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Speaker Describes New Frontier of Media

Wineries hear how consumers will control next chapter of marketing

by Kate Lavin
Abbey Klaassen Advertising Age
Abbey Klaassen

Napa, Calif. -- The digital age has given way to the consumer control era, according to Abbey Klaassen, executive editor of Advertising Age magazine. Speaking to about 150 members of the wine industry Wednesday at the sixth annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium in Napa, Calif., today’s consumers aren’t just absorbing the media, they’re a part of it.

“There’s a premium on things that people would choose to interact with or seek out,” Klaassen said, pointing to Pepsi and Doritos as brands that are breaking the wall and using innovative campaigns to directly engage consumers.

Free or low-cost technologies

WITS this year included 18 workshop and breakout sessions. On Tuesday, five workshops each ran twice. Eight sessions on Wednesday, the symposium's bigger day, covered four tracks: Technology Leadership, Consumer Direct Sales, Trade Sales & Marketing and Vineyard & Winery Operations.

One of the workshop sessions most pertinent to small wineries covered Google Analytics and Other Free or Low Cost Technologies. The speakers were Geni Whitehouse, a CPA from Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. in St. Helena, Calif., and James Marshall Berry, an Internet consultant in the Sonoma Valley. They explained how any winery with a Google account can use various free services from Google to help their communications.

Google Analytics provides instant analysis of a website's traffic to help businesses know how many page views they are gaining, roughly where the web traffic is coming from, what days and during what hours people are most visiting the site most and other information. Berry advised that one should not rely on Google stats alone, but that it's a very good place to start.

Google Insights for Search is another service. It informs account holders how many searches are ongoing about given topics, including one's own business, types of wine, wine regions and so on. Whitehouse and Berry conducted a live demonstration of how wineries and other small business can use these free Google features and others including Google Alerts and Google Translate.

The speakers pointed out that one's web hosting company may also provide the same and other services as part of the hosting agreement, and that wineries often do not take advantage of these essentially free options. Berry said for example that, a popular web host, has ecommerce, shopping cart and content management system software ready to download free for customers.

Whitehouse and Berry also highlighted free alternatives to Microsoft Office (, Adobe Photoshop ( and other products that wineries should know about, as well as exciting online services that can supply inexpensive graphics, custom book publishing and a host of other potentially useful resources.
                                         -- Jim Gordon
Rather than enlisting an agency to create a television ad to run during the Super Bowl, Doritos in January marked its third year of the Crash the Super Bowl contest, which urges consumers to script, film and submit their own Doritos commercial. The public votes for its favorite video, which is then aired during the Super Bowl, when 30 seconds of advertising sells for nearly $3 million.

Likewise Pepsi, the brand’s sister company, this year unveiled its Refresh project, which funds initiatives submitted by consumers. The consumer-driven marketing campaign is one way the brand has shifted one-third of its marketing dollars into digital and social media campaigns.

Klaassen listed the shift from product marketer to media company as the No. 1 change in selling today. By pairing up with MTV and Fox TV in 2003, surfwear retailer Quiksilver began its transformation into an enterprise that also publishes books and produces videos. Other retailers followed suit, with brands like Kraft launching food&family magazine while Wal-Mart looked to YouTube to connect with consumers and offer money-saving tips.

But what does this mean for our industry?

Where do I fit in?

No one expects a small-lot winery to launch its own cable network, but it would be a mistake to overlook the marketing ideas that big companies have poured resources into researching and creating.

Klaassen used the term crowdsourcing to describe the “make-your-own” video and “pitch your own idea” examples described above: Involve consumers in the marketing process. And because the audience is opting-in to the program, rather than being inundated with a message, many tech users see it as less intrusive than traditional advertising and create a dialogue.

Speaking of dialogue, just because you don’t have a winery Twitter account doesn’t mean you should ignore what people are saying about it. Go to and search for your brand name. You should know what your customers are saying.

According to Klaassen, advertising and marketing are becoming less about creating eye-catching displays and more about building channels for clients to connect with consumers. Rather than using a big ad agency to create one piece, she said, that might mean creating a network of digital content. A good place to start is in the tasting room.
• The next time a patron walks in fiddling with an iPhone, ask whether (s)he is following your Twitter feed.
• Encourage visitors to become fans of your Facebook page and upload t he photos and videos they took during their visit.
• Consider giving discounts to patrons who are connected to your winery through one of these social media sites.

Another application, FourSquare, allows businesses to see where tasting room patrons were before they visited, as well as where they went next. Businesses can contact Foursquare to advertise a special offer and encourage consumers in the area to stop by. At Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford, Calif., for example, visitors are lured by the promise of “two-for-one tasting in the main tasting room on first check-in.” The mayor, or Foursquare player with the most check-ins at a BV, also receives complimentary tasting -- lucky Eric M.

And finally, Klaassen said, think about offering consumers something that is fun or challenging. “Online, you want to leave something for the viewer to do. Don’t do all the work for them.” Remember: Participation is key.

Nearly 300 attendees, speakers and sponsors were registered for the WITS event held at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel. Leonardo Da Vinci scholar Michael Gelb explained to Wednesday’s audience how thinking like Da Vinci can improve business. For more information, visit the Wine Industry Symposium group.
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