(photo: from Artisans of Barossa)
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Well, let’s start with the bad news:
People are not really interested in your product. It’s sad, but true. Especially when it comes to wine, as there are so many options out there. These overwhelming options mostly result in scepticism rather than an enthusiasm about your product.
The good news is; there is a way to get noticed among the crowd. And it’s no secret. Storytelling has been one of the most powerful tools in marketing to catch attention. People connect through stories. Stories create memories and change perceptions. They cross the barriers of time.
Unfortunately, company owners / marketers confuse stories with facts. This is one of the major reasons why they fail in their communication. What do I mean by this? Let’s have a look at a couple of examples in the wine world!
Being environmentally sustainable can be a part of the core values of a winery. If we take a look at the communication channels of biodynamic/organic wineries, it’s very common to see phrases such as:
“We are converting to biodynamic in order to improve the health of our vineyards!”
“We produce natural wines without adding or removing anything in the cellar!”
Even more geeky ones:
“We use horn manure, also known as 500, to stimulate soil microbial activity, to regulate the pH of our soil and dissolve minerals in deep layers!”
First of all, let’s agree that these are all facts. They are not necessarily unique to any producer. However, these facts can be integrated to individual stories. Domaine Leflaive is a great (and known) example. In 1990s, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet plot had vines in such a bad health that Domaine Leflaive almost had to replace them. Anne-Claude Leflaive, however, decided to do an experiment on this plot with a biodynamic approach. Her team stopped using chemicals and discovered the effect of biodynamic preparations. With this, the plot of vineyard was rescued and her team was very surprised to see positive results. Nowadays, these vines are the oldest of the domaine and produce amazing wines. Now this is a story that everyone remembers.
But don’t get me wrong. One does not always need a big rescue story to catch attention! The secret lies in shattering the wall between you and the audience and sharing what really goes on in the winery. I remember working at Cosimo Maria Masini winery in Tuscany almost for a year. We would wake up around 5 am when we had to spray Horn Silica (501 – a biodynamic spray) in spring. Francesco, the viticulture manager would take us to have a quick espresso in town before work. The reason to start the day so early was because Horn Silica (501) had to be sprayed before 8 am, as close as possible to sunrise when the dew is still on the ground. Our team consisted of wwoofers (people working on worlds organic farms), a diverse group of people with different backgrounds. One morning, while Horn Silica was being stirred for an hour, Francesco told us to do some breathing exercises. But due to his accent, a young American girl who was new in our group understood it as “breeding exercises” and she freaked out! We laughed the whole day.
The mornings we chatted with other farmers at Italian café’s, funny moments we had at work, the lunches we cooked with the woofers and the opera lyrics we tried to sing while green harvesting. All of these create the story of Cosimo Maria Masini. And every winery has its own interesting and individual moments to share. The facts will only become memorable for wine consumers if they are combined with these stories.
It Can’t be All Good
Right? We try to show that everything about us and around us is perfect.
Well, it’s time to get real because things are changing.
I visit as many wineries as possible in different parts of the world. Here is a template of a story (mostly in the Old World) I hear quite often:
“Our Chateau exists since X century designed by a famous architect Y. The Chateau was sold several times within the history (shown by a timeline hung above the table) and eventually even a richer family bought it ten years ago. They renewed the winery with the latest technology and since then we have even more awards. We got 91 points from C and gold medal from D.”
So it’s all about positive facts. But we all know that life is cruel sometimes. So why not be more honest by giving the ups-and downs to your audience? People can’t connect with these facts that is similar to many others anyway.
For instance, I’ve come across Ricky Taylor’s blog almost two years ago. (www.altamarfa.com) He is originally from California and nowadays he is planting vineyards in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. He shares his insane adventure. On his blog, you’ll find geeky stuff like his soil analysis, his experience in drilling a water well, building a deer fence, selecting clones etc. However, he uses all the communication channels, especially social media to share his adventure with his friends, his girlfriend Katie and his family. And the great part is, it’s not only about the good stuff. He faces many challenges and as a follower, you become a part of how he deals with them. Recently he had some problems with his vines and he couldn’t figure out why. Apparently there had been a problem during the shipment of vines and they got damaged so he will be replanting them next spring. He was not even complaining about this as he thought it would be an opportunity to learn. Everything he shares is so real that it’s impossible not feel like you are a part of his journey. He is not even producing wine yet, but I can already say that he has already sold his first vintage to me :)
Your Social Media is Your Journey
Just like Ricky’s case, social media is there to be a mirror to your journey. Of course, you don’t need to share everything. It’s about knowing your audience, extracting things that are important to them and sharing the authentic bits. If the content is too scientific, you’ll only attract wine connoisseurs. If your language is too authoritative, you’ll just be annoying. Start by defining your customers and then you’ll figure out how you can genuinely connect with them.
Meanwhile, if you need any help in re-creating your own story, feel free to drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org ! :)