On April 6, I’ll be part of a roundtable wine industry panel discussing “strategies for building wine brand loyalty” among what has to be one of the most fickle (and largest) group of wine consumers ever to swipe credit cards in exchange for vinous experiences: the oft-discussed (and more often misunderstood) Millennials.
The panel is part of a larger symposium for wine industry types being held at the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. My panel-mates (now there’s a word that has limited contextual usage!) will include moderator Brad Todd of the Richards Group, and Adam Strum (founder of Wine Enthusiast). Gary V is the keynote (for those who’ve yet to experience a Gary V keynote – it alone is worth the trip).
It’s going to be an interesting discussion, because I’m not sure that capturing the loyalty of Millennials can actually be done (at least, not in the way that wine-related business are used to doing it when it comes to Baby Boomers). Still, there is hope, provided that you can continuously entertain those buyers with transparency, compelling stories that relate experiences connected with a brand, and above all continuing to up the quality of your products. And void social-irresponsibility that could result in a brand boycott.
You know, really easy stuff, right? I recommend investing in some Tylenol, because there will definitely be headaches encountered in marketing departments before the dust settles. For more on how the Millennial set views wine, I recommend checking out Millennier.com (because it’s authored by an actual Millennial and not a late-30s guy with Millennial leanings – like me – just talking about Millennials).
I’m calling attention to this gig because it’s a paying gig (WOOT!), and therefore deserves some mention in the Going Pro vein of articles here…
I’m anticipating questions about this, such as “how much are they paying you?” (answer: “I’m transparent, but there are some limits here, people!”) and, primarily of interest to those of you following my Going Pro machinations, “How does one get a gig like that, exactly?”
Here’s my simple, 5-step answer to the latter question:
- Start a blog because you have a border-line obsessive passion about wine.
- Network like a madman/woman in the on-line communities who share your passion. This includes trying to add value to those communities in any way that you can.
- Create the best content that you possibly can, every chance you get, week in and week out for 4+ years.
- Spend an inordinate amount of time fostering a community on your blog with its (abundantly intelligent and probably supremely attractive) readers and finding out what THEY want to talk about, and what THEY need, and then give it to them to the best of your ability.
- Repeat steps 2-4 until the industry begins to recognize your contributions as a thought-leader in some of its emerging/changing sub-areas. Then repeat steps 2-4 again, continuously.
Piece of cake! It only requires something like 2 billion hours of effort, max. May I have some more caffeine, please? Yes, intravenously would be fine, thank you.
I’m always humbled and grateful to have opportunities like this upcoming symposium, and I’m joking (mostly) above because the hard work doesn’t always feel like hard work when you’re totally absorbed in something that you love. But opportunities don’t materialize out of thin air just because you are passionate about something – they’re the result the grand snowball-effect of opportunities that present themselves after putting in a sh*tload of hard work behind that passion.
I wish I could say there were shortcuts to this sort of thing, but you already know there aren’t – and you’ve probably guessed that those shortcuts are like cheating at winning a marathon: none of the pain, but all of the guilt, and none of the sense of accomplishment, exhilaration, or fun!