(cheesy title, but damn good song)
(and yes, I realize it’s Wednesday)
Just got back from a glorious week-long trip to Southern California and up north to wine country. I made every effort to shut off my work mind, but a few lessons managed to weasel their way into my Pinot-drowned mind.
1) Hang out in Napa long enough and you’ll meet a boat load of wine experts. They all have their own varying styles, but the foundation of their craft involves tasting, evaluating and explaining wine in typical terms of the different kinds of flavors their senses pick up on. That is, until the sommelier I met chimed in with his very unique approach – he uses celebrity names to relate to the wine tastings. Maybe not the truest approach to being a sommelier, but certainly an entertaining and memorable one. I’ll never forget the French Bordeaux that tastes like “Mickey Rourke after a 4-day bender in an Alabama cow field“. Sometimes a differentiator can involve re-framing the way people presume an action issupposed to be played out.
2 &3) Jumping in a hot air balloon to watch the sun rise over Napa Valley is a cool enough experience on its own (if you’ve never done it, add it to the list!). But the vendor we utilized added a few elements that made an impression with me. First, they took the entire group to a local restaurant after the ride for a private brunch with mimosas, during which our balloon pilots served us! Additionally, at each table they had set up a bottle of Napa red wine and two framed pictures of us that they took before the balloon took off. A sign displayed at the table pitched a free bottle of wine with the purchase of two pictures. It’s a simple and time-tested sales move, but effective nonetheless. Any time you can show someone the product/sale in replacement of telling them about it, you’ll find yourself in a much better position.
4) I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with a gentleman who works for a large wine and spirits distributor. His territory included most of Napa for the majority of his career and everywhere we went, people knew him. The grocery store, at restaurants, walking around downtown. It was quite impressive. As I learned more and more about his business, it occurred to me that I was witnessing the ideal marketing situation. His was a multi-national company, but not to the local Napa restaurant and vineyard owners. To them, he was the brand. He answered their questions, explained pricing structures, fielded their feedback. When’s the last time your brand shook hands with the local buyer?
5) I attended a beautiful SoCal wedding and can honestly say that all the food at the reception was fantastic and satisfying. However, the star of the night was clearly one specific dish – mashed potatoes, bacon, sour cream and chives. Nothing too special about that, right? True, until you serve it in a martini glass and label it a “Mashed Potato Martini Bar”. People went nuts over it. By taking an ordinary product and 1) introducing a new way to consume it and 2) turning that consumption into an experience, the caterers created something out of virtually nothing. something