We went to a wine tasting night in Manchester on Friday. If you had told me ten years ago that one day I would turn into an unabashed, swilling, hold-it-to-the-light wine snob I would have laughed.
So what happened?
I’ve always liked wine, except when I was small. But up until recently the finer wines were lost on my uneducated, beer-guzzling palette.
I’ve been on Drayton Bird’s email list for a few years. Drayton is a copywriter, and happens to know a chap called Rowan Gormley. Rowan worked with Richard Branson for a while, and set up the Virgin Wine brand. Over time he became disenfranchised with the way small winemakers are treated by large wine distributors, and started his own firm called Naked Wines.
The idea behind Naked Wines is actually very simple. You pay a monthly subscription to become a member, or an ‘angel’, as they call it. They credit the money to your account, and use the capital to invest in small wine makers who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to produce the wine.
Once the wine is ready you are then able to buy the wine at wholesale prices using the money in your account. Producer, distributor and consumer all win.
Anyhow, a few years ago Drayton sent everybody on his email list a £100 voucher, as long as you signed up as an angel. So naturally I signed up.
Buying posh wine does not make you a swilling, hold-it-to-the-light wine snob overnight. What has made the difference has been the wine tasting events.
At the wine tasting events you get to speak to the winemakers. They explain what has gone in to their wine, and what makes their wine unique. They explain how much love they have put in to it. They explain to guzzlers like me how to drink a wine properly, and what food to match it with.
Not only is the wine tasting a form of training, it also fosters customer loyalty. The event brings the winemakers that little bit closer. No longer is the guy who makes the Rioja a nice idea in your head. He’s standing in front of you offering you Manchego with your sample.
If your business model relies on selling to people for a long period of time (and it should), you should take lessons from this. I love email marketing, but there is no substitute for bringing people together.
Naked Wines know that the point of their business isn’t really to sell excellent wine, although that is a foundation. The point of the business is to remove a level of detachment and bring buyers and sellers closer together.
In that model email marketing plays an important role. But it by no means works in isolation.
If all you do in your marketing is send emails it is time to come up with a more comprehensive plan.
Email me if you would like to discuss this.