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DanCole42
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DR friends... Despite having no experience in the hospitality industry, I have an unbelievable dream opportunity to interview with a very popular Northern Virginia winery as their Marketing Director. To counter my lack of experience, the GM would like me to write up my plan for how I would go about marketing their winery. Real action-oriented (e.g. "Go put fliers under windshields!").

What are some ideas that could set me apart? What are things that you've really seen work/not work?

Note that I'm marketing the winery, not the wine...

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DR friends... Despite having no experience in the hospitality industry, I have an unbelievable dream opportunity to interview with a very popular Northern Virginia winery as their Marketing Director. To counter my lack of experience, the GM would like me to write up my plan for how I would go about marketing their winery. Real action-oriented (e.g. "Go put fliers under windshields!").

What are some ideas that could set me apart? What are things that you've really seen work/not work?

Note that I'm marketing the winery, not the wine...

Dan, knowing you and your personality, I think you're pretty much of a can't-miss for this job - all you need is some experience, and you won't get that until you actually start work.

I sent you a PM, but I'm hoping others will chime in based on the way you framed your question.  We have *many* people in the industry here, some of whom are on the marketing side of things - they can help you.

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Dan, knowing you and your personality, I think you're pretty much of a can't-miss for this job - all you need is some experience, and you won't get that until you actually start work.

I sent you a PM, but I'm hoping others will chime in based on the way you framed your question.  We have *many* people in the industry here, some of whom are on the marketing side of things - they can help you.

This really is such a great website, Don. Thank you.

I know I could do great in the role - I just need to prove it!

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You must speak with passion and conviction.  This will come if you truly enjoy and appreciate their wine:  you will believe in it.  That will allow you in almost any door, entertain almost every audience.  And when they taste you'll be trusted.

Anything less you should not take the job.

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You must speak with passion and conviction.  This will come if you truly enjoy and appreciate their wine:  you will believe in it.  That will allow you in almost any door, entertain almost every audience.  And when they taste you'll be trusted.

Anything less you should not take the job.

Joe's right. If you're not passionate about wine (and it's okay if you aren't), you're going to need to want to develop that passion. Use your natural charm and comedic presence to be yourself, sure, but if you don't believe in the wine, it will all be a facade; you've got to truly believe in the product if you want to live with yourself. Be curious, and crave substance. I'm not saying it has to take over your life; just that we have too many slick-talking people in this world who are only out for a buck. The customers you're going to be selling this wine to are going to know a lot more about wine than you at first, and that's a formidable obstacle, but not one you can't overcome, either through study or honesty - I recommend listening to them and taking them seriously, especially as to their wants and needs. When it becomes obvious you've reached a dead end with a potential customer, know when it's time to turn around, but leave yourself an "in" for the future - and that involves more than just a smile and a business card; more like a "What can I do in the future to earn your trust?" Write them a thank you note even if you don't get any business from them - remember, you're representing the winery; not just selling wines, and you took up their scarce time during your meeting(s). I'm also here to help you, and can tell you what's good and what isn't.

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How about suggesting a twitter/instagram campaign?

I follow a few wineries on both and the best by far is Glen Manor. They post a lot of pictures throughout the growing season of the changes in the grapes and vines and shots of workers pruning and wildlife, etc.  This time of year they're posting shots of the crushed grapes in vats and stuff going on in the winery.

I don't know if it brings people in the door, but I find it interesting and educational

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Paradise springs send out newsletters, via email to it's members although I haven't seen one recently with all their events.  I wish more wineries would do that, AND publish reminders on social media.  It seems like a simple thing, but I would go to more events if I remembered what was going on.  And some of the wineries to which we are members don't do that at all.  I do love the wine country pictures on instagram and twitter too.  I think also getting events to places outside of just membership by finding sites like this and others to post events on would be something that would help the winery.    

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Paradise springs send out newsletters, via email to it's members although I haven't seen one recently with all their events.  I wish more wineries would do that, AND publish reminders on social media.  It seems like a simple thing, but I would go to more events if I remembered what was going on.  And some of the wineries to which we are members don't do that at all.  I do love the wine country pictures on instagram and twitter too.  I think also getting events to places outside of just membership by finding sites like this and others to post events on would be something that would help the winery.    

Yes. Social media and email for sure; never anything paper except for business cards. I would also use your own name for things like Twitter and Facebook, rather than "WinerySalesRep" or whatever company-based name you might otherwise use. You can always put in your profile what your position is with the winery.

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Yes. Social media and email for sure; never anything paper except for business cards. I would also use your own name for things like Twitter and Facebook, rather than "WinerySalesRep" or whatever company-based name you might otherwise use. You can always put in your profile what your position is with the winery.

There are programs that allows you to schedule posts via different methods and accounts, don't know their names, but my Hubby uses them all the time for his line of work.

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Social media is not going to sell a chef wine:  you are going to have to pour it in his/her glass.  There are six and one half million people in the metro D. C. area and arguably a Richmond wine industry that does not support northern VA wine the way it should be.  There is also a preconceived notion that VA wine is too expensive OR that many think of VA wine as that which is cheaply poured at festivals or minimal tastings.

This is what you are up against:  a year ago at King Family almost every one of the 25-30 tables adjacent to their polo field had the cheapest bottle that King Family sold on top of the table.  Only one or two had a Meritage, PV or anything that expressed what the winery was capable of.  At countless wineries there are far too many people who walk in the door and do a tasting.  Many of them complain if the tasting is more than, say, $10.00.

This wouldn't happen in Napa, Bordeaux or, today, in Walla Walla.  (Although WA wine in the early '90's was not that dissimilar in perception from what much of VA is today.)

You are going to fight the image of VA wine and it will be uphill.  I believe you need to sell the quality of the wine-not an event, not the view or the setting but what is poured in a bottle.

Two weeks ago at a Saturday night dinner with a French importer and his Baltimore distributor I poured 2010 Glen Manor Petit Verdot, 2010 Linden Boisseau and 2007 Breaux Nebbiolo.  They were speechless.  I poured this alongside seriously good French red.  PV is a wine found in blends in France, perhaps almost anywhere outside of VA.  Yet Glen Manor's is truly world class-perhaps even the world benchmark for this.  Four, five, six sips then an hour later more sips.  They were speechless.

And Linden's Boisseau was even more breathtakingly delicious.  (I've also poured this side by side with RDV's '09 Lost Mountain and preferred the '10 Boisseau.)

These were opiinions that mattered.  You're going to need to spread the name and acceptance of the quality of this wine to DC area restaurants and others.  Note that Jackson's/Artie's/Coastal Flats/etc, to be the best of my knowledge does not sell a single VA wine.  Several of their restaurants are doing $10-13 million or more a year.  And not selling VA wine.

The state in which they were founded and are based.

I'd like to pour '10 Boisseau and '10 Glen Manor PV (or '10 Delaplane Williams Gap) for someone who made a decision at GAR.  I'd love to see his/her reaction when they took a sip.

I can't tell you how many DC area restaurants I've gone in that don't sell VA wine.  Or Richmond restaurants including one of their absoltue best where I had a disagreement with the GM this summer for why he only had one bottle on his wine list.

You are going to have to pour what you believe in and know that the best of it will be the equal of almost anything on earth in its price range.  VA has honest excellence now in some of its wine-you MUST believe this in your heart.  If you do and if the winery who is interested in you will benefit.  You'll also have help:  Dave MacIntyre is passionate about VA (and some MD) wine in the Post.  In fact the Post has had several outstanding feature articles over the past couple of years about Great Va wine.

As the Wine Spectator in the mid '90's put Leonetti Merlot on their cover and called it America's best, you can find similar hyperbole in our press.  For that matter Dave MacIntyre recently shared RDV and Screaming Eagle in the same evening-and the RDV held its own.

But you are going to have to sell chefs, importers, writers and others to spread the word.  That sale will come with their tasting what is in the glass.  When they buy in to your passion and agree with your taste, then social media will help.  But you are going to have to knock on a lot of doors first.  And, if you are good, you'll open a lot more.

Note:  I am probably guilty of the larger picture, i.e. not just an individual winery succeeding but VA wine, as a whole, succeeding in the D. C. area.  It hasn't been successful yet although there is a lot of interest and several have tried (i.e. Roberto Donna, Sebastian Zutant, Neal Wavra).  I may be looking for more of a "minister" to spread it's "gospel" and less the success of filling an individual tasting room or lengthening the list of a wine club.

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Social media is not going to sell a chef wine:  you are going to have to pour it in his/her glass.  

Joe, allow me to start off by saying that I haven't read the rest of your post (yet) - I want to write this while it's fresh on my mind.

I would never have heard of RdV if it weren't for social media, even today - I've never seen a bottle of it in my life. It might not sell a chef a particular vintage of a particular wine; but it can help build a brand. I'm not trying to imply that social media is the only thing that needs to be done, but I think it should be part of any intelligent marketing plan, in any industry.

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Joe, allow me to start off by saying that I haven't read the rest of your post (yet) - I want to write this while it's fresh on my mind.

I would never have heard of RdV if it weren't for social media, even today - I've never seen a bottle of it in my life. It might not sell a chef a particular vintage of a particular wine; but it can help build a brand. I'm not trying to imply that social media is the only thing that needs to be done, but I think it should be part of any intelligent marketing plan, in any industry.

I believe RDV's name was first spread by Jancis Robinson and Dave MacIntyre with social media following. Rutger's problem is that his wine is almost inaccessible, it's not something you can just drive up to the winery and buy. You need an appointment. Having said this Linden Boisseau and Glen Manor Petit Verdot are cult wines in their own way-there is very little of them. I think four barrels of the '10 Boisseau and something similar of '10 PV. Yet both Linden and Glen Manor have excellent reds, in particular Linden's widely available Hardscrabble Red and Glen Manor's similarly available Hodder Hill Red. I believe that today both are fairly well known and no longer need to be "sold" by a sommelier or waiter as many other VA wines need to.

Of course social media is part of a marketing campaign. But I'm probably guilty, as in my note, of believing that there is a huge market for VA wine that has not been tapped yet. Social media can spread a reputation but someone needs to start it and sell it. I believe that comes with pouring in the glass.

Last comment: if anyone reading this has a chance to taste either an '09 or '10 Glen Manor Petit Verdot or the '10 Linden Boisseau I believe they are the equal of any red Virginia wine ever. And, FWIW, a year or so ago after surgery I could not drink alcohol for almost a month. When I finally was able to have my first glass it was '10 Delaplane Williams Gap. His '13 Williams Gap with time has the potential to be even better.

---

One more comment: Linden's 2013 Hardscrabble Chardonnay received 94 points several months ago from the Wine Advocate. That is the highest point rating that any Virginia wine has ever received. (Jim Law did not submit his '10 Boisseau which, by the way, is 15.8% and remarkably smooth and balanced despite the alcohol.)

Social media should be all over this: it was just released at Linden.

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Social media is not going to sell a chef wine:  you are going to have to pour it in his/her glass.

This was a great and interesting post, but back to Dan's original post he said specifically he's selling the vineyard, not the wine. I took that to mean, "what can I do to get people in the door?", not to sell the wine to a chef/restaurant. But maybe you're right and he's trying to market the vineyard/wines to people not on site.

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Social media should be all over this: it was just released at Linden.

But Linden is a funny case. They have no presence on social media at all! The also have removed themselves from the official VA Wine website and official VA Wine map! They were one of the first (if not the very first) local vineyards to limit the size of the group (nothing larger than 6) and ban limos and busses. Some places do anything they can to get people in the door with live music, special events, weddings, parties, etc. Others like Linden seem to be actively trying to keep people away.

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I've learned this from others.   Before writing a proposal I'd speak to buyers/customers.   Ask how they learn about and/or buy wines.  I'd speak to restaurateurs, sommeliers, liquor and wine/beer/cheese shop operators, all of whom are on this board and elsewhere.  Of course I'd solicit comments from consumers.   I'd ask about how and where they learn about wines and/or vinyards, how they are introduced to them and how and why they buy.

I'd speak to more than one from each group.  Restauranting is a very fractionalized industry with operators coming from an endless variety of environments and their responses could be amazingly varied.   Are there go to sources of info for the liquor store, wine beer and cheese stop industry???   I don't know.    How do hotel chains and/or local hotel franchise groups buy???   From where do they get their information.   Are there other large sources of wine buying and sources of customers for a winery???    Are there large businesses that purchase wines for gift baskets?? or something like that?   I don't know.

How do the various commercial businesses learn about wines and wineries, how do they get introduced to them, are there go to sources, have the buyers learned of wines and wineries in interesting and diverse or unusual ways?   How do they follow and learn about wines?   What sources do they go to?

Many people will give time to answer questions of this sort.   Be responsive to their time constraints.  They are the teachers.  You are the student.

Everyone uses social media.  Of course it should be part of the package.  Be aware of some points:   A facebook page might gain thousands and 10's of thousands of followers.  FB purposefully reduces the spread of posts to your FB friends.  This has been going on for about 2 years.  Its documented.  So posts and presentations have to be clever and ingenious to break through to large audiences way beyond a business page friend list.  FB just kills all other social media, but each is potent in their own ways.

If its very Virginia focused and/or regional focused local media is potentially potent.  A well done story that is picked up by a local media source, if good enough can be picked up by larger media and then can go viral.  Local media gives you an opportunity to plant stories that won't get into larger media at first effort.

Not everything works all the time.   Stay busy.  Try lots of things.  Recently I was made aware of a group, the organizer of which, was operating a business and jumped into social media around a time when I was very active in twitter.  That person was working twitter all the time (or at least I saw him/her) all the time.  I'd say it didn't work.  Maybe that same medium with different efforts might have worked better.  Maybe--maybe not.  As a marketer stay on your toes and try to measure how well things work.  Not every effort is very measurable, but keep doing the things that work and stop doing the things that don't work.  Eliminate time and effort that isn't productive.

Per comments above;  develop a passion and use social media tools that enable you to schedule posts in advance.  They are time savers.  On the other hand social media often works best with lots of interaction, so stay abreast of comments to your posts.  Respond quickly.

Good luck.

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Good lord this community is amazing. I wish Don got some money or something every time people on this community were amazing. He'd be rich.

The GM is sold on my passion and my eagerness - that's what got me in the door in the first place. Bart's right, though - this particular winery is about the business of the winery, not about the wine. They want me to demonstrate that I can get people in the door and get companies to use their cellar for meetings, not that I can get their wines on menus (although if I did get the job I'd want to change that).

I love Linden - it's the only winery I'm currently a case club member of - because they're clearly more about the wine than about throwing weddings or corporate events.

I'm okay with just promoting the winery, though. I've always loved wine, but I've never been "in" to wine to the point where I'd consider myself an expert on different grapes or vintages. For me, the wine is about the experience: pop the cork and share it with good friends, drink a little too much, eat a little too much, and laugh together just the right amount.

I put together my proposal and sent it along... it's a very long shot. There are plenty of marketing professionals in the area who do have hospitality experience who would kill for the chance to work at this (very $UCCE$$FUL) winery.

Wish me luck... and thank you!!!

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Good lord this community is amazing. I wish Don got some money or something every time people on this community were amazing. He'd be rich.

The GM is sold on my passion and my eagerness - that's what got me in the door in the first place. Bart's right, though - this particular winery is about the business of the winery, not about the wine. They want me to demonstrate that I can get people in the door and get companies to use their cellar for meetings, not that I can get their wines on menus (although if I did get the job I'd want to change that).

I love Linden - it's the only winery I'm currently a case club member of - because they're clearly more about the wine than about throwing weddings or corporate events.

I'm okay with just promoting the winery, though. I've always loved wine, but I've never been "in" to wine to the point where I'd consider myself an expert on different grapes or vintages. For me, the wine is about the experience: pop the cork and share it with good friends, drink a little too much, eat a little too much, and laugh together just the right amount.

I put together my proposal and sent it along... it's a very long shot. There are plenty of marketing professionals in the area who do have hospitality experience who would kill for the chance to work at this (very $UCCE$$FUL) winery.

Wish me luck... and thank you!!!

So - did you get the gig?

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