Browsing Tag


The One Thing You Need To Know About Millennial Brand Ambassadors

I discuss the concept of millennial “brand ambassadors” and “brand evangelists” with businesses all the time. All. The. Time. It’s an important conversation to have – brand ambassadors/evangelists (in this conversation) are regular consumers that “preach” the good word of a particular brand to their friends and family through everyday life. Millennial brand ambassadors are particularly important because so much of our daily lives are spend on sites like facebook where our thoughts can reach thousands of people instantly. Especially for businesses looking to reach out to millennials, getting us talking about your product in a positive way in front of a thousand of our closest friends is key.

Here is my most frequently asked question: “Which brands are doing it right?” Or within the wine industry, “Which wineries are doing it right?”

It’s not that it’s a bad question. It’s incredibly relevant. And those of you who have asked me this lately, don’t think that I’m hating on you, because I’m not. You’ve just inspired me to figure out a better way to answer your question. But first…


Make your brand a valuable accessory.

The one thing you need to know about millennial brand ambassadors is: YOUR BRAND IS OUR SOCIAL ACCESSORY.

I don’t talk about your product on facebook because you deserve it, or because you worked really hard, or because you have a mortgage to pay or because you want a promotion. I talk about your product because it communicates something about me to people I want to impress/entertain/etc.

The brands that are “doing it right” are the best social accessories. The brands that say something about their millennial consumers. EXAMPLE: Tom’s Shoes – altruistic, socially conscious, environmentally friendly, and incredibly hip shoe company. When I talk about Tom’s Shoes (on facebook, on twitter, etc.) it says all of that ABOUT ME.

This is a very simple concept, but one that (at least) 90% of businesses reaching out to millennials today do not grasp. If you can keep this in mind while formulating your brilliant plan, it might just work. This is why we as millennials talk about businesses. If you want us to talk about your business, it better say something about us. It’s just how it works.

What does your brand say about your consumers? Think long and hard – and don’t just repeat what you say to your boss in meetings. What does it REALLY say? Because in order to have brand ambassadors, you must have a BRAND.


Don’t Fear the Foursquare: Understanding Foursquare in 5 Links or Less

Does the word(s) “foursquare” make you break out in a cold sweat? Is a “check-in” what you do with your boss on your “sick days?” Do you think LBS is a gastrointestinal medical condition? Then take a look at the following links* for a diy primer.

Be My Mayor Valentine Heart

Some Foursquare Valentine's humor.

As a note, I know many, many, MANY people who have been dismissing things like Foursquare because they “don’t get it.” Read on, and you will. No excuses. I also know about as many people who are dismissing this as what I can only describe as “kid stuff.” In case anyone reading is unfamiliar with this blog, I will say this. Those “kids” (those of age, anyway) are your current and future consumers. They are the future of your career, of the wine industry, and countless others. Not in a “Heal the World” way, but in a “look at the numbers” way. Please keep this in mind.

LBSwikipedia – the basics on LBS: Location Based Service.

Foursquare: Why It May Be The Next TwitterMashable – A Mashable article from July 2009. A great primer on Foursquare as well as some background on other examples of LBS (at the time, anyway). Don’t skip this one.

Why You Should Care About FoursquareNPR’s Marketplace – Transcript (or broadcast file) from March 2010 with Kai Ryssdal and Caroline McCarthy from CNET discussing the most basic concepts.

If You Use Foursquare, You Are An Annoying JackassGawker – Some hate from the folks at Gawker. This and a caption on LATFH basically make Foursquare an institution. Still waiting for the latter.

Foursquare For Businessfoursquare – The breakdown from the folks at Foursquare on how to set your biz up on Foursquare, along with a few examples of how to make the most of it.

The best way to learn more about Foursquare, of course, is to join as a user. Based on your own experiences, likes, dislikes, wishes, aspirations, and habits, you will be more able to create a great experience through your business for other users.

*No, none of these links has been archived and pimped out for subscription money as was the case with the original link in my last post (now fixed, no thanks to AdAge).

Fearless First, Then Leaders: Lesson for the Wine Industry

A little over a month ago, AdAge published an article* on 10 marketing ideas that changed the world – at least in their opinion.  From the 1984 Apple commercial to a certain iconic hosiery packaging, it’s fascinating to see these 10 ideas juxtaposed. For you marketing types, it’s incredibly inspiring. And for the rest of us, there’s an important common theme to notice among all of the companies mentioned. Each idea highlighted in the article resulted in catapulting its company to industry leader status, at times when these companies were only just fighting for their market share.

Apple's 1984 ad

Old meets new: an update to Apple's original 1984 ad.

As nonsensical as it sounds, it seems like that’s the state of wine companies today: everyone’s just competing. There’s no definitive leader. Sure there are the big guys. Sure there are the big brands. But do you see the wine equivalent to the iPhone anywhere? WHY NOT? The brass ring is just hanging there, people.

I highly recommend taking the 5 minutes to read the article. More than one of these campaigns has shaped a generation. While you read, take notice of the one thing (two things?) each of these companies had in common when they made these marketing choices: Balls.

I don’t mean to be crude, but it’s absolutely true. Some of these companies had everything to lose and they STILL made risky choices. AND THEY WORKED. It’s important to note that these Fearless Leaders were fearless BEFORE they were leaders.

There WILL be more underdog upsets in the coming years. There WILL be companies that chang their consumers’ worlds as well as their own industry landscape.

The real question is will wine be a part of it this time? A girl can only hope.

*UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that AdAge has archived this story in the last few days and it is now available only to AdAge subscribers. This is very disappointing. I am in no way supporting or recommending that readers should subscribe to their services through the original link used in this post. The updated link that I have provided will take you to a blog that has reposted the article in its entirety. Apologies for the inconvenience.

“Authenticity” & Pop Culture Marketing: Ur Doin it Wrong

ur doin it wrong

I’m convinced that when EVERY ARTICLE EVER WRITTEN ABOUT MARKETING TO MILLENNIALS talks about how millennials “crave” authenticity, it’s actually a failed attempt to explain bad marketing decisions.  Let me explain.

Now that wine seems to be approaching the point at which it will FINALLY (fingers crossed) start changing its marketing strategy, we all need to take a second to learn from other people’s mistakes (one of the only benefits to being so far behind the curve). In my opinion, there is one gigantic pitfall that I can see wine falling into – especially when reaching out to millennials. Pop Culture Marketing. It is so easy to fail when individuals who don’t pay attention or particularly care about pop culture decide that it’s a good idea to go for the Ol’ Pop Culture Marketing Campaign. In no way am I saying “don’t do it,” but I AM telling you, dear readers, that you must do it right.

Speaking of doing it right, please take five minutes to watch the following two videos. This is a Pedigree commercial that, to quote mashable, has “beguiled the internet.” A friend of mine shared it on facebook, I fell in love, and in turn, regurgitated it all over facebook (and now my blog).

And now take a look at the video below. It’s considered a short film using Vitalic’s Poney Part 1 directed by Pleix. This YouTube video with over 1 million hits was created a while ago. This YouTube file specifically was uploaded in 2006 and obviously has been viral for some time.

Now. Someone at Pedigree that saw that Vitalic/Pleix vid and said “This is awesome. This is dogs in slow motion. We sell dog food. We should do this.” Don’t you just want to find that person and shake their hand? I do. This is a great example of doing pop culture marketing RIGHT. Take something that’s out there and proven and APPROPRIATE for one’s business, tailor it to the business’s needs as simply as possible, and unleash it  (ha, get it?) on the masses.

Getting back to authenticity. There’s nothing particularly “authentic” about the Pedigree commercial. It’s a dog food commercial. But it’s smart, it’s done well, and it’s referencing something that is already a part of people’s lives without pretending to invent it.

I don’t think that we as a generation (millennials) expect advertisers or marketing campaigns to be authentic. We’re not insane. I would venture to say, however, that what people mistake for “authenticity in marketing” is actually respect for one’s audience. This means an understanding of your audience, knowledge of their likes, dislikes, trends and interests. This means ACTUALLY caring about what your audience cares about, not just finding something popular and creating a poor facsimile.  (Sorry people, your branded version of “Pants On The Ground” probably won’t work.) It seems to be tougher when companies try to market to millennials because the PIC (people in charge) usually are not millennials themselves and don’t put the effort in to understand their audience.

So, if you want to go for pop culture marketing – especially to millennials – make sure that you actually care about the same pop culture that we do. If you don’t, it’s understandable – just make sure you have someone on your team that DOES. Put the work in. Do the research. Take the time to understand your target demographic. Then have some fun.

Millennial Stereotypes: Totally True. Mostly.

As a busy millennial, I want to take a moment to address some stereotypes of my generation within the wine industry and beyond. Just fyi, I’m too busy multi-tasking, finding amazing internet videos, trolling hipster hate blogs, and designing my next tattoo to spend a whole lot of time on it. As a matter of fact, in the time it took to read that last sentence, I will have sent out 42 text messages without vowels to my closest friends. So let’s get to it.


This is true, but not because we don’t have the money.  The reason is because we’re too busy burning through our trust funds buying apple products, every bottle of wine that has ever been released with an animal on the label, and 2 Buck Chuck.


Kind of true. We do use it to follow twitter-integrated taco trucks and other novelty businesses as well as fake news sources. But we enjoy talking amongst ourselves IRL about how we “seriously don’t get twitter.”


Hang on, lemme finish sending this text.


Totally true. We can also smell your fear and tell you what you had for breakfast.


That’s a bingo – completely true. Our number one priority is getting wasted. Which is why we are the fastest growing demographic in wine consumption the US has ever seen. This is because in order to get blitzed on wine we need to buy like WAY more of it than a mature, refined wine enthusiast would – hence, we buy a lot.


There are countless more stereotypes to address, but I really have to get back to facebook. Before I do, though, I have to thank Hardy Wallace for his fab post on wine bloggers on Dirty South Wine that inspired this one.

Dear Wine Industry no. 3

Dear Wine Industry #3


Dear Wine Industry,

It shouldn’t be this hard to get people excited to buy wine. You’re not marketing a blanket with arms, here. IT’S WINE! One of the most celebrated “products” the world has ever seen. C’mon – wine is fun and delicous and exciting and sexy. Loosen up. Have some fun. See what happens.



Dear (U.S.) Wine Industry no. 2

Get in the Garage: Innovate by Embracing Limitations

Back in November of 2008 Wired magazine had a short but incredibly sweet article/essay on something they dubbed the “Garage Economy.” (Back to the Garage: How Economic Turmoil Breeds Innovation written by senior writer Daniel Roth – I highly recommend taking a look at it.)

In the article, Roth brings up an incredibly simple but overlooked point – tough economic times are the perfect breeding ground for fearless genius, but most industry leaders focus on cutting back rather than taking chances and moving forward.

In periods of economic turmoil, people are hungry and work cheap, and entrenched companies often concentrate on in-house cost-cutting instead of exploring new markets, which can explode with the next turn of the business cycle.

-Daniel Roth, “Back to the Garage…” Wired issue 16.12

For those that know me, my love affair with this concept is not surprising – it echoes one of my most firm beliefs: OUT OF STRUCTURE COMES GENIUS. Meaning that the more limitations one is given, the more creative that person must be to succeed. Structure forces us to take a look at what we want to accomplish, distill it down, take stock of all our resources, and find a more effective way to reach our goals. This “structure” can be anything from the number of hours in a day, budget limitations, non-traditional resources, or in this case, an international recession.

Welcome to Your New Office

Social media is a widespread example of this, both within the wine industry and beyond. Even as large companies cut back their advertising costs (sorry print & tv), they need brand awareness and sales more than ever. What’s the solution? Free social networks. Resources are re-directed to educate employees about social media (ideally, otherwise see this post), and instead of spending millions of dollars a year purchasing magazine ads, companies spend a fraction of that actually interacting directly with their target consumers. (One of the most incredible side effects of this is that the tiny 1200 case winery has the same chance of succeeding in this medium as the behemoth.) The question is, if all these companies weren’t being forced to cut back due to the economy, would they have made the same decisions to invest their energies in social media? Or would they have continued down the familiar path of traditional advertising?

Because of a seemingly perfect storm of economic restriction, there is a petri dish atmosphere for growing new ideas. For wineries, maybe it’s finding a way to boost direct sales when the Three-Tier System is failing them. Maybe it’s going out into the community and giving back and building a cult following. Maybe it’s forgoing glass bottles in favor of reusable metal containers/kegs for On-Site accounts. No matter what solutions companies come up with, it’s important to remember that these ideas are born out of structure and limitations. Companies that put their heads in the sand and ignore these conditions, or companies that are boarding up the windows to weather the storm, will never put themselves in the position of innovating.

Let’s admit it, the outlook is bleak when you maintain the status quo. Embrace all the limitations facing you – decrease in wine club membership, loss of a distributor, drooping sales, old-fashioned branding – gather them all up, find the smartest people you know, and GET IN THE GARAGE.

Y is the New Black: Why Millennials Matter to Wine in 2010

the Kids are Alright

And it’s true. At last. The millennial generation is arguably the hottest topic in the US wine industry this year. IMHO, millennials will be to wine in 2010 what social media was to wine in 2009 – a game changer. And just like social media, companies within the wine industry can either adapt and thrive, or stick their heads in the sand and be left behind.

Quite frankly, NO ONE should be left behind. So for those interested in educating themselves, their co-workers, or (yikes) even their bosses, I’ve compiled a short list of resources that is designed to catch ANYONE up on the current state of the wine/millennial connection. Look at it as a bibliography for future conversations in 2010.

Obviously, if you’re looking for more detailed information on millennials and wine, you’re sitting right in the middle of a blog entirely dedicated to the GenY/wine connection. Check out the Millennier archives, if you feel like learning more.

Let Your Sales Flag Fly: 5 Tips for Boosting Holiday Direct Sales

As the “O” of O,N,D draws to a close, there’s not a winery out there that’s not feeling the squeeze – or lack thereof.  It seems that smaller wineries and boutiques are hardest hit, with retailers and restaurants alike eschewing these lesser known bottles for product with recognizable names and brand affinity. This doesn’t hurt just businesses in the wine industry – consumers will only have a fraction of the choices they would normally have this season for gifts and special occasion wines. With small businesses losing ground in retail and restaurant environments and consumers looking for more variety, wineries have a chance to make up the loss this holiday season with two magical words: Direct Sales.

At one time taken for granted and simply relegated to the “Wine Club” list, direct sales will be many businesses bread and butter this season. The unprecedented access to new consumers via social media and the significantly higher profit margin of selling bottles at full retail give wineries both the platform and the flexibility they need to be creative and drive sales for the season.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is a tremendous amount of planning, logistics, creativity, outreach, time and effort involved in pulling together a successful direct sales campaign. But the payoff, for this season and for holidays to come, is well worth the effort. Below are a few tips on how to formulate the plan that’s right for YOU.

  1. Assemble a Team and Make the Commitment – Hand-pick a small group of people within the business to help create and execute the plan. These should be people with different skills and interests that you can draw from to build a solid direct sales plan. Once you’ve assembled your team, make the commitment to create a plan and see it through – and ask that they do the same.
  2. Take Stock of Your Resources – Take a good hard look at the resources you have at your disposal, and I mean everything. Take into account  the obvious like your mailing list, wine club, upcoming tasting events, etc., but also think outside the box a bit. Is there an artist in your midst? Is your young tasting room employee a social networking whiz? Have you earned a nickname from the locals? Get your team together and write up a list of these resources. Keep this list in full view while you are coming up with your plan.
  3. Give People a Reason to Buy – It’s not just enough to have the product, you must give your consumers a reason to purchase YOUR product. Is it great pricing? A special bottling? Are you donating some of your proceeds to charity? Is your winemaker signing the bottles? Look to your list of resources and come up with a reason or reasons why people must have your wine.
  4. Create a Full Campaign – Sales campaigns are not just for huge corporations. Gather your team, keep your list of resources in full view and let yourself be a marketing genius. Create a fun and catchy name for the plan, set your goals and timeline, create special pricing or shipping terms, and make sure you have the infrastructure to support everything on your website and in the tasting room. Aside from having all the logistics in place, it’s also important to have FUN while creating your campaign. Using humor is a great way to get people interested in your product and campaign.  The more fun it is for you, the more fun it will be for your potential consumers to be a part of it all.
  5. Use Social Media – If you could push a button and magically reach THOUSANDS of new consumers that you’ve never had access to before, would you use it? OF COURSE. That “magic button” is social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re not on facebook, or don’t understand twitter – find someone who does. There is no reason to deny your business of the successful season you need simply because you don’t “get” facebook. Social media is a tool that businesses must use to get the most out of any campaign. Choose someone intimately familiar with social networks to be on your team and utilize their knowledge and contacts.

It’s not too late to make the most of this of this season for any winery who has the drive. Incorporate these five tips while coming up with your direct sales plan, watch an episode of Mad Men for inspiration, get up, and take the season into your own hands.