Year one of Nectar Tasting Room is in the books and it has been a year of incredible life, business, and marketing lessons. Being a business owner I have experienced some moments of extreme joy, gratitude, frustration and sheer terror. Nectar is my first business venture and as an entrepreneurial virgin I learned a great deal during the first year. I’m not offering any of this as expert advice to young start ups, rather consider it some viewpoints from someone who went down the road and experienced a modest amount of success and a great deal of opportunities for growth.
Things that didn’t work
I’ll start with the biggest areas of opportunity that I learned and observed from the first year.
This seems like a simple no brainer but a lot of energy goes into opening a business and making projections, securing funds, getting permits and just opening the flippin’ doors, planning the details of a full year of events and activities can be a challenge. At Nectar we overlooked the various events that pulled people out of the downtown core, the nuances of local events like Hoopfest, Armed Forces Lilac Parade, and the summer exodus for many Spokane residents.
In 2012 we have these events locked in and will be marketing differently during the summer. The best advice I can give to a start up is to take a moment to plan. When you’ve got things planned out, sit down with a group of business friends and plan even more. When that is over, keep planning.
One of my biggest struggles this year was staying organized and on top of all the little details. Some of this comes from the fact I am still managing a full time day job, was going through a divorce, and was also building the foundations for other business opportunities. Being unorganized caused too many things to sneak up on me that made us less productive and less profitable.
This year I am organizing my files and will hand over some of the details to someone else. Many start ups are too small to afford an assistant but struggle with the time to manage everything. Focus on the areas you are good at (for me it’s marketing and communication) and delegate some of the other areas (for me that would be finance and payroll).
We are a winery
While our space looks/feels like a wine bar, we are actually a winery; FIVE of them in one space. One struggle this year has been marketing one of our biggest strengths. Visitors get to experience FIVE Washington wineries and over 40+ wines in one location. We focus on wine education, showcase unique varietals, and also have the space to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. A focus this year will be getting the word out about the wineries in the spot and hosting more and more Saturday / Sunday afternoon wine tasting traffic.
During our anniversary weekend I was asked over and over, “Did the first year meet your expectations?” That is a difficult question because I have VERY high expectations. Did we meet sales projections? Not quite, but that was mostly due to an unexpectedly slow summer. Did we make money (which is the key question)? Yes, but not enough to quit my day job. I AM very proud of what we accomplished in year one and Spokane residents must agree because we were voted by Inland Business Catalyst Magazine as the “Best Business Start Up” for the year. Below are the key contributors to our success and I encourage any start up to place your focus here.
Over and over again relationship marketing through Facebook and Twitter proved to be the best drivers of traffic. The relationships built through social networks extended beyond the internet into face to face with so many significant partnerships. Success stories include visitors from San Francisco, Washington DC and even Australia who started following my blog through Twitter. Each of these people spent money at Nectar. We also exclusively marketed many events just through our social networks and email list (now over 1000 strong). Many of these events were sold out or packed including the Spokane Wine Magazine release party (close to 100 people), New Year’s Eve event, and our Wine and Dine dinners. Staying completely social, we hosted over 40 people for a tweetup in December. The largest gathering so far for this type of event in Spokane.
A side note to this online marketing is the success of sites like Groupon and Deal Planet. We ran three deals in 2011 and have seen so much positive response. When using these deal sites, there are several important things to consider. Check out my post “Five Tips for Thriving with Groupon”
Membership has its privileges
I love my members. They are the biggest ambassadors and supporters we have. Now over 300 strong, our club membership is the most consistent driver of bottle sales and event tickets. Many of our members make visiting Nectar a regular routine of their weekly schedule. We will continue to look for ways to add value for our club members to reward them for their loyalty. If you’re not a member, check out our two wine clubs (Club Nectar and Quarterly Sip). You can even join online.
It is important to give back to the community in which you do business. Spokane has given Nectar their support and we eagerly jump on opportunities to support charity events and non-profit organizations. We were proud to offer discounted or free event rental services to the following non-profits this year; National Association of Business Women, Green Drinks, Spokane Symphony, American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest, Project Beauty Share, Make a Wish Foundation, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Collectively these organizations raised over $10,000 at their events and Nectar was proud to donate over $1000 in 2011.
Key areas of focus for 2012
I recently completed a S.W.O.T. (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) analysis for Nectar. Below are the key areas of focus that you will see to make 2012 even better than 2011. The foundations have been set, now it’s time to launch into the stratosphere of success!
- Menu partnership with 4-5 restaurants that surround Nectar. Offering a greater food option to our guests.
- Introduce a small amount of retail product as the year progresses
- Consistent calendar of events (dinner, wine classes, and new events)
- Greater partnership with local non-profits and charities
- Brand merchandise – soon you’ll be able to wear your Nectar loyalty
- Event coordinator and space rental – We have one of the most beautiful spaces in the heart of downtown Spokane. Our goal is to have the space rented 6-10 times per month for groups of 20-100. Check out our EVENT PAGE for details.
- More consistent blogging. Yep – it drives traffic. Google search is a key driver of business.
05 Jan 2012
As the clock struck midnight recently we left one year behind us and embraced all the hope and expectations of a brand new year. What will the 12 months of 2012 hold for you? I’m a firm believer that we are creators of our circumstance and drivers of our destiny. My hope for each of you is that you choose joy, peace and success for 2012. We’ll continue to be here to help you celebrate. Celebration is a sustainer of momentum. Stay connected with all our great events and be on the lookout for several new and fun happenings here at Nectar. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
FRIDAY / SATURDAY – Celebrate our one year anniversary. Join the party Friday or Saturday, January 6 or 7. Friday night enjoy the music of Rachel Bade-McMurphy Jazz Trio and meet the winery owners and wine makers for Skylite Cellars and Northwest Cellars. Oh, yeah…it’s also First Friday and we’re showing the artwork of the talented Kathleen Cavender.
On Saturday, Nectar will be giving away prizes every hour on the hour that include bottles of wine, club memberships, and tickets to upcoming events. Saturday night meet the winemakers and winery owners from Anelare, Hard Row to Hoe, and Terra Blanca. “Each winery is bringing something unique that our customers have never had and there will be some amazing deals on select products too,” Wade says. Hours are Friday and Saturday Noon-10pm.
TUESDAY – Are you looking for ways to get ahead, reach more customers and generate more revenue? Learn how to integrate social media tools into your business strategy. Visit Spokane and Josh Wade, owner of Nectar Tasting Room and Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine are working together to provide social media workshops to our partners in early 2012.
- January 10, 2012, 4-5pm Planting the Seeds of Social Media Success
Learn how to integrate social media tools into your engagement strategy. Plant the seeds that will yield a harvest of social media success. REGISTER HERE
FRIDAY – Music from Mark Ward 6:30-9:30
SATURDAY – Music from Michael Jay Dwyer 6:30-9:30; The Final Sip 9:00-10:00pm
Always a good time at Nectar Tasting Room. Take a break from the cool winter inside our beautiful and modern space. Music from Maxie Ray Mills on Friday and Eric Neuhauser on Saturday. Music starts at 6:30 on both nights.
TUESDAY – 4-5pm Using Twitter to Make Your Business Fly
- We’ll walk through the basics of creating an account, learning the terms (@, mentions, DM, re-tweet, favorites, hashtags, etc), and how to grow a following. The class will also cover the powerful Twitter search engine and how you can use it to keep track of conversations that relate to your business in your area.
SATURDAY – Get tipsy and create a masterpiece. Get a few friends together for a fun afternoon painting class. $40 gets you all your art equipment, a three hour guided class and a wine tasting. Create a masterpiece of memories.
SUNDAY – Enjoy a five course wine dinner with the highly acclaimed and incredibly talented Chef Frank Magana. Chef Frank has been an executive chef and owner of the popular Picazo 717 restaurant in Prosser and Kennewick. Chef Frank has become the “wine country” chef of central Washington wineries like Alexandria Nicole, Terra Blanca, Col Solare, Desert Wind Winery and more. Experience a culinary delight that you won’t soon forget. See the menu and purchase tickets HERE.
04 Jan 2012
What were the most engaging posts on this blog for 2011? Which wine and social media news pieces rocked your world and made their way across the twitterverse and social web? I’m certain that your day won’t quite be the same without this information, so I’m taking the time to fulfill the emptiness in your life by sharing this highly sought after information.
I jest of course, however, I like to compile these posts for those new to the site, searching the site, and for posterity. It’s fun to look back at the ‘best of’ over the years.
The following were the ‘most engaging’ as ranked by PostRank.com/topic/wine. The engagement rankings are based on an algorithm of comments, retweets, and Facebook shares.
#10 & #9
Giving back should be a part of every business model. In August we announced a quarterly program called “Cheers for Charity” where we will partner with one local non-profit every quarter. We donate our space for an event and give back a portion of our proceeds to benefit the organization. September we partnered with the American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest and helped them raise $500. In December we hosted “A Season of Wishes and Wine” for the Make a Wish Foundation. They raised over $6,000 at that event. I’m proud to see these efforts in the top 10 for the year.
Four months before the official recognition as Washington’s 12th American Viticultural Association growing region, wine slinger Sulo Abeid offers a great piece of reporting on the proposed Naches Heights AVA and their efforts to be Washington’s only all-organic growing area.
Further proof that everyone loves crafty ideas using wine bottles and wine corks. Inspired by other popular posts on this blog and activity on Pinterest.com, we share 12 creative Christmas decorating ideas using wine bottles and corks. While the holidays are behind us for 2011, make these part of your 2012 plans.
I love it when Spokane based posts rank so high in lists like this. It shows the great interest in Spokane wine and the power of Google search. Originally appearing in the second issue of Spokane Wine Magazine, this article by Sulo Abeid highlights the activities and events around one of Spokane’s premier wine events.
Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ offer brands and businesses an opportunity to engage and develop relationships with their clients. This post looks at three of the basic rules of relationship marketing in the technology age. 1) Be Genuine 2) Be Purposeful 3) Be Giving.
Wine often mystifies and is seldom the same. Vintage variation, winemaker whimsy, and laborious labels can make choosing something you LOVE like dropping a quarter in the state of Texas and sending you out blindfolded to find it. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “What is your favorite wine?” I would actually be writing this post from the beaches of Aruba or some exotic place. To help answer the question, I’ve identified the 5 best wines you will ever have. I’m sure you’ll agree!
Businesses know the power of a ‘like,’ referral or recommendation. In July Facebook rolled out recommendations for business pages (and at the time, ‘places’ pages). This post looked at the new features and some potential uses for businesses looking to maximize the power of a referral.
What happens when a young, hip 24 year old goes wine tasting among the snobbery? Find out in this interesting look at age discrimination in the wine business. This guest post by wine slinger Ben Hilzinger struck a chord with many people and includes some great dialogue in the comments from winery owners and tasting room operators.
Most Viewed New Posts of 2011
- Five Things NOT to do While Wine Tasting
- Wine Tasting Tips For Wine Newbies
- 12 Merry Wine Christmas Decorations
Most Viewed Posts of ALL TIME
08 Dec 2011
Welcome to winter. While we got a good dose of snow before Thanksgiving, so far our early winter has been marked by sunshine. Hard to believe that November is gone, Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas is right around the corner, and 2011 is nearly in the history books. How can this be? Well, after planning the December calendar, it’s obvious. We’re freakin’ busy. Check out all the rad (yes I said rad and I’m assuming you are old enough to laugh about it) stuff happening at Nectar. We know you have holiday plans and those plans require wine. Look for specials in our weekly email all month long! We also have some custom labeled “Happy Holidays” wine from Northwest Cellars and Christmas 3 pack gift boxes from Skylite Cellars.
- Thursday – Enjoy 1/2 price appetizers with the purchase of a bottle. FINAL day of some of our sale wines as well (Nonna Viola, Skylite Merlot, NWC Madrigal).
- First Friday – We welcome the colorful and abstract art from the talented Brendan Genther. See all of Brendan’s art here. Artist reception starts at 5:00pm and music from Karrie O’Neill goes from 6:30 – 9:30. Call to reserve a table 509.869.1572
- Saturday – We welcome back the owners of Anelare Winery from 2-7pm. Kahryn and Forrest are bringing some wooden wine gift boxes and will be offering some specials on their wine. Give the gift of Anelare this Christmas!
Want to paint a masterpiece? Join Van Gogh & Merlot from 1-4pm for a guided art class. The price is $40 and includes materials, wine tasting and a special on wine bottles purchased to go. RSVP here. The painting is the image to the right.
Events, Events and more Events
We’ve got private and public events booked out for most of December. If you’re still looking for a place to have your family, office or client holiday party, contact us ASAP 509.869.1572
- December 6 5-7pm: Inland Imaging Vines and Veins – Premium NW wines, hors d’oeuvres. Informative presentation from Dr. Rod Raabe. Gift item for all who RSVP in advance. Prize drawings. Complimentary screening for spider and varicose veins available. FREE
- December 7 6-9pm; Season of Wishes and Wine – Join our quarterly non-profit partner for a magical night of wishes and wine. With the $25 ticket price you will enjoy a night of wine tasting, light appetizers, silent auction, and a souvenir wine glass. The event is nearly sold out so don’t delay.
THURSDAY – As always wind down your week with Thirsty Thursday; 1/2 price appetizer plates with a bottle purchase.
FRIDAY – Musical masterpieces by Maxie Ray Mills from 6:30-9:30; STOP by all day for an Anelare Cabernet Vertical. Taste five years of Anelare Cabernet for $15 – 2 ounce pours of each. Get 30% off on all vintages before 2009.
SATURDAY – THE Seattle Wine Gal is stopping by Nectar for a visit. To celebrate, we’re popping bubbles. Enjoy all three sparkling wines with the popular social media queen. SWG is an online and offline personality in the wine and social media world. If you have questions about social media marketing, you won’t want to miss this visit. SWG will be at Nectar from 4pm until the bubbles run dry. See her bio here. The Final Sip at 9:00.
MONDAY – Get all geeky with a #vinogeek tweetup. Think twitter is weird, think again. Join 20-40 of the coolest people in Spokane for a fun night of wine and geeky mayhem. Enjoy $5 glasses of wine 20% off bottle purchases ‘to go’ light appetizer plates, cupcakes from Sweet & Stout and sweet treats from Savor Sweets. Don’t forget about the ‘festive sweater’ contest. Winner will get a free bottle of wine! RSVP HERE.
THURSDAY – Thirsty Thursday rocks. Come find out why
FRIDAY – Time for the RESERVE FLIGHT to make an appearance again. Taste 5 of our BEST wines for only $10 (members $5). All these bottles are very special and are rarely open. MUSIC, Michael Jay Dwyer 6:30-9:30
SATURDAY – One of the last chances to get your Christmas wine. Stop by for up to 50% off on select wines from Terra Blanca and 35% off Pinot Noir and Primitivo by the case from Hard Row. Need Chardonnay? Try Northwest Cellars at only $12 per bottle. MUSIC – We welcome Ron Criscione for the very first time 6:30-9:30; The Final Sip, 9:00
THURSDAY – Inlaws invading? Escape with wine.
Stop by Friday and Saturday for the final weekend of sales including specials on the bubbles for your New Year’s Eve celebrations!
New Year’s Eve at Nectar
Join us for an evening of dining, ‘wine’ing and music as you ring in 2012 with a small group of friends at Nectar. $75 gets you and a guest a buffet style dinner, bottle of wine (up to $30), sparkling wine toast, and music from Kathleen Cavender. Get all the details and buy your tickets now. VERY LIMITED.
09 Nov 2011
Over the next few weeks we’ll be gathering with our friends and family to give thanks, share gifts and raise a toast to the year that was. For most of you, wine is a natural accompaniment to these joyful occasions. We want to be there with you to help you celebrate from the pop of Northwest Cellars sparkling wine to the a playful ‘Shameless Hussy’ gift. As we say thanks, I want to thank you for all of your support. I am thankful for Nectar Tasting Room as a business and for each of you as friends (awww…mushy, I know). Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
THURSDAY- As always, the best place to enjoy a glass of wine. 1/2 price appetizer plates with the purchase of a bottle, free Wi-Fi to study or have a business meeting, and great atmosphere.
FIRST FRIDAY – As part of this month’s First Friday, Nectar is a proud participant in the Community Colleges of Spokane SPE November Gallery Tour. On display is the art of TWO talented photographers, Erin Jennings and Michael Emme.
- MUSIC – One of our all time favorite acts is back for First Friday. Enjoy the swing, blues, bluegrass sounds of The Vagabonds Traveling Show from 6:30-9:30.
Check out all the Downtown Partnership First Friday activities
SATURDAY: Saturday afternoon is a perfect time to swing by for some wine tasting with friends. Headed out for a night on the town. Stop in for The Final Sip between 9:00-10:00.
THURSDAY – Symphony Night at Nectar. Stephanie Hatzinikolis will provide the music as Nectar will donate 10% off all the nights revenue back to the Spokane Symphony. This is a great way to support one of Spokane’s best institutions! Please join us 5-9pm.
FRIDAY – If you’re not headed to Epicurean Delight, won’t you please stop by for a night of wine tasting with friends. We’re also a great stopping point for a relaxing glass of wine, just walking distance from the convention center.
SATURDAY – Beat the crowds and get your Thanksgiving wine. Acoustic Variety from Ken Davis and Danny Rodriguez from 6:30-9:30; The Final Sip (Spokane’s favorite wine party) from 9-10pm.
November 17-20 (Holiday Wine Fest Weekend)
Get all of your holiday wine shopping out of the way with some major deals from all five Nectar Wineries. With 25 wineries in Spokane to choose from make sure you plan your route to maximize your fun. Enjoy 25-50% off select Nectar wines that will perfectly pair with your holiday activities. We will also have great deals on our annual membership and 2 for 1 wine tasting too (great stocking stuffer)!
Get the full scoop on the 26th annual Holiday Wine Festival here. Holiday wine fest runs Friday – Sunday.
Friday – Music with Maxie Ray Mills
Saturday – Music with Michael Dwyer
Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your family and friends!
RED WHITE and ROSE FRIDAY – The shopping season officially begins with black Friday. We’ve got the cure with red, white and rose Friday. Bring in any shopping receipt from the day and get a FREE wine tasting. Relax after a long day of shopping with live music from 6:30-9:30.
The deals continue Saturday and Sunday (yes Sunday Noon-5pm). If you missed out on the Holiday Wine Festival, stop in and save!