Sunday, March 17, 2013

What's the One Job Wineries Can't Fill?

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According to the SVB Wine Conditions Survey we ran in late 2012, direct sales in different forms represented three of the top five areas of opportunity this year. So why don't all wineries just go head-first into the gaping chasm of the direct sales opportunity and shed the bonds and shackles of the three-tier system?

Really the whole thing with direct is a love/hate relationship. Winery owners love the higher margins but they hate figuring out the labyrinth of change required to install a top functioning direct program. To be fair, its really not an easy path with hurdles in so many areas including hardware that isn't integrated and skills that aren't available or in many cases even well defined.


While direct sales are the fastest growing of all channels in wine, that growth is more due to other's efforts versus the wine industry's tactics. I don't think that's too harsh a statement and here's why: 

 
The family run wine businesses lives partly in a State of Grace despite being less than optimized as a retailer of wine. Along with the consumer appeal of wine comes a higher degree of the customer working to find you through technology created by others; for example retail platforms like Amazon, or Social Media like Facebook, or even consumer rating functions such as that on Cellar Tracker. All that activity in the digital world, the bots memorizing your brand name and the growth in technology takes place around us.  As technology grows, so do direct sales. That correlation is more than a coincidence.

Maybe you are the outlier though? Perhaps your brand's growth is more due to your plan and your tactics? Test the theory then. Ask yourself what is the condition of your digital marketing plan? Ask yourself who has the skills in your company to create e-tailing strategies that are focused and game changing for your brand. Ask yourself to what extent your retail room is integrated with the rest of the marketing plan, or how the choice in technology platforms is enhancing or limiting your success. Most important ask yourself a basic one about the state of your wine club. Did you know almost 2/3rds of wineries don't give their wine club members a choice of the wines they ship? That's the wine industry direct sales tactics and it's a hindrance to success in direct sales, not a help. And yet ..... direct sales continue to show impressive growth.

Granted, the skills required to position a successful direct program today are not likely native to the winery owner. That's an easy fix though. Just go hire the brain power. It would be nice except there is a severe lack of resident talent available to handle the diverse skills needed to lead the change in direct sales. Direct sales encompass a variety of disciplines that include everything from logistics in a delivery truck dropping off wine at a regional restaurant, to management of the Tasting Room experience, and brand marketing. The function is supported by a litany of electronic tools such as C.R.M., P.O.S., S.M., LMNOP, AM & FM, and many other such technical acronyms. In the past three weeks I've had discussions with 4 separate brands looking for this kind of talent. To give you an example of the skill-sets required, here's one redacted set of job qualifications I was handed:

Requirements:
  • 8+ years experience in the wine business or luxury goods business with demonstrated direct to consumer management abilities
  • Experience in database and customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Success in the creation and implementation of direct to consumer sales initiatives with an emphasis on consumer segmentation. 
  • Through knowledge of luxury wine marketing with fine wine appreciation 
  • Create information gathering mechanisms and evaluate existing and new technical data, then conduct detailed analyses to create new tactics
  • Experience in the creation and management of business processes, budgets and forecasts and an understanding of basis accounting and profit center analysis
  • Demonstrated success in roles where small entrepreneurial teams exist and individuals fill a number of different roles where needed.
  • Understanding of regulatory compliance and the fulfillment process
  • Strong track record with  multi-media channels and marketing campaigns including website, email, social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), and print
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and knowledge of major wine industry software applications
  •  Possession of a valid California drivers’ license and is able to lift 50 lbs. 

    Rob's Workout Regimen
    I was thinking I might be the only person alive with those skills until the part about lifting 50 lbs. But seriously ...... who are we going to find with all those qualifications? Who has those kind of skills in the wine business? The answer is very few people, and its this one situation that is most holding back the wine business from truly evolving in the direct business.

    We lack this kind of talent in the business and yet time and time again, good and intelligent hiring managers make the same mistake of seeking a person with these diverse skills from inside the industry itself. 


    Interpersonal skills are generally more important than technical skills in successful hiring decisions but in this case we are lacking the basic building blocks in the technical skills of industry people to evolve success. While its only a matter of time before we sort out the technology problem with platform integration (it is coming), as an industry we really need to recruit talent for these jobs from outside the wine business and teach the wine business aspects - the ones we already know. 

    That's my encouragement for the week. Think through your direct model and do your part to evolve the business by finding some talent from outside the business. If enough wineries do that, we will evolve our own digital culture and see a tidal wave of new models and direct sales.

    What are your thoughts? Any idea where we are going to find the talent needed from outside the industry? Please log in and comment below.

    56 comments:

    1. Rob,

      Hmmm....a couple of experiences:

      1) I spoke with the head of Direct Sales for a major nationwide retailer (one that we would have some natural affiliation with), who told me that they have purposefully decided not to go into the business of selling wine, because the level of profit is too low compared to the other items that they sell, and the risks/challenges associated with selling wine(no summmer shipping, number of problematic bottles due to closures and temperature, and issues with state laws) are too great for them.

      2) The Amazon portal model (which is the second go round for Amazon) is, from what I have read, a model that provides access, but removes much of the profit associated with direct sales. Have you yet seen it prove to be a game-changer for any wineries involved?

      All of me leads me to question the ease with which you "find talent from outside the business" and even the ease of "teaching the wine business aspects that we know."

      Adam Lee
      Siduri Wines

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      1. Thanks for weighing in Adam. There is no question its more expensive to ship wine by the bottle direct, than wine by the pallate through a wholesaler. Size does matter and the smallest of wineries will not find a complete solution to direct on-line sales, but I believe over time we will find basic tools that will help them play in a cost effective manner.

        On your second point, thus far I'm not a fan of the Amazon portal. Talk about size mattering ... if they can pull this off it could be quite meaningful but I am skeptical they can. Wine isn't like kitchen gadgets. That said, I used Amazon as a placeholder for any number of on-line etailers that are springing up providing the 5th Column of wine sales. That's the part where the growth in technological solutions will continue to drive the growth in direct sales.

        Will it be easy? It hasn't been thus far. We are lacking DNA in the industry and thats my point for this week.

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    2. Rob,
      Great article as usual. Finding these skills are one thing but finding a winery willing to pay market value for these skills is the other missing part of this equation.
      P

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      1. 100% true. While we would like the skills outlined above, even moderate wineries want to pay low wages. Its going to take leadership and vision from wineries of those sizes to pay for the talent, allow the new hire some latitude in decision making, and working with those hires - develop a plan and metrics that define success. To Adam's point, its not easy but this is the time to see the industry find that talent and scale up the direct sale and consumer experience.

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      2. Paul,
        You are absolutely correct here. There are the very select few wineries that "get it". I have successfully launched 3 different luxury brands direct to consumer programs. Fortunately, I was with those that "got it"

        Angela

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    3. Rob,
      Good insights here. One common issue that holds back DTC success is that sales and marketing functions often operate in separate silos, even in a small winery. This prevents the development of a truly integrated campaign with a strong, creative concept at the core that is extended out using existing sales and marketing tools and platforms. The industry should not just focus on functional skills it may lack, but at the process it uses to create great marketing.

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      1. Jeremy -
        Thanks for logging in. Totally agree with your point. Marketing has to span not just sales, but all aspects of the company from production through maintenance and facilities. Integration is not something we've been good at historically. Worse has been the tendency of owners to ask a tasting room manager to handle all the direct sales when they have few of the skills noted above that could lead to success.

        I'm hoping people are listening to your views on this and aligning their companies silos around marketing and integrating their approach to brand building and sales.

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    4. I'm right there with Paul. Most wineries aren't willing/able to pay what a person with those technical skills could make if they stay in the tech industry. (Though monthly multiple cases of free wine as payment may help lure some!)

      I've got that skill set, which is why a bunch of wineries hire me for consulting, but I'm barely able to keep my family fed because most of those wineries are just getting off the ground and nickle-and-dime just about everything.

      And don't get me started on interstate compliance, because I see a trend toward more and more "non-compliant" shipments that effectively avoid technology. Those wineries that don't have large groups of people in a particular state often can't pencil out to profitability, what with permit fees, excise taxes, sales taxes and compliance fees, and no one can point to a winery that lost a TTB Basic Permit for non-compliant interstate shipping.

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      1. Jon -
        You are the tip of the tip of the spear baby. I'm hoping the spear doesn't get dull banging your point against the wall.

        Some of the costs needed to handle the technical aspects of DtC can be combined and outsourced to folks like you and in so doing, rationalizing the cost structure. There is clearly a marketing job required of you to get owners to understand what they lack and what you can provide. It can be frustrating to go backward to have to educate before you can engage and sell your services, but I think its still where we are as an industry. If I may be so bold, perhaps its time for you to reconsider your own marketing plan and perhaps working with others with similar views, find how to emphasize the educational component that the business needs?

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      2. Totally agree with you that education is key, Rob.

        Here in Lodi, most of my clients are 3rd-generation growers just emerging from their fields to begin to vertically integrate to raise their potential grape prices by turning those grapes into wine.

        I probably spend just as much time trying to convince people to NOT get into this industry as I spend trying to help people be successful. The big issue with education is that you need to give out a bunch of free advice before they can begin to understand the potential value.

        But, all said and done, it's incredibly satisfying to see the fortunes of all the boats in Lodi beginning to rise.

        Thanks for all you're doing for all of us, too, Rob!

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      3. Education when you are teaching isn't an initial win, but more times than not, its an opportunity to develop a relationship with a potential client.

        Lodi continues to do a great job with improving image and quality. Keep at it Jon

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    5. Rob, I love the article, and these comments. I agree that there is great talent outside of the wine industry that could make immediate contributions to any company's DTC program. I see those job descriptions everyday, and no one could have all of the items listed (ok, some of the repliers above could!). Last week I talked to three IT/CRM/SEO/marketing folks with experience at companies such as Levi's, NBC and Nordstrom. I think all have the ability to make the switch into wine and all want to do just that. But I have to tell them that they need to network, network, network in order to find the company that will take a chance on them. Maybe instead of Taylor Swift, I need wineries to listen to Abba. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-crgQGdpZR0)

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      1. While I question your taste in MusiC, there is that component of the discussion as others note. Making a living at this is not an easy task. There is a chasm that has to be crossed and we need industry leadership to see that happen. I wouldn't want to take a chance that the folks with these skills will network and find a perch. Its going to require wineries to evolve, review their digital strategies and then find the talent. If those folks are networking there is a better chance someone will take a chance on (them). For now, I think its going to be the recruiters in the business like the Cypress Group who will be the bridge over troubled waters .... ok now I'm getting ill.

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      2. Very true Rob, both about the music choices and about how we can get the talent there (although I would have rather you mentioned another recruiter of course). I do see some companies that are willing to use talent from outside of the industry, and it can really improve their businesses. I do have to preface many discussions with talented folks who want to move into the wine industry that these jobs don't pay what they pay in other industries. For some the lure of the wine industry is enough. But often people stay in the industries they are in, and learn to enjoy wine as a hobby.

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      3. Its the product that screws up the business. So many people are happy to be in the game, they are more willing to take a low wage or not make a profit. Its all about money ..... its a crime if you ask me. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JkhX5W7JoWI

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      4. The restaurant part of the wine industry has dealt with the money problem for a very long time. Sommeliers are the classic example, the more experienced are pushed aside by the young and hungary willing to work cheap for the title and perks.

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    6. Thank you for asking wineries to look at their businesses in a new way. The number of people in this industry who concentrate on why new ideas won't work is disheartening. As a business consultant since 1992, I worked with federal, state and local government agencies, multi-million dollar NPO's and the commercial publishing and speaking industries prior to working with the wine industry. Believe it or not, the government agencies were faster on their feet. However, being an optimist and positioning myself by only working with folks who can pay, it's not so bad. The wineries who get it do exist. I am now returning to my regularly scheduled activity, writing a Digital Marketing Plan for a winery.

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      1. Thanks Alana. You are one of the thousand points of light .... well .... maybe the hundred points of light, that will be the DNA that will evolve the business. Success breads success and we need more of you!

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    7. I love the job requirements. I have an MBA, 10 yrs analysis at a major ban, 12 yrs selling wine, and I would have to lie to meet half their reqs. on having successfully done this or that. Nobody who has those computer accomplishments knows anything about wine, I bet. Except someone already with 4 yrs exper. with a winery in DTC. And how many of those exist?

      I also like wine sales job reqs. that call for "rock star" this or that. I have seen it in real ads. And one ad that listed over a full page of exper. & skills, about 15 bullet points each.

      And Alana, seeing govt. that moves faster than wineries, if that isn't damnation!

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      1. Thanks for commenting MAW. Appreciate it. That is the point I'm making. We lack those skills so its going to require either compromise on the requirements and we continue to stay internal and have rich conversations with ourselves, or we go external and have new conversations and make some new mistakes as we build new competencies for the industries. I prefer the latter approach as there is better upside.

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    8. Rob:
      It's the old conundrum (with a nod to Caymus). Do you teach a wine person how to sell or do you teach a salesperson about wine? As a wine salesperson, I came up and learned how to sell - but I'm no more capable of half of the requirements listed above than anyone else - and I've got over 30 years in the industry. The only wineries that recognize the needs enumerated above are the mega-monsters, and I think they're well on their way to filling these positions. And yes, the logistics as we all know are still daunting. It used to be stated that it was easier to sell a gun from one state to another than wine - and I bet that's still the case....

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      1. Thanks for the comments George. The hiring decision for me would be hard, but I would focus on finding people with the internal skills to work on a team and a family business and have some of the technical skills to move the needle in my business. Finding people with all the skills is tough but it better to reach out and try and cut a new path than stay in the old one. We need 30 year people like you AND the new DNA from the outside world.

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    9. Thanks for channeling our collective pain in this area. I guess I began to feel a teensy bit better when I realized that the traits "luxury goods" and "small business" and "non-metropolitan location" don't usually overlap, and may explain some of our difficulty. And yes, tech skills and sales skills are harder to find than wine knowledge. So, using the DNA metaphor--we need some genetic engineering--and right quick. The alternative of natural selection is painful and slow...after the "survival of the fittest" implies the demise of the unfit...

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    10. Thanks for all the comments. While we like to keep advertising to a minimum on this board as noted in the comment guidelines, if you are seeking employment in this field, I believe there are both employers and recruiters looking to fill some of these slots in the business. If you are one of the people with those skills, it would be fine to post a link to your resume and contacts so that others can reach out to you. (pleae keep the post to just the link and nothing more than a couple sentences so we keep the conversation on point otherwise)

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      1. Thanks, Rob. Plenty of us have what's needed, but getting all the pieces to line up the right way is always tricky, and wine's the craziest game of them all. Always happy to have a conversation with anyone in need of assistance: discretewine.com has all the info :)

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    11. Rob,
      Great read and discussion, I realize now mt DTC program is lacking Am/Fm thats it... Good stuff though and all part of the big picture overall branding of any winery especially a small famiy emerging winery like ours.

      Appreciate it
      Greg Baiocchi

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    12. Good for you Greg. I am happy to hear you have finally instituted LMNOP too.

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    13. It's a good start. Although INTEGRITY was omitted from the list. It is probably the only thing that cannot be taught on the job.

      Michael Adams

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      1. Actually humility is the only thing that can't be taught. A little flogging can help someone improve integrity. Humility is the only thing that once you discover you have it, you just lost it.

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    14. Rob - great insight, as usual, and the comments are enlightening as well. Several points:

      1) Brand Marketing - there are precious few wineries that understand Branding, let alone use it. Most larger wineries are solid in Product Marketing (what/when/price/look/feel/etc.), but this isn't branding.

      2) Naive - the wine industry doesn't know what it doesn't know. Countless examples of industry leaders talking about marketing initiatives without realizing what they are missing - and unwilling to consider options.

      3) Antibodies - I've seen several excellent Brand Marketers come into the industry, only to be continually frustrated with the lack of understanding and support - and they eventually die. Owners want a return in weeks or months, hence no one ever invests enough to make a real impact on their brand over time. It all occurs by default and evolution. A P&G or Kraft or Campbell's would never still idle for that long...

      4) The Future - it is only a matter of time...someone is going to figure it out and make some investments to realize these type opportunities...Foley is headed in the right direction, probably doesn't have critical mass of talent, though.

      Empathy - no point here, just an empathic "hang in there" to Marketers in the Wine Industry...hopefully in your lifetime this shall improve...

      My two cents...

      Z

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      1. Having run marketing (dr, pr, brand, sales promo) for a company with 500,000 dtc beverage customers and 50,000 b2b beverage customers I am very familiar with the difficulty of both finding competent people and creating an integrated effective dtc marketing program.

        Dtc in the wine business is in essence a subscription business.

        Brands matter but understanding the "lifestyle moments", adoption migration process, net present value, churn rate, optimal clusters etc. requires both tacit knowledge and current online experience.

        The new Napa "incubator" needs to create its own "Victory Lab" because if past is prologue what it really takes to optimize a dtc wine program isn't even on the wine industry’s radar yet. I suspect the combined tacit knowledge of how to do this currently lives in the Napa Valley.

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      2. Great comments Anon 3:32. Thanks for sharing with the community.

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    15. As someone currently making the move from tech into the wine import/distribution industry, this couldn't be more relevant to me. We're looking to build out our DtC strategy, and the TTB/ABC hurdles, for me, are staggering. What isn't staggering? Everything else.

      Now, on to your article. I know that it would be ideal for one candidate to meet all of the requirements listed, but the fact is, I'm quickly realizing that this isn't "one job" that wineries need to fill. The position you describe is two, and both positions need to be capable of understanding their counterparts, as well as have the marketing and sales wherewithal to communicate up the ladder AND to the customer.

      I'm someone with the functional/technical skills listed, business acumen & savvy, luxury brand marketing & sales experience, social & multi-media knowhow, analytics background, mobile POS and CRM comfortability --- I meet nearly all of the criteria, but lack the "official" wine industry experience regarding compliance and fulfillment, but I'm learning quickly. I suppose it's easier to teach/learn the compliance and fulfillment aspects than the skills & experience I and my counterparts possess.

      My recommendation for where wineries should source their talent: technology consultants. Many, if not all, have experience in marketing themselves, selling, understanding & deploying technology, they probably all use a CRM, are familiar with business processes and are currently running their own businesses. If they're current on their tech knowledge, they're probably also current on web technology, media production (to some degree), and Social Media as a promotional/service tool.

      I was a technology solution engineer for a very large technology company, and was drawn to the wine industry because I saw the market opportunity for my skill set growing rapidly. I've got a cohort ready and willing to bring their expertise to the industry -- all we have to do is make sure wineries are willing to hire them, and pay them what we're worth. I'm glad to know that the industry is recognizing the need for tech in the DTC strategy AND that the industry is moving toward becoming current.

      Thanks for the thought provoking read.

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      1. KMP - good luck in this crazy business. I hope the industry starts to commit in the ways you suggest.

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      2. Ah, key phrase "Pay them what they're worth"...that will prove to be the 'undoing' of an obvious approach. The biggest wineries devote about 20% of what they should to marketing/CRM/etc. and it shows...unfortunately.

        Z

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      3. Thanks Rob. I'm noticing that the most successful people in the industry I've encountered thus far, are committing wholeheartedly to hiring "outside" the industry to get current. Hopefully, their skills and experience will merge with the skills and experience I and my cohort have, and propel the wine business forward in a positive way.

        And Z, in all honesty, I'm willing to accept less pay in order to work in and be an innovator in this industry and not deal with the tech headaches in my past life. All innovators must prove their value at first, right?

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      4. KMP - I know recruiters are looking outside for these roles. They are hard to fill and Z is right that there is a disconnect in salary versus what they can make in Tech. Then again, this is wine and its not SF/Silicon Valley real estate rents so its a little cheaper (and nicer) to live in wine country. I'm hoping those inangibles help to bridge the gap.

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    16. I think it is too early to say we need to go outside the industry. For two reasons.

      (1) Most wine businesses don't have that option as Adam Lee and Paul Mabray have said above. Some do, what I'd call tier 1, the ones with cashflow. The Napa wineries with private wealth and the Constellations, Gallos, K-Js with company wealth.

      The rest of the industry, a tier 2 with less access to cash, faces the same issues as other small and medium businesses, finding budget to attract top talent.

      So Tier 1 is welcome to, and does, go outside the industry and competes with the likes of Proctor & Gamble and Silicon Valley for top internet marketing talent. Tier 2 will have to decide whether they spend limited cash on a new tank or a top marketer - at least one can be depreciated ;)

      (2) The second reason is that the talent is willing and able - within the industry. I almost lost my voice two weeks ago, I had been doing wine internet marketing workshops with scores of wineries (and, er, trying their wine afterwards). Despite all my talking I kept hearing a common desire from old winemakers and wealthy wine owners, harried cellar door managers and sales reps, even savvy young brand managers … all had the desire to upskill their existing abilities from the old school of wine marketing (what I call "les sulfuristes") with the new school of wine marketing (which I call "les americaines" after the two schools of phyloxerra scientists in France, see my latest blog post).

      I think you've given up too soon Rob. Just look at the comments from Angela, Jon, Alana and @ManAboutWine. Why not upskill the loyal? Whether they be the CEO, family members or existing employees with great attitude and have promising ability when it comes to using software (proxy for CRM, Google Analytics, Social Connect) and Facebook (proxy for social media). Combine the talent of the people commenting above on a contractual/software basis, with the upskilled family members, cellar door managers or existing sales and marketing staff that have the right attitude.

      Bruce McGechan
      Optimist and non French speaker

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      1. Thanks Bruce. Please check the posting rules that allow no optimist posts.

        I'd love to be proven wrong and see the skill needs located in the business because it would shorten the execution curve. But I don't see the skills here. I've talked to numerous wineries and recruiters about the lacking skill sets and while there are lots of applicants out there, my sense is the applicants aren't generally the kind of employees who can evolve the strategy of a winery using current business intelligence tools.

        I'm just reporting what I see and hear, but I sincerely appreciate a different point of view Bruce. I'm not always right. Just ask my ex-wife.

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      2. Bruce - close, but no cigar...the Tier 1 companies have a pitiful record of employing talent outside the industry in roles that should be (and are) transferable skills. As an ex-P&Ger myself, I'm astounded by the inability to either pay sufficiently or listen/adopt approaches, both of which combine to stiffle the talent stream.

        As for growing talent, perhaps yes but it requires significant investments...and especially in the case of technology, the pace of change is so rapid that catchup is near impossible unless you're at least at a certain level.

        Please be careful - this kind of thinking could actually create competitive advantage...and who wants that?

        Z

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      3. I couldn't help but notice the local of your photo, while it is a no brainer that it's Oahu's Diamond Head in the background, I'll hazard a guess that you seated at beach front bar @ historic Surf-Rider Hotel on Waikiki Beach ?

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      4. Yup. Moana Surfrider last July. My favorite spot on earth .... well that and Disneyland but I've never looked good in ears.

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      5. And I thought it was the French that would get me banned ;).

        I think anyone who started marketing in the nineties (I make that anyone who is 35+ but math was never my strong point) has had to reskill for Search by '01, for social from '06, for smartphones '07 and LBS '09. A (wine) marketer has continuing education (self, online, or in class) just like lawyers, doctors and engineers.

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      6. French will give you an interesting accent, a pessimisitic view normally, and a strange desire to shrug. Optimism is not tolerated in these parts. You have been duly warned.

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    17. I work at a winery that is totally DTC. They recently hired a new tasting room manager, and the requirements were very much like the ones in the article. I have 25 years in the restaurant industry, have run big staffs, run events and now have several years experience selling wine, yet I am not considered as all my management experience is in the food business, not the wine field. And the salaries in the wine biz are really disgraceful as well.

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    18. I completely agree with your article Rob. Having spent the last 7 plus years in the wine business I have similar findings. Coming from a background in printing and graphics you wonder why there isn't more cross pollination of talent into the industry? It makes total sense for a winery in Napa that is small to focus on all direct sales with a limited out reach to Restaurants in the broad market. For larger, more established wineries with broad distribution it is a tougher sell. Sure you can make more margin selling direct, but how do you reverse the process? I worked for a medium sized winery with multiple brands and 3-tier distribution in 50 states and 27 countries. To convince consumers to buy $14 wine direct, when they can buy for under $12 locally isn't going to happen. Napa has the luxury of location which is an easy sell to the 5 million visitors a year. To the rest that can't visit, it's harder to get your online message out there without Top Notch marketing strategies. The culture of wine in Napa is very insular. They promote from within based on who you know and not on who is best for the job. Wine could take cues from the Tech world or even Restaurant business. DTC marketing isn't about wine knowledge as it is about Digital Marketing skills. Wineries don't place a worthy value on the Social, Digital marketing. It's just as important as winemaking and sales. This hurdle needs to be jumped before any real change in direct sales percentages will be realized.

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      1. Great comments Mark. Thanks for sharing with the community.

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    19. With the exception of "profit center analysis" (I'm only 1/2 sure I know what that means) I think I fit your description by 50%. I work in Clarksburg CA at a very small producing winery. I believe I'm being groomed to fill that position in 5 years (with 3 behind me) to a "T". This job sounds like something several people are being hired to do at one winery and work as a team with maybe one Sales Director leading that team.

      On your note that we should recruit people with these skills and then teach them the wine know-how. How about investing in them while they are still in college! A topic near and dear to my heart as my goal was to always work in the wine industry was that we as a group should fuel student interest in the industry. This idea comes from personal experience, because I did not fit into the "Enology & Viticulture" group or "SSU Wine Business students" group I was left to compete with students in my field for scholarships regardless of by ambition to join the wine industry. The industry I so wanted to be apart of, on the business end didn't support me. "INVESTING" in students or recruiting them will accomplish 3 goals.
      1.) Providing financial assistance to those who need education & skills to work (or are already working) in this industry
      2.) Draw in and romance an age group that will become potential clients before they are completely drowned in beer. Just getting to know them wouldn't hurt either!
      3.)We then wont have to go outside the industry, we will have created a feeder program through outreach to students.

      What are your thoughts on this idea?

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      1. Maybe this recent press release "Beverage Industry Unites for Drink Careers 101 Employment Initiative" will help!

        http://www.winebusiness.com/news/?go=getArticle&dataid=113879

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    20. Kayla
      There are schools that teach all of the theory and most of the practical. That said, there are no schools that teach it all in one place. It would be great to have a place to send everyone to solve the issue, but finding the "who" in your investment question would have to be answered. I don't know of any pots of money available to invest in this kind of narrow education. I don't think you will find the money available from the government. You have any rich uncles not named Sam?

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    21. Sounds like it is time for SVB to work with a few of us to put together a DTC certification program!

      (One for those within the industry that need to expand DTC know how and another for the Consumer Direct experts from outside the winery that need to learn wine.)

      Perhaps we partner with UC Davis or SSU or Wise Academy to create the on-line program?

      I now make my living as a DTC expert in the wine industry--but despite the fact 1) I grew up around here and all my first jobs were in wine and 2) was an acknowledged expert in customer marketing & operations in several other industries--it still took A LOT of effort and drive to break in.

      Advice to those outside the industry that want to break in: 1) take wine courses and get some industry credentials, 2) go to work helping a winery at a steep hourly discount as a DTC intern for at least 6 months 3) network and apply for jobs on winejobs.com

      Good Luck--our industry needs you!

      MJ

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      Replies
      1. That would be great if only there were time and money .... and I could figure out a way for the Bank to make money. All this analysis we give away for free is keeping me from a full-time job being a banker. :)

        Delete
    22. Hello Rob,

      This is the best article (and one of the very few!) I have seen in regards to DTC and the case for specifically having a designated person (dedicated staff would be better!) whose focus is creating direct to consumer strategies, plans, action items and integrating those into the overall plan for the winery's success (wine making, brand positioning, marketing, etc).
      I worked for a well-known winery with a very successful DTC program that, I am proud to say, I contributed to and helped grow to be even more successful. I was the Consumer Sales Specialist for the first 7 months and then had the position of Marketing & PR Manager created for me. In my role as Marketing & PR MGR I focused on enhanced communications & initiatives for our DTC programs and creating a synergy with all of our marketing materials to have a cohesive brand message, along with an accountable action plan for growth and a road-map on how to get there. I was in that position for over 3 years. I have continued to consult for this winery for the last two years, remotely, as I changed locations for personal reasons. It has been an amazing relationship.

      Your article is incredibly timely for me, as I have spent the last 6 months working on and creating programs/trainings/consulting options specifically in the area of DTC for wineries. I was seeing there was a need that wasn't being served and decided to take all I know, have learned and applied successfully, and create a business around it I am just about ready to launch and this article gave me an awesome validated boost!

      I would love to share some of what I'm doing with you and to be acquainted. Please let me know if we could chat off-line. I would be so delighted to know you.

      All the best and thanks again for an amazing post and a great, useful blog.
      Cheers,
      Michele

      ReplyDelete
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