Why wine companies need to stop talking about themselves

Stop talking about themselves - who are they going to talk about?

Their customer. Their target audience. The people, or businesses, they hope are going to buy their wine. But how many companies, brands, or individuals for that matter, ever do? We are all too busy telling the world about ourselves to ever stop to think what we look and sound like to the very people we are trying to talk to.

But how can they know about your wines if you dont tell them?

That’s the trick. To really stand out in the market you have to talk about your wines in a way your target customer wants to hear about them. You have to behave like a business your customer wants to listen to, engage with and ultimately spend money with. Have you ever analysed what your average target customer thinks of you? What do you look like to them? How would they describe what you do? What do they want to know when it comes to wine and what are you doing that taps into that? That is what wine businesses of all shapes and sizes need to focus on and crack, if they are going to grow and succeed in the future.

Sounds a bit confusing to me.

It really isn’t. You just have to get your head out of your own business and all the day to day issues and problems you have and work out what it is you do that makes your wines, your brand, your business unique. People talk about their USPs, but do they even know what those unique selling points are? Not to yourself but your customer. Too often when wine businesses talk about what they do, they start with “we” and how long the business has been going, how old its vineyards are and what it does - in minute detail - to make the wines it does. Just look at how powerful it becomes if you change “we” to “you”. The fact, for example, you are a business that is making and selling wines in a way that is specifically aimed at pleasing “you” the target customer and what “you” are looking for in a wine, or particular business “you” want to spend “your” money with. Wine businesses need to turn their communications on their head.

OK sounds interesting - what else?

Journalists are trained to not write for themselves or about themselves, but instead to only write stories that are going to interest their readers. To do that they are taught to imagine a typical reader for the particular magazine, website or newspaper they are writing for. Every article they write has to be interesting and appealing to them. Stories they will want to read. It is not about writing stories you personally find interesting. That typical reader will be different for every publication, with the average Sun reader being very different to someone buying The Financial Times. It is the same in wine. Readers of The World of Fine Wine and Drinks Retailing News may both be interested in reading about wine, but what they want to read and the wines they are interested in will be very different. Do you know what your average customer looks like? How they behave? What interests them? It’s a useful exercise for any business to do. Better still give them a name, imagine what clothes they wear, the car they drive and make sure everything you do is being done with that imaginary person in mind.

OK, I can see what you mean - but how do you that?

Imagine you are running a shop and can’t understand why you are not getting many customers. Now go to the other side of the road and look at what your potential customer sees. How attractive is your shop to them compared to all your competitors around you? How appealing is it? How relevant is it to their needs? Any successful brand will spend as much time analysing and comparing itself to rival brands on shelf as it does thinking about itself. But how many wine companies genuinely do that?

Anything else?

It might mean getting fresh eyes and perspectives into your business to help get the blinkers off so you can see yourself through other people’s eyes. Look at what the Wine & Spirit Trade Association is currently doing to appoint four new members to its board. It is actively looking for “people who can look at things differently, who see things from a fresh angle and challenge us”. Individuals with different perspectives who can help the WSTA ensure it addressing the issues that really matter to the industry it represents and not necessarily the industry it thinks it represents (you can find out more and apply here). The wine industry has long been criticised for talking to itself. It needs to wake up and realise so many of its potential customers are not listening.


* Find out more about how to build an effective digital communications strategy for your business during a session Richard Siddle is hosting at London Wine Fair on May 16 at 2.30pm where leading communications, social media and thought leadership experts will discuss the right tools, social media platforms and other technologies that businesses need to be using to reach their target audience and market. 

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