22 Mar 2011
“What happens when we live in the word of mouth world? What happens when brands can be humanized? There is enormous ROI in a tweet.” ~ Gary Vaynerchuk; ‘The Thank You Economy.’
I want to personally thank Gary Vaynerchuk for the success of DrinkNectar.com, Spokane Wine Magazine and Nectar Tasting Room. 15 months ago, Gary’s book Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion, was the catalyst for everything I’m doing now. The concept was in my head, the business plan was written, and the timing was always considered, “sometime in the future,” until reading ‘Crush It.’
In summary, Crush It is:
- You can brand yourself using social media tools
- Using a blog as a central source is the best strategy
- Content is king
- Content, Conversation, Share, Care
As I started implementing the strategies presented in Crush It, I was blown away by the results. In a few short months my personal brand grew and many opportunities began to present themselves. Just three months into my experiment I was offered the opportunity to write a few articles for Gary’s web site Corkd.com. In April, 2010 I was asked to write on a regular basis for the revamped Corkd.com. While I couldn’t commit to as many articles as Gary was looking for, I was happy to provide one post per week as my time allowed.
We are living in an amazing time. Brands have the incredible potential of affordably engaging with hundreds (even thousands) of customers. The world is getting infinitely smaller as word of mouth marketing goes viral with Twitter and Facebook. When starting my social experiment, I remember the looks on people’s faces. “You’re going to do what with what?” Gary, THANK YOU. Thank you for sharing your personal experience in a real world way.
I also want to say congratulations, Gary, on the 1000th (and final) episode of Wine Library TV. The show thatstarted it all and inspired hundreds of wine bloggers (including myself) has left its mark as it changed the wine world. Not one to stay static, the incredibly energetic Vaynerchuk launched his new venture, DailyGrape.com the same day as the wrap of Wine Library TV. Daily Grape provides a daily dose of wine education and recommendations from Gary. The site is accompanied by a free iPhone app (other platforms coming soon). Right now, content is light but each day brings something new. At this rate, Gary will hit 1000 Daily Grape episodes in mid 2014.
AUGUST 23 UPDATE
Today, Gary announced his retirement from the daily wine video. Gary has been such an inspiration to so many people (me included). While Gary will still remain in wine with Wine Library and other ventures, he will continue to work as a marketing consultant, public speaker, author, wine educator and more. Thanks, Gary, for all your dedication and inspiration to the wine world!
In addition to all the big changes at the Vaynerchuk empire, Gary’s new book, The Thank You Economy arrived in stores in early March. Watch Gary explain, The Thank You Economy Book.
17 Jun 2010
I’ve got web design on the brain. My day job has had me buried in web design politics for going on 18 months now. We’ve been through 3 major iterations and have just completed user testing with 37 people from San Jose to Sao Paulo and Boston to Beijing. We’ve broken the project down into a few phases, the first of which will go live (fingers crossed) on November 17. The final phases will probably keep me employed (again fingers crossed) through 2011. From there I hope to be in a position to launch my diabolical wine and coffee world domination plan. In the meantime, I was playing around in one of my favorite wine playground web sites, Corkd.com, and thought I would suggest some redesign opportunities.
Gary Vaynerchuk bought Corkd.com in May of 2007. After several years little attention, Gary announced a commitment to Cork’d hoping to propel it into the wine stratosphere like his other ventures. Recently Cork’d went through a change in direction introducing article content to the site. At first articles were added as a secondary page called Cork’d Content featuring 1-2 articles per day. In April, Cork’d CEO Lindsay Ronga moved in a new direction with 4-5 daily articles bringing Cork’d Content to the front door and the social interaction elements of wine reviews, drinking buddies, and wine education to the background. I am a regular Cork’d Content provider, but I was puzzled by the separation rather than the integration of the two elements. I personally love the interactive element of the review feed, drinking buddies, and fanning grapes and wineries.
I’m not a graphic designer. In my day job, I manage the projects and make sure that the technology partners are delivering on what the line of business wants in a timely manner. In this Re-Cork’d review, I took all the elements that currently exist on the site and arranged them in a way that would make me want to use the site and stay on the site. At a high level, I think Cork’d is in need of some graphic overhaul from the logo to the coloring (the pink and red just aren’t inviting on the eyes). Below are the eight elements of the site that I would have on the page.
- Header: I would start by bringing over the header that exists on the wine review portion of the site. This encourages people to create an account and provides a search component for the great wine database within Cork’d. Opportunity exists here for greater visual weight and even incorporation of the navigation (element 2), and a new logo.
- Navigation: Navigation is helpful on any site. Currently the existing Cork’d navigation is available by clicking “Wine” from the home page. Bringing this over gives users an easy interaction to the reviews they enter, the people they connect with and the wines they are a fan of.
- Articles: Content is king and good content is sticky. Currently Cork’d has 4-5 articles per day. I’ve noticed a decrease in the interaction of articles here (comments, reactions, tweets, and facebook shares). People have a difficult time absorbing that much information. This section could be reduced to 2-3 really good articles per day to increase awareness. If they want a lot of information on site, they may be better off doing what WineBusiness.com does and creating a feed of top sites on the internet.
- Live Feed: I love this interactive part of Cork’d. Right now it is buried on page two. It provides a great way for people to see what is happening in real time with Cork’d users. Interaction can occur and people will stay on the site longer.
- Sponsors: I understand the need for sponsors, although I know that Cork’d doesn’t rely on them for their business model. Create a small space to bring awareness to key products but don’t overdo it.
- My Reviews: As a user of the reviews section, I would appreciate seeing my current reviews somewhere on the page. If a user doesn’t enter reviews, a default could be added to show the “featured user” current reviews or something similar.
- Contributor Reviews: To break up the article volume, a separate section could be created to house the posts by contributors that are wine reviews.
- Drinking Buddies and Fan: This section continues the interactive piece that was the original framework of Corkd.com. This makes the whole right side of the page very interactive and sticky for the user and builds on the wine community that helped build Cork’d into what it is.
Please understand that I’m not ripping on what Lindsay or Jonathan are doing over at Cork’d. I’m a huge fan. I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Troutman of Cork’d and Kristin Murphy from Wine Library on a recent trip to New York City. They are great people and fantastic winos. These are just ideas that I had swirling in my head as I carry my day job into my night hobby.
11 May 2010
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! “Woooolllff!” Run, hide, take cover, the apocalypse is now! “The world is drowning in an ocean of cheap wine.” 2008 and 2009 have been very challenging years. Many of you reading this have had to change your spending habits as your income has been diminished or has vanished entirely. The Great Recession, as it will end up being played out in the history books, has changed the landscape of nearly every industry and left its mark on just about every person in the world. How has the wine industry faired? What is the forecast for the future?
About a month ago, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a local winery. At that moment, I became VERY interested in the future of the wine business, direct to consumer marketing, inventory gluts, pricing discounts, data collection and marketing strategies. While the business opportunity recently fell through, I did learn an incredible amount during my research. After pouring through nearly 50 pages of information from Silicon Valley Bank’s “State of the Wine Industry” report, Vin65 blog posts, VinQuest Consumer Direct report and others, here is my take on the state of the wine industry. This is intended to be a Readers Digest synopsis – it is highly encouraged to read each of the three links above.
Continue reading the forecast at Cork’d. The synopsis includes Pricing, Distribution, Marketing, Consumers, Inventory, and the Forecast
22 Apr 2010
Today’s DrinkNectar post is featured on Cork’d. Head over there and check out the story about Twitter wine tasting events. Cork’d is becoming a fantastic resource for wine news and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Twitter wine tasting events are changing the wine community. I had the honor of co-sponsoring #WAMerlot and saw firsthand the power of the online community. As a wine brand, these events offer little or no cost opportunities for brand impressions, building your customer base and interacting with your existing customers. As a wine consumer, they provide an opportunity learn, engage and connect.
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the following Taste and Tweet events.
Taste Live – The premier web site for online wine and beer tastings
Community Wine Tastings on Twitter – A Facebook community to compliment the Taste and Tweet events on Twitter
Upcoming Taste and Tweet Events
June ??: Shhhh don’t tell, but a very special #WAWine tasting event will help bloggers get their palate primed for Washington wine before they converge upon Walla Walla. Hosted by NectarWine and several other amazing Washington ambassadors – Details coming on May 7!
09 Feb 2010
The work I do for my day job got me thinking about wine tracking / wine reviewing database sites. A recent project I was managing mashed together information from 17 web sites creating one global intranet site where 320,000 people view over 21 million pages each month. Over the weekend we launched the site and with a few minor glitches we were live for all to see on Monday.
Through my recent journey of wine reviews and wine blogging, I’ve discovered a need for a repository for the information. At the current pace, I’ll have a collection of 250 reviews by the end of the year. For me, keeping track of and referring to this information needs to be in a simple to use format. While many wine tracking sites are available, I’m reviewing my use of three: Cork’d, Cellar Tracker, and Vincellar.
Each of these sites has its strengths but I’m reviewing them based on my business requirements.
- I want a site that has easy entry of tasting notes, search of existing entries and easy recall of existing entries for comparison
- I want a site that allows me to easily slice and dice my entries by date, grape, price, score, etc.
- I want a site that is smooth, easy to navigate, and is not clunky or disjointed
- I want a site that provides the greatest exposure to the wineries being reviewed
- Nice to have: Connection to other wine lovers
Do you have a wine tracking site that you use? What do you like / not like about it? Let me know in the comments.
VinCellar stats indicate 74,000 users, nearly 600,000 cataloged wines and over 38,000 tasting notes. VinCellar’s unique feature is the ability to catalog, track and even sell your wine through their site.
The user interface of VinCellar is spectacular. The tabbed navigation allows for easy access to your cellar, tasting notes, and the community. Well placed buttons facilitate quick entry of new wine and updating “consuming” wine from your cellar. Overall the navigation is smooth, intuitive and contains some unique features. Each of the database collections is easy to sort, slice and dice for quick analysis of the wine entries.
What I Love:
VinCellar seems to love dashboards. I love dashboards. One of the coolest things for me is the tasting note dashboard that shows a synopsis of the entered wine including web pricing, community tasting note averages, other users who own the wine, and even a quick search menu of everything from Able Grape, Snooth, Wine Spectator and Wine Zap.
What I Don’t Love:
The lack of active users and tasting note entries often returns zero matches for comparison. Use of the search fields does not auto-populate with the data base. The community aspect seems to be focused on buying and selling wine, rather than sharing wine experiences.
Cork’d aims to be the “Simple way to review and share wine.” Cork’d has over 50,000 users. At publish of this article I was unable to validate the number of reviews in the database. Cork’d thrives on being a place where users can share and have a social experience with their wine tasting.
The Cork’d interface is bright and clean. Users can easily create profiles, add buddies and use Cork’d as a “Facebook” for wine conversations. Cork’d is also great at wine education and awareness with their database of grape profiles, winery profiles and the newly launched Cork’d Content that showcases articles about various wine topics.
What I Love:
I love the extensive database of wine and the ease of adding wine that is not already in the database. The format is also very conducive to conversation with other users through the discussion thread format on each database entry.
What I Don’t Love:
The navigation feels clunky and a little outdated. It is not easy to move from task to task, search or filter database entries, and slice and dice my existing entries. While I enjoy the conversational format and feedback of reviews, it takes too much time to find a consolidated list of comparative reviews. The database of reviews seems slightly larger than VinCellar but still returns zero results on some searches.
Cellar Tracker contains the largest database collection of the three boasting nearly 100,000 users and 1.2 million tasting notes. Cellar Tracker is simple in form and function and its users are active. Wine collections can easily be cataloged, tracked, and the data can be sliced and diced seven ways to Sunday.
The best part of Cellar Tracker is the vast amount of comparative data and the ability to filter it. The reports tab also provides an incredible amount of useful information about your cellar, tasting notes, and the community.
What I Love:
The search fields auto populate to aid in searching for the exact match. This feature helps to eliminate duplicate selection as it leads you more quickly to the selection you’re looking for. While on a selected wine (tasting note page) you get a vast amount of information including the ability to bid on user wines for auction.
What I Don’t Love:
Cellar Tracker is the most minimalistic in design. What the database has in data it lacks in navigation, and interface. The text based design is a distraction (to me) and makes using the site cumbersome. Links on the site indicate that a new design is being launched in February (that’s this month). The site doesn’t easily offer a way to connect or converse about various wines.
VinCellar has the best interface with the most effective and visual interaction with the data.
Cork’d has the most social site and a robust wine education component.
Cellar Tracker has the most extensive user group and data base.
I’m going to enter all my existing reviews (currently 70) into each site and experiment more with the best solution. In the end it may be necessary to use two or more of these sites to provide the greatest exposure to the wine reviews and the wineries.
What are your thoughts?