Today’s post is from Ian White, a Napa Valley professional who develops marketing programs for businesses in the wine country and the artisan food world. In addition to running Butter Communications with his partner, Ian serves as the Wine Country Manager for 7×7 Magazine and writes the weekly wine blog, “Napa Valley Insider”.
At both 7×7 and Butter Communications, I plan, negotiate, execute and follow-up on a wide array of events, ranging from four-day cheese festivals to one night exclusive parties. If I’m not supplying the wine or pouring at the event, I find others to do it.
This isn’t always easy. Here are some tips from my experience, and some insights from Ann Howle, executive event planner, Peju Winery in Napa Valley, to help you get the vino to your show.
Step 1: Background Check
Make sure that your audience is the right market for the winery you are approaching. Wineries are looking for sales and exposure, but some are trying to drive traffic to their tasting rooms or are focused on being green, while others are focused on their art gallery or a specific set of causes that they want to support.
Know your audience and know your wineries. You are more likely to find success if you can prove that their needs are a match.
Step 2: Planning
Be clear: Are you looking for a “donation,” or a “sponsor”? These are very different things with different benefits. If you’re looking for a sponsor, it implies that there will something in return such as marketing opportunities, whereas donations are usually just a write-off.
Give back: Wine is expensive; if you have any budget to offer the winery, even if it’s small, the gesture will go a long way.
If they can sell wine at the event, you’re golden; wineries have an opportunity to make a profit. If they can’t sell wine, be sure that they can hand out materials and represent their brand the way they see fit. Also, plan a strong, comprehensive campaign that supports your sponsors and donors. (Are you sending newsletters with their logo and link to their home page? If so, how many people are on your list? Will there be media at the event? Make sure they know these details, as they will be more likely to jump onboard.)
Keep a long view: Stretch benefits beyond the single event by offering to buy wine for holiday gifts or parties, or having the winery logo and link prominently placed on your website for a year.
Step 3: The Event
Have the details ready: Discuss who is providing the glasses, how much is going to be poured (a taste or a glass), how many people will realistically attend and what other options for wine and or substitute beverages will be available.
What are the loading instructions? Will there be any additional help at the event to carry, set-up or serve? Do servers need to pour a specific kind of wine? The details are endless, but have them prepared the best you can before the event or before the pitch if possible.
Take care of the winery: Bring people to the table. Make introductions. Talk them up if you are speaking. Make sure everyone knows just how appreciative you are to the winery and what the guests can do to show support.
Also, treat the winery representative with respect, feed them and make sure they have cold water. In short, make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Step 4: Follow-up
This part is really important and simple. Send a thank you card to the winery and a follow-up blast to your list.
Additionally, leave their logo on your home page and be sure to send people to the winery and tell them that you sent them.
Basically, keep the good will going. When you plan your next event the conversation doesn’t begin with a formal or distant hello.