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Reading In Between The Vines

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As a full-blooded Italian American, wine has played a significant role in the development of everything “me”.  Wine making with my grandfather, cigars in my Uncle’s award-winning wine cellar with a glass of his flagship Zin, yearly trips to Napa for more wine than I can comprehend.  It’s always been there.  And it’s followed me into my adult years by way of my girlfriend’s career (and interest) in the wine and food industry.  She currently manages a wine bar in NYC with over 160 bottles…and I reap the benefits all too often.  Right now, I’m enjoying easily one of my favorite wines by the name of Valle Dell’acate Il Frappato and pondering the marketing insights found within this simple experience (swear, I’m not drunk….yet).  Below is a brief recap of how Il Frappato entered my life, how I responded and how this product affected my existing relationships.  Hopefully you can find the word of mouth and referral lessons in between the lines.

  1. Knowing how much I love trying new wines, and with a pretty good understanding of my palate, my girlfriend brought me a bottle of Il Frappato one day.
  2. As we opened it and poured two glasses, she told me a bit about the grape and the general flavor.
  3. We drank, we compared notes, we drank some more.
  4. I tweeted about the wine and texted my “wine friends” about it (“You gotta try this!”).
  5. Since then, she’s brought me two additional bottles.  I kept an empty one on my kitchen counter as a memento.
  6. She recently texted me to encourage me to put the bottle in the fridge and try it chilled for a very different taste.

It’s not too difficult to spot the lessons here:

  1. The foundation of word of mouth – the relationship I have with my girlfriend made trial of this specific wine easy and enjoyable.
  2. The fact that I have a close, trusting relationship with her is certainly a significant factor in establishing her as an Influencer…but even more important is the perception that she is an expert in the wine industry.
  3. It’s all about experience.  Whether you’re selling wine, weed killer or video games, if you can build experiences for your customers around your products and services, your brand will become a part of their lives, not just “something they purchase”.
  4. Where there is passion, there’s a story to tell.  I don’t have the research to back this up, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that consumers tweet and post Facebook messages about experiences more often than products.
  5. Talkable brands become part of a consumer’s persona.  I put that bottle on my kitchen counter and it’s become a conversation piece of which I am proud.  I thoroughly enjoy introducing my friends and family to a product they’ve never tried before.  I’ve now become the expert.
  6. She actually heard about the wine’s versatility from a colleague.  Because of that conversation along with the subsequent one between her and I, my interest in the wine was peaked once again and the cycle has been reset.

A toast, to learning more each and every day.



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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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