what’s your story?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

I’ve recently done some media consulting work with clients wanting help developing their story. A good story is undoubtedly an asset, in any enterprise, but certainly when selling a product such as wine. Those relatively rare winemakers with a real gift for storytelling attain a fair amount of celebrity, and assuming that their wines are well-made and priced fairly, they do well competitively.

But not everyone has that Barnum & Bailey flair, and so the need to tell a compelling story somewhere, somehow, becomes even more urgent.

What makes for a good story?

First and foremost, it must be authentic. It must have the ring of truth. It must not feel manufactured. By manufactured, I mean that it wasn’t simply made up from whole cloth by a copywriter. When you see bottles lined on the supermarket shelves, with back label stories about cowboys or truck drivers or wild women in black party dresses, you better believe it has nothing to do with either reality, or quality in the bottle.

Second, a good story must be original. It must differentiate you and your products from the rest of the pack. It’s fine to talk about passion, about your special piece of land, about the wonderful people who work at your winery. Go right ahead and do so if you wish. But don’t for a moment think that that will in any way set you apart from thousands of other wineries with exactly the same passion, land and people story.

Third, a good story must connect your intended customer/client to your specific brand. Selling wine is especially difficult when it must move through several tiers of the system. Once it’s in the bottle, the battle begins. First it must excite and motivate your distributor. Once past that hurdle, it must gain the interest of the distributor’s customers – the restaurants and wine shops who will purchase and re-sell it. And you are still not all the way home. The retailer must in turn pull that same wine out and get the end customer jazzed enough to buy it.

A good story will help all along the way. Whenever I write a profile of a winery, I am looking for something to hook to. The quality of the wines is a foregone conclusion; otherwise I wouldn’t bother to write about them in the first place. What else is there to say? That is what I look for every time I write. And that is what you need to look for when designing your own marketing materials, or when presiding over a seminar, or tasting, or winemaker dinner.

Pick of the Week – Tertulia Cellars Redd Brand Wines; $15
Tertulia's new Redd brand includes a lovely non-vintage Malbec, a non-vintage Lonesome Spring vineyard Grenache, a 2009 Syrah and a 2008 Bordeaux blend. All four are priced at $15 and sourced from the same vineyards as Tertulia’s more expensive lineup. Consider this Pick to be advance notice – the wines will be distributed by Vehrs but are not yet widely available (they will be soon, I am told). The winery tasting room does not sell Redd wines, and the website lists higher prices. I have been assured by the winemaker that $15 will be the shelf price here in Washington.

1 comment:

Roger said...

I like to know that wines are made by people. I hate going to a website and seeing corporate speak that can apply to just about any winery (same goes for the stuff that's written on the back of a bottle). Also, I like to know why someone entered the field. Too often it looks like an ex-lawyer caught the wine bug and decided to move to wine country somewhere, but it doesn't say much more than that. Do they like wine? Is it a glamour project? What's their goal? It's amazing how just a few sentences can encourage me to try a bottle or four. Though just about anything is better than all of those websites out there that have NO content...

Post a Comment

Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted ASAP. Thanks!