our nations screwed up distribution system, I’ll be hard pressed to ever see any here in Spokane, but trust me, I’ll ask around!
The #FLXwine tasting was organized by New York champions Lenn Thompson and Evan Dawson. According to stats from WTHashtag.com there were over 600 tweets by 80+ people. I was honored to be one of the few representing from the West Coast. The wines were graciously provided by six Finger Lakes region wineries. With over 100 wineries sandwiched between Syracuse and Rochester, Finger Lakes is putting New York on the map for fine wine. Visit www.fingerlakes.org for all kinds of info on the area. Stay connected to www.newyorkcorkreport.com winery stories, wine tastings and info on all of New York’s wine regions.
The video is a quick snapshot of the tasting. You’ll get my initial reactions to the wine including color, aroma and flavor. I’ve also included my tasting notes and score for each wine below. I highly encourage you to seek out the ones that would fit your likes. Each of the wines was on the dry to medium dry side.
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling (estate grown); aged in stainless steel, 1% residual sugar, 12%ABV
- The Swirl: Pale honey color with great yellow diamond and pearl tones
- The Sniff: Slightly shy nose that came out to play as the wine warmed up closer to room temperature. Hints of petrol and minerals on the nose with a subtle citrus note.
- The Sip: The palate is intriguing and complex. Quite a bit happening from the range of a palate puckering lemon zest to wet stone and even a touch of lemonade in a can (with the steely aspects). The acidity is strong but leaves me feeling slightly off balance. Finish trails off leaving my mouth feeling tart.
- The Score: At $30 the wine is a good complex Riesling that would most likely show well in another 3-4 years. I’m very interested to see how all the flavor components will mature and blend together over time. I score this wine a 3+ out of 5 but strongly encourage a food pairing if drinking now.
Overheard on Twitter
|MattArlauckas:||Fox Run Reserve ’08 acidity caught me a bit off-guard, like testing a battery with your tongue. #flxwine|
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling, .3% residual sugar, 12.5%ABV, 1200 cases made
- The Swirl: Beautiful light yellow honey color, very clean and clear.
- The Sniff: Imagine you’re walking through a clothesline filled with freshly washed linen sheets blowing in the breeze. The fabric softener used had a hint of lemon in it. Throw in some river rock aroma and you have the nose of this wine.
- The Sip: A very nice balanced mix of soft grapefruit, pear, apple, and a hint of lemon zest. The acidity is perfectly balanced and leaves the mouth feeling refreshed and not tart.
- The Score: At $16 (incorrectly listed in the video), this wine delivers on both the quality and value fronts. A solid effort with a score of 4 out of 5. I highly recommend this wine for summer sipping or pairing with shellfish, halibut, lobster, crab, spicy fair, etc.
Overheard on Twitter
|vcuspoon:||Ravines Riesling = arrowhead found in a riverbed with fresh squeezed lime juice drizzled on top #flxwine|
Scored 90pts in Wine Spectator
2006 Sheldrake Point Reserve Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% estate Riesling, .6% residual sugar, 12.2%ABV only 291 cases produced
- The Swirl: Lighter in color than traditional Riesling. Reminiscent of water with a hint of lemon coloring. Clean and crisp!
- The Sniff: Soft aromas on the nose with beautiful apples, orange blossoms and linen. Very floral.
- The Sip: Nice complexity as the wine is starting to show the age ability that Rieslings can demonstrate. A great soft feel in the mouth with a hint of sweetness on the tip of the tongue that quickly jumps to a wonderful expression of green tea, apples and almonds. The finish showcases a perfectly balanced acidity with hints of orange and herbs.
- The Score: This wine has me transfixed on what Riesling can be in New York. A highlight of my tasting line-up, the wine scores 4 out of 5 ($26). If you can find this wine at under $20 buy a case.
The 2006 Sheldrake Point Reserve Riesling is a showcase of quality for Finger Lakes Riesling. A balance of complex green tea, tart apple, almonds and herbs pair perfectly with a crisp acidity that leaves you longing for another sip. $26 (4 out of 5)
Overheard on Twitter:
|swirlsipsnark:||wow – not used to tasting orange in wine – but really digging the novel experience with this sheldrake #flxwine|
Cellar Tracker Scores of 87 pts
Wine Spectator Score of 87 pts
2009 Lamoreaux Landing Yellow Dog Riesling
- The Stuff: No detail provided other than 100% Riesling; 11.8%ABV
- The Swirl: A very light pale honey and lemon color. Seems to present slightly more viscosity
- The Sniff: Ouch, I just got smacked in the nose with peaches. After wiping the peach juice away more undertones of sweet pears and slight steel.
- The Sip: More fruit forward and presents itself being slightly more sweet but still on the dry side. Feels more full bodied in the mouth. A good flavor of passion fruit and minerality with medium acidity. Simple, straight forward wine.
- The Score: Provides a great nose and good flavor but lacks the complexity that is notorious with Riesling. At $20 still earns a solid quality score of 3+ out of 5
Overheard on Twitter:
|Evandawson:||This LL is an obstreperous, recalcitrant child. Acerbic, but then sweet. Young, over-eager. Will mature|
2007 Heron Hill Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from Ingle Vineyard, 1.44% residual sugar, 12%ABV
- The Swirl: Very light in color with only a hint of yellow hue
- The Sniff: Distinct petrol and a hint of mint. The sniff presented a slight tinge on the upper register of my nose. Not sure what caused it, possible alcohol or sulfur.
- The Sip: A fantastic display of character on this wine. Wonderful flavors of honey, granola, and peach make for a very enjoyable experience. A touch of sweetness balanced with good acidity make this an elegant mouth feel that begs for more.
- The Score: At only $15, another fantastic display of quality and value from Finger Lakes. Easily the best Riesling I’ve had from the region scoring a 4+ out of 5.
The 2007 Heron Hills Riesling is a lesson in quality and value for the region. Classic Riesling aromas of petrol, mint, and citrus translate into elegant medium-dry flavors of honey, granola and peach. A fantastic showcase that scores 4+ out of 5 ($15)
Overheard on Twitter:
|canapes45:||RT @pinotblogger: Heron Hill! Wow petrol. I’m smitten. Perfumy fruit balancing it. Off dry, great acid, long finish. Price is right. A fav! #flxwine|
Cellar tracker score of 88
2009 Swedish Hill Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling, 2.5% residual sugar, 12%ABV, 900 cases produced
- The Swirl: Pearls, champagne and pale honey colors
- The Sniff: Reserved nose that lacks clear distinction of aroma (even at close to room temperature). Slight floral aroma with moderate undertones of sweet peach
- The Sip: A crowd favorite due to the moderate sweetness. Fantastic sipping wine that has nice flavors of peach and a hint of spicy white pepper and citrus. The acidity provides a nice balance to the sweetness and is overall a solid medium dry wine for those that want a hint of sweet.
- The Score: Balance is the name of the game here. What the wine lacks in aroma, it makes up for in flavor and balance. A fantastic deck wine to cool off with on a hot New York night. I score this wine 3+ out of 5 (price not known).
Overheard on Twitter:
|nectarwine:||I’ve got to say, I’m completely and totally impressed with #flxwine – You popped my NY cherry tonight and I shall never forget you!|