08 Feb 2011
For thirteen month’s I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things across the interwebs, twitterverse and bloggersphere. I’ve used these “Nectar Honors” posts as a way to archive the monthly happenings in my life and in the wine world (at least the wine world as I see it). While January was bar none the busiest month of my life, it has not gone by without its sacrifices. One, my personal life and two, routine blog posts seem to be the two main casualties dashed on the floor like spilled glasses of wine. The build-up, branding and marketing of the last year became a beautiful showcase of Washington wine and an example of how online marketing and building relationships through social media can pay huge dividends. While this post is still about the best of January 2011, I just wanted to share some highlights from our first month in business. I share this, not to pat myself on the back, but to show the amazing potential of an engaged group of followers and ambassadors.
- $20,000 in revenue with absolutely zero $ spent in marketing
- 130 Club Nectar memberships sold
- Steady web site traffic with a noticeable shift in search terms to “Nectar” or “Nectar Tasting Room”
- Media exposure through newspaper, local entertainment publication (The Inlander), Journal of Business and two features on KXLY TV
- Sold out social media class
- Requests for speaking engagements to present on social media and business
- Four new clients for social media consulting and management
My nine blog posts and six wines reviewed was the lowest total since this project began. Since opening the tasting room, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying wine from the five participating wineries. People are always asking me my favorite wines. While I hate to play favorites, I can say that I bought a bottle of 2007 Northwest Cellars 100% Carmenere (now sold out).
Top Posts from Around the Web
Favorite Social Media and Marketing Posts
RickBakas begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlig Social Media ad Spending INFOGRAPHIC http://bit.ly/i4svym #sm #marketing
Wine Business Posts
Best Wine Expose
Posts that Made Me Spit Wine Out My Nose
Most Viewed Nectar Wine Blog Post
Nectar Opens to A Packed House – The Social Media Experiment http://drinknectar.com/2011/01/13/the-social-experiment-nectar-opens-to-a-packed-house/
01 Feb 2011
ValenWine weekend is quickly approaching. While many dread the Hallmark holiday of February 14, it is a dedicated day of the year for all the hopeless romantics to celebrate love…even if it’s just the hope of finding love some day. Tired of the same old flowers and a card, last minute Valentine’s gift? Get ready for something special, romantic and memorable.
The Spokane Winery Association has announced their first annual ValenWine Weekend. In the spirit of love, all 18 wineries of the Spokane Winery Association will host a special celebration of wine tasting with Valentine’s sweets. All 18 wineries will feature miniature heart cookies from the Rocket Bakery. Create some new memories Saturday and Sunday (February 12-13) from 11AM – 5PM; tasting fees may apply. (CLICK HERE to download a map).
Nectar Tasting Room is excited to be joining with the 18 SWA wineries to celebrate this special day. The tasting room will have five stations of chocolate and wine pairings from Pixie Dust Chocolates along with a custom ValenWine label and flowers from Just Roses Plus. A limited edition Nectar Romance Package includes flowers, chocolates and an amazing wine with a custom label (pictured below) where you can write your own romantic note to that special someone. Quantities are limited to 36 and are available for pre-order for just $49. Call 509.869.1572 to pre-order.
Wrap up your wine tasting with some soulful acoustic sounds from local musicians starting at 6pm on Friday and Saturday.
Break out of the routine and uninspired Valentine’s gifts and give the gift of ValenWine with Spokane Wineries and Nectar Tasting Room this year!
25 Jan 2011
Staying ahead of marketing trends is important. As a new business owner consumed with two thoughts; 1) how do I get people through the door, and 2) how do I give them the best possible experience when they arrive, I have a new appreciation for marketing trends and their potential uses at Nectar Tasting Room. There are smart people that get paid a great deal of money to offer analysis and recommendation to businesses on their marketing strategies. I am not one of them. Over the years of marketing at church, at a top global bank, and now with the magazine and tasting room, I’ve made two valuable observations:
- People want to be connected – People love to be a small part of something big. This is a testimony to the power of the “like” button on Facebook or “following” a business on Twitter.
- People want an experience – You can go to a winery and taste wine and leave or you can go to a winery and interact with the winemaker, take a tour of the facility, taste directly from the barrel and walk away with a memory and an experience.
I’m always looking for the power of connection that can bring people in the door and the engaging experience that keeps them coming back. Here is a look at three (not the only three or the best three…just three) marketing trends to watch for 2011.
Location Based Marketing
Do you Foursquare? Do you use Facebook Places? I’ve asked these questions of people as they come in the tasting room the last three weeks. Using my scientific formula I would guesstimate that about 10% of the people who come in have heard of Foursquare and about 3.28% actually use it. In my opinion, sites like Gowalla, Foursquare, Scvngr, and the new king, Facebook Places are barely scratching the surface of potential. With barely 20% of the world using smart phones, the potential growth is staggering.
Location based marketing has several great benefits. It creates loyalty and connection. It adds to a customer’s experience. It shares with all of their friends / fans / followers that they have been to your business thus increasing your potential marketing impressions. You can offer deals, reward loyalty, create challenges, and share information with people who check in (varies depending on application).
With Facebook’s entry into the game, 600 million users now have potential access to check in, savings, tagging and sharing. Foursquare continues to plug along with their model and maintains the lead in overall use but rest assure that as Facebook ramps up marketing and enhancements to the application, Foursquare may struggle to survive. Services like Scvngr offer a ray of excitement as businesses can add challenges or tasks to perform and can connect with other businesses to create a scavenger hunt type experience.
P.S. Check in at Nectar Tasting Room – They mayor gets a complimentary tasting bar flight and new check ins get $1 off of glass pours.
How can these funny little box codes make a dent in the marketing world? According to Wikipedia, QR Codes are a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.
Businesses can use a simple (and free) QR Code generator that can point people to specific information about a product, web site, or event page. Why not point people to the page where you can actually BUY the product. Any user with a camera ready smart phone can take a picture of the QR Code and have instant access to the information. Mobile marketing…mobile connection…mobile experience. A recent article on Enobytes.com goes as far as to say…
“I see QR codes exploding in the industry. It’s a marketing tool not fully being utilized in the wine business. It is the future of marketing, but it will take a considerable amount of effort for wineries and others to embrace it.”
While I don’t agree entirely with the prediction (explanation later), I do think the QR Code is an intriguing way of marketing specific information to a limited demographic. The problem with claiming QR Codes as “the future of marketing” is it assumes an easy adoption. Not only does a user have to have a smart phone, they have to download an app to recognize the picture AND it assumes that the person even knows what they are supposed to do with it. QR Codes will play a short term role in marketing and they are a fun and innovative way to share information. At Nectar Tasting Room, I plan on implementing them on our table toppers and maybe even in the front window (for our hours and Facebook page).
Group Buying Coupons
Everyone loves a deal. Get $20 worth of tacos for $10. Save 50% on clothes from Macy’s. Engaging customers through group buying deals, (Groupon, Living Social, Deal Planet, etc) has come on strong during the great recession. Merchants are looking for customers and cash flow, and customers are looking for deals. Groupon is so popular that Google offered to pay 6 BILLION to acquire them. A quick pulse check in every major (and minor) metro area across the US will reveal hundreds of Groupon copy cats.
A testament to the power of Groupon (and also a warning) – Prior to launch I did a Groupon for Nectar Tasting Room. I knew enough to know that I couldn’t support a discount on wine. Groupon asks for a minimum of 50% off on a product and then takes 50% of the actual sale price. Offering $50 worth of wine for $25 would mean that I would actually receive $12.50 for each Groupon sold. While cash flow may be good, the potential marketing cost could be high, especially if I didn’t have a way to capture any data on those purchases.
I chose to do a Groupon for my club membership, Club Nectar. The normal cost for the frequency based annual membership is $75. We offered the Groupon at $35 and sold 120 of them. The actual cost of the product on my end is $0 (although the potential for frequent users could certainly stress the costs), so to offer them at $35 seemed appropriate. Starting the business with 120 people who are incented to visit on a regular basis has proven to be a wonderful surprise. The added benefit is the capture of each of these member’s email addresses for added follow up and connection.
Several marketing trends are playing out for 2011. In my opinion, keep your eye on these. They could be great avenues for increased connection and customer experience.
18 Jan 2011
Remember when you first fell in love? This weekend I was reminded of what it was like to explore wine for the first time. Do you remember you first wine experience? Think back to the explosion of flavor, the romance, the mystery…and the excitement of the unknown. Do you sniff then swirl, or is it sip, then sniff? What is a Rose? What is the all the fuss?
Saturday I experienced the joy of helping two people through their first wine tasting. Both ladies were brought in by their wine loving friends and both were so excited for their first experience. There was nervousness and an anticipation that accompanied the fear of the unknown. Think back to a first date. These are the feelings and emotions that seemed to explode out of first time wine explorers.
The Joy of the First Time
The first kiss, the first car, the first touch, the first sip; each imparts a memory that will not soon be forgotten. I remember my first time. I was 16 and the night was hot and passionate. The windows of the car were getting steamy…
…uh, oops, wrong story….
I remember my first time. I picked out a wine for a date, unsure of what to get. After awkwardly fumbling with the cork, I finally managed to pour the Merlot into the glass. I watched as she swirled the wine in the glass and then lifted it to her nose. I did the same. As the liquid flowed over my tongue, I was hooked. The flavor was new, intense, full of fruit, and intriguing. Each sip brought a new rush of intensity. I knew this was more than an alcoholic beverage. This was art with layers of depth that begged to be explored.
Saturday, I watched as two people experienced the same awakening and arousal from the fermented grape. Their eyes lit up with joy and each wine brought a slew of new questions and curiosities. Each swirl, sniff, sip brought a smile to their face.
“Why do you swirl the wine?”
It releases the aroma so you can get a better sensory experience. It also helps bring oxygen into the wine which can soften some of the rough edges as it opens up.
“What am I smelling or tasting?”
Start with the basic taste characteristics of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Then move on to any fruit flavors and aromas that you can identify. Next, are there any spice or herb components and finally, do you detect any earth or mineral flavors and aromas.
“This is so cool!” exclaimed both participants. The questions continued and the curiosity was contagious as the world of wine wonderment unfolded before them. The wine tasting started with a dry rosé and included a pinot noir, merlot, syrah, and finally a late harvest chenin blanc. One lady enjoyed the wine more as the tasting got heavier, but balked at the syrah. The other’s preference was the syrah. However, in the end both wine explorers purchased the Terra Blanca Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.
“It’s like a tropical fruit salad dessert in a glass!”
Success! Wine loving converts. Ambitious explorers who will be back for more. Their trip to the store will now include a walk down the wine section. Their confidence and knowledge of what wine to bring to parties has increased.
Guiding these two wide eyed women through their first tasting was fun. It reminded me of why wine is exciting and why I wanted to get into this business of blogging, writing, and selling wine. Too often we analyze the juice like a science project and forget it is a passionate expression of some creative wine maker. It’s a personal experience with personal preference. As Charles Smith of K-Vintners says, “It’s just booze, drink it.” Explore through repetition and variety and remember to savor each sip.
What is your favorite part of wine tasting? Leave a note for all those wine explorers those who are beginning the journey full of question, intimidation, and curiosity. Remember, enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
One week ago today I was frantic. The blog that began in November 2009, with the intention to start a business, was finally fulfilling its vision. Just hours before opening we were still waiting for fire department approval, decorations were still arriving, catering for the evening had yet to arrive, and the credit card terminal still wasn’t processing. As someone who prides themselves on being organized, I felt overwhelmed and under prepared. How would the weekend turn out? Could social media marketing motivate people to action? Would the whole event be a non-event or would we experience success?
For those that regularly read this blog, I hope you are not tiring of the recent posts on the new adventure. I plan on returning to a regular schedule of wine reviews, wine business, and entertaining observations of the wine world (or at least I hope they are entertaining). This post is less about the tasting room and more about the power of social media in action.
I’ve long known and believed in the power of social media to call people to action. In March, and again in June of 2010, we (I and several other Washington wine bloggers) used Twitter and Facebook to draw hundreds of people together online AND in wineries to celebrate Washington Merlot and Washington wine. These events showed me that people are listening online and those people are passionate about wine.
The Social Experiment
Nectar Tasting Room was built using social media and I’m committed to continuing this social media experiment for as long as I can. Other than the capital costs of web design, logo development and some interior and exterior signs, I spent zero marketing dollars on Nectar Tasting Room. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back; actually I pat you on the back for being passionate ambassadors of the business. The results were overwhelming:
- Prior to launching, using Groupon and LaunchPadINW, we sold 120 Club Nectar memberships. This annual membership provides savings and rewards frequent visits. To have 120 members for a business that has never opened its doors is powerful. Memberships are $75 if you want one.
- Weekend receipts were nearly $8,000, over 25 cases of wine (no, I don’t mind sharing this).
- Friday night was standing room only from 6-11pm (people stayed way after the open sign was turned off every night).
- We have already booked 6 private events with inquiries coming in daily. P.S. we can host your group from 10-75 as well. Send an email to email@example.com for details.
At one point at the height of our busiest time, a good friend of mine, Ed Reese from Sixth Man Marketing, leaned over and jokingly said, “This whole wine and social media thing…it’s never going to work.” Now, I’m do dummy, I don’t expect these results every weekend. In fact, I fully expect this weekend to be half as busy. We’ve got a few marketing ideas in place but most of them were either focused on last weekend or upcoming weekends.
Why Did It Work?
The success was actually a result of hitting the sweet spot of relationships, social networking, and traditional media. It has been fun getting to know each of you (virtually and in real life). The relationships we’ve built online and through local networking events have generated what I like to call “brand ambassadors.” YOU are my marketing team and you didn’t let me down.
The immediate reach of social media and the power to instantly share the blog posts, Facebook updates and Tweets provides a force of marketing. The post referencing the grand opening was shared on Facebook and Twitter over 100 times. This reach translates into tens of thousands of impressions. The final piece to the puzzle is traditional media mentions. Still a force to be reckoned with, the newspaper and local entertainment magazine, The Inlander, mentioned our opening and the result was traffic.
What Did We Learn?
“For one of the most organized people I know, a lot sure did take you by surprise this weekend,” said a good friend of mine. Well…yeah…it sure did. I think I can attribute that to the lack of brain power. I was so focused on all the details surrounding the opening that I lost sight of some of the most basic process pieces.
- Hot water tank was not sufficient to run the dishwasher over and over again on a busy night. We remedied this by installing an instant hot.
- Bottle neck at the register as we hunted and pecked to find the products. Solution, UPC codes entered, and UPC sheets printed for an easy scan of glass pours, flights, and tasting fees.
- Food. We provided a very small catered menu this weekend and we are still working out a long term solution for our small plate and dessert menu.
- Too many menu options on First Friday. I was warned but I ignored the advice. First Friday will always be super busy, going forward we will only offer glass and bottle sales for this night.
- We were under staffed. Solution – I hired someone who starts this weekend and another person will be starting in February.
- Process – I am a process nut at my day job. Everything is documented and has a written procedure. This is on my next steps list to help with the flow at the tasting room.
This is my first business. Every day I learn something valuable and I rely on a team of people around me to give me good advice and help me succeed. So, here we are, continuing with this social media experiment. So far, so good, check back with me in six months and I’ll let you know how it went.
P.S. Come on in to the tasting room this weekend (January 13-15), mention this blog post, and I’ll give you $1 off your order.