Why Complicate Wine Marketing When It Can Be Simple?
The world of marketing has changed a lot since I started my marketing career in 1998. Back then, the hottest mobile phone looked like this:
Mobile phones weren’t just ugly, they weren’t smart, either. Digital natives weren’t on our targeting lists, and we didn’t have awesome tech at our fingertips.
Fun fact, in 1998, we also didn’t use Google, because it was the year it was founded:
What we did have, however, was proper training in marketing.
Marketers did evidence-based marketing that focused on customers, not shiny distractions. They were more obsessed with being strategic than being fixated with tactics.
For the sake of clarity, strategy is planning with quantitative and qualitative research data, doing clear segmentation, targeting, and quantifiable sales and profit projections. Tactics are the means used to reach these strategic plans. Social media, trade shows, events, promotions, influencers, are tactics. What you communicate on your labels or website is also a tactic. Strategy comes before tactics.
Today things are different.
Digital marketing and the need for data have become a fundamental part of modern marketing. And that is a good thing.
The focus is now on sexy and exciting things like influencers, marketing automation, CX, UX, AI, AR, VR, voice, ad tech, martech, machine learning, blockchain, bootstrapping, and startup-ing. These new things have brought significant opportunities to marketing.
But if I look at the relevance of these things in the wine industry today, I question how many wine businesses can really understand them and implement them.
Before following any path, and especially before jumping on the new and shiny, marketers need to have a strategy and to get the basics right.
Today’s new experts call themselves all sorts of names like “content marketer,” “influencer,” “social media managers,” and the like. They are very good with tactics but completely inexperienced when it comes to long-term thinking, market orientation, research and diagnosis, data, consumer insights, segmentation, positioning, strategy, evaluation of results and all the other fundamentals that make up the heart of marketing.
Our new generation of experts are essentially limited by their short-term goals—chasing likes, not results—and lack proper on-the-job or academic marketing training. They are specialized – often self-taught – on a specific marketing tactic but not on the entire discipline of marketing.
While they may be experts in specific marketing tactics, and advocate about their expertise, the people in their audiences will think that prioritizing tactics is more important than building a strategy. The main issue with this is that focusing on tactics and short-term results do not help build a long-term or sustainable business.
For example, wine businesses are urged to get on social media to communicate with customers. That’s true, but vague and incomplete.
What we actually need to be saying is, let’s look at the winery’s overall marketing strategy and see how using social media platforms fit into that bigger picture. Concentrating on just one piece of the puzzle, like social media, won’t help wineries and wine businesses build an effective marketing strategy.
Another great example of this attention to short-term tactics is the tiresome talk about “influencers.” The picture is painfully incomplete.
I haven’t seen a proper case study that illustrates how working with wine influencers works better than building long-lasting brand equity or launching a digital lead generation campaign.
To talk about influencers in a constructive way, it would be helpful if those preaching about influencers could show the research they’ve done. What kind of audience segmentation did they do before making that decision? What SMART objectives, strategies, and tactics did they put on paper before signing the contract with the influencer?
Professional marketers call this practice endorsement, and it is a tactic for influencing the buying decisions of a specific target audience. Working with influencers or endorsers should be part of a bigger marketing plan, not THE plan.
All these sexy attractive new tools and concepts in marketing are tremendous and bring fresh air into the industry. But I also believe most of them are sometimes irrelevant to what the winery needs to achieve. Worse, they make wine marketing more complicated than it need be and alienate businesses who don’t understand them.
Marketers need to support wineries and wine businesses by simplifying their lives. Most importantly, marketers should help them develop a strategy to earn more money. Anything less is lazy and dishonest.
I worry about the general lack of proper training and understanding of what marketing really is. The wine industry needs to demand higher marketing standards and start valuing real qualifications and expertise before handing over money. At the very least, ask what return on investment you’re going to get, before signing the contract.
Make it simple: strategy first, tactics later.