In Short Direct Marketing logo


Facebook Twitter Linkedin


1038 Capewood
CA, 95492
United States
(707) 953-1289
707 6577301
Elizabeth Slater

In Short - Specializing in Staff Training: Customer Service, Sales & Wine Club Membership Sales,

Elizabeth Slater of In Short Direct Marketing is recognized throughout North America as speaker and trainer, increasing sales for wineries through staff training in sales, customer service and all avenues of direct marketing. In Short has works with individual wineries as well as winery associations throughout North America.

INCREASE WINE CLUB SALES & RETENTION:  Do you have enough wine club members?  Are you retaining them?

Elizabeth Slater, In Short Direct Marketing’s wine club expert, gives your staff the tools they need to make your wine club membership sales and retention soar.  In addition to working with individual wineries, Elizabeth teaches wine club classes at both Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.


After a very interactive training with our team, our following month saw over a65% increasein wine club signup rates—our best month to date!    Dutton Goldfield, Sonoma County

…Elizabeth Slater’s guidance and training provided the perfect platform, helping us double our Wine Club signups in the last 3 months compared to last year. If you’re serious about improving your business, then give her a call...”    

Franciscan Estates, Napa County

 Other Seminars & Training

Staff and management training should be as integral a part of the operation of a successful winery as using the very best grapes and producing top notch wines. Yet, despite its iymportance, it is the component of business operations that is most easily and most often ignored. In fact, it is frequently not recognized as a component of successful business operations at all.

E (as she is known) presents seminars and workshops on a variety of marketing and sales subjects to wineries and winery associations throughout North America. She is a featured speaker at Wineries Unlimited and presents regularly at state and province conferences working across the US and Canada.

In Short was started as a direct marketing company in 1994 and added workshops and seminars to the mix in 1997.  Elizabeth's dynamic and humorous speaking style has made her a popular and busy speaker both in and out of the wine industry.


"In Short Direct Marketing is an essential business tool." - Maureen Hendrikson, Patit Creek Cellars

Workshops & Training: Wine Clubs, Customer Service, Sales

In Short Direct Marketing offers a full range of training services for staff, managers and owners on a variety of topics (see list below). The interactive seminars and workshops, presented with humor, are jammed with innovative, useful and easy to implement information and concepts that assist any winery or association in reaching direct sales, marketing and promotional goals.

Topics include all facets of Direct Sales, Customer Service, Wine Clubs, Tasting Room Management, Events, Direct Marketing, Merchandising, Training the Trainer, Promotion, Social Networking and more.


INCREASE WINE CLUB SALES & RETENTION:  Do you have enough wine club members?  Are you retaining them

Elizabeth Slater, In Short Direct Marketing’s wine club expert, gives your staff the tools they need to make your wine club membership sales and retention soar.  In addition to working with individual wineries, Elizabeth teaches wine club classes at both Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.


After a very interactive training with our team, our following month saw over a65% increasein wine club signup rates—our best month to date!  Dutton Goldfield, Sonoma Count

…Elizabeth Slater’s guidance and training provided the perfect platform, helping us double our Wine Club signups in the last 3 months compared to last year. If you’re serious about improving your business, then give her a call...” Franciscan Estates, Napa County

 Other Seminars & Training

Staff and management training should be as integral a part of the operation of a successful winery as using the very best grapes and producing top notch wines. Yet, despite its importance, it is the component of business operations that is most easily and most often ignored. In fact, it is frequently not recognized as a component of successful business operations at all.

These are not one-size fits all workshops. All In Short seminars and workshops are individually crafted to meet clients' wants, needs and expectations. Elizabeth works with closely with her clients to set the stage for success long before the training takes place.

Mystery Shopping

The perfect adjunct to training. Discover your winery's strengths and weakness through a well defined mystery shopping program and make your training even more effective. In Short offers a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of any winery.

E presenting a seminar at Wineries Unlimited in Pennsylvania
My logo (to the left) shows a picture of my great-aunt who was only 4'6". In the picture (taken around 1915) the chair is a little tall and her feet don't touch the floor. This picture of me (taken in 2005) shows that I too have problems getting my feet to touch the floor, even though I am much much taller (okay four inches taller) than my great-aunt, who though very small had a huge positive impact on many lives.
Time Management Tips
Time Management Tips
This three-minute "mini-seminar" with Elizabeth "E" Slater offers valuable tips on juggling your daily tasks.
Wineries Unlimited
Wineries Unlimited
An overview of Wineries Unlimited, featuring, in part, Elizabeth Slater of In Short speaking about the seminars she presents and moderates
Thanksgiving – A Plethora of Emails

I received what seemed like a boatload of emails from wineries over the Thanksgiving and shopping extravaganza long weekend. Some wineries sent me up to five emails in a three or four-day period. Most were touting special pricing on their wines and/or low priced or free shipping.

Offers included:

  •  20% saving with $10 ground shipping
  • Free shipping plus the standard 10% case discount when $150.00 was spent
  • $10 flat rate shipping for gift sets (up to 12 bottles)
  • 5% off on all wines
  • 20% off all wines plus free shipping on 6+ bottles (Black Friday & Cyber Monday)
  • Save $10 on $40 (spent) online
  •  15% off, shipping included on 3+ bottles
  •  1¢shipping on $50 or more plus $10 off on $99 or more.

I also received Cyber Monday prices and Cyber Monday extensions, with the special pricing running through Tuesday.

One California winery did something different: on Black Friday they donated all tasting fees and $5 from each online purchase going to support victims of the Camp Fire (Paradise).

I understand that the Thanksgiving weekend (all the way through Cyber Monday and sometimes Tuesday) is about shopping. More money is spent during these four days (Friday through Monday)than at any other time of the year. So perhaps creating special pricing and/or free shipping options pays dividends. Though if you want your wine to be taken seriously discounting regularly is not the way to promote the quality or overall value. Value is not based solely on price. It is also based on the quality of the product, your reputation in the industry and what bragging rights go along with the purchase.

While it is not surprising that some people buy because of the price. It is not only the price that keeps them buying from you. You still have to have a quality product that fits their lifestyle.

Focus your emails on your customers and what is important to them, rather than what is important to you. 

Next week we will talk more about selling through emails and what information is needed to make it successful.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

News Archive

Working Through Guests’ Price Objections
30 November, 2018

When a guest objects to the price of one of your products, don’t be discouraged. Many times an objection to the price is the first signal that they really want to buy the product you are selling. If the guests were not interested, they would thank you and leave.

For some people, part of the fun of buying is seeing how much they can get off the retail price. They have every intention of buying while they enjoy the back and forth on price.

For the seller, rule one is: Just because guest quibbles over the price, don’t assume that they will not buy if you don’t give them the price they want.

If guests present objections (and price is the most likely) what they are looking for is you, as the seller, to tell them why they should buy it. They want the reasons why it was a good buy, so when their friends ask them why they bought the product they have a list of reasons why they made a wise buy.

This is particularly prevalent when selling wine. Let’s take Cabernet Sauvignon for example. There are so many different price points that for people who don’t know a lot about wine it is hard to discern why a $100.00 bottle of Cabernet is so much better than a $20.00 bottle of Cabernet.

Here are some of the things that may be prompting guests to object to the price:

What’s in it for me?”

It may be that the guests have not internalized the benefits to them when they buy this wine. Our job as a salesperson is to go over the benefits again, rather than the features. It is the benefit to the guests and their lives that will encourage them to buy the wine.

The emotional process of buying has not been addressed

Buying decisions are made in the emotional part of the brain. We prefer to think we are making intellectual decisions, but mostly they are emotional. So speak to the guests about how they feel about wine rather than how they think about it.

Let them know the wine is worth it

What are the reasons your wine is the price it is?

  • Grapes from a well-known vineyard
  • Amazing winemaker
  • Small production
  • Customer and reviewer accolades
  • Fills your whole palate with flavor
  • Not easy to make wine of this quality

Selling on price alone is never a good idea. Discover from your guests what makes them want to buy and sell those benefits and features that fit with their wants and needs.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Customer Engagement Reminders
18 November, 2018

Black Friday and the December holidays are quickly approaching, which means you are busy, busy, busy for a couple of months. As most people seem to be rather stressed at this time, it helps if you go out of your way to be patient, polite and professional with all your customers. Here are a few tips that may help in the busy times.

The Customer May Be Wrong

However, if you have to tell them so, do it in a pleasant way.

Ask Questions

If you know what your customer wants, you are better able to meet their needs quickly and accurately.

Understand the Customers Make Buying Decisions Emotionally

It is easier to think that buying is an intellectual process, though the actual decision is made through the emotions.

Listen More Than You Speak

Let the customer do most of the talking. Try not to interrupt, as it will take longer to get to the root of the request or concern.

Customers Should Feel Appreciated. 

Customers are happier if they feel, Important… Liked… Right. If you can manage all three that is fantastic, though any one of the three will help.

Saying Yes has great power

When you can say Yes to customers, even when the request is simple, the customer feels as if s/he is important to you. Sometimes you have to say no. At those times, find an alternate solution.

Give More Than Is Expected

When you go that extra mile (or even an inch) you receive in return the appreciation of the customer. This means the customer is more willing to buy your products.

Promise Only What You Can Deliver

Don’t overpromise. Better to let customers know if you can’t meet their expectations. However, promise that you will do everything you can to make it happen.


An apology goes a long way to keeping a customer happy, even if you are not at fault.

“I am so sorry this happened, let me see what I can do.”

“I don’t think we can have it (the requested item)  to you by Monday,

but we will ship it to you as soon as it comes in.”

Don’t Forget To Smile

Your smile helps smooth any transaction. So keep smiling and mean it, even when you don’t feel like it.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are Your Employees Motivated?
09 November, 2018

Business owners may spend a lot of time planning ways to motivate staff and managers. However, it seems that starting with why staff members are not motivated should be the first step in the process. If you know why your staff isn’t motivated, it is much easier to put into play the strategies that will change attitudes and banish apathy.

Interestingly enough a Gallup poll found that 70% of US employees were disengaged. Having that many employees who are not motivated to do the best job they can has to have a great impact on customer satisfaction and profits.

Until you understand the reasons for your employees’ lack of motivation it’s going to be hard to change the behavior, especially if the lack of motivation extends to a number of employees in the same company.

Start with a simple employee survey that asks questions such as:

  1. What rewards do you want for your work?

If you don’t know what motivates your employees to perform at top level, you may well be rewarding them in ways that do not resonate with them.

  1. Does your environment encourage motivation?

There may be things that can be changed with the work environment that will encourage a more positive attitude in employees.

  1. How can the company make your job easier?

Many inspirational ideas for a better work environment come from the employees. They are the ones dealing with all the little things that could be better organized. Plus they may have some good ideas on how things can be changed or streamlined. They may not have said anything because no one thought to ask them.

  1. Are they happy with the management style of the company owners or managers?

Management style should vary from employee to employee. Some employees prefer to be macro-managed rather than micro-managed. Find out which employee prefers which style.  Preference for different management styles may also vary from younger to older employees.

Next week’s blog will be about how to motivate employees.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Holiday Sales
05 November, 2018

The scariest thing about Halloween is that it makes us realize how little time we have left in this year. Which means that if you haven’t already rolled out your holiday selling plans now is the time. For those who are not yet thinking about the holidays, here are a few tips.

While the main focus is on December don’t forget that Thanksgiving is coming up first. Information on which of your wines pair well with traditional or untraditional Thanksgiving feasts should already be on your website, in your emails, and in your hospitality center.

On to December. A significant percentage of shoppers have already started their holiday shopping by the end of October and the majority will have started shopping before the end of November, The good news is that the different articles I have been reading about who starts their holiday shopping when all say that many people start early, they do not say that they all finish early.

As wine is the perfect gift for almost any occasion, the sooner you let them know that you can take care of most of the holiday needs, the better. Many of your customers are already thinking about holiday gifts, holiday parties and what they will need.

Send an email now to your customers reminding them of what you can do for them to make buying for the upcoming holidays easier. Include some tips on holiday dinners or other get-togethers (there are lots of sites on the Internet that offer holiday planning ideas). At the same time, let them know that you can solve their gift giving and holiday planning dilemmas by telling them what you have to offer.

  • Add a page to your website that features different options for gifts, complete with gift boxes, etc.
  • Remind them of the timeline for shipping to get their gifts to their destinations on time.
  • Schedule a one-day event on a weekend in mid-November for gift shopping, with a holiday theme. While Black Friday and the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend are big draws, there are also many shoppers who prefer not to fight the crowds.
  • Offer a special holiday shopping day for wine club members.
  • Offer holiday gifts for businesses to give to clients.
  • As the holidays approach, shoot out short weekly emails with tips on fun and festive entertaining.
  • Have information in your hospitality center about your holiday offerings for guests to take with them.

There are many people who don’t like to shop or don’t know what to buy for others.  Make it simple for them to get most of their holiday shopping done in one place and… make that one place your place.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Ramifications of Bad Customer Service
26 October, 2018

As I was wandering through the Internet, I found some great information on customer service on Help Scout. The article was actually a compilation of quotes, facts and statistics from different companies and individuals focused on the ramifications of bad customer service and the benefits of positive engagement with customers. I thought I would pull some of these out for this week’s blog.

American Express Customer Service Barometer (2017)

“More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase transaction because of bad service.”


“74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.”

New Voice Media

“After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again. “

“U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.”

Those are some powerful numbers and some amazing findings, showing that the attitude companies have towards the importance of positive engagement with customers can seriously affect the bottom line.

It’s important to spend time accessing your company’s customer service through all lines of communication: in person, via email, phone, mail, on social media and in any other ways that you are in touch with your customers.

Every person who works for the winery, no matter what their job, is responsible for being available to help customers if they come into contact with them. Each and every employee should have some customer service training. Though employees who work in the cellar or in the back office may not encounter many visitors, if they happen to run into a visitor, they should make eye contact, smile and be available to help if needed (even if it is merely directing someone to where they want to go).

How long has it been since you did a customer service review in your business? Are you overseeing at least one customer service training session per year for all your employees and offering more training for those who are on the front lines of customer interaction?

Good customer engagement will raise your sales, according to the 2017 Customer Service Barometer from American Express:

7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers good service.

A simple upgrade to your customer service should mean more wine sold, more return customers and a strong uptick to your bottom line.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Customer or Guest? Customer Service or Customer Engagement?
19 October, 2018

The words you use to describe your clients are important.

Some people may dismiss the use of slightly different words such as customer or guest, service or engagement as just semantics. However the words you use influence the way you think and the way you may act towards the people who visit your winery.

Let’s start with the words, customer and guest. The two definitions for a customer that I found in are:

  • a person who purchases goods or services from another…
  • a person one has to deal with.

The definitions of the word guest in the same dictionary:

  • a person who spends time at another’s home in some social activity, as a visit…
  • a person who receives the hospitality of a club… or the like.

If you were visiting a winery, which would you prefer to be, a customer or a guest? Would you rather be… “A person one has to deal with” or “A person who receives hospitality?”

Many people who come to wineries do so because they want to be a part of something they think of as exciting and fun. How many times in your winery, have you heard guests saying “It must be great to own/work in a winery.” Considering those who make time to visit your winery as guests, may encourage you to be more friendly and may encourage them to buy and return often.

Moving on to the words service vs. engagement:

I have seen many tasting room staff members give good service without being particularly engaging or truly treating the person they are serving as a guest of the winery. These staff members can be helpful without being interested or efficient without being friendly.

Engagement tends more towards creating an affinity with the customer, a lasting connection and providing the best experience possible. While service fills a need to provide a product for the customer but may not go that extra mile to create a feeling that as a guest the person is important to the company and to the staff member who is engaging with them.

Think of these and other words that you may use in your hospitality center that can be revised to create changes in the way you think of the people who visit your winery and how you treat them.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How Is Your Email Response?
12 October, 2018

I found an interesting article by Alexandra Braunstein in this week’s Target Marketing newsletter. The article explains three reasons why your customers may be ignoring your emails.

Ms. Braunstein starts by talking about the importance of the subscriber behavior – if subscribers stop interacting with your emails (opening or taking action) the mailbox provider may filter out the messages because of this behavior. She then gives us some reasons why subscribers disengage.

The main reason, according to a recent 2018 Consumer Email Survey conducted by Adobe, is that the frequency of emails customers receive from companies is too high. 45% of participants in the survey responded with this reason for disengagement. How many emails do you receive that you don’t engage with? My guess is, a heck of a lot.

One way around this is to send more emails to those subscribers who regularly engage with the information you send them. Think about organizing how many emails you send and how frequently the recipients respond to these emails. Also, note the type of emails to which they respond. Know your customers; what emails interest them and what motivates them to buy. For example, if you have customers who usually buy during winery events, make sure they receive all the event emails.

The second thing to think about is the value of the messages you are sending out. Knowing what your customers want from you is critical. If you know that certain customers only buy red wine, limit the number of emails that feature or include white wine to one or two a year. Most people don’t have a lot of time, so the more you can present them with products they want, the more likely they will appreciate and engage with the information sent.

Finally, personalize the communications as much as you can. Your email list should be divided into different groups of customers, based on their wants and needs. Sending generic emails makes them less important to many of your customers.

The key to better email retention and engagement is your understanding of customers’ wants and needs. This means keeping your customer records up to date and noting changes in preferences. The days of one-size fits all emails are over.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Optimizing Staff Meetings
05 October, 2018

I have been attending lots of meetings recently. While staff and management meetings are important, often they can take more time than they should and are not always as effective as you would like.

Meetings should be planned out well before they occur. Start with a clear vision of how the meeting should progress and a list of topics that need to be discussed.

The length of the meeting 

Decide on the amount of time the meeting should take based on the number of items you wish to discuss. Each topic should be allocated a certain amount of time. The meeting times (start and end) should be part of the agenda. Keep to those times.


Prior to the meeting, request information from participants regarding topics they wish to include. Not all topics that are suggested may be suitable for that particular meeting. If these are things that merit the attention deal with them at another time or on an individual basis.


Opt for a meeting space that is comfortable, well ventilated and has plenty of room for all the people invited to the meeting. If everyone is crowded, too warm or too cold the participants will be distracted. Providing a place for people to engage in a positive manner is more likely to lead to favorable outcomes.

Stay On Topic

Certain discussions may bring up other topics that can lead to long and possibly irrelevant conversations. When this happens, bring the group back to the topics at hand. Make a note of the new topic for future discussion.


Cell phones and other devices should be turned off during the meeting. If it is necessary for staff members to add dates to their calendars, phones may be turned on for the last five minutes of the meeting when new dates are being discussed. Provide printed copies of the agenda for all participants.

 Leave Time for Conversation

Allow time for participants to air their views. Allow everyone who wants to speak the opportunity to do so, but have a set amount of time for each person. This helps in a number of ways, it makes sure the meeting run on time and it helps staff focus on the most concise way to get their points across.

If the meetings have been run on a more relaxed timeline, it may take some effort to change attendees assumption of what is or isn’t acceptable. Keep going. Meetings will before more structured and effective.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

A Successful Brand
28 September, 2018

There are brands that stand out in the minds of consumers. How did they get to that place of prominence and how do you get there, too? Some companies make it by putting large amounts of money, time and branding professionals behind their brands, which you may not be able to do. Though it is not only those things that make a successful brand.

Starbucks, for example, has been very successful. Their store designs are good, their products are good, and the staff members in their stores are invariably cheerful. What sets them apart in my mind though is how they handle problems when they crop up.

Starbucks recently went through a problem in one of their Philadelphia stores when an employee asked two black men to leave because they asked to use the restroom though had not bought anything. When they said they were not going to leave, as they were waiting for a friend, the employee called the police who arrested them both. They were later released with no charges filed.

This was a terrible situation that could have caused a lot of problems for Starbucks bottom-line and customer loyalty. However, Starbucks handled the situation extremely well. The CEO immediately apologized profusely and quickly and put the employee on leave pending more information. The event happened on Thursday and by Friday, Starbucks was all over the news with their apologies.

By Monday, the CEO had sat face to face with the gentlemen in question to apologize and by Tuesday Starbucks had announced that they would close all 8,000 of their stores for an afternoon in May to hold racial bias training for their staff.

Starbucks may not have mitigated all the damage that was done by the incident but their strong and hitherto unheard of response was well received by crisis management and diversity experts.

It was a terrible situation but the company stood up to the problem, sought solutions and sorted out the problem, saving their brand from a lot more losses than they sustained from closing all their stores for an afternoon.

My point, if someone complains, whether it is a small or large complaint and whether they complain publicly or privately, take care of the problem. If it is a public complaint, you may wish to resolve it privately, but report the solution to the problem publicly so all your customers who may have seen it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever know that you took care of it.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


Creating Connected Customers
21 September, 2018

It’s interesting that businesses want customers to be more connected with them, though many businesses are afraid to give the customers what they want, which is connection with the people in the business.

Customer connection is a big part of the wine industry in general, and particularly true for customers who belong to wine clubs especially when the winery is a “small, family-owned winery.” Though even with wine clubs in corporate wineries, the members are still looking for connection.

There are many reasons why people may choose to join wine clubs… yes they like the wine, yes they enjoy the events, and yes they like to bring their friends and be able to taste for free. All these things are definite perks. Though there are two defining reasons: Connection and Access.

The majority, though not all, look for connection with the winery owners, the winemaker, and the staff. They like being recognized when they walk into the tasting room and the staff person knows their name. For those of you who are old enough, think about the TV show Cheers. Having those connections allows them to tell their friends:

“I was just at Bahoula Winery, talking to the winemaker, Susan, do you know her? Lovely person and she said…”

There is a great deal of pleasure to be had by being one up on your friends.

The other reason people like to be a “special” customer at a winery, like one who is in the wine club, is access. They have access to events, to the wine clubroom, if there is one and to other parts of the winery that regular customers may not see.

They also get access to more information about the wines and the option to buy older wines, newer wines before the general release and large format, limited release bottles.  There are a lot of perks to being part of the wine club if wineries understand what it is that their customers are looking for.

Although these perks should not only be for wine club members. They should also be for those people who, while they may not belong to your wine club, spend a lot of money with you or bring others to your winery who spend money.

Make sure that your best customers have access to you and feel connected. Drop them a personal email once in a while to ask them what they thought of a wine they just received from you. Or have pictures of your best customers on their customer record so you recognize them and call them by name. You never know you might make some new friends.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


Customer Service at Warp Speed
14 September, 2018

I have read that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now, which is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.

However, according to an article I read on BBC News about experts who study human attention, these experts don’t know where those numbers came from. They believe that the people’s attention spans are not getting shorter.

So perhaps it is not a shorter attention span, as it is that people do not have as much patience as they used to. In the days before telephones, computers, the internet, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., we actually had to take the time to go the see someone about a customer service problem. Sometimes it could take days just to get there as most of the shops closed at 5 p.m. just as people were getting out of work.

We also could not berate the business or product in question on their lack of service to a large audience because there were no platforms that reached thousands or millions of people in less than 3 seconds. We could tell our neighbors, or write a letter to the newspaper but that was about it.

The nice thing about it taking longer to get a problem solved was that it gave the person with the problem more time to think it through, create some perspective and perhaps get expectations in order.

Nowadays, our ideas of what we can and should expect may sometimes be unrealistic and as much as customer service professionals do their best to meet our every expectation (and will if we give them a little time) we want instant results.

According to information from Forrester research, almost 70% of business leaders want to use the customer service experience as a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, only 37% have a dedicated budget for customer service improvement initiatives.

Most of us, when we have a complaint or problem, are looking for a more personal approach. We want the answer to our question now if we are talking to a person or the information that could provide the answer we expect it to be if we are online.

So perhaps a little more patience would not go amiss. As patience is something I don’t possess a lot of, I am working on it and have found that slowing down life a little, is not necessarily a bad thing. Life is going fast enough without me hurrying it along.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


Motivating Employees (Or Yourself)
07 September, 2018

I spend much of my time reading business related journals, newsletters and such, subscribing to lots of them and finding other information online. This time I was looking for information on motivating employees and came across a good article in INC. magazine.

One of the things that I know from my own career (I am sure most of you feel it, too) is that I am not always at the same level of motivation. I would be surprised if anyone is. As human beings, we are nothing if not changeable. There are times when you, your managers or employees are going to need motivating to get things done. Here are some ideas terrific ideas from the INC. article:

Let people know that you trust them. A vote of confidence will encourage most people will do a good job.

When you are feeling down, remind yourself of what you have accomplished. Also, remember you can be trusted to get done what you need to get done.

Make the goals for your employees (and yourself) realistic. Reward your employees as they reach smaller goals on the way to larger goals. Smaller rewards given more often will motivate people to work harder more of the time, than offering a big reward that is not going to be achievable until far in the future.

Give your employees a purpose so they feel they can make a difference. Help them understand your vision and goals so they are more engaged in reaching the goals. People are more motivated when they feel that they are part of the big picture.

Be enthusiastic and positive with your staff. You want your staff to work hard. Enthusiasm and energy from their boss or bosses will make employees more energized, too.

Know your employees and learn what is important to them, what motivates them to work hard and what type of encouragement works for them. Many surveys have shown that praise or being recognized for a job well done is more important than more money for the majority of employees.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


Overcoming Objections to the Price of Your Products, Part Two
31 August, 2018

As I mentioned last week, I downloaded an informational guide with information on overcoming sales objections from Resourceful Selling. This week is part two in the review of the information.

First:  Let’s look at things that can go wrong.

Sometimes the salesperson, if uncomfortable with the price, can transmit that feeling to the customer, perhaps not in words but by how the information is presented. It’s a must that the salesperson is comfortable with the price. If not, they may need more training in sales in general and in your products in particular.

Many winery tasting room salespeople get into the business because they like wine, not because they like to sell. And, as many owners also don’t like to sell (they prefer to create), there is not the emphasis on sales that there should be. Make sales and customer engagement high on the list of the experience you are looking for when interviewing potential salespeople. Or if you are the salesperson, make sure you are applying for jobs for the right reasons and jobs that fit what you want to do with your life.

As a salesperson, are you ready to defend (in a non-combative or judgmental way) the prices that are being asked for the product you sell? Do they think the wine is worth the price?

Price, like any other objection to the sale, is a problem-solving process. If the customer is not ready to pay the price the winery is selling it for, why not?  Find out the reason and you can usually turn the customer around. Sell on the quality or the fact the customer can use this to impress their friends. You can also bring up the idea that if someone wants to pay a lesser price, s/he can always buy a case or half case and receive a special quantity price.

Remember that customers are looking for:

  • What is in it for them – How they benefit from the purchase.
  • It is benefits rather than features that make the sale (buying is done through the emotional part of the brain.)
  • What is the perceived value in relation to price.
  • Value is in the mind of the purchaser rather than the product.
  • If, as a salesperson, you believe that price may be an obstacle, bring it up before the customer does: “You can always find less expensive wine, but nothing at this quality for the price.”
  • Add value to every sale, even when the customer is not objecting. It will bring them back to see you again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


Overcoming Objections to the Price of Your Products (Part One)
24 August, 2018

I downloaded a handy informational guide of overcoming sales objections from Resourceful Selling, which I am going to share you over the next couple of blogs.

The information starts with a headline:

“The price objection is the quickest way for a prospect to get rid of a salesperson.

But a price objection shouldn’t mark the end of a discussion.”

Good advice. I have seen too many salespeople give up when a potential customer says that the price is too expensive. But giving up should not be your first option.

First, find out what may be behind the customer telling you that the price is too high or that it is more than they usually pay.

  • You may not have asked enough questions about what the customer is looking for.
  • It may be that you haven’t communicated the value of your product in a way that makes sense to your customer.
  • The customer may not have been fully made aware of the differentiation of your products or service from that of your competitors.
  • The customer may be fishing to see if you are willing to go down on the price, but will buy it anyway if you don’t.

For any of these reasons, the price may become a serious factor in whether the customer buys or not. So your job is to identify the reason for buying your customer will be most susceptible to. In this article I was reading, they quoted a study by Alpha Marketing who ranked the reasons why customers choose to buy:

  1. Credibility
  2. Quality
  3. Company reputation
  4. Level of service
  5. Reliability of salesperson
  6. Responsiveness
  7. Ability to meet deadlines (which may not apply to you)
  8. Price

As you can see, the price is not the first thing on people’s minds. Yes, it is a factor but I believe with the right information, good customer service and a genuine interest in what is best for the customer, the price objection may be easily overcome.

Next week – ways to overcome price objections.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Elizabeth Slater

Customer Engagement & Sales Training


This week, WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHY are we NOT Selling?
17 August, 2018

Last week we looked at what to do and this week we are looking at the opposite side of the What, How, Who and Why of selling, which is:

  1. What are you not offering
  2. How are you not offering it (is our presentation unique)?
  3. To whom are you not selling?
  4. Why are you not doing this?

What are you not offering?

Most people (owners, managers, and staff) have ideas of what they want to do in the business they either own or work in. Many times these ideas have a lot to do with their own interests or motivations, which while reasonable is not necessarily going to get the job done. Because of this, you may not be offering customers the information that will close the sale.

How are you not offering it?

You are not offering the information the customers’ want when you haven’t discovered what it is the customer is looking for. If, for example, I like red wines, fifteen minutes of information on how you grow your Chardonnay grapes and how you make your award-winning Chardonnay is going to cut no ice with me at all. That time could have been much more profitably spent talking about your red wines. Also, many times crucial information is not offered until late in the visit. If it is something that will benefit the customer (such as special case prices or wine club info), let the customer know early in the visit so they have time to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.

To whom are you not selling it?

Are you judging visitors when they come into your business? If you say no, you are probably wrong. We all judge, it’s part of being human. It is part of what keeps us out of danger. It helps to be wary. It also helps to understand that you have no idea how much someone may buy based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear or how much they know about your product. Many times someone may not buy because you haven’t taken the time to discover his/her likes, dislikes and purchasing triggers.

Why are you not doing this?

Remember that purchases are made through engaging the emotions rather than in the intellectual part of the brain. Buying is a process that is strictly emotional. Instead of facts, inspire your customers. What and How educate your visitors, the WHY inspires them to buy and become long-term customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHY of Customer Sales & Retention
10 August, 2018

Before we even get on the sales floor, there are a number of questions (and the answers to these questions) that we have to know. If we don’t know the answers there is no way we can be as successful as we would like to be or convert one-time visitors into life-long customers.

Those four questions are:

  1. What are you offering
  2. How are you presenting the information?
  3. Who is buying your products?
  4. Why are you doing this?

What are you offering?

Everyone in the organization should have a clear idea of what is being offered. Not only what the products are but also what is being offered in the way of customer service and general information. All this information (and a lot more) should be available in written form to all employees and talked about in staff meetings.

Employees, even those who do not regularly see the public, may run into a customer who may need information. It is part of everyone’s job to understand customer service and rudimentary selling techniques.

How are you presenting the information?

When someone walks into your winery, are they going to have a unique or, at least, an uncommon experience? Or are they going to walk away without a precise memory of why your company, products or service?

So many visits to wineries are indistinguishable to many customers.

Who is buying your products?

Know your customers, not only what they buy, but who they are and the demographics they fall into. Most wineries, these days, have CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, most of which has a section that allows you to create robust customer records.  Take advantage of this opportunity to record as much information about customers as you can. The most important letter in CRM is the R.  If you don’t have strong relationships with your customers you will eventually lose them.

Why are you doing this?

Let your customers know why you do what you do. It isn’t enough to say you grow grapes, make wine or work in the tasting room; you have to let them know WHY you do it. The WHY will inspire your customers because you telling them about your passion, your spirit and your commitment to what you do. Inspired customers also buy more.

At your next staff meeting, ask your staff and managers these four questions and see what answers they come up with. Once you know where the weak spots are you can start training.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

It’s Prime Selling Time!
03 August, 2018

As we are in the midst of the summer visitor season at present, this week’s blog has some reminders about the importance of selling in the tasting room, at events, and anywhere else it seems appropriate.

It is always good to remember that customers make buying decisions through the emotional rather than the intellectual part of their brains. Most of us like to think that our buying decisions are made based on facts and formulated through our intellect but it is just not true. We buy because we feel. We like to believe it is intellectual because it’s easier to describe intellectual feelings than it is emotional ones.

To get your visitors and customers in the right frame of mind, you need to do three things:

  • Engage Your Customers: Let them know that you are interested in them and not just in how much they are willing to buy.
  • Ask Questions: Ask about their wine drinking habits, which types of wines they like and discover if wine is a big part of their lives.
  • Promote the Buy: Discover why your visitors or customers buy wine. Do they use it when they entertain? Is having a glass of wine something they do each night when they get home or with dinner? Are they interested in learning more about wine?

When you know these things, you can focus your sales pitch on what will appeal to them.

Your successful sales presentation will be made up of a number of different parts and should include:

  • Dialogue rather than a monologue, both the customer and you should share a conversation.
  • Enthusiasm for your customers, your job, and passion for the products you are selling.
  • Messaging: Give the customers the information that they want, rather than the information that you want them to have.
  • Differentiation: Give the customers reasons to buy your wine; even people who don’t drink wine have friends or family who do.
  • Inclusion: Make your customers your friends, even if you believe you are only going to see them once in your lifetime.
  • Reasons to Buy: What is it that makes your wines special and different? What other opportunities will the purchase of your wines afford them and are there any rewards for purchase?

If you can make a friend, you can make a sale.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Dangerous Assumptions That Undermine Profits
27 July, 2018

I was recently asked to do an evaluation of a tasting room experience for a winery at which I had done some training. This meant I actually know the staff. Usually, I would not go myself, but find shoppers they didn’t know and send them. This time I thought I would try something a little different.

I took a look at my list of shoppers I had worked with before and decided upon some friends of mine who were just the type of customers that the winery was trying to reach. The reason my husband and I went along was because I wanted to see if anyone tried to sell to them. Or if, because the staff knew who I was and what I did, they would assume that the others were not going to buy.

Sadly, my thoughts that my shoppers would not get all the information they needed to make buying and joining decisions came true. The shoppers were told about the wines and given information about the vineyards. However, there was so much more that they were not told. As I was sitting at the table I was able to see for myself how the visit progressed.

I was pleased that the staff members were attentive and very nice to us. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the special events that the winery hosts (and they have some great ones) and no one mentioned the wine club (there was no wine club brochure on our table or any mention of the wine club on the tasting information).

This was a pity because my shoppers are a couple who like wine, join clubs, come to events and have the discretionary income to do all of that.  In fact, they are your perfect customers.

They were not asked their names or asked if they would like to be a part of the mailing list. Nor were they asked for any contact information. And even though we bought almost a case of wine, no one asked if we wanted to bump up to a case.

The tasting room staff did a good job making sure the guests had an enjoyable visit and I congratulate them for that. However, so much more could have been done to achieve the goals of the winery management and to take these wine lovers from one-time visitors to lifetime customers.

When people come into your winery, make no assumptions. Give them all the information they will need, rather than what you think they may need.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Selling Luxury
21 July, 2018

In the past couple of blogs, we have talked about the different categories that wines may fall into and the pricing for those categories. Last week I wrote about the four categories of Premium wines. This week the topic is the highest categories, Luxury wines. The three categories are: Luxury – $50-100; Super Luxury – $100-200; and Icon – $200 plus. The basic definition of these wines is that they are great quality, handmade, exceptional in taste, and expensive.

That is the beginning of luxury. If you want people to buy your luxury wines, it is not good enough that the wines are exceptional, it is the whole experience. Start with your website and follow through with the way guests are treated in person, on the phone, via email and at every point of contact by every person in your company. The look of the winery is also important to many visitors, everything needs to be clean, tidy and promote a feeling of luxury.

The guests and customers who buy these wines do so for a lot of different reasons, but much of it has to do with connection and the feeling that they are making a significant purchase that will enhance their lives and possibly their reputation as connoisseurs of wine. The interactions need to be memorable and out of the ordinary.

Some of these customers are looking for wines that may be traditional, with the luxury of the brand easily identifiable in the story of the wine, the winery, the owners, and the winemaker. Others are willing to spend top dollar on wines that are innovative and present new ideas of how quality is perceived. It could be that some of your customers are looking for wines that will signal their sophistication or have relevance to their lives.

We also have to remember that luxury products, especially wines, are not things that buyers actually need (no matter what we would like to think), they are the products that they want. When we are selling wine, we are selling to customers wants because the wine will do something to make their life or view of themselves better in some way. And to get that feeling they are willing to pay for luxury.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Does Selling Premium Wine Mean?
13 July, 2018

Last week’s blog talked about the different categories that wine may fall into both by price and quality. The next few blogs are going to focus on what it takes to produce higher price, higher quality wines.

Today we are going to talk about the Premium wines, which encompasses four categories; Popular Premium, Premium, Super Premium and Ultra Premium. These wines range in price from $10-15 for Popular Premium, up to  $30-40 for Ultra Premium. However, each of these categories uses the word Premium One of the definitions of the word Premium is “of exceptional quality,” so if you talk about selling premium wines, your customers are expecting quality products. Your job is to give them quality.

Within your winery, you may have wines that fall into two or three of the premium price categories, with a lighter white or rosé being less expensive than a more robust, barrel aged red. So differentiation between the wines and the reasons for pricing them as you do is important, as customers may not know why some wines are more expensive or less expensive than others. Be ready to explain those differences.

In this broader category of Premium wines, you may also deal with a variety of customer types. Customers may be looking for very different things. Some may be looking for bargains (a good yet inexpensive wine), others are looking to pay more for something that will impress their friends, while others believe that in order to get a “premium” wine, they have to pay a certain price.  Just like your wines, all your customers are different, so as with all customer interactions it’s important to find out their individual wants, needs and desires. This will help you create a place in their memories for your wines and winery.

Another consideration is (of course) customer service. The higher price your wines, the greater the expectations of your customers for a good experience during their visit, especially if you charge for tasting, as most wineries do these days. Attention to the customer and to the details of the experience should be high on your list when you are selling Premium wines.

Next week we”ll talk about Luxury wines.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Placing Wines by Category and Price
06 July, 2018

It used to be that there were two or three wine price categories. The three were low priced wines, medium priced wines, and high priced wines. That doesn’t seem to be the case these days. I was reading an article by Wine Folly and they show a chart of the different wine categories and their pricing.

  • Extreme Value wines, average cost $4.00, this category is made up of bulk wine.
  • Value wine, average cost, $4-$10, described as “Basic quality bulk wines from large regions and producers.”
  • Popular Premium wines, average cost $10-$15, “Large production, decent varietal wines and blends.
  • Premium, $14-$20, “Good, solid quality wines.
  • Super Premium $20-$30, “Great, handmade wines from medium-large production wineries.”
  • Ultra Premium, $30-$40, “Great quality, handmade, excellent-tasting wines from small to large producers”
  • Luxury, $50-$100, “Excellent wines from wine regions made by near-top producers.”
  • Super Luxury, $100-$200, “Wines from top producers from microsites.”
  • Icon, $200+, “The pinnacle of wines, wineries, and microsites.”

So where do your wines fall on this chart both in the category and in the price? Do you find that your wine belongs in one category but that category is not reflected in the price you charge for it? Or are you charging more for a wine that actually belongs in a lower category? Usually, that is hard to say, as it can be difficult to judge your own wines.

Wine may taste different to a variety of customers depending on what they like, how much they enjoy wine and what they are looking for. Also depending on the customer. More expensive wines may taste better to some people just because they are more expensive and their expectations are that more expensive wines taste better. The location of your winery may also have something to do with the prices you can charge or the categories you fall into.

Over the next few blogs, we are going to look into what it takes to move into the higher categories and prices in the wine world. And what it takes to move up to the Ultra Premium or Luxury categories or even higher. Take some time to think about where your wines are.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

It’s Not Only What But When
29 June, 2018

Engagement with customers is not only about what you tell them, it is also about when. If you want customers’ visits to your winery to be remembered, when you give your customers information is as important as the information you give them.

The other day I had an email from a winery asking me a couple of questions. The first was when a customer asks you, “What is your favorite wine?” what do you tell them. My answer is that it is more important not to tell them too early in their visit. As you want them to make up their own minds.

  1. If you have an absolute favorite wine, they may (if they are not wine savvy) be influenced by what you think.
  2. Telling them too early may stop them from choosing something else that they actually like more because you are “the expert.”
  3. It may stop them from buying other wines on your list because they think they may not be as good.
  4. Their tastes may be quite different from yours.

Before you give a customer any information on your preferred wine, ask them to taste the wines, decide what they like best and tell you their favorite. After they have told you what they liked the best of the wines they have tasted, you can praise their palate, tell them what a great wine it is; then tell them your favorite. Followed quickly by a quick couple of sentences about why the wine they chose is an excellent wine. (Assuming, of course, that the wines you make or sell are excellent).

Knowing what the customer likes allows you to give them more information and recommend food that pairs well with the wine. This gives novice wine drinkers more confidence in their own abilities to understand good wine and seasoned wine drinkers to tell you what they enjoy pairing with that particular wine.

Another question I am asked to answer for clients is what do you do when someone asks which one is your best wine. Again, before you answer the question find out what they like. Sometimes I visit wineries and notice that I am told the most expensive wine on the list. That is fine as long as you have asked some questions and know that your guests would be comfortable paying that price for a bottle of wine. If they are not, you lose the opportunity to present the wines that are closer to their price range and there goes the sale.

Ask questions, get information and then make the recommendations.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

In the "Tasting Room"
22 June, 2018

Most wineries call their customer space the “Tasting Room” for the very good reason that wine tasting does take place there and it’s usually a room. I was giving some thought the other day to all the things that go on (or should go on) in the tasting room. By incorporating the different things you should be doing in the space, you can improve your abilities to tighten your relationship with visitors, which lead to better relationships and long-term sales.

For example, in addition to being a tasting room, consider this area a networking space, a connection location, an education spot or an engagement hub. Tasting is one thing that happens, but by incorporating connection things right you are creating the bonds that will encourage visitors to return, to become regular customers and many times friends.

By thinking of the place as only the “tasting room”, you could be missing the most important elements that turn first-time visitors into long-term customers. Many people who visit your “tasting room” are going to be more excited if they look back on the experience as a small adventure. It should be a place where they gained awareness, information and understanding of wine in general and your wine in particular. And, if they leave believing they have made a connection, they are much more likely to return.

In this multi-purpose visitor center, you can create relationships that may last for half an hour, or may last for years. How you feel about the space and how it can best be put to use will determine which way the relationships go and how long they will last.

So make connections with people, find out the things you have in common and look forward to enjoying the short time you have with each individual guest or group. You may find that your visitors are the most fascinating creatures if you learn a little about them, allow them to learn a little about you, and what you have in common with them.  You never know the people you meet in the “tasting room” may enrich your life too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What You See May Not Be What You Get
15 June, 2018

I was checking my emails the other day and came across an email from LinkedIn with a request ostensibly from a woman in New York State wanting to connect with me on LinkedIn.

I have a rule about connecting on social media. I never connect with anyone on any site until I have checked his/her profile. The interesting thing, when I checked this profile, the woman said she had been working for a company (local to me in California) since 2017. I am closely associated with this company and know all their employees. I had never heard of her. So I gave the company a call. They had also received connection requests from the same person but no one had heard of her either.

The company had called and emailed LinkedIn and had been told that there was nothing that LinkedIn could do about that. I got a confirmation on that from Kerry Rego, a consultant on social media. She agreed that there is nothing that can be done through LinkedIn, although suggested that I send them an email anyway. Perhaps if they get enough complaints they will consider a change in policy.

Kerry did suggest that if companies are hiring and use social media to check on positions an applicant has held in the past, they call the companies listed to make sure that the information is accurate.

I further checked the name and location of the woman who (supposedly) contacted me and could not find any information on her at all on the internet, except for a Facebook page that has extremely limited information and no followers. So my guess is, she does not exist.

It may be nothing important but it has made me more carefully scrutinize the things that people say on social media pages as it seems that you can put anything on those pages without being responsible for it being accurate. In which case I am thinking about adding to my social media pages that I have an IQ that is 10 points higher than Albert Einstein’s (no, really).

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

A Simple Way to Boost Sales
10 June, 2018

Not everyone who is ever going to purchase from your business will do so the first time they come into contact with you. Yet most of the time, businesses let these possible customers slip through their fingers and into the database of one of their competitors.

So many businesses miss the very simple step that leads to increased sales and loyal customers… ask for contact information when a consumer who is not on your list, comes into your business. Do as much as you can to get not only an email address but a street address and phone number as well.

While it may be easier to get an email address, it is also easier for people who receive your emails to delete them without reading them. When you open your email every day how many emails do you delete without reading them? If your email inbox is anything like mine, the first time I open it each day I can find up to 50 or 60 emails that I go through and delete. This is after I spent an entire day a couple of weeks ago unsubscribing to things I never asked to receive.

Emails are a handy, and inexpensive way of reaching people, but most businesses, when they send emails do not check the open rate, click-through rate or purchase rate that the emails generated.  According to HubSpot the overall average open rate across all industries is 32%. That means if you send out an email to 1,500 people, 480 of those recipients actually opened it.  The average click-through rates are anywhere from 3 -6 (14.4 to 28.8 people) and a small percentage of those will actually buy.

You never know when a postcard or other missive through the post or a phone call combined with an email campaign may bring more interest and more attention to your business and your products.

But whatever you decide to do, start collecting information on everyone who comes into your business. You may not have sold the visitor something the first time s/he comes into your business but if you don’t know how to contact them, you never will.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Creating Brand Loyalty
01 June, 2018

I came across an article in Marketing Profs today by John Miller, the title of which caught my eye, “ Brand Love is Bull****…So Now What Do We do? Five Things.”

While I don’t agree with his premise, I do agree with some of his ideas. I believe that consumers do get to love or be attached to a particular brand. I know because I am attached to brands. I can think of two brands that I have no intention of changing now or in the future.

The first is (not surprisingly) Apple. Every computer I have had has been an Apple, as have my phones, tablets, and music system. If I am looking for anything in that area, I first make sure that Apple does not have a product before I start researching other brands.

The second product that I am not likely to change any time soon is the granola I eat for breakfast most days. “Not Yer Momma’s Granola” is made locally by a group of women who used to make it for their children and decided to create a business around it. It is terrific.

In both cases, I have found the products to be reliable and good value. Even more importantly, when I have had a problem with either product, the companies have helped me in finding solutions. The people on the phone have been helpful and friendly and treat me as if I am important to them.

I don’t believe that every person who walks into your business is going to fall in love with your brand or products. However, there are those that will and they are worth their weight in gold. They may not buy the most from you, but they will talk about your product to others and encourage them to buy. They will provide important word-of-mouth promotion to many others who may not know about you.

Mr. Miller does offer some good advice and tells us to keep promoting always, don’t rely on campaigns that have specific start and finish dates. He also reminds us not to be pushy. It is good to promote your products but easy to turn people off if you make people feel uncomfortable with your techniques.

So, create a great product, treat people well and when they have a problem (whether or not you think it is valid) be helpful and find a solution.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Don’t Believe Everything You Think
25 May, 2018

Lately, as I started some new projects, I have been thinking about whether or not I believe these projects are viable because I want them to be or if I am just deluding myself and they don’t have the merit that I think they have.

It is typical of the human brain to validate the ideas that we have. When we want to start a new endeavor our brains are more likely to direct us to information that will confirm what we believe or want to believe rather than give us the facts.

For example, in a town nearby to where I live there is one corner that has, in the time I have been paying attention, had five different Mexican restaurants in that location. I am not saying that starting a Mexican restaurant may not be a good idea (I love Mexican food). I am just saying that perhaps that particular corner is not where you want to open your restaurant. If it hasn’t worked five times, there is a good chance it won’t work a sixth.

More than likely, a sixth Mexican restaurant will go into that space because we tend to pay less attention to things that do not fit with what we have already decided. We bias our brain towards confirming what we already want to believe.

I was listening to a well-known author speaking the other day and he said that “Ego defends us against new information from the world.” As soon as we get our ego involved and are bought into believing something, it is very difficult for us to understand that whatever we want to do might not be a good idea.

Another reason why this is likely is that we tend to surround ourselves with people who think similarly to the way we do and therefore will also confirm our bias.

Before I go forward with my new ideas I am going to seek out a few people I know who tend to have different opinions to the ones I hold and ask them how they feel about my new projects. Chances are I will still go ahead with them, but I will probably be more aware of possible problems I may encounter.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Make Your Websites More Personal
18 May, 2018

I have lately spent some time going through winery websites. I do this every few months to catch up on what wineries in different regions are up to.

I have been amazed at how many wineries have no information on their owners and staff. I know that tasting room and other staff members may change regularly so continually changing out pictures can be time-consuming. Fair enough, if all your staff members do not have their photos and a short bio on your website. However, there are things that you can do that can be easily changed if needed.

The First Law of Connection

If you want people to buy your products, join your clubs or come to your events give them the opportunity to connect.

When I am reading ABOUT US sections of websites, they usually contain paragraph after paragraph of “We planted vineyards”… ”We made wine”…” This is our passion”…” We want you to come and visit us.” While this is all very nice, I am much more likely to come and visit you if you have told me who you are. I am also more likely to buy what you are selling.

In order to connect with people, you have to start with their emotions. It is hard to connect with an unnamed, unknown entity and relate to him/her as a person.

To quote John Maxwell, “Connection is not about you but it begins with you.”

What is the first thing you usually want to know about someone to start a connection?

That’s right, their name. It is much easier to get people to give you their names if you have told them yours first.

So imagine reading the website for a business that you may be interested in visiting and finding that the company talks about “we, we, we”, but does not introduce the people who own it or work there.

Take a look at your website and see how you can make it more personal so potential customers will have another reason to connect with you. There is a lot of wine out there to choose from but there is only one YOU!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Improve Performance for Loyalty or Rewards Programs
11 May, 2018

Most companies these days have rewards programs for loyal customers. Though how successful these programs are can vary considerably from company to company. In April, I came across an interesting article concerning rewards programs on Marketing Profs by Samir Palnitkar.

One thing that struck me was his assertion that consumers are enrolled in an average of over 30 loyalty or rewards programs but are active in less than half of those programs. Based on my own experience I would say that is true. These days it is easy to sign up for a rewards program, especially if bonus points or rewards are given for signing up. How many rewards programs do you belong to that you seldom use?

The article gives some good ideas about how you can utilize your rewards program members in other ways than just through purchases. You may allow them to earn points towards rewards for talking about your business, products or staff on social media. If they write a review, for example, they get extra points.

Additionally, your rewards members have to feel that they can achieve at least the lowest couple of redemption options otherwise they will get discouraged. Design a program with different tiers and think about how the rewards may be a mix of products and experiences. For example, a reward might be that they may use some of their rewards points to attend an event that you are hosting. If you are doing it right, getting them to the event should result in increased sales. You may also award points for signing up to receive emails from you and give bonus points with the first three months that they are signed up. Consider giving more points, instead of discounts, where the points are redeemable for future purchases.

Make sure that your rewards program is a prominent part of your website as well as prominently displayed in your place of business (put signs among merchandise displays) where customers congregate and at the cash register.

There are many more things you can do to maximize the use of reward points, start thinking about what will work for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Want to Attract & Retain More Club Members?
07 May, 2018

Are you looking to attract and retain more club members?

If so,  Engage • Extend • Evolve Your Club

•  Engage to:  Attract more members

•  Extend to:    Retain more members 

•  Evolve to:   Differentiate your club

This new seminar from Elizabeth (E) Slater of In Short Direct Marketing, Engage • Extend • Evolve helps you reach your wine club goals, increase member loyalty and profitability.

 E, an experienced sales and wine club coach and trainer, provides staff and management with the three keys to increase the number of club membership sales and to keep those members in the club longer.

 Now is the perfect time to book a seminar to get your club where you want it to be. Email  or call 707.953.1289 to book a seminar or receive more information.


Happy Clients

 “After an interactive training with our team, we saw over a 65% increase in wine club sign-up rates – our best month to date” Dutton Goldfield, Sonoma County

“…Elizabeth Slater’s guidance and training provided the perfect platform, helping us double our Wine Club groups in the last 3 months compared to last year. If you’re serious about improving your business, then give her a call.”  Franciscan Estates, Napa County



Who Is Accessing Your Website?
04 May, 2018

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine. Rebecca, who owns Maximum Value Marketing, and I have known each other for years and we enjoy a good chat about all things marketing. We can talk about marketing the way winemakers can talk about their wines… that is in more detail than most people really want or need to know.

This time we were talking about websites, one of Rebecca’s specialties. What works, what doesn’t and not so much of what we see in company website (especially small companies) but what we don’t see. This led us back to the age-old questions that are pertinent throughout all marketing channels. “Does your website provide information for all the different people who may need it? And if not, how does that affect the profitability and success of your business?”

The gist of the conversation was that all different types of people, consumers, trade, press visit your website. It’s where they go to gather information about you for a number of different purposes. Here are just a few examples of who may be accessing your website and what they may want to know:


  • A customer of yours may have served a friend your wine during a visit. The friend then wants to know more.
  • Customers in stores or supermarkets, may see your wine and use your website to find out more about it before they decide to buy.
  • People planning their next holiday may be looking for wineries they want to visit in the region. What is on your website that will make your business stand out from those around you?

Retailers & Distributors

  • Salespeople who work for a retailer or distributor that carries your wine may need information to promote your products. Make sure that information is easily available on your website.
  • Retailers or distributors who are interested in carrying your products would use your website first to find out if you would be a good fit.


  • Bloggers and media outlets (usually at 10 p.m. or later on the night before their blog or story is due) may be looking for facts on the company and the wines. If they can’t find the facts or your site, they will use another brand in their story.

Your website is available 24 hours each day, so interested people can access it whenever they need or want to. Make sure yours has everything they need to answer their questions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Tips to Improve Your Online Presence*
27 April, 2018

These days, if you are in business, an online presence is essential to your success. Critical to that success is that you update constantly your online presence to keep up with the changes in online platforms and to maintain your information current.

By making it easy for customers to do connect with you online, find information about products, services, events and operational information, they can make plans to visit or buy products when you are not available to speak with them. For example, if you change your hours during the winter that should be reflected on your website.

Websites should not be static but should be updated regularly with things added or removed. One easy way to do this, without having to change your entire website, is through a “What’s New” page, where new information can be added at a moment’s notice. Imagine that you were voted the “Best Business in North America.” The sooner you can get that up on your website, the better. You can send out emails to let customers know, but what about the people who are looking for you that you don’t have access to your email newsletter? They should know it, too.

Make sure your website loads quickly. The messages should be clearly presented and valuable information should be visible (contact information and address).  If you want people to get in touch with you, make it easy. I have a hard time with websites that tell me to complete a lot of my personal information to contact them but don’t make their phone number easy to find if I just want to give them a call instead.

Mobile device accounted for 49.74% of website views worldwide in 2017 and this percentage is only going to go up. Optimize your website so it shows well on mobile.

Be accessible, allowing your customers and potential customers to access your information through the platform of their phone, whether that is a phone call, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the next big thing that comes along. By being easy to find you can have a 24/7 presence to give you a competitive edge.

Your strong online presence will benefit you, your customers and those that are still trying to find you. Make it a priority.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

* Some information from an article in Entrepreneur Daily.

Simple Things to De-stress Yourself
20 April, 2018

For many people life is (or seems to be) more stressful these days. We have more to do, more to think about at work and at home. So when I came across this article by Nina Zipkin on Entrepreneur Daily, I thought it would make a helpful blog. Sit down, relax and take five minutes to read about some techniques that will help relieve the stress you may be feeling.

Deep Breathing

A tip from Harvard Medical School: Find a quiet place, it could be outside or behind your desk (if you have already locked the door) and breathe in slowly through your nose allowing the air to fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth or your nose.


Try and find humor in things and start laughing. The Mayo Clinic says laughter can ease physical pain, boost your immune system and help you connect with others. It can also aid in coping with anxiety and depression.

Be Grateful

A study at the University of California at San Diego showed that people who were grateful had healthy hearts. When it comes right down to it, most of us have a lot to be grateful for. People who are grateful feel less fatigue and sleep better.


Singing does make you feel better. Partly, I think because of the breathing, but it also takes you out of yourself. I remember my mother singing “Whistle a Happy Tune” from the King And I. The lyrics: “Whenever I feel afraid. I hold my head erect. And whistle a happy tune. So no one will suspect I’m afraid.” I now sing that and other songs myself when I am stressed and it works well for me.

Count to Ten (or twenty if you wish)

Counting refocuses your mind on something other than the stress, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Hugs are a great stress reliever and drinking water can help. Having an apple, berries or walnuts, which contain antioxidants, may also work. Lastly, get some exercise, even if it’s just a five-minute walk around the building.

Whether you are at work or at home be aware of when you are becoming stressed, deal with it in a quick and easy way to get things back on track.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating Good Relationships at Work
13 April, 2018

An article in Mind Tools reported that Gallup published a study about the value of having good friends (or at least one good friend) at work. The poll showed that people who have a friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied with their job, be more positive and work harder. As humans, we want friendships and positive interactions with co-workers. If we are happy we are also going to be more productive.

That being the case, it’s important for businesses to foster good relationships between workers. Managers should be aware of employee differences and make every effort to understand and deal any situations with the employees involved. If not, minor disagreements can blow up out of proportion, affecting more employees than those originally involved, making the workplace uncomfortable for larger groups.

As employees or managers, it’s important that you look at all sides of the problem.  Sometimes people who have to work together are not drawn to each other’s personalities or managers may prefer one employee over another for any number of reasons. At these times, it is easy to criticize the person you don’t see eye to eye with rather than trying to find the positive things that this person brings to the group or department. Granted there can be co-workers that you just don’t get along with. It’s rather like an AM/FM radio; the AM stations can’t play on the FM channels and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that either AM or FM is wrong, it just means they are different.

If you are working with or managing someone who you are not in sync with, try getting to know the person a little better. Find out more about them before making your final decision. If you still don’t care for them, be polite, professional and offer them the same courtesies you would offer to anyone else. Conversely, if you are a manager and realize you have one person who is upsetting the whole team and have talked to them once or twice with no result, don’t sacrifice your whole team to one person. Remember the one dysfunctional person can easily drag the rest of the team into being dysfunctional. It is very rare that a functional team is able to bring a dysfunctional person up.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Be Different And Make It Count
06 April, 2018

Before we talk about what can make your brand and products stand out in the crowd, let’s start with why they need to. According to an article by Samuel Edwards originally published on, “…there are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S…”  And while roughly 90% of startups fail, 543,000 new businesses are launched each month. That’s a lot of competition.

Look at your industry and see how many new businesses have popped up since you started yours. Nothing is static and as industries expand, you need to make sure your brand is noticed by the people you want to attract.

There are different things that make your brand stand out, though before you start it’s important to know whom you are trying to attract. If you don’t know your audience you cannot create the differences that are important to them. First, create a list of the people you want to attract to your business. When I ask businesses the question of what type of customer they want to attract, say “Everybody.” This is not a good answer (although amusing). List the demographics of your perfect customers and then broaden your search from there.

You can look at brand differentiation from a number of angles. You may start with where you want to be in the market. Are you striving for the high-end customers, medium or everyday? Once you know where you want to be from a price standpoint that helps you, create marketing and sales programs to differentiate yourself from other similar businesses.

Another way to differentiate is through your customer service. There are companies who have become very successful by offering the best customer service and quality (Nordstrom for example). Customers will pay a higher price to receive the best customer service as part of the package.

You may also consider creating strategic alliances with businesses that are looking to attract the same clientele. A cross-industry partnership can be beneficial to both businesses in many different ways (referrals, joint events, etc.). Find other businesses in your area that would attract the people.

Keep thinking about what makes your business different and how you can make those differences count.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Why Employees Leave Jobs
30 March, 2018

Of course, there are many reasons why people decide to leave their jobs. However, according to an article by Brigette Hyacinth, published late last year,

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not the position itself.

This interesting information, which should make us pause.  As a manager how do you treat your employees or, as an employee how do you feel you are being treated by your manager and, just as importantly, how do you treat your manager?

Many times people are promoted from within. Someone who, for example, has been on the sales floor and been successful may be promoted to sales manager. However, while s/he may want the promotion, it may not be the best thing for the company or for other employees.

When someone is promoted to management (even at that first rung of management) they need the know-how how to do their new job properly. Being a great salesperson does not necessarily mean you are automatically a great sales manager. Training should be readily available for the employees being promoted. This is also true further up the line. An owner who started a small business because s/he was passionate about the product may have put all his/her time into production and be a terrible manager. Not because s/he is a terrible person but because managing is not within their skill set.

To be a great manager you need to know what your employees want and need to be successful. Feeling a part of the bigger picture is one thing that makes employees feel as if they are contributing to the success of the business. If the employees and managers feel successful then the business will be successful.

I leave you with a quote from Richard Branson (who has been amazingly successful):

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating Value
23 March, 2018

What is it about your products that make consumers want to buy them?

The answer is value.

Many times when we think of value we think of price. However, value does not necessarily mean price. Consumers want to know they are getting value for their money, but value means different things to different people. There are people to whom exclusivity, scarcity uniqueness, timeliness or good service are much more important than price.

Value is one of the primary emotional triggers that make people want to buy. When consumers purchase your products they do so because they consider the product has value to them. The idea of what that value is differs from customer to customer and differs according to the situation. For example:

  • If my water pipe springs a leak, the value to me is that the plumber can be there in 20 minutes.
  • Or I may be trying to find the perfect gift and finding something that will have value to the person who is receiving the gift also has value to me.

In those instances, price is not the foremost thing on my mind.

When determining if you have created value you should be asking yourself the following questions:

    • WHY should consumers buy my products or services?
    • WHY should the media promote my products or services?
    • WHAT is the story that will drive interest?
    • HOW is the value of the product or service perceived in the minds of potential buyers and the media?

And if your answer to the question of why potential buyers should buy your product is, “We are a family business that sells high-quality products,” you are already in deep trouble.

Why should consumers value your product? Because you have:

    • Clearly and concisely provided the information they need to recognize the value of your product and form a perception of value.
    • The products and services are packaged and promoted well.
    • The staff transfers the perception of quality and value of the product or service to the customer.

Knowing the audience you are targeting is also important when creating value. If you know what customers want you can deliver the information that is important to them.

Write down three things you want consumers to know about your products.

Put them in order of importance and ask yourself:

  • Do the points adequately convey a sense of value?
  • Does this information provide a benefit to the customer?
  • Are the points easy to read and absorb in a short amount of time?
  • Is the meaning clear, even to people who do not know anything about your product?

Then ensure that everyone who works in the business knows these value propositions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What You Should Know About Wine Customers
16 March, 2018

Interesting article in Wine last week by Cyril Penn about how big data can unlock direct-to-consumer (DTC) potential and boost sales. There was a lot of good information in the article, some of which I will go into at a later date. Today I am focusing on some of the statistics about wine consumers that were discussed in the article.

1. Wine consumers are dramatically more affluent than the average U.S. consumers.

  • 57% of wine consumers have a net worth of over 1 million dollars, compared to 12% of the average U.S. consumer.

2. 71% of DTC revenue comes from 30% of the customers.

  • …Every customer matters but a lot of money is coming from the very top segment.

3. Younger women gain parity with men in wine purchasing.

  • This information should get you thinking about who your marketing and how your promotional materials are geared to. Historically wineries focused their marketing on male customers.

4. 42% of DTC customers live less than 150 miles away from the winery, most live farther away.

  • Are you analyzing your customer base by zip code to find out where most of your customers live? Do you have concentrations of customers in certain areas or zip codes? Will this analysis affect your marketing and event planning? It is a great tool for planning more successful and profitable events, promotion and advertising.

5. Discover the other interests of your customers.

  • Wine consumers are more likely to be skiers, play tennis, support the arts and they tend to subscribe to financial newsletters. This should also affect your marketing and events.

These few statistics can lead you to many more questions, generate analysis and marketing ideas that can make your winery grow. Whether you are a large or small winery there are things you can put into play that will make your business more successful and your customers feel more connected to your winery.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

09 March, 2018

I have been reading a lot of winery newsletters recently and have noticed that many of them are very similar to each other. Taking into consideration that most wineries have the same goals and are interested in the same things (primarily growing grapes, making wine and selling wine) it is hard to stand out and be different. How do you differentiate yourself from others in your industry? There are ways to differentiate your business; you might differentiate by price (at either the low or high end), or create a niche for your company through innovation (wine available in disposal, sealed, individual, plastic glasses). There is differentiation through by convenience (think of Amazon’s one-click purchase) or through service, which should be one that most companies could work on and do well.

If a consumer came up to you and asked you why s/he should choose to do business with you rather than your competitors, what would you tell her/him? I suggest this as a great question to ask each one of the employees and then listen to their answers. I would then go on and ask the same question to your customers. There are reasons that people do business with you and you may not know what they are. Another good question to ask your customers would be what they value about your company, products, and services. In short, what brings them back.

As the number of wineries continues to increase (according to the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau there were 11,496 wineries in the United States in 2016 ­- a 7.6% increase from 2015), I believe we will see the same growth for 2017. This doesn’t take into account the wine coming into the U.S. from the rest of the world.

As Entrepreneur magazines states, The majority of businesses in crowded industries fail to stand out because they don’t do anything to differentiate their brands. They simply do what everyone else does, content with scraping by and ignoring the scary proposition of taking a risk.”

The easiest way to differentiate your business is to focus on customer service. According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, “Long-term loyalty of a customer base is the best way to guarantee profitability for years to come.” Stand out from the crowd by focusing on what your customers want. That means, asking questions, listening to the answers and putting into play the procedures the processes that will make your customers feel important to your company.

Be daring… be different.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating A Recognizable Business Culture
02 March, 2018

With the great number of brands these days, it is getting harder and harder to differentiate your brand from those of your competitors. A lot of that has to do with the fact that many who start businesses do so because they are passionate about the product, not because they are passionate about marketing, branding or creating the culture of the company. This is very evident in the wine business. Most winery owners are passionate about growing grapes and making wine, they are not, necessarily passionate about the culture of the company.

As you are developing your business, the grapes you shall grow, the wines you shall make, also ask yourself, “What culture do I want to create for my business?” Creating the culture will give you a template for many of your other decisions. For example, what are the traits and qualifications you want in your employees, how will you create your customer service guide and your plans for advertising, marketing, and public relations?

When developing some of your cultural items, consider the things that make your business recognizable, such as your logo, the colors you use and your tagline. Think long and hard before you choose those, as they are the things that define your company in the mind of many consumers and you don’t want to change them too often. It’s fine to tweak things to keep them current but wholesale changes make it difficult for consumers to remember you. For example, look up online the portraits of Betty Crocker, a brand that has been in existence since 1921. While Betty has changed over the years, she has always been a brunette, she is always wearing a red jacket or sweater with something white underneath, mostly a blouse, one time pearls and now a tee shirt and the drawing is always just head and shoulders. If you look at all the Bettys together you can see how much they have changed, but you would recognize every one of them as Betty Crocker. That’s the point.

Try and create a culture through everything that you do from in-person communication, visuals, and written communications, to how you deal with customers on the phone. You want to stand out from your competitors. This is a way to do it.

Finally, be patient. Creating the culture is not a sprint it’s a long distance race where you keep reinforcing the same lessons and methods.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating an Employee Handbook
23 February, 2018

An employee handbook is an important part of your training schedule. The handbook provides employees with a written guide to follow and refer to when they may have forgotten.

Creating an employee handbook can be a lot of work, which is why many businesses do not have a comprehensive handbook. My suggestion is that you write the handbook in small pieces. For example, a winery would write a one or two page summary of the vineyards and how the grapes are grown; another one or two pages can be dedicated to the information on how the wines are made, focusing on the information that will give customers facts they can take home with them. I start with these two things as most owners find these pages easy to write and you might as well start off with things that can be done quickly.

Next on the list, write a one-page mission, vision, and an overview of the company if you don’t already have that.

After that, a one-two page basic job description detailing the duties of each the position in the company. For example, sales and hospitality staff should be given information on the ins and outs of opening and closing, how to run the cash register, etc. You should also cover compensation, commissions, and how sales discounts work for customers.

General employee policies differ from state to state but information should be readily available on government websites. Consider employee policies such as attendance, benefits, vacation time, confidentiality, dress code, expectations, expense reporting (if applicable) work performance, discipline and termination factors.

One of the most important parts of an employee handbook is the information about the Customer Experience you expect each of your employees to provide to your guests and customers. This information should be available to everyone in the company whether they regularly come into contact with the public or not.

When you ensure that your employees understand what your expectations are, you are more likely to have your expectation met. For an outline of a suggested table of contents for an employee handbook, drop me an email at and I will send one over to you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Making the Sale
17 February, 2018

Most of the wineries I know would like to increase their sales, though many of them are not sure how to go about it. Selling is not hard, it just takes some practice and an understanding of the basics.

Occasionally (very occasionally) someone comes in specifically to buy because they have seen something or the product has been recommended to them. Those people are not numerous enough to push through all your stock. You will have to take the rest of your customers through the four phases of the sale.

  1. Opening 

Introduce yourself to the guests before beginning the interaction. Follow the introduction with a few questions about what brought the guests to the winery, the weather, how they like the area. Be sure to give the guests time to answer. This portion of the interaction should not last too long.

  1. Information Gathering

Before you give guests the tasting sheet or start pouring, discover some things that are important to the guests about wine. Ask what wines they drink at home, if they enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, etc. It is important to let them know that you are first interested in them, rather than what they will buy. Additionally, asking questions about why they chose to visit gives the server the information needed to direct the conversation and the experience.

  1. Sell Benefits

How does buying and drinking the wine benefit the guests? Show the guests how their lives will be better or more interesting by drinking your wine. Offer a solution to a problem (for example, they want a wine they can drink regularly). As you are doing this, ask the guests if they have any particular points of concern or questions they would like to ask.

  1. Close the Sale

Ask a few closing questions that will elicit yes answers based on information you already have elicited: “ You prefer white wines, is that correct?” “I believe you said you enjoy dry wines?” “When you were tasting you preferred the Frontenac.” Then summarize the benefits: “You will always be comfortable serving this wine to guests.” “We have a special price on the Chardonnay right now.” (Do not use the word discount – saying special price makes it more… well, special) “How many bottles would you like?”

Selling is simple if you focus on the guest. There are some buyers who want to know all the facts, but they are few and far between. Give guests information they can pass along to their friends about when they get home.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Do You Know Your Employees?
09 February, 2018

With the workloads that many managers and owners have these days, it is easy to lose touch with what your employees are doing, how they are treating customers and how they feel about the treatment they receive from management.

Even with all the work that has to be done, one of the most important parts of a manager’s job is keeping in touch with employees both as a group and individually, especially those who interface directly with customers. I am surprised when I see employees treat customers with indifference, and wonder whether it’s because they are treated the same way. That’s not always the case but it can add to the lack of customer service in a company.

One thing to remember is that positive interaction with employees usually takes some thought and attention. Think about the words you use when speaking with employees, your tone of voice and your body language. Make eye contact with employees. Work on your soft skills (see my blog from 12.12.17 for more information on soft skills) and your ability to connect with employees.

When you are looking for information from your employees, be aware of how you ask the questions and be specific about what you want to know. It is easy to misinterpret what people want of you, whether it is manger to employee or employee to manager.

When talking about policy changes, present your case in a positive and persuasive manner. Ask for feedback, listen carefully and receive it openly. Take your time when considering suggestions before you make any decisions on whether the ideas should be implemented or not. If you can test an employee’s suggestions, do so. Keep in mind, too, the tone of your online and distributed information and the effect it may have on employees.

Work on ways to relate to your employees, take the time to make small talk with them.

Show an interest in their lives and family and look for common ground. You may find that you have more in common with your staff that your thought.

The way you treat your employees is the same way your employees will treat your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Customer Service in the Airline Industry
02 February, 2018

The airlines have not been getting kudos lately as far as their customer service towards passengers goes. For a while, it has been one thing after another.

I have been traveling quite a bit and been spending a fair amount of time in airports and on planes. In November, I was scheduled to fly from Spokane to Seattle and then home to Sonoma County, after being away for two weeks. On day one, the flight to Seattle was late due to a mechanical problem, so late that there was no chance that I would make my connection. So the airline booked me on a flight for the next day. The bag I had checked was retrieved from the airline and, after five hours in the airport, I headed for the hotel.

The next morning, I was up at 6 a.m. to catch the 7 a.m. shuttle from the hotel back to the airport for a 9 a.m. flight. Unfortunately, the flight was coming from Seattle, which was in the midst of a winter storm and low visibility. This was causing delays in planes being able to take off (337 planes delayed and 41 canceled) so, again, everything was late. This put me back in the queue, with a long line of other disgruntled travelers. To add to the travails, it was also Friday, which meant that the airport was very busy with people heading home, and heading out for the weekend or longer.

So what does this have to do with my blog? The answer is customer service. The airline representatives for Alaska Airlines that I spoke to were absolutely terrific. They had long lines of frustrated customers, who were handled with patience and courtesy. Never once did the young woman I dealt with ever respond to the frustration of customers (including me). She got on her computer and moved travelers to other flights, and other airlines, bumping people up to better seats and generally doing everything she could to make it work. After retrieving my bags once more from Alaska (the check-in people knew me by name by that time) I was assigned to United Airlines (first class, woohoo!) coming to San Francisco rather than Sonoma County, but at least I was close to home. I also got a credit from the airline to use on my next flight.

I have to congratulate the airport personnel at Alaska Airlines in Spokane, who did a great job in sorting out hundreds of travelers in difficult circumstances.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Art of Public Speaking
28 January, 2018

As it is coming up to conference time again, I was reading an article about public speaking so I could remind myself of the things I should be doing. When I started thinking about it I realized that whether you talking to two people across a tasting bar or in any other retail establishment or whether you are talking to 100 people in a seminar it’s still public speaking. So here are a few tips that I always try to keep in mind when I am speaking.

People remember how they felt when someone is speaking to them. They probably won’t remember the words you used but they will remember how they felt. You can create emotions by telling stories or by putting yourself in their shoes. Let them know there was a time when you were not the expert and how you felt at that time.

Rather than giving your audience a lot of facts (unless, of course, that is what they want – in which case they will usually keep asking you questions), find out what your audience is looking for and help them to understand how you can deliver what it is they want.

Never underestimate people’s willingness to buy so they can impress their friends. What I mean by that is give them a story they can take home with them. Something in the stories they tell may encourage their friends to visit you or use your products. It doesn’t help if they are using your products when they are telling the story.

Give your audience some tips that will make their experience with your products even more special. Present the guests with information related to your topic that is of benefit to them.

Return to the main points of your presentation so that the audience will retain the important things you are telling them. If you present a lot of information it’s hard to remember so key points should be mentioned three times while you are speaking.

Relax when you are talking to strangers. If you are comfortable, they will be too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Reviewing Your Customer Service
19 January, 2018

The beginning of the year is a good time to review your customer service and your customer retention. How did you do at holding on to customers in the past year? Who has dropped off the radar and why? Most managers know how many customers they gained over the past year, though less of them know how many customers they lost or why they lost these customers.

If your business has a slow time, those involved in customer service can spend this slower season going through customer records, finding out who has gone AWOL and picking up the phone to find out why. There are lots of reasons for customers to stop buying and not all of them have anything to do with your business or products. If customers have dropped away for personal reasons (illness, a lost job or a move for example) a phone call to tell them that you haven’t seen them for a while and hope everything is okay will make them feel appreciated and missed. That way, when their lives are back to normal, they will be back.

If the reason they have left you is because of a bad experience, the sooner you find out about it the better. Especially as 95% of consumers talk about poor customer service experiences with other people, though they probably won’t tell you.

The winter is also a good time to make changes that might be necessary or improve the experience you provide to guests and customers. Get together with key staff and define the ideal experience that you would like to deliver to your customers and guests. Give your employees the opportunity to present their ideas of how things can be improved. When employees have a hand in shaping the experience they are much more likely to follow the template that is created for the experience.

Once you have a new template for the customer experience, put in place processes that will promote the change. Train some of your employees to be mentors so that when you hire new staff in the spring, there is someone they can turn to for help and guidance if you are not available.

This work during the winter will pay off in increased sales and greater customer satisfaction come the busy season.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Making the Most of Instagram
12 January, 2018

Instagram has been around since October 2010 and in only seven years it has increased its users to 700 million, which is more than twice the size of Twitter. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and judging from the pictures I have found on Instagram I would say that is definitely true, especially for wineries. Seeing a great bottle of wine, beautiful vineyard or a winery tasting room can increase the desire to visit. Just a quick note: when you take a picture of your tasting room, make sure there are people in it. I see many pictures of tasting rooms that are completely empty, which makes me wonder how popular the winery is.

It’s simple to add pictures to Instagram, though remember that if you can create unique or uncommon pictures and make the description of your post different from that of other companies in your industry, viewers are much more likely to pay attention to your business. There are people involved in every business and viewers are interested in the people behind the brand. Pictures of people tend to attract attention, whether they are customers or employees. A quick reminder: ask permission before using pictures of individuals.

Use different types of posts. You can go from serious to comic, depending on the situation. Use an emoji or a cartoon on occasion, if it fits in with what you want to get across to viewers. People like to laugh. It’s a serious world a lot of the time and giving people the opportunity to laugh can create a bond between them and the company.

Certainly, you can promote buying through Instagram in different ways, some subtle and some not so subtle. Continually pitching may push people away from the posts, so break up the sales pitches with interesting, personal, or funny posts.

Instagram is a great tool and used properly can be a boon to your business.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Engaging Customers
05 January, 2018

I have been doing research lately on how to genuinely charm and engage customers. For those of us who serve the public, being charming to our customers should be at the top of the list. Shown below are some of the ideas.

Interest in People:  During the time the customer is with you put them in the spotlight by showing an interest in what they are saying, why they came into your business, and what you can do to help them.

The first thing when dealing with a customer is to introduce yourself and ask for their names. By giving someone your name, you have shown a willingness to have a more personal relationship with these customers, even if it is only for twenty minutes. When people give you information, follow up with an open-ended question to find out more.

Authenticity:  It’s usually easy to tell when someone is not being authentic. If you have no interest in your customers they will recognize it on some level. Even if you are pretending that you do. If you love what you do it will come through to the customers. If you don’t love what you do, it may be a good idea to find something that you enjoy more.

Individual Experiences: Vary your interaction with each customer and focus on things that are most important to them. To achieve that, it’s vital that you start the engagement by finding out his/her wants and needs. You should be looking not only to make a customer but also to make a friend.

Body Language: Your body language is just as important as the words you speak. A smile makes a difference, especially if you smile at a customer s/he will usually smile back at you. That makes them feel good and should make you feel good too. Be open in your body language, arms should not be crossed and your hands should be open. Make eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking.

Belief in the Product: If you can speak with and exude confidence about the products or services that you sell, you are much more likely to make the sale. This does not necessarily mean overwhelming people with facts, but letting customers know the things that are most likely to interest and influence them.

All these things will lead to a better experience for your customers and a better experience for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

New Year’s Resolutions
29 December, 2017

Another year is almost upon us. By next week it will be 2018. Hard to believe but here it’s time again for your New Year’s resolutions. This year make it a little easier on yourself by putting in at least one resolution that you absolutely know that you can accomplish.

One way to accomplish your goals is to give yourself some wiggle room. For instance, instead of saying I am going to completely stop doing something that is an ingrained habit, I plan on doing it less.

Here are a few resolutions that are on my list that you might also want to consider:

Allow 10 Minutes Each Day to Organize

My desk seems to have a mind of its own and, before I know, it the desk is full of miscellaneous pieces of paper. My resolution is to take 10 minutes each day to clean up the papers that are all over my desk from the day before.

Allow yourself the choice of when you are going to clean up your desk. I find it easier to clean up my desk first thing in the morning rather than in the evening. Choosing the time when I will do it makes it easier for me.

Cut Down on Procrastination

There are things that we have to do that we put off for days and then end up doing at the last minute. If my deadline is two weeks away, what I find helpful is to split big tasks into smaller sections.

Allow yourself the time to do one section, shelve the project until the next day then finish section two. I make sure I have a day at the end to double-check my work before the project is considered finished.

Reward Yourself

Allow yourself some small rewards when you accomplish a goal. I love to read so when I have finished something I allow myself to read an article I am interested in. Or I take a five or ten-minute walk. Both these things give me the break I need to put one thing behind me before I move on to the next.

When we are creating our New Year’s resolutions it’s important to take into consideration how likely we are to be able to keep them. Choose resolutions and structure them so you have a good chance of succeeding. This way, by March you can feel proud of what you have accomplished.


A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creative Content Marketing
22 December, 2017

These days it is important to business to have new and interesting marketing content, telling customers and potential customers about the products and services they can expect. It’s not always easy to come up with the amount of type of content that consumers are looking for. We can easily get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing. I read many, many emails from wineries presenting their products and in most of the missives I receive there is a sameness to the content.

One of the ways you can make your content different is to have the people who buy your wine and love your brand contribute by creating some of the content for you. Consumers tend to be more interested in hearing what other consumers think about products. According to Bazaar Voice, which specializes in user-generated content marketing, “64% of millennials and 53% of boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands.” Additional studies show that consumers are more likely to believe user-generated content more than other media.

Ask for information and testimonials from your customers and display the information on your website, in emails or through social media. Let potential customers know how your customers feel by using their own words through your marketing avenues.

Sign up for a monitoring service so you know when and where your products, company or key personnel in the company are mentioned. Then respond to the consumers who mentioned you.

Be ready to answer questions or complaints and keep track of all your social media so you know what is being said.

Use more pictures in your messaging to customers. Show pictures of your customers using your products and couple that with a blurb from the customer saying why they buy and use it. Visual content encourages consumers to purchase and brings them to the buying process much faster.

It’s important, too, that you are seen through different channels. According to Bazaar Voice “Consumers increasingly are moving back and forth among mobile, PC, tablet, and in-store experiences seamlessly during their shopping process. 73% used multiple channels during their shopping journey.”

Keep current and potential customers interested in your company and your products by keeping them involved in active as well as passive ways.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Importance of Soft Skills
15 December, 2017

I am hearing more talk these days about the importance of soft skills in the workplace, especially for those in supervisory capacities or those employees who deal with customers.

Hard skills are those that we are trained to perform. An example of a hard skill would be an accountant or a winemaker.

Soft sills tend to be harder to quantify. These are the skills that make individuals good at jobs in customer service, sales or in staff supervision. While it is important that owners and managers have soft skills it isn’t always the case.

Employees and managers with well-developed soft skills are adaptable and able to relate to different employees or customers with ease. These people will also be good communicators. They can vary their style of speech and tone of voice to suit the person to whom they are speaking. They are also intuitive, being able to understand people and being aware of facial expressions, tone of voice and stance that allows them to understand what the people they are speaking to may be thinking or feeling.

These types of personal qualities are a must for anyone who is dealing with the public or managing a staff. Being able to understand how the other person may be feeling or see a problem from the other side is a great help to those who work with customers, are part of a team or just want to get ahead in their chosen profession.

According to an article from Realityworks,

  • 77% of employers think personality skills are just as important as hard skills.
  • 44% think that Americans lack soft skills (500 executives surveyed)
  • 46% of manager said young workers would do well to home their communication skills
  • 35% reported lower-than-needed interpersonal and teamwork skills

In today’s world with the emphasis on customer service, the competition for sales and customer expectations honing our soft skills will make us more effective, efficient and more valuable in the workplace.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Keeping Up With Research
08 December, 2017

Research is an important part of any business, marketing or customer relations plan. Even when a plan has been completed for a while, it doesn’t hurt to do more research to find out what has changed and how to update your plans. Marketing, for instance, has changed dramatically over the last few years with the advent of email, social media and the like. Who knows what is coming next.

Know What You Want To Know

Before you start your research into a business, marketing strategy or customer wants and needs, make a list of questions that you want to find answers to. For example:

The knowledge you gain from marketing research could be:

  • To attract more customers
  • To increase sales to Millennials (or Gen X or Boomers)
  • To present products to a broader audience
  • To discover what my customers want
  • Who are my competitors (and how are they attracting customers)
  • There are many reasons and these are just a few.

Know What You Want to Achieve

Again, make a list of how you want to use this information in your business. Will it drive:

  • The sales direction for the next year or two
  • How you go about attracting new customers
  • How it will influence your product mix
  • Whether you are focused on the right target market(s).

It’s important to focus on the market segment that would be most interested in your products. I speak to many companies who answer the question of, “Who are your customers?” with the answer, “Everyone.”  Try to be more specific by looking at the mix of customer you have now and discovering how you can increase the numbers. Focus particularly on your best customers and see if what the similarities are possibly in age, location, buying habits, etc.

Different Avenues of Research

Primary market research:

  • Observation of customers, yours and your competitors
  • Focus groups: Ask current customers why they do business with you
  • Surveys:  Keep surveys fairly short  (3-20 questions) and offer an incentive for completing and returning the survey

Secondary market research.

  • If you belong to a trade association, ask for any research they may have on the subject you are researching.
  • Trade publications can be a big help to your research.

Analyze Results

When analyzing results objectivity is key. Accept what people have to say whether you like it or not. Also, consider how the responses apply to your marketing and what you can use from the data to bring in more customers.

Research can be time-consuming but it also is well worth the time you spend.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Making the Most of Email Marketing
01 December, 2017

Ah, the ubiquitous email.  Let me ask you a question: How many of you don’t get enough email? Okay, I know the answer, none of you. Everyone gets more emails than they know what to do with. Well, we do really know what to do and we do it, we send many of them directly to the trash without ever opening them.

It’s important for your business that the emails that you send do not head straight for the trash, so today’s blog includes some tips on how to get people to look at your emails.

Even in emails, one size does not fit all. The first step is to segment your customer list. Break down the list into your best customers (those who are emotionally connected to you and will always open your emails), those who like to purchase when there is a special offer, customers who buy at the holidays and new customers who may not have received many of your emails. These are just a few of the ways to segment your list, I am sure you can think of others. The more you can meet the needs of the individual groups, the larger your open, click through and transaction rates will be. Here are a few ideas.

Of course, personalization makes customers feel like you have a stake in making them happy, so using first names in the emails is always a good idea.

Consider sending the same email more than once. You don’t know who is overwhelmed with emails that day, or who is ignoring their email and ending up with a boxful of emails. By sending it twice you have a better chance of a customer or prospect seeing it. Alter the subject line and resend to those who didn’t open the email the first time.

Make the content relevant to the audience you are targeting. For example, don’t send information about red wine to people who only drink white. The segmentation will help with that as you can further delve into which of your customers is opening which of your emails.

If customers trust that what you have to say is something they will want to hear, they will open your emails to see what you have for them this time. You are looking to build relationships with these people and two of the main building blocks are trust and the knowledge that you are interested in what they want and need.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Engaging Your Customers in Ways That Suit Them
25 November, 2017

I have been teaching a Wine Business class at my local Junior College in Sonoma County. This eight-week class, which has students ranging in age from 20 to 60 is about wine clubs. A couple of weeks ago we were talking about different ways of connecting with people and one of the ways was direct mail. The youngest member of my class raised her hand and asked, “What is direct mail?” It started me thinking that so many people don’t correspond by mail anymore, they text, email, Facebook or YouTube, which moved me on to how we make sure that we are effectively corresponding with our audience, no matter how we choose to reach them.

In business, what you say and how you say it is important to sales, to customer engagement and to keeping your business profitable. Knowing who will be reading or listening to what you have to say as well as what and how they want/need to hear from you is of the utmost importance.

It’s also important that you consider the age ranges of the people you are talking to. They may want information in different ways. How is the message being read by your audience? Is it going out in a blog, through email, text, tweet, or on a postcard? Write for the avenue you choose to use. Also, understand that most of your audience is going to be just as busy as you are. There are those in your audience who don’t have much time and even less patience. If you have something important to tell them, get to it quickly.

Once you have given them the core of what you have to say, you can then expand on your topic for those who want to learn more about your subject. Even then, try not to go into more detail than most of your audience can soak in. Encourage those who want more to let you know so you may send them more information.

Engage and connect with the readers or viewers, using words or pictures that are entertaining and interesting. Leave them wanting a little bit so they will come back for more.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Happy Holiday Selling!
18 November, 2017

Are you ready for holiday sales? There are only a few days until Thanksgiving (where does the time go?) so Black Friday is almost upon us. After that, December is looming. So far, in my email inbox I have received a number of winery mailers offering me Thanksgiving wines though only one has even alluded to the December holidays. The holidays are all coming up: Hanukah from December 12 – 20, Christmas – December 25 – January 1, and Kwanzaa – December 26 – January 1.

While researching I found an interesting article by Laura Forer of MarketingProfs, who said that holiday-related sales in the United State are expected to surpass 923 billion dollars, a 3% increase from last season. That is a lot of sales and you want to make sure that you get your share.

Another point, according to the article, is that 35% of shoppers have finished their holiday shopping by Cyber Monday, which this year is on November 27th.

The avenues that people use to research and shop for gifts differ. Most people use more than one source. 24% of shoppers go over emails and newsletters, while 47% frequent brick and mortar stores. Television (43%) and asking for hints from family and friends (44%) are other ways people decide what to buy. For younger customers, such as Millennials or Gen Z use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The more specific you are about the holiday gifts you are advertising, the better chance you have of getting people to look at your advertising. Of course, you will also get more eyes on your information if you personalize, which is especially important during the holidays. Using the customer’s name in the subject line will get more people to open your emails. According to MarketingProfs, personalization of holiday emails leads to a unique open rate of 17% higher, a unique click rate of 30% higher and a transaction rate of 70% higher, bringing up revenues per email by 43%. Mobile commerce is expected to jump 38% this season.

Finally, make it easy for customers to purchase from you. Amazon has gained so much ground by making buying easy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Keep Customers Coming Back
10 November, 2017

This week, I gave a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference taking place in Sonoma County.

The subject of the talk was Keep Customers Coming Back, which should be the goal of most businesses. However, I have noticed that many businesses do not have the processes or procedures in place to ensure that when someone visits they have a desire to return.

Research shows that keeping customers coming back is important:

  • A 5% increase in customer retention can improve company profitability by 7.5%
  • Engaged customers buy more frequently and spend more per transaction
  • Your business benefits from more word-of-mouth promotion
  • Regular customers bring their friends to meet you
  • A loyal customer is less likely to be lured away to other companies by discounts
  • It gives you an edge over competitors.

How do you keep customers coming back?

By providing an individual experience for each person who visits. For that, you need to create a plan, which will be your blueprint to design, deliver, manage and measure the results.  To make your plan successful:

  • Understand that your customers need to be more than satisfied
  • Put processes in place
  • Hire people who value customer service (remember that they are your ambassadors on and off the job)
  • Create an employee handbook with an in-depth section on customer service standards and guidelines
  • Implement customer interactions that will meet and exceed expectations
  • Review the people, products, services interface and interactions with customers.

Create the kind of atmosphere that results in individual experiences for all your guests. This means that procedures need to be customer-centric:

  • Processes around sales and returns need to be set up to focus on the needs of the customer
  • Conduct regular and interactive customer service training sessions with staff
  • All employees should be genuinely interested in customers as individuals
  • Create memories for customers.

Finally, I am going to say something that you have heard many times, though I think it is worth saying again: Attracting new customers cost more than retaining the customers you have.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Terrible Week
13 October, 2017

Nature has a way shaking us up when we least expect it. Strong winds whipped up huge fires in Napa and Sonoma counties on Sunday night, which led to unthinkable devastation in the early hours of Monday morning and on through the week.

Many people were evacuated (I was just outside the evacuation area), So many lost houses (whole subdivisions were destroyed) and businesses. The north end of Santa Rosa has suffered amazing damage.

We are grateful to the police and fire departments that did such a good job of getting everyone out of harm’s way.

The fires are still out of control, but the winds, which were up to 45 miles an hour on Sunday night, have calmed down. We have fire departments from all over California helping out, so I believe they will get a handle on the fires soon. In the meantime, those of us still in homes are packed and ready to evacuate if needed

There have been so many different types of natural disasters this year that at times it’s hard to keep it in perspective. The way I see it we are only renting this planet and sometimes it has a mind of its own. So I will finish by saying the words I have been saying and hearing so much the last couple of days: Stay safe.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How well are you tracking your social media?
06 October, 2017

While distributing information to your customers and potential customers through social media is important, it’s also important to know how the people that you are reaching are reacting to what you have to say. Are they paying attention to your posts or tweets and passing them along to others or do the posts just disappear?

Know why you regularly posting on social media: to become more engaged with your customers, to gain more publicity for your brand, to attract more customers, to sell product or to present your customers with reasons to buy from you. Keep a list of goals handy, to keep you on track.

To discover whether or not you are successful, track your social media posts to see where they go after they reach your audience. This can be accomplished through tracking keywords that relate to your company or products.

Track your brand or company name. Know who is talking about your company or products and why. Whether it is a complaint or a compliment, a response to the person who responded to the post will positively affect how they feel about you. It is easier than you think to turn around a complaint by paying attention and doing everything you can to sort out the problem either on- or offline. Tracking your brand or company may also give you more information about questions that customers are asking each other, or whether there is talk about your products.

It doesn’t hurt to track your main competitors also. It helps to know what they are doing and how they are being perceived on social media.

Track key employees through their own sites and through what people are saying about them. In the wine industry, you know how important the winemaker, the owners and even the people in the tasting room are to many of your best customers. They feel connected to these people and will be loyal to the brand because of them.

Track industry keywords to see if your brand, company or products are being mentioned in the broader industry by consumers who may be looking for the type of product you produce.

Social media may not cost a lot when compared to print or electronic advertising but if you are going to be successful it does take time to do it right.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Preparing for the Future
29 September, 2017

A few weeks ago, Rob McMillan, an EVP with Silicon Valley Bank and founder of their wine division, wrote as part of his blog about his prediction for the slowdown of growth in wine sales starting around mid-2018 and into 2019. He continues to say that while sales probably won’t decline, he expects zero growth at that time.

His predictions are well researched, based on Nielsen data of wine sold through wholesale. It doesn’t include DTC sales, which is good news for the smaller wineries who sell mostly through direct to consumer channels, tasting rooms, wine clubs, etc. That means, however, that more time and effort needs to be put into marketing.

The other good thing about getting this information early is that you have time to plan for the next couple of years, to keep your sales rolling along at a fair pace, with increased sales and profit.

It also gives you the chance to start thinking about what wines are selling and what are lagging so you can focus more on the wines that your customers prefer. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make some less well-known varietals. Though before you commit to a large planning for these varietals, know how much of those wines are being sold and whether the sales are increasing year to year.

Start planning now for robust sales and marketing methods. Branch out to include things you may not have tried before or put more attention on the content, frequency and customer inclusion of your social media, emails and other ways to contact your customers and potential customers.

Preparing for less or no growth over the next couple of years works to your advantage even if the forecast turns out to be wrong. The promotion you do will not be wasted and you may find that you have the best year ever.

Thanks, for the heads up Rob… By looking at what may be coming up for 2018 and 2019, you will be in better shape to weather whatever comes your way.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Easy Ways to Increase Sales
22 September, 2017

If you want to increase your sales quickly and simply, good customer service is your biggest asset. It will increase customer goodwill willingness to buy, and return visits. We talk a lot about sales skills, but if customer service is not the major part of sales, the sales skills are not going to help much.

I have been into many businesses where sales people try to push me, bully me and sometimes even shame me into buying. I don’t buy. If you provide me with good customer service, show you are interested in me and engage me, I will willingly and happily buy from you and come back to buy more.

Customer service is a compilation of different skills that help you, the sales person, focus on the customer, find out what s/he wants, and meet their expectations with not only your service but your products.

  1. Introductions: Welcome your customers to your business and immediately introduce yourself. Usually, if you introduce yourself the customer will introduce him/herself. If you don’t have a good memory, silently repeat the customers’ names three times and say to them: “John/Julie it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  2. Ask A Question: Any number of questions can be asked:
  • Are you enjoying the lovely weather?
  • Is this your first visit?
  • Did you have anything special in mind today?
  • Are you visiting the area (if you are in a tourist area.)
  • You look familiar (if you think they may have been in before.

3. Listen to the Answers: It may be information you can refer back to that will help close a sale. People respond to people who pay attention, it makes them feel important. Don’t present a new query until your customers have finished answering the one before.

4. Be Patient: We all work at different speeds. Allow the customer the time to formulate an answer to your question or to make a decision. Count slowly and silently to five.  Use the same 5-second rule when you ask customers if they have any questions. A lot goes through people’s heads before they ask a question. They may have trouble formulating the question or don’t want to ask a silly question or appear ignorant in front of others.

5. Relax when you are around customers. You know that you have fifty things you need to get done by the end of the day, but your customers don’t. It’s not appropriate to make customers uncomfortable because they are taking up your time.

6. Don’t Assume: You don’t know whether a stranger who walks into your business is going to buy or not. You might think you do, but truly you don’t. It is very human to judge people, we do it all the time. So, if you find that you are judging, tell yourself that you may not be right. Then go about helping them to the buying decision.

Look for more customer service ideas next week.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Take the Time to Do Some Research
15 September, 2017

One of the things I like most about the work I do is that it involves a fair amount of research on different topics. I use the information I find to create handouts at seminars and for my weekly blogs. While the Internet has certainly simplified research, it also means that there is much, much more information available. The trouble is, once you get started it is hard to stop. I can easily spend half a day as one thing leads to another.

Market research is important in any business, though with the demands of business it is sometimes hard to get around to it in a formal way. Market research sounds so formal, although it can be done through informal ways that will give you the information you really need. When you talk to people who can give you insight, you are conducting market research.

Start by making a list of questions to ask your subjects and keep the questions short. There may be a couple of things you want to know or a list of twenty. However, don’t overwhelm your subjects with too many questions. Once you have your list of questions put them in order of the least to most important.

Choose different audiences, for example:

  • Employees (those who work in the areas in which you are trying to find answers.) You may want to give employees the questions and allow them to answer anonymously on the off chance that they feel their answers may offend you.
  • Customers are a wonderful wellspring of information. They will tell you what they like about your business, products, service, etc. or what they don’t like (usually in great detail.)
  • People who don’t buy your products but are part of your target audience. They can be another good avenue as they may not buy your product because they have never heard of you. While you think you are advertising and promoting to the right people, you may be missing a large group.
  • Competitors are another group. Send someone that they don’t know to visit their premises and ask the questions.
  • Suppliers or sales reps are a good source of information as they deal with many people in the same business you are in.
  • Professional organization to which you belong may have information that could be helpful to you.

When conducting market research be open to the answers you receive. Think about each of them seriously, rather than dismiss them because they don’t suit your mindset.

Enjoy your research.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Tips for Keeping Your Brain in Top Form
08 September, 2017

I have been catching up on my reading lately and have come across some great articles. Today’s blog is all about “Why the Modern World Is Bad for Your Brain,” which is an article by a neuroscientist, Dr. Gabija Toleikyte.

In this day and age, many of us are continually jumping from one task to another, both at work and at home, as we try to finish everything on our To Do lists. When we jump back and forth too much, according to Dr. Toleikyte, the brain’s attention systems will find it harder to focus, which has an impact on productivity. Dr. Toleikyte has a number of things you can do to help your brain be more productive. Here are some of her thoughts:

Take Regular Breaks

Okay, hands up how many of you do that? I thought so… not many. Dr. Toleikyte tells us that when we are tired and stressed the nutrients that are usually delivered to the brain shift to the most vital organs. “This leaves out more sophistic brain networks, such as the ones involved in creative ideas, sound decisions making or learning new information… and means our performance declines.”

Take frequent breaks (10 minutes for every hour.) While taking a 10-minute break every hour seems foreign to most people, you will be more effective. Also, work the most difficult tasks in the morning when your brain is most energetic.

Stop Multitasking

There is more information emerging that our brains are not made for multitasking. In actual fact, when we think we are multitasking we are merely quickly switching from one task to another. According to Dr. Toleikyte, “That has three consequences, we waste a lot of time, we are more likely to make mistakes, and we become stressed more easily.” So, the time we think we are saving by multitasking we lose when we have to do the work over again because it is not as good as it should be. If you do insist on multitasking, find yourselves a good editor or proofreader before you submit the project.

Break Tasks into Small Steps

Large tasks can be overwhelming, so split up the different elements of the task and attack them one at a time. Work for 15 or 20 minutes without interruption. Don’t take any phone calls or be available to other staff during this time. Yes, this can be hard in many jobs, so put a note on your office door or tell others that you are not available for the next few minutes and switch off the phone (including your cell). You may find that you are more productive once you get into the habit.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Warmth, an Important Skill for Leaders
01 September, 2017

I found a great article in the Guardian online with information from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. The article is all about how showing warmth to co-workers, employees, etc. is an important part of being a boss. This article led me to another article by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman entitled “I’m The Boss! Why Should I Care If You Like Me?” that was originally published in the Harvard Business Review.

The article reminds us that emotions are contagious. “If a leader is angry or frustrated, those feeling will spread to others. Conversely, if a leader is positive and optimistic, those emotions also spread.” Anyone can have an off day or two. Life is full of twists and turns, so being in a good mood at all times is not realistic. However, if customers and your employees see you usually in a bad mood, short tempered or generally not an easy person to be around, neither the customers nor the employees will stay with you. An ability to connect with others will bring positive results on all fronts.

Your integrity is also important. The article asked the question, “Do others trust you to keep your commitments and promises? Are others confident that you will be fair and do the right thing?” The interesting thing is while your company may be making exceptional products if customers do not believe that you can be trusted they may well choose to take their business somewhere else.

In addition to what your customers should expect, if you wish to keep your employees, ask the question, “How can I help them excel in their jobs and expand their skills?” The article suggests being a coach, a mentor, and teacher. Your employees will remember you because you helped them further their careers. I still remember when I was in my early twenties (quite a while ago) and first got into marketing. I worked for an older woman who said to me, “I will teach you everything I can and if you can do the job better than I can, it’s yours.” I have never forgotten that or her and have adopted the same outlook.

Think about what you are doing for your customers and employees. Sometimes we have to make decisions that are not going to be popular, though when you do try to look at them from the other person’s or people’s point of view. It may be very different from your own.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Seeing Things Differently
25 August, 2017

Today was a red-letter day for me. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I fractured my femur condyle on June 6th of this year (a day that will live in infamy). I have spent almost three months in a wheelchair without being able to put any weight on my left leg. I have to tell you it has not been a fun summer.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been allowed to put 30% of my weight on my left leg. So I have been able (somewhat nervously) to stand up, as it is hard to judge what 30% of your weight feels like on a leg that has not been used for months.

Today the physical therapist told me I can now put 50% weight on my left leg. Then he said, that at 50% I can now walk with a walker. So up I got, taking my first tentative steps with my walker.

I am sure that most people have seen films of a brand new baby deer struggling to its feet to walk for the first time. That was me! Doing something that I know so well in a completely different way, learning to balance my weight differently so while I am lifting my right foot off the ground I am still only keeping 50% of my weight on my left leg, using the walker.

It started me thinking about how many other things we do, simple things that we have been doing for so long that we don’t remember when we learned them. We just do them automatically without thinking about them.

In the meantime so much has changed in the world around us that there may be much better ways to do some of these things. For example, are we making the best use of new avenues of technology, or are we doing things we have always done?

Or what about the look for your business – is it time for a refresh, a coat of paint in colors that are more up to date, or new accessories to bring everything to life?

Time passes so quickly and we don’t realize that our way of doing things, or our business can remind customers of times gone by. Look around your retail room, your procedures and how you conduct your business. Are their updates or upgrades you can make that will make your business more profitable and more appealing to customers? Find them and make the changes as you can.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Update Your Competitive Analysis
18 August, 2017

We all know that part of a good business survival plan is a well-researched competitive analysis. Before you start a business, investigating your competition, their products, prices, marketing and public relations plans, customer service, and more is paramount.

For many businesses, once the original competitive analysis is completed, the demands of creating and running a business take over and the time to stop to take notice of what your competitors (who may also be friends and colleagues) are doing and how the competition has grown changed can be overlooked. In the wine industry, the number of tasting rooms has grown exponentially throughout the US and Canada over the last few years and shows no signs of slowing down. This uptick in the number of competitors is going to affect your business.

Dig out your original marketing plan and look at the competitive analysis. If you don’t have a competitive analysis, now is a good time to start. Discover what your competitors are doing in the areas of:

  • Products (What are they making, how well and how much?)
  • Pricing (How much do the products cost?)
  • Sales (How are sales made: directly, through distributors, via the internet, etc.?)
  • Customer Service (How well do they treat their customers?)
  • Promotion/Advertising (How are they promoting their products? Explore all avenues.)
  • Strengths & Weaknesses (What are they doing well and what could they improve on?)

Start with the competitive businesses that are most like your own. Then branch out to similar businesses with the same target audience that may be making/selling different products in the same industry) or be in different price categories. Once you have the information delve into how successful they are, the number of customers you estimate they have and how your business compares. Try to put subjectivity to one side, for example thinking your product is better when it may just be somewhat different. Whether your product is better or not is for customers to decide. Remember that customer service makes a big difference in how customers perceive products.

Finally, take the time to visit your competitors. Much can be learned from going in as a customer. Or if you are well known to your competition send someone else in to do the assessment.

Knowing how well your competitors are doing is crucial to a successful business.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How Effective Is Your Interaction With Customers?
11 August, 2017

Important points that many businesses fail to consider when they are sending out information to customers, whether that information is through social media, emails, text or even through the mail:

  • Will customers be interested in this?
  • How much spare time do recipients have to focus on my interactions with them?
  • Are they being overrun with messaging from other companies that is very similar to mine?

Here are some ideas of how to get your customers more engaged with your emails, social media posts, etc.

  1. Know your customers: If you are keeping up-to-date records of your customers likes and dislikes (including how they want to be contacted), tailor these interactions to their needs, wants and desires.
  2. Segmentation: You will need to segment your customer records by the interests of your customers, what they buy and what resonates with them. You will also have to put some time into getting this information from your customers. Though the time you spend will pay dividends. This is especially true of your best customers. Start with the top ten customers. Once you have got all the information for these customers move on to the next ten until you have at least 100 (depending on the size of the customer list).
  3. Perseverance: It may take time, though once your customers realize that you only send them information that will make a difference to them and their lives, they are more likely to read it and respond.
  4. Response: Quickly respond to all comments and questions that come to you through social media posts, emails or by phone. Whether the responses are positive or negative it’s important that you show your customers that they are important to you. In the case of social media respond to all positive and negative comments online, though you may wish to take additional response to negative comments offline if the problem is not one that can be ironed out easily. Once the problem is successfully handled, ask the customer to go back on social media to say that everything was taken care of.
  5. Know Your Competition: Select similar businesses to yours and sign up for their mailing/social media or email list. You need to know what they are sending to their customers so you can differentiate your business from theirs.

By making your customers as important to you and to your business as you are to them, your business will grow and become more successful.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Makes Your Business Different?
04 August, 2017

To be successful, your customers and prospective customers have to know (and be constantly reminded of) how your business is different from other businesses in your area that are selling similar products.

Without differentiation, consumers will have a hard time remembering your business. I work with a number of wineries and regularly talk to wine consumers about their experiences when they go wine tasting. After consumers have been to six or seven wineries during a day of tasting, they have a hard time recalling all the wineries they went to or what they tasted where. They will, however, remember a winery dog, a beautiful garden, a particularly friendly and helpful staff member or a wine varietal they particularly liked, especially if the wine was made from an unusual grape. These are some of the differences that make a business stand out from the crowd.

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the book Neuromarketing:

“In a sales context, the absence of contrast – especially when a prospect has difficulty understanding the differences between your product and others – will bring the prospect’s decision-making ability to a halt.”

There are many types of differentiation: products, service, price (either high or low), quality, location, are just a few. The important thing is to choose a concept, word or phrase you want consumers to think of when they think of your business. Though if you want the customer to buy it has to be something that differentiates your business from everyone else’s in the mind of these consumers.

If you are interested in delving further into how to differentiate your business in the minds of consumers, I suggest you read, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which made a great impression on me when I first read it, many years ago. I have read it many times since then and it’s as relevant now (or perhaps even more so) that it was then.

If you have not differentiated your business, now is a good time to begin. Start by asking your managers and staff, what they think makes your business stand out from the crowd and then ask some of your regular customers what it is that keeps them coming back. That will give you a good start.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Stop Before You Start
28 July, 2017

Julie Pedroncelli St. John from Pedroncelli Winery sent me a great article by Barry Stuckey who has spent much of his career in Hospitality. The article was about a waitress he encountered in an eatery at Heathrow Airport. I have pulled out some of the key points, as the article was too long for this blog. The article really encapsulated a lot of the finer point of excellent service, whether you work in a retail business or are selling B2B.

The first point, which to me is the most important, is to be conscious of what you are doing before you begin speaking to a customer. Before you approach the customer or pick up the phone to call them, STOP… Clear your mind of what you have been working on or thinking about and focus your attention on the person to whom you are speaking. As you are approaching the customer or waiting for them to answer the phone, put yourself into listening mode (you are probably already in talking mode). Once you have approached the customer smile, and tell them your name. You should also be smiling if you are on the phone, people can tell.

This small act of separation from what you were doing, or from the last customer allows you to move on to a new customer. Your focus on them will transmit itself to the customer. You will appear engaged and ready to help them. The customer will also become engaged as they realize that your attention is directed to them. Because you are more engaged you will be more apt to listen and really hear what your customer is saying. You will also be more likely to pick up non-verbal signals such as their tone of voice or the fact that their stance shows you they are or are not interested.

When a customer asks you a question, smile in response and, before you speak, lean in just slightly. This creates an impression that you care what your customer is saying.

These are small things that will make big differences to the comfort of your customers and to their connection with you, the business and the products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Social Media – External and Internal
21 July, 2017

Are your employees following the company on social media? If not they should be. Social media is a great place for employees to get reminders of the information or offers that you are broadcasting to customers.

In the days before the internet took us to worlds we had never anticipated, it was common in business that employees (especially part time or occasional employees) were not up-to-date on what was going on as far as specials or events were concerned. It was not unusual in the wine business when wineries were doing AVA-wide events and selling tickets for these events that customers would visit a winery asking for tickets and the person at the tasting bar would tell them that they didn’t have tickets for the event. This is just one example of how information is not been disseminated to everyone who needs to have it.

As part of the dissemination of information, encourage your employees to follow the business Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, etc. In fact, you may wish to make following the business social media mandatory, just as it’s mandatory that they read memos and other information relating to their jobs.

If you are an employee, it is going to make your job easier if you know what is going on in the business. In most consumer-oriented companies, customer specials, events, and other customer oriented information can be hard to keep up with, so being aware of what customers are seeing on social media will help you remind customers of things they may have forgotten. Not to mention helping you with sales. You can keep up on what customers are thinking, and whether they are happy or not. Also, keep track of any personal mentions you may get. It doesn’t hurt to know how many customers have appreciated your help, especially if you are hoping for promotion or a raise in pay.

Be aware of everything that is happening in your business on social media. It will keep you at the top of your game.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Assessing Customer Experiences
14 July, 2017

Last week this blog delved into statistics regarding customers who may have had a less than stellar experience when they visited your business. We discovered that the percentage of customers that you think were satisfied with their visit was not necessarily in line with the number of customers who actually were satisfied.

Also, we learned that only a small percentage of dissatisfied customers take the time to complain. The rest just don’t return.

After publication of this blog, I received an email from one reader regarding the best ways to contact customers. He was concerned that calling people may be intrusive and they may not be comfortable telling you what they really think. Good point and one that is raised regularly during seminars and conference sessions.

The first thing to do is to ask customers how they would like to be contacted. Would they be open to a phone call or prefer to be contacted via email, text or mail. How customers prefer to be contacted many times has to do with their generation. Text is the favorite for Millennials and younger people, while some Gen X or Boomers may prefer email or even mail. Step one is always to identify the wishes of individual customers.

If you don’t have this information on your individual customer records, procuring the information gives you a reason to call your regular customers and double check. Most of your regular customers are not going to mind an occasional phone call. In fact, in many cases, it is going to strengthen your relationship with these customers as you are initiating a more personal interaction. While you are on the phone and the opportunity presents itself, this is a great time to tell the customer of any exciting opportunities to purchase. Remember that these people are regular customers because they like you and your products.

Once you have the information on how they want to be contacted, make sure you have the address or phone number in order to follow up. Also get their agreement (in writing) with a follow-up email that you ask them to sign and return.

Your consideration for how your customers wish to be contacted will just deepen the relationship you have with them and they will appreciate the courtesy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Wine Club Essentials Course at Santa Rosa Junior College
14 July, 2017

Elizabeth Slater will be teaching a Wine Club Class at SRJC during the Fall Semester

WINE 109 WINE CLUBS - 9 weeks

The class starts on Monday  August 21 6 p.m. - 9:20 pm and runs through October 16th. 

Registration is through SRJC’s website.

Some of the topics:

  • Creating or recreating Your Clubs
  • Creating Infrastructure to Promote Growth
  • Wine Club Management
  • Promoting Your Wine Club
  • Selling the club
  • Growing the club
  • Member Retention
  • Communicating with Members
  • Creating Wine Club Benefits & Events


You May Not Get Many Complaints but That Doesn’t Mean Your Customers Are Happy
07 July, 2017

I have been researching customer service lately and have found some interesting statistics from a number of different sources. The main thing that came through in virtually all the sites I researched was: Only a small, small percentage of customers who are dissatisfied actually register a complaint with the company. The rest of them don’t come back.

Here are some “Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics” from Help Scout:


On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

Take a look at the average first purchase of your customers and multiply that by 10.


Probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 -70%.

Engaging and connecting with first time visitors is much more likely to bring them back to buy from you again.


For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.

Create an easy process for customers to give you feedback. Pay attention to the feedback and use the information for staff training.


Any business with customers is in the “people” business.

We tend to define our businesses by the products or services we sell. Though the most important thing to remember is that we are in the business of providing good experiences for customers, no matter what the product.


“Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.” – Kate Zabriskie

I doubt that your main reason for being in business is to make life easier for your competitors, though if you are not focusing on customer service that’s exactly what’s happening.


80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service. 8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.

In other words: Don’t believe everything your think. Follow up your opinions with real data but ask your customers in person, through surveys or over the phone, how they feel about your company.


There will be more customer service insights in next week’s blog.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Life: A Series of Small Victories
30 June, 2017

As many of you know I am on the injured list at present. Unfortunately, I have two things going on at the same time. A broken femur is keeping me wheelchair bound, probably through September and I am having problems with my one eye that works, so my eyesight is at best, variable.

However, for every misfortune, there is always another side. The good fortune of discovering the true value of friends and family and the kindness of perfect strangers are two of the upsides.

Another upside I have discovered is that of celebrating the small victories in life. These first weeks of not being able to walk has been a number of small victories, at first being able to sit up in bed by myself, then getting from bed to the walker (for me the walker is more of a hopper as I can’t put any weight on my left leg) being able to dress myself and moving from walker to the wheelchair by myself.

In small and large companies, learning to celebrate the small victories in life is a wonderful way to create a stronger company culture, good feelings among employees and management. When employees are happy the customers feel it when they come into the business. They are likely to stay longer, take more interest in your company and products, experience a greater connection with the employees and buy more.

Celebrating small victories doesn’t have to be expensive:

  • When an employee or a department has a good day, week or month, make sure they know that they did well.
  • If an individual employee is particularly effective in handling a customer service problem, congratulate him/her on how well s/he did.
  • If someone is diligent in keeping public areas clean and tidy, thank them for it (even if it is their job).
  • Make the words, “thank you” or “great job” words that employees and managers regularly hear.
  • If you are an employee thank your manager when they do something good or congratulate another employee on a job well done.

Create an atmosphere of celebration around small victories. If there is a downside to this I have not yet thought of it.

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Selling Is Easier In Person
23 June, 2017

I was sent an interesting article from my favorite periodical, Harvard Business Review. The article, entitled, “A face to face request is 34 times more successful than an email” talked about research into email vs in-person responses from customers.

According to the article,

 Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.”

It seems that part of the difficulty is in the way those who are sending out these emails or texts view them. Let’s say you are sending out an email to people on your email list, you know that you are trustworthy, have quality products and are trying to sell them something that they will enjoy. However, do all the people you are sending this email to understand the same things of you? Do they automatically think that they can trust your company, what you are trying to sell and the value of the offering?

In order to create more effective email and text campaigns to customers, you must create and continue to nurture the in-person relationship with your customers.

When customers visit your place of business make sure that you interact with them on a personal level. Discover their wants and needs and what is important in their lives. That way you can personalize your on-line correspondence with these customers. Be sure to ask for the sale, while they are visiting. Let customers know that you believe in the products, which may make them more willing to buy again when you send them an email.

Part of your customers’ records should include how often they visit our store, whether they come to events and which ones they attend. Also keep track of how many you times you speak to them on the phone, whether they call you or you called them and the topic of the call. This enables you to know your customers’ buying habits.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business and should always be considered your most important asset.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Best and Less of Customer Service
19 June, 2017

Last week was an interesting week for me. Tuesday, I went for a walk with a friend of mine in the local regional park. While there I tripped over a rock and eventually found out that I had fractured my distal femur condyle (a u-shaped bone just above my knee). A bone that, until this time, I had never heard of. Think of it looking like a goblet with a u-shaped indentation at the top, rather like a wishbone. Take the two parts of a wishbone and pull the two sides apart. Usually, one side shears off. That was my femur condyle.

The orthopedic doc operated that night, putting in a plate and some screws. I spent the rest of the week in the hospital being poked and prodded. They took enough blood out of me that more had to be added. Of course, there was the startling awakening at 4 a.m. each morning for more blood to be taken.

In all my years (and there have been many of them) I have never (not even when I was born) spent a night in a hospital. I had no idea what to expect and so was amazed at the impressive attention to customer service, engagement and the cheerfulness of the nursing, therapy, cleaning, and services staff. They were all amazing.

The doctors seem to have a harder time with customer service, and while no one was rude, it was almost as if they had not been taught to interact with patients. They were good when explaining what was wrong but seemed to have no idea on what terms to use when addressing me. I am not sure that doctors are taught how to put people at ease. So perhaps as a sideline I can start presenting seminars on Customer Service for Medical Professionals.

A tip of the glass (if I can tip it while I am holding onto the walker) from me to you!

Take a Step Back
09 June, 2017

The approach of summer and the good weather during this season bring more customers out of their houses and into your winery, store, restaurant or other retail business.

During the height of the busy season, it is often more of a challenge to provide the levels of customer service that encourage people to buy your products or services and to return. To accomplish your sales and service goals during the busy season it helps if, before it starts, you have a plan. So take a few minutes to create a plan for your sales and service team (if you are an owner or a manager) or for yourself (if you are on the front lines).

How are you going to ensure that each customer is treated well, appreciated and given the attention s/he needs to go away with the opinion that s/he is a valued customer?

Here are a few tips:

Put Your Assumptions on Hold

Unless the person who walks through the door is a regular customer, try not to make assumptions about who they are, what they may or may not know or whether they will buy or not.

Give the Customer a Chance to Talk

Ask the customer questions that will give you the information you need to meet their needs and expectations. When you are giving the customer the answers to their questions, you can also work in how you can fulfill their needs and expectations.

Make the Customer an Insider

What do you know about your product or service, company or owners that your customer might like to know and pass along to their friends? Most of us like to have information our friends don’t have. Also never underestimate people’s willingness to buy to impress their friends.

Let Customers Know You Like Them

  • Give your customers something they weren’t expecting.
  • Let them know you enjoyed their visit.
  • Thank them for coming.
  • If you have the opportunity walk them to the door.

These are simple tips that will make customers buy from you, return to buy more and recommend your business to their friends.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Emotion Sells
03 June, 2017

As salespeople, we tend to think that we are going to sell more through our expertise or having lots of information about the product (obviously product knowledge is important though it cannot stand alone) and by providing top-notch customer service. All these things are important. However, the real key is to appeal to the customers’ emotions.

While scientists used to believe the decision to make a purchase was made from the rational mind, it turns out that emotions are in charge throughout the decision-making process. Throughout our lives we make decisions emotionally. Only after the emotional decision has been made does the customer then justify that decision with rational reasoning.  This is when the good sales person re-affirms the rational reasons why the product or service is a good buy.

According to marketing professor, Raj Raghunathan, even people who believe that emotional decisions are not the main reason they buy, those who consider themselves to be very rational are more prone to fall into this trap.

When you work with customers in any capacity you will sell more when you engage emotions and when you start the interaction with the idea that these people are going to buy from you. The earlier you make the emotional connection the better off you are. Once your customers have made the decision that they like what you have to offer they are less likely to back out of the transaction, according to the researchers.

Be cheerful, complimentary and engage the customers’ emotions. While the facts about the product or service are important, first you have to engage the emotions if you really want to make the sale, as the rational part of the brain will only be used to justify their emotional choices.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

More on Sales
26 May, 2017

When people come into your business do they already know that they are or are not going to buy from you? The answer to that question is no, they don’t. How many times have you walked into a business with no intention of buying anything and bought anyway?

As a salesperson, your job is not to assume that someone is or is not going to buy. Though if you have to make an assumption, assume that the customers in front of you are going to buy. If you assume that your customers are not going to buy, did they then not buy because they weren’t ever going to buy or did they not buy because you treated them differently in some subtle ways that may not be picked up by the conscious mind but will be stored away by the subconscious? Also, the subconscious mind contains information that we are not actively aware of but may nonetheless influence decision-making.

Research has shown that customers will make instinctive decisions with their subconscious mind. As consumers, we are not aware of what’s in our subconscious. Although that we may still be influenced by things we have heard, seen or experienced before stored in the subconscious.

As humans, we prefer things that are familiar to us as well as simple to understand. Make it simple for your customers to understand your products and to make decisions to purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Using Testimonials to Encourage Sales
19 May, 2017

There are lots of ways to encourage customers to buy. When considering various avenues to promote sales, there are a few things you need to think about.

  1. There is always a cost involved with any option to promotion your business. Promotion costs either money or time. If it’s not costing you money, it is costing you time.
  2. Regardless of the methods of promotion you choose to use, it is important to track the results to make sure you are getting the response you want and hope for. For example, if you send out emails regularly to encourage sales, you need to track the percentage of people who open the emails, click through to the offer and how many take the final step and buy.

Shown below is an example of one low-cost way to promote your products.


Research has shown that reviews from other customers are as important to those who are thinking of buying from you as are reviews from “an expert” or someone famous. Using testimonials from the past or current customers can and will encourage new customers to purchase.

Ask your customers to review your products or service or provide a testimonial with the reasons why they buy from you.

Once you have got these testimonials use them in different ways:

  • Ask customers to phone and record their testimonial or review. Use these recorded testimonials on your business phone for callers to hear while they are on hold. These reviews will be a lot more effective than music.
  • Put customer testimonials on your website. Have a tab for Reviews or Testimonials.
  • Ask customers to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other popular review sites.
  • Have a book of customer testimonials in the winery or store that people can browse through while they are waiting.
  • Put customer reviews at the bottom of your outgoing emails in the area of your contact information.
  • If you are doing these things, ask customers if they have seen the reviews or testimonials and if the service, products, etc. have lived up to reviews they read

Remember, peer reviews are important to other customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Makes People Buy?
12 May, 2017

I was looking into buying patterns on the internet, the other day, for a couple of sales seminars that I am putting together and came across some very interesting information, which I will be passing along via my blog and tips.

Consumers buy for a myriad of different reasons; here are some of them and think of what categories your products would be most likely to fall into. According to a number of sites I looked at, including Click Z, people buy for a whole host of reasons:

  1. To fill basic needs such as food and shelter. Though the idea of basic does vary a bit from person to person. Because I love to read, I find books to be a basic need for me.
  2. Something needs to be replaced or we want to replace that is getting old.
  3. Finding something at a bargain price or something that we consider a great value will light up our desire to purchase.
  4. A new or innovative product may also catch our attention. The newest iPhone is released and all the early adopters and lined up outside the Apple store waiting to buy it.
  5. Sometimes we feel we deserve a treat or a reward for something we have accomplished (even if it is just making it through a hard week). It doesn’t have to be anything big even a small reward can perk us up.
  6. Here’s one I really like, “The Girl Scout Cookie Effect.” We know that the reason we buy Girl Scout cookies (especially Thin Mints and my favorite Samoas) is because we are so unselfish. After all, we want to support a good cause.

There are lots of reasons why people buy and we will be delving into many of them over the next few blogs. We will also be looking at why people don’t buy and what we can do to help them get over that.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Get In The May Mood
05 May, 2017

There is a lot going on in the month of May.

Mother’s Day is coming up fast.

Think of different ways to wish a happy Mother’s Day to mothers and others. For example, if you are a winery that produces and sells Cabernet Sauvignon, wish happy Mother’s Day to Sauvignon Blanc, the wine that is the mother of Cabernet Sauvignon. Do the same on Father’s Day with Cabernet Franc.

Many people have May birthdays.

Invite your customers to join you for their birthday, with any customer who comes in during the week of his/her birthday gets a birthday surprise. I will leave it up to you to decide on the surprise, though it could be a flower, chocolate, preferential pricing, a coupon for their next visit, or access to a special offering or person – just to name a few.

There is something special going on every day in May. Here are a few “special” days during the month of May: On May 3rd we had Paranormal Day, Garden Meditation Day, School Nurse Day, Lumpy Rug Day (really!), for example.

Looking at a calendar for May shows me that every day in May has at least three special designations and some days have up to seven “special” designations. Some of them are important, such as May 28th which is Amnesty International Day and some less so, May 27th Cellophane (Scotch) Tape Day.

By the way, May 25th is National Wine Day, so you have plenty of time to get ready for that.

A tip of the glass from me to you, and have a great day no matter what you choose to celebrate!

Customer Service: The Good, The Bad, And The Very Ugly
24 April, 2017

After watching a segment on the television about a couple of companies that offer customer service that is above and beyond the norm, earlier this week, I decided to write my blog on customer service, talking about some companies that really go out of their way.

Last weeks along came the story about United Airlines dragging a paying customer out of his seat and off an airplane. I was amazed. Not only at the removal of the man by airline security people but also by the fact that none of these people gave any thought to the fact that cell phones (which are ubiquitous these days) have cameras. It was not a pretty video.

This was followed up by a less than stellar “apology” from the CEO of United Airlines. All in all an extremely bad day for United, its employees and (it seems from the internet) its share prices.

That takes care of the bad and very ugly, as this incident definitely fits into both those categories.

On the other side, there are some great examples of customer service. Land’s End company will always refund the purchase price of any item. In fact, the information on the Land’s End website states:

“Guaranteed. Period.

If you are not satisfied with any item, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.”

That type of service with no questions asked is bound to make consumers life-long customers of Land’s End.

Another shining example is Nordstrom, a company known for the excellent treatment of their customers.

Of course, it’s not only no hassle return policies, it’s also the quality of service, being polite, friendly, interested in the customer and ready to help. All these will increase your sales and keep your customers coming back again and again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What About The Wine Label?
14 April, 2017

I was speaking to a group of wineries and growers recently about sales and marketing of wine and grapes. In the course of the conversation, a question was asked about the importance of the wine label. The question was about the look of the label and whether it was okay for a label to be quite plain and simple.

My answer was that yes, having a simple label is fine as long as it well executed, easy to read and it gave the government and buyers the information they needed.

The person who asked the question then responded by saying that he thought that the label was just the label and that “it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts.” While I don’t disagree that what is inside the bottle is very important, I hastened to add that the label was also of great importance.

For many people, the label is the first impression of your wine. Someone who has never tasted the wine has an impression of the label design and execution as well as the verbiage that will help him/her make the decision as to whether or not they buy that wine. This is especially true if you are selling your wines off-premise, where many buyers will not have the opportunity to talk to you.

Even if you sell all your wines through the winery, many of your customers will be influenced not only by the taste of the wine but also by the overall presentation of the wine, the label, the bottle the capsule, etc.

So while your label does not have to be fancy or expensively produced, it should be of the same expected quality to assure the customers that the price you are charging for the wine is warranted.

Keep a label simple if you wish but let it echo the quality that you know is in the bottle.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

First Emails to Customers
07 April, 2017

I was at the US Bev X conference and trade show in Washington DC in February.  It was a great conference with lots of pertinent information on a host of topics pertinent to all facets of the beverage industry.

In one of my sessions this question was asked:

“When a visitor comes to your winery and gives you their email address so you may send them information, how do you create that first email to engage with them further?”

This was an excellent question as that first email is crucial in strengthening the connection between your business and the new customer. My answer was that you have to go back to the initial encounter. This person came first to your tasting room and that is where the connection has to start. The staff members who interact with the visitors have to create the relationship from the beginning of the visit.

It is up to them to take the first steps in learning about these visitors:

Their names

Where they are from

What brought them to you

Their wants and needs, likes and dislikes

How much interest they have in the product.

These questions sprinkled throughout the conversation (rather than being asked one after the other) will be the beginning of the visitors’ relationship with the company and with the individual staff members. The staff members should also offer information, not only on the product but a trade of information about themselves, starting with their names. As the visit progresses staff members can mention the things that they may have in common with the visitors as well as giving them information that the visitors will be interested in.

These are the things that will make visitors give you their email and may turn these (possibly one-time visitors) into long-term customers, even if they live far away.

So back to that first email? It should be sent within a day or two after the visitors’ first visit. The email should be signed by the person or people the visitors connected with during their visit. It will renew the personal contact and should have some of the information they learned from the visitors. Remind them of what they enjoyed about the visit. Let them know how much their visit meant to you and that you look forward to seeing or hearing from them again.  There is plenty of time to sell to them in subsequent emails. Use the first one to engage emotions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

It’s Important To Be Important!
03 April, 2017

It’s nice to feel important. Think about the last time someone (a friend, family member or a business) made you feel important. What does that do to your mood in the moment or the way you feel for the rest of the day?

In order to make your visitors and customers important, you have to get to know them. In the case of first-time visitors, you start by observing as they walk through the door. First-time visitors who may not be familiar with wine tasting may be more hesitant when they arrive. Being aware of that fact gives you a clue as to their level of comfort or discomfort. If visitors are hesitant, you can start by making them comfortable. There are many people who come into wineries, who have never been to a winery before. They may be unsure of how things work and what is expected from them. So reassure them that knowing about wine is not a prerequisite to having a good time. Ditch the insider lingo and speak in terms the visitors will understand while still giving them information that will make them more knowledgeable. Ask for their names and become their friend.

Conversely, you make regular customers feel important by greeting them by name, telling them you are glad to see them again and asking them how life is going for them. This lets them and (sometimes more importantly) others in the room know that they are well liked and appreciated.

It sounds easy and it is as long as you are focusing on your visitors needs, wants and desires, rather than launching directly into your regular spiel about the products and winery.

Practice being aware of body language, questions asked and answers given. You will always gain more loyal customers and sell more when the focus is squarely on the customers and visitors. The primary goal is to make friends and to create connections.

After that, the sales will follow. People who are engaged are more willing to buy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are You Missing Marketing Opportunities?
24 March, 2017

There are very few times when you are talking to others that you can’t take advantage of marketing your business. I don’t mean hijacking a conversation with a long monolog about your company. Keep your comments brief and make the conversation interesting, leading the person or people you are speaking with to ask you for more information.

For example, when someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you say? Are you specific, “I own a winery” or “I work for a winery,” for example, or do you talk about working for or owning a small business? Then have ready a quick sentence about something the company does that will differentiate it from other wineries. It could be a special event; an uncommon varietal or a charitable association, an interesting location or the way the business is managed.

As with people, all businesses are different. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the differences but they are there.

To get to the root of what makes your business different start a list and keep adding to it. Ask your managers, employees, and customers what they think is different about the business. Once you have the list, create short stories of just a few sentences for each point of differentiation on the list. Keeping it short is important, as it’s easy to get carried away when you are talking about something that is important to you, though may not be important to someone else.

If you know your audience you may point out individual differentiations that will resonate with the people to whom you are speaking.

For example, you are out walking your dog and get talking to someone else who is walking his/her dog.  What is different about your business that may include the dog? Is the dog the wine club mascot or do you donate a portion of the proceeds to the ASPCA or other animal rescue fund? Knowing this small piece of information may bring this stranger into your winery.

Telling a short story makes your business more memorable and the more memorable you can make it, the better chance you have of getting people who may not know about you pay you a visit and make a purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Conducting a Job Interview
17 March, 2017

When you are hiring new employees the job interview is critical to successfully finding the right person. In this blog we will be focusing on finding the right people for jobs that have a lot of customer interaction, whether that interaction is in person, on the phone or electronically.

The most important focus should always be the personality of the person you are interviewing. You can teach people skills, you can’t change personality and if you have a sales or customer service person that doesn’t like people you’re in big trouble.

So look for someone who is warm and empathetic. If they work with others, the ability to work well as part of a team and a willingness to follow through (whether with a project or a customer) should be considered. Also you will want to know if the person is an optimist or a pessimist. A pessimist can bring down the customers and other staff members.

Job interviews can be very stressful for the candidates and no one is their best under pressure. Experts suggest that you let the candidates know in advance the topics you’d like to discuss. Find a time that works for both of you and let them know the dress code of the company. You want to get an idea of who they really are.

Allow enough time for the interview and if you need to, bring the person back more than once. If your candidates will be working regularly with other people have them meet the people they will be working with and ask your current employees for their impressions of the candidates.

As well as telling the candidate about the job, make sure you leave plenty of time for them to tell you things. You can learn a lot about people through what they choose to tell you. By asking follow up questions you may find out what really makes them tick. So plan on listening as much as you talk during the interview.

When you find viable candidates check references carefully, as well as their online presence. Hiring people to be the face or voice of your company is an important decision. You want to build a factual picture of the person you are going to hire.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are You Hiring The Right People?
13 March, 2017

As we rapidly approach the busy season for many businesses, it’s a good time to think about the qualities we need in the people we employ to interact with the customers in person, on the phone or via email. In addition, it’s also important to think about the job description that we present and what skills we need to focus on.

You don’t want to waste your time or the applicant’s time by interviewing people who are never going to be right for the job, so it pays to have a clearly worded advertisement detailing the type of person you want and a complete job description.

In the ad be specific about the type of company you are hiring for and also what you are looking for in a person. If you are hiring for a sales or customer service person you want to put emphasis on the soft skills (empathy, patience, communication) making sure you get a person with the right temperament for the position.

Your goal is to find the right person the first time. Not putting enough thought into the ad or the job description can lead to hiring the wrong person. At which point co-workers are not happy and you have to start the process all over again.

When you are writing a job description let the candidates know what you expect from them and also what they can expect from you. If there is the possibility of advancement or that they will be working with a talented group of people, mention it. You want will attract more qualified candidates if they know that there are benefits to the job for them as well as the employer.

Once you start receiving applications respond quickly to the candidates. Even if you just send a quick email that says you received their résumé and will be back to them within the next week. It is important for people to know when they can expect to hear from you.

Next week, I will focus on interview techniques.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Using Customer Reviews to Improve Your Business
24 February, 2017

In this era of increasing customer involvement, you immediately know how many of your customers feel about your company as you can see what they think of your products and services on any number of review websites.

Most of us in business will look at Yelp and TripAdvisor, but think about other places where we can find reviews. If you sell through Amazon, or Angie’s List take a look at their customer reviews.  Also, check Consumer Reports, Google for Business, Yahoo listings and don’t forget Facebook and Twitter.

While I was researching this topic, I found an article by Ankit Roy that gives some tips on using reviews to market your brand. He also gives a number of statistics that you should find interesting:

  • 88% of people read reviews (
  • 72% of consumers say possible reviews make them “trust a local business” (
  • Reliability, experience and professionalism are the most important reputation traits for local businesses (
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews “as much as personal recommendations (
  • A customer is likely to “spend 31% more on a business” with excellent reviews (

Those are some impressive stats.

If you are not paying attention to reviews you are missing out on some important information from your customers. Reading them, of course, is only the beginning.

Once you have read the reviews, it’s important to respond to them in a timely manner, whether the reviews are positive or negative. A few words in answer to a positive review can make a customer who already likes you like you even more. A response to a negative review can help change a customer’s mind if your response is helpful and solves the problem. Some of the most loyal customers are those that have had a problem with a company and seen it resolved to their satisfaction.

So check the reviews regularly (all the time) and share good reviews in promotional emails with the rest of your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Do Your Customers Want From You?
18 February, 2017

Knowing what your customers want is part and parcel of making your customers happy and ensuring that they will continue to buy from you. Here are some tips on how to engage your customers:

Use Their Names

Not only will customers remember you if you remember their names and use their names (a couple of times in the conversation), they are also more aware and interested when they hear their names. Try not to overuse the name. Sometimes when I have been on a phone call with a company and the employee has been told to use the customer’s name, they use it every second word, which is way too much and a little irritating.


A key way to make customers happy is to make each experience personal. A personalized experience not only makes customers happy, they are also willing to pay more for a personalized experience. Treat each set of customers as individuals with an individual experience.

Tell Stories

When we tell a story, customers can become a part of that story. Powerful messages about the company are left in their minds through the story. Keep your stories fairly short, so customers don’t lose interest.

Involve Your Customers

Ask customers for their ideas or present ideas you have and ask for their input. If you implement a customer’s idea, make sure they are rewarded for their input.

Surprise Customers

An unexpected treat or gift (no matter how small) will please your customers and will get them talking to their friends about how great the company is.

Time & Memories 

Many customers value time well spent and the memories that are created much more than they do discounts. Though in most businesses there is more talk about pricing than there is about what the product will mean to the customer. Start focusing more on the memories that they can make with your products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How Much Do You Know About Your Customers?
10 February, 2017

Kofi Annan the former UN Secretary General said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the promise and progress, in every society, in every family.”

The only addition I have to that Kofi Annan quote is… in every business. The business that has knowledge of its customers, what they want and what makes them happy is indeed powerful.
One way to gain this knowledge is to ask your customers directly through sending out surveys.

Create an easy to answer five to seven-question survey that can be mailed to your customers. Choose as many names as you wish of customers who regularly make purchases or come to your events and e-mail them the survey. Ask the customers to complete the survey and return it to you. You may wish to add an incentive. For example, upon return of the survey the customer will be sent a coupon for 10% off their next purchase. Give the person a reward for completing the survey that also gives them a reason to come back to the business. You may wish to ask questions about how they were treated generally, if they got all the information they needed or if they were told about a special that was going on during the time they were visiting. Whatever the information is that you want or need, include a question related to that information in the survey.

Leave a place on the survey form for comments. Some people, when asked for their opinion, love to tell you everything (and much of this information is valuable to you) while others just complete the questions. However, it is important to give people the opportunity to provide you with information.

Keep the survey short (not more than five to seven questions, which are open-ended so those receiving the survey may provide a short or long answer) and thank them for completed the survey. Make sure you add in a line that you are sending these questionnaires in order to provide them with better service…

You may also create surveys that you send to people after their first visit to your business or surveys to customers who regularly attend events.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Getting Your Customers To Opt In
03 February, 2017

If you are collecting information from customers, make sure that they opt in (agree to your having their contact information). They must agree in writing and it must be unambiguous. For example, I receive many receipts via email from stores that I frequent regularly (such as office supply stores). When I use my credit card and sign for receipts to be sent to me by email that does not mean the store can start sending me other emails or texts related to sales or special offers without my express consent. So if you want to use emails and texts to communicate with your customers (and you should) you must have their permission to do so.

While emails are ubiquitous, texting is becoming more and more popular. Overall 32% of people would rather text than talk and with the Millennials that percent shoots up to an amazing 75%. In fact, a majority of consumers use their phones more for non-vocal communications than for calls. An article by states that an average of 0.4 texts per month were sent in 1995. In July of 2015 there were over 193,000 text messages sent per second via SMS and the number continues to increase.

The key to compiling a complete and effective CRM list is for everyone in the organization to be committed to the task. While it takes effort and a little extra time it is, in the long run, well worth the effort everyone puts in. When people visit your business, call, text or email, request information from them so that you may contact them later.

Start in the store if you have a retail business and make sure you expand this to phone calls and email contact. The staff should have cards that they give to visitors who have shown a specific interest in your products or business. This card should ask for their name, address, cell phone and e-mail; it may also ask for information about how they found out about your business and what they are most interested in. Primarily, it should allow them to opt in to receive information from you.

Phrase the request in a way that there is a benefit to the customers for example:

Occasionally we will send information with offers or special benefits, may we send them to you.

                                                Yes                   No

Once the customer has signed the card, s/he has then “opted in” that is given you permission to contact them. Additionally, make sure your customers know your customer privacy policy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Is Your Employee Manual Up To Date?
27 January, 2017

It’s almost February and before we know it, the busy season will be upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about the staffing for the coming year. While you are thinking about your staffing requirements, take the time to look over your written procedures and policies for part-time and full-time employees. The procedures need to be up to date and it never hurts to check that you haven’t forgotten something. After all, the more informed and successful your employees are on the job, the more products you are going to sell, the better connections you will make with customers and the more awareness you will gain for your products.

Procedures and policies provide detailed guidelines for all employees. They help managers organize and help staff stay organized. They minimize conflict between you and your staff and outline responsibilities and benefits (do employees get paid holidays, sick leave, etc.)

There should also be specific information on customer service. You want all  your employees to be on the same page as to how customers should be treated as well as the answers to certain questions (for example the discount policy and do the employees have leeway to give a slightly larger discount to make a bigger sale. If so, how far can the employee increase the discount and for what amount?)

Provide scenarios for employees so they know how to handle different questions or situations that may arise. If questions arise on how to handle a situation when the manager is not present, an employee can always check the procedure and policy manuals.

When writing your procedures manual, outline every item, even those that seem obvious to you, as they may not be obvious to a new employee. Include explicit daily tasks and weekly responsibilities. Always include safety procedures. If your employees need training that is specific to your type of business make sure that it is available to them. Schedule training days for new and returning employees and provide a procedures and policies list for each different positions. Employees who are given the information to be successful will be successful.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Referring Customers To Other Wineries
20 January, 2017

One of the things that visitors most comment on and it is most appreciate when they visit wine country (regardless of where the wine country is) is the impression that everyone gets along well and that we all like each other. Much of that is due to the fact that tasting room staff members give customers tips on other wineries to visit. However, we have to consider when in the visit we give referrals and to which wineries.

Here are some guidelines to follow when giving referrals.

  1. If customers ask for referrals to other wineries in your area, wait until after the tasting is complete and they have made their buying decisions before you give them referrals.
  2. If they ask for referrals to other wineries early on in their visit, the tasting room personnel may say, “Let me think about it for a little while. Once I know more about your tastes in wine I will be better able to give you referrals.”
  3. Refer wineries that also refer your winery to their customers.
  4. Refer wineries that produce different varietals than you sell.
  5. Only refer wineries that you have visited. It is important that you know the customers will be treated well when they visit these wineries. If they are badly treated it is likely that the customers will blame you rather than the winery that did not meet their expectations
  6. Tell customers to let the wineries you have referred to let them know who sent them. You may say, “Please tell them that (host’s name) from (winery name) sent you and says hi.”

Additionally, if a guest asks about a winery that you cannot recommend (for any reason), explain that you haven’t been there or tasted their wines for quite a while for ages and so cannot say. Then continue to list the wineries you are comfortable recommending. Do not say anything negative about any other wineries.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Make 2017 A Year To Remember
13 January, 2017

The beginning of a new year is usually filled with good intentions and ideas on how to make business better for the coming year. It is, in fact, the perfect time to take a long look at your business and yourself, and think hard about what is working well and what may not be work quite so well.

As business owner or employee, start with your strengths and weaknesses. What are the things that you are doing well (list those first) and then follow up with the things you could be doing better. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback on what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. It is sometimes harder to understand our weaknesses than our strengths, as we tend to play to our strengths but, sometimes, will avoid doing the things that highlight our weaknesses.

Give some thought to how you can improve your skills to better manage the business.

Next take a look at the business and what skills your employees need. Make a list of those skills and put the names of the individual employees next to the skills you believe they possess. Also, ask your employees to create their own lists of strengths and weaknesses that can be talked about in reviews or in training sessions.

The list of skills that your employees need can be used in the interview process when hiring new employees. It’s important to hire based on skill sets and getting varied skill sets within the company. This list can also be a great help in letting employees know what is expected of them.

Employees and managers should plan ahead to create a strong balance so that everything runs smoothly.

Make all employees and managers part of the planning process to make sure that everyone is in agreement with what has to be done to become successful.

Finally keep track of written goals you have made for yourself and for what you want to accomplish. Check in with these goals every few months to see how you are doing. As the saying goes, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.”

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Create Invaluable Customer Records
06 January, 2017

At the start of a new year, it’s good to think about things that you want to accomplish for the coming year. A worthwhile task before the busy sales season is to ensure that your customer records are accurate and up to date.

In addition to the basics, the name of the customer and their contact history (including address, email address and phone numbers – business and mobile) make sure that the customer’s transaction history is accurate and up to date. It’s important that you know what, when, why and in what quantities your customers purchased your products, whether they buy for others as well as for themselves. Having this kind of information will allow you to segment your audiences and structure your advertising and offers in more individual ways. Knowing how much customers have purchased gives you an easy way to assess their value to your business.

Also is important to create a personal profile for each of your regular customers. This information could include age, gender, profession, spouse’s name, income, hobbies, children’s names and even the charities they support. Don’t forget to ask if they have pets and the names of those pets. People are very attached to their animals.

Keep track of any individual correspondence you have with your customers as this can give you insight regarding their views and opinions.

Customer information is built up over time as you informally learn about your customers.

When customers are in your place of business, casually ask them questions about themselves (most Americans quite like that) and offer a little information about yourself to balance the conversation. If you are asking for information via email or a questionnaire couch the request in a way that will appeal to the customer. For example “In order to provide you with service and offers more suited to your personal needs, please complete this short questionnaire.” And please, if you do use questionnaire, do keep them short.

Most businesses these days use CRM systems. The most important word of the three in Customer Relationship Marketing is Relationship. Establishing real relationships with your customers will create strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Happy Holidays!
24 December, 2016

I am off visiting family for the holidays and will be back with new blogs for 2017 (hard to believe) in January. 
Have a happy, happy holiday season with friends and family. Make the most of your time off.
A tip of the glass from me to you!

Words Change Perceptions
16 December, 2016

The words we use when selling out goods or services are as important as the products themselves. Using the wrong words may change the perceptions of potential customers leading them to leave your business empty-handed, whereas if the right words had been used, these same customers would have been happy to buy.

We all know that a pleasant greeting, a sincere smile and an open and friendly demeanor helps tremendously to put customers in the purchasing frame of mind.  These things are as important as they ever were, so be aware of how you are greeting people.

Let’s start with some of the words we should or shouldn’t say…

  1. And rather than but

The word and continues the conversation. When you say and the customer will expect to learn more information that will benefit them. Whereas the word “but” is more likely to be thought of as being followed by a negative. Think of it as “and” continues a conversation while “but” may stop it.

Example:  We have the wine you want and (more good news) we have three cases left.

  1. Because

One of the most powerful words in sales is the word because. It is very persuasive.

Example:  You should buy this because …

When you use the word because you are answering the question, which on every consumer’s mind (either consciously or subconsciously), “What’s in it for me.”

  1. Thank You rather than No Problem

It has become ubiquitous these days in answer to the words Thank You to say No problem. This is not a good habit to get into. Practice says, “You’re welcome” or “I am pleased that I could help” or anything else positive.

  1. I don’t know

I don’t know is a phrase that shouldn’t be used unless it is followed up by, “I will find out for you,” or “that’s a good question let me check.” If you don’t know it’s your job to find out and get back to the customer. It’s also a great way to get an email address or cell phone number so you may email or text to give them the answer.

  1. You chose a good day…

Compliment a customer on his/her good sense in coming in. If you happen to be having a sale that day, let your customers know that buying today will be to their benefit. It’s a good thing to say at the beginning of the interaction, as it gives them time to assess the benefits of buying today rather than next week.

There are many more words that are good or bad to use in a sales situation. If you would like a longer list please drop me an email at

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How Successful Are Your Emails?
09 December, 2016

Email has become the most popular way of communicating with customers for many businesses. Though often times, companies are not following up on how effective these emails are for them.

Not only is it important to check open click through and buy rates, it’s also important to check what your competitors or similar companies in your area are doing. For example on Cyber Monday this year I got a flurry of emails from companies (easily 35 or 40) with the subject line of “Cyber Monday.” After a while, I stopped opening them.

How many of you subscribe to emails from companies in your industry, especially those in your area?  It’s a good idea to do so. It keeps you up to date on what’s happening in your industry and helps you to realize whether you are differentiating your business from those around you.

Keep your customers wants, needs and desires in mind when you are planning your emails. Know what is important to your customers and craft your content to reflect what is important to them. You can still talk about your products, reasons to buy and any sales or special offers you have available but if you truly know what your customers want you will do it in a way that appeals to them emotionally.

Send out emails with content that your customers may not be expecting. Most people are interested in people. If one of your staff, who deals regularly with your customers wins an award, graduates from college, raises money for charity, save someone’s life, is leaving your employment or anything else noteworthy, send an email congratulating the staff member or wishing them well. Customers who have built up a rapport with this person will be pleased that you think enough of him/her to publicly mention what they are doing.

Include product recommendations or testimonials from other customers if you want to increase conversion and click through rates.

It’s essential to create an emotional connection with your email. Customers buy because they feel, not because they think. While facts and awards, etc. are important, it’s bringing out their emotions that makes customers click through to your website and buy the products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Making the Most of Your Time
03 December, 2016

The holiday season, starting a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and running through the New Year, seems to be, for most of us, the busiest time of the year. Work is usually busier, whatever you do, as many companies are trying to get things finished up before the beginning of the New Year. Not to mention finishing up the budget and planning chores.

If you are in retail sales it is even busier, with most retail businesses open longer hours.  There is also more packing and shipping to think about, as well as managing stock and making sure that everything reaches buyers before the holidays start in earnest.

On top of all of this work stuff, you have to organize your own holidays, which may mean shopping for gifts, decorating the house, planning holiday meals, inviting guests or making travel plans to visit family or friends. In short, a lot of extra work to be accomplished in a short period of time. For those of you who start all of these things in August and have everything finished by September, congratulations! You can stop reading now! For the rest of us, here are a few time management tips to see us through this “most wonderful time of the year.”

  1. Start by making your lists. I suggest you sort your lists into different categories, for example:
  1. Work: List everything that you have to finish before the holiday break.
  2. Home: List all the things that have to be done to prepare your home for the holidays.
  3. Shopping: List all the people you have to buy for, what you want to get for them and when.
  4. Social engagements: Make a separate list of all your social engagements (business and personal) include dates, times and anything you need to take with you.
  1. Once your lists are prepared, add the amount of time you think it will take you to complete individual items on your list. Don’t forget to add in travel time if that’s a consideration.
  2. Keep to your schedule as much as you possibly can. If you miss some things reschedule them quickly.
  3. Finally, enjoy your holidays. Let your lists keep you on track and be sure to add in some time for a little relaxation. Remember to take a break or two and give yourself a small treat for getting things done.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Sell More Successfully
23 November, 2016

Some of the biggest shopping days of the year are coming up in the next few weeks so here are a few tips on how to persuade consumers to purchase your products for holiday gifts and for themselves. From now until the beginning of January, your customers are ready to buy. What are you doing to make sure they are buying from you? I have compiled a few tips that may help.

Tip One:  Know what your customers want. Don’t try to sell them what you think is best. Find out what they think is best for them and sell them what they want to buy. If you want to sell them Merlot and they want to buy Chardonnay, let them buy what they want rather than nothing at all.

Tip Two:  Deal with objections by asking for more information and considering what they are telling you rather than immediately trying to dispel the objection. Perhaps you have explained the product in a way that does not resonate with them.

Tip Three:  Remember that your customers may have come in with their own ideas, so trying to bend them to think the way you want them to think is only going to lose you the sale.

Top Four:  Focus on the experience rather than the sale. Give your customers a top- notch experience. Entertain them, give them a couple of interesting facts they can use to impress their friends and let them know that you have enjoyed their company. Do this and you stand a much better chance of making the sale.

Tip Five: Know your products and be comfortable speaking about them. You want to speak in terms of the benefits of the products to your customers, rather than focusing on features, that they may or may not be interested in.

Tip Six: Know the answers to the questions that you are asked most frequently. You might want to have a list of most frequently asked questions. Consumers prefer to deal with sellers who are knowledgeable and can help them make smart decisions.

Happy Thanksgiving and a tip of the glass from me to you!

Encourage Wine Exploration
18 November, 2016

Today’s blog is a follow up on the blog I posted last week in which I printed an email I received from a consumer talking about why they aren’t doing a lot of wine tasting any more.

The email talked about how the tasters disliked being told what they were going to taste and how they felt that most wineries (or at least the tasting room staff) just wanted them to buy and leave.

I have experienced myself being told at many wineries what I am going to taste in the wines before I taste them. How does the server know what I am going to taste? We all taste things differently. In classes and seminars that I conduct I ask the attendees to name a food that they do not like. It is amazing how many different foods are mentioned. Why is it that we all don’t like the same food? Might it be because we all taste things differently.

It used to be that the scientists thought that the human nose could smell only 10,000 different aromas, now we know it is over a trillion. So what I detect in a wine and what you do could be totally different.

Instead of telling customers what they should taste, turn the tasting notes over and ask them what they taste? If they need some help then go ahead and help them, but encourage them to take a stab at it first. When they come up with a flavor or aroma that others have found in the wine, congratulate them on their palate. Very few of us don’t respond positively to a compliment.

Engage your customers and encourage them to start on a journey of wine exploration with you as their guide. The customers are much more likely to come back for more when you do.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

A Note From A Frustrated Wine Consumer
10 November, 2016

The other day I received an email from a wine consumer I know. This person is not in the wine business, neither is anyone in the family. As a couple, they go wine tasting regularly and are thinking about giving it up.

The note is exactly as I received it, except that I took out any reference to the location of the wineries visited as these things happen in all regions.

“For a while now we have stopped going wine tasting for one major reason: We hate being told what we are going to taste in the wine. After the n-th tasting room, where we have heard the wine notes and we were asked only where are we from, I have had enough.

95% of our tasting room hosts recited the tasting notes to us and all other customers and just wanted to see us buying a lot and get out of the door. I feel not like a treasured guest but as a “body in and body out” and I feel like they check some boxes with how much they served and how much we bought and that’s all. 

We now only have about five favorite tasting rooms in the whole area where we take guests and the hosts are not assuming that we are there in a group just to get drunk, or that we know nothing about wine tasting. 

More often than not we have had to ask for water in-between the tastes and dump buckets were available in about 2% of all the tasting rooms we have visited in the last six years. 

I used to go to discover new places and find new wines I might like. I don’t feel like going anymore. I rarely find good examples of customer service or folks who really care about the customer and want to establish a relationship (other than “buy something, dammit!”).”

Show this note to your staff, bring it up at the next hospitality staff meeting. You might not think it applies to your winery, but it might.

Next week I will talk about ways to fix the problems brought up in this note.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Captivating Your Audience
04 November, 2016

When someone comes into your place of business, it’s important to keep this person engaged and involved in the information you have to impart. Whether you are disseminating facts or giving a sales pitch, you should be aware of how the customer is absorbing the information. Are they interested or are they bored? Are you going into too much detail or not enough detail? Have you asked them some questions and assessed their level of knowledge and interest? Remember it’s not about you.

As many of my readers know I spend most of my time training staff of retail businesses, mostly wineries. Before I start I think about how my audience might feel about coming to this seminar or training. They may well not want to be there. So how do I get them involved very early in the seminar? For me, it’s humor that does the trick. When people laugh they open up, when they open up they internalize your message much more readily. They also pay closer attention because they are waiting for the next joke or humorous story. So try to add some humor into your conversation with customers.

Stories are another way to engage people. So as you assess the customers that are standing in front of you, tell them stories that they can or will relate to. Give them inside information on the company or the products. Give them the impression that they now know things that a lot of other people don’t know and leave them with a small tidbit that they can take home with them that will impress their friends. If you do that, they will talk about your business to others.

Talk to your customers about things that make them realize that they are special to you. If you have more than one set of customers in the room, don’t say the same things over and over. Every interaction should be individual.

Most importantly don’t waste customers’ time with things that they aren’t interested in, which means you have to be listening to them as well as talking to them. Give them high-quality information that will help them to make buying decisions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How to Provide a Quality Experience
28 October, 2016

Next February I am moderating a panel at the US BevX in Washington DC. The panel is about providing a quality experience, so I started thinking about what providing customers with a quality experience means. Of course, there are almost as many different answers as there are customers, though there are definitely some overlaps.

Most companies work hard to create a quality product or service and that’s very important. Equally important is providing a quality experience for customers when they come to your place of business, call you on the phone, email or text you. Each of these experiences can create positive or negative feelings with your customer. So let’s go for the positive feelings.

The big question is, what can you do to make your customers feel that they have had a quality experience? Remember that people buy because they feel, not because they think, so getting them involved is step one.

  • Emotion: Create an emotional connection with your customers before you start giving them the facts. Greet them with a smile and if you have the option to do so, come out from behind a counter and walk towards them.
  • Engage: Let customers know that they are important to you. A smile can create engagement very easily.
  • Explain: anything the customer doesn’t understand without making the customer feel that it’s a burden for you to do so. It doesn’t matter how simple you think it is, they may not know.
  • Enthusiasm: Be upbeat and ready to discover what they want (rather than what you want to tell them).
  • Effective: Be aware of a customer’s time constraints, needs and wants. Ask them how you can help.
  • Empathy: Assist in resolving any problems customers may have experienced and ensure that your customer is completely satisfied.
  • Experience: Your goal is to make it the best experience you can for each individual customer.

In short, do Everything you can to make the customer feel welcome, important and liked. Creating these feelings will pay dividends with more repeat customers and bigger sales. You might even make some new friends along the way.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Educating Your Customers
21 October, 2016

There is s lot of discussion at businesses and especially in the wine business about the need to educate customers about products and services. I am definitely not against education, though it’s important to realize that education is not usually at the forefront of someone’s mind when they walk into a business. It’s not so much about education as giving customers the facts they want and need to make a buying decision.

For example, if a customer walks into a hardware store to buy paint because they are planning to paint their living room, giving them information about the latest model of kitchen sink is not going to do you or them any good.

Before you give customers the facts, you should know what it is that they are looking for, what information is relevant to them and what will make them want to buy from you. So start by asking questions, creating a personal relationship with them and listening. Let them talk first and for most of the time, you will have plenty of time later when you know what it is that your customers want.

Be sure that everyone who deals with customers knows the products and how to describe them. As an article from Forbes (April 2015) said,

If there’s a starting point when it comes to educating your customers, it’s probably this: Believe in your product. But more than that, make sure you know how to express that belief.”

While the features (what the product or service can do) are very important, the benefits (how the product or service will make the customers’ lives easier/better) are even more significant. The customer wants to know how the product will relate in the real world. How it will impress their friends, what problems it will solve and how others feel about it.

You want your customers to leave your place of business with the view that your product or service will make their life, simpler, better, more fun, or whatever it is that you have discovered is important to them.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

S.M.A.R.T. Marketing
17 October, 2016

As we come into October, it’s time to start thinking about next year’s goals and budgets.

Create your goals with the help of all members of the team. The more involved the team is, the more buy in to reaching the goals. Also let others in the company, who, while not specifically responsible, may impact outcomes. For example, if how you treat your customers impacts your sales, everyone is responsible for ensuring that customers are treated well even if they come into contact with them only in passing.

Many of us have heard of S.M.A.R.T. marketing. Following this simple acronym will help create goals that are achievable. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.

Specific – Use real numbers. Instead of planning to see more visitors, specify how many visitors you want to see annually, monthly, etc. Taking a general viewpoint won’t get you very far. Also be specific when establishing ways that you are going to reach these numbers.

Measurable – Create programs you can track and know how to track them. How many people are opening your emails? How many visitors come into the retail room? How many sign up for your mailing list? Etc. If you can’t measure you can’t assess whether you are reaching your goals.

Attainable – Most of us work harder towards success when we know that we can reach it, or at least come close. If employees don’t believe they can reach goals that have been set, they are less likely to work towards those goals. You have lost before you even start.

Realistic – Base your goals on what is realistic. Increase targets incrementally and build in a little leeway for anything unforeseen.

Time-Bound – Be sure to deadlines as part of the process. If you are creating yearly goals, put in checkpoints monthly or quarterly. You want to be able to adjust your own and your team’s expectations or make an extra effort if it’s needed.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Happy Customer Service Week!
30 September, 2016

Next week or most of next week, October 3 – 7, is Customer Service Week. According to the Customer Service Group, in 1992 the U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event, celebrated the first full week in October.

While there is a lot of talk about customer service, companies usually don’t do as many things as they could or should on a regular basis to let customers know that they are appreciated.

Customer Service Week gives companies the opportunity to reaffirm how important their customers are to them. Start with a short email letting customers know how much you appreciate them and thanking them for their business.

You might want to create a special offer for your customers. Consider segmenting your customer list so your best customers are given more than those who spend less with you. Or expand Customer Service Week through the weekend and invite your best customers to visit you on that weekend for a small celebration.

It is also a great week to empower your employees, giving them opportunities to make a difference. Encourage them to engage with customers more and thank them for their patronage. Offer small rewards for employees who go out of their way to take care of customers during this week. You don’t only tell customers that they are important to you, prove it.

An article in Forbes magazine suggests writing thank-you notes to customers. You can assign a few customers to each employee, even those that don’t regularly come into contact with customers and ask the employees to write the thank-you notes to these customers.

Customer Service Week is also a great time for a customer service training session. Even an in house session where your employees talk about what they do to engage with customers. A prize can be given for the best idea.

There are lots of things that can be done to make Customer Service Week a way to let your customers and your employees know that they are appreciated.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Is Your Body Language Telling Your Customers?
23 September, 2016

Body language sends silent (non-verbal) signals, many of which we are not aware of.  Though all the time we are talking to someone, our body is communicating messages that are picked up consciously or subconsciously by the person or people you are speaking with. According to Psychology Today, “Micro-expressions, hand gestures and posture register almost immediately, a silent orchestra that can have long-lasting repercussions.”

When you meet someone and don’t like them, it would be interesting to know how much it has to do with their body language.

There’s a good article by Patrick Schober in Customer Experience Insights entitled “Examples of Body Language That Destroy Sales.” It talks about the things you should be doing and how it often leads others to believe that you are no interested, impatient or defensive. As we all know these are not the things that we want our customers to believe if we want them to visit us again and/or buy from us.

Here is a recap:

Make eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. As the article says, “any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.”

Be aware of your posture, keep your head up and don’t slouch as it, “can make you look wear and unconfident.”

Let people see your hands (easy when you are pouring wine) and when you are not holding something, have the palms up to show receptivity and friendliness.

Give them personal space. Don’t stand too close, one to four feet is good, otherwise you may make people uncomfortable

Crossing your arms can and often will feel defensive. If you cross your arms, make sure you are smiling and appear welcoming.

Don’t overdo movements like twirling a pen or tapping your feet as your customers may feel that you are impatient.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Selling to the Customers’ Emotions
16 September, 2016

I was watching The Wine Show on the television the other day. It’s an English show that talks about wines from around the world, visiting different wine regions and adding humor into the discourse on wine, winemaking, etc.

One of the hosts was asked why he had bought a particular bottle of wine and he remarked that he bought it because of emotional memory, rather than anything else. He smelled the wine, tasted the wine and was reminded of something in the past. Obviously it must have been a pleasant memory as he bought the bottle of wine and brought it to the tasting.

It reminded me of something I have been saying in my seminars for many years, “People buy because they feel, not because they think.” The mammalian brain is responsible for memory, emotions and feelings and it is the emotions and feelings that make us want to buy most of the time. Especially when it comes to wine.

In the wine business you have an added benefit, the customers that come into your tasting rooms or see you at outside events have the opportunity to see, smell, feel and taste your wine and those things will bring back memories.  Take a sniff or taste of a wine and see how many memories it brings up.

When you are encouraging someone to buy, try using emotions instead of just logic. In most tasting rooms the hosts use facts, and while these are important, mixing the facts with some emotional reasons to buy is going to bring you more success.

There are different emotions that make customers want to buy:

  • Being Ahead of the Curve

Nobody’s buying this wine, I can impress my friends with this

  • Time Saving

By joining the wine club I will always have good wine on hand that I can trust, no last minute decisions.

  • Inclusion

My friends really like this wine, I am part of the group

  • Reward

I deserve to buy this. It’s been a tough week; I owe it to myself.

I am sure you can come up with a lot more reasons for customers to buy if you give them a chance. Give it some thought.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Getting Heard Through an Overcrowded Medium
09 September, 2016

Don’t you love the Internet?? Well sometimes you might (when an order comes in from an email you sent out) and sometimes you don’t. However, if you are looking to make a splash on Facebook, for example remember that there are 50 million small business Facebook pages. So you have some competition.

When I typed in the search engine “popular social media sites” one of the top search results was a post from 60 second, “Top 52 Social Media Platforms Every Marketer Should Know.” So before you go to that site, how many can you name?

The Internet, email, social media, etc. have changed our world both personally and in business in ways that we would have never thought possible. And every day there are new things coming out that are changing it all again. There is no time to stand still.

As a business, you have to be aware of the next new thing and choose to adopt the ones that will enhance our businesses, products and abilities. For example, a company creates a Facebook page to introduce information about the products, service and business. Now just putting the information out is not enough, you also need to be involved with social monitoring (also called social listening). It is equally as important that you know what is being said about you as well as what you are saying.

Also important is social response, where you respond to people who make comments (good and bad) about your business or products.

Content, of course is still king. Is what you are writing about interesting, amusing, targeted towards you readers? People enjoy stories and stories make a stronger impression. Good stories sell; by buying your products, especially in the case of wine (or especially a case of wine) buying the product will make them happy. Sometimes your customers need to be reminded of that.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Four Categories of Emotional Intelligence
03 September, 2016

Continuing from last week on the subject of emotional intelligence. Taken from an article by Lindsay Kolowich on the Hubspot blog, we are now going to look at the four categories of emotional intelligence in the model created by doctors Goleman and Boyatzis.  The four categories are:  Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.

Self Awareness 

What are your feelings and emotions, strengths and weaknesses and do you understand what drives them? Additionally, make a list of and then assess your values and goals and where you want to go in life. The third part is confidence, understanding what makes you tick, your strengths and limitation, think about what you are good at and where you can use some work to improve.

Self Management

Manage your bad moods and impulses (we all have them). You may find a customer irritating but that doesn’t mean you have to let him/her know. Instead make them feel important. Define goals for each interaction, before you start talking to a customer, what is it you want to achieve? Keep a positive outlook and if something does go wrong, don’t let it eat at you.

Social Awareness

Take notice of what others may be feeling, look for clues as to their concerns and acknowledge them. Be service oriented, listening is much harder than talking, so remember to pay attention and try not to interrupt too much. Listen to your customers so you understand what they are looking for.

Relationship Management

Create an experience for your customers by being articulate and clear. Give them persuasive reasons to purchase and let them know you care in simple ways. For example, you may have heard the same joke hundreds of times but laugh anyway, it doesn’t cost anything and it might very well sell something. Help build your customers’ knowledge of your products, especially through stories.

It’s always important to know the facts and to have the knowledge your customers needs, but when you have emotional intelligence as well you are more likely to retain them as customers for longer.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are you Emotionally Intelligent?
26 August, 2016

Recently I came across an article by Lindsay Kolowich on Hubspot’s blog about Emotional Intelligence that was very interesting. For those of us who make our living in sales (or in my case helping people sell) the ins and outs of how emotions affect customers’ willingness to buy has long been on my radar. Whether you are selling a product or service to consumers, selling an idea to your employees, selling yourself or your ideas to you boss, or selling your kids on why they should do something your way, if you use emotional as well as cognitive intelligence you will be more successful.

It’s been posited that there are seven different types of intelligence. Today’s blog is about cognitive and emotional intelligence.

According to Darren Horrigon from CIO the differences between cognitive and emotional intelligence are:

Cognitive Intelligence is the ability to understand information, imagine possibilities, use intuition, solve problems and make decisions.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand the needs and feelings of oneself and other people, manage one’s feelings, and respond to others in appropriate ways.

In short, it’s all about feelings and emotions. Your ability to recognize your own emotions and those of others allows you to help others (in this case your customers) sort through the emotions that go along with allowing themselves to buy a product or service when they want to but think they shouldn’t.

Dr. Daniel Goleman, a scientific journalist and Dr. Richard E, Boyatzis came up with a model that splits emotional intelligence into four different categories. The four categories are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.  Knowing these competencies is only the first step; according to Ms. Kolowich, you also need to understand them, manage them and use them to perform.

In next week’s blog we will separate these four categories and talk about the skills you need to become more emotionally intelligent.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Tick, Tick, Tick
19 August, 2016

It’s already the middle of August and in my neck of the woods school has started, which brings to mind autumn and starts me thinking about the coming holiday season. It’s not too early to start planning for the holidays, especially as far as your business is concerned.

While you are still busy with your summer customers, it’s time to start thinking about how will you be promoting your business this before and during the holiday season year? Even if you just start jotting down some ideas on your holiday specials and how you will promote to corporate clients in your area. Get a jumpstart on creating your holiday marketing calendar and newsletters. Outline all the key dates for your marketing and advertising and start planning for Small Business Saturday, an initiative to drive more shoppers to small businesses. This year Small Business Saturday is November 26th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving weekend is usually a good weekend for wineries and other types of small business and a good time to partner with local businesses to make a visit to your retail room even more interesting and fun. Make it even better this year by promoting in advance special items you will be featuring and the preferential pricing on certain items.

In addition to promoting for the holidays this is election year, which adds an extra bit of spice to the end of the year. With all the rhetoric, claims and counter claims the country will be hearing over the next two or three months, having a few bottles of wine on hand is going to seem like an even better idea to your customers. No matter who they plan on voting for, a glass of wine is going to seem like a good idea.

Start now, because the holidays and the election will be upon us in no time.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Keeping Up With Your Customers
05 August, 2016

Times change, people change, and tastes change. What people want at one stage of their lives is not necessarily what they want at others. Are you keeping up with your regular customers? The people who have been doing business with you for years, sometimes decades, don’t necessarily what the same things now that they did when they first started buying your products or services.

Know Your Customers

Updating customer information is key to keeping up with your customers wants, needs and desires. Some of the questions that need to be answered are:

  • Are they still purchasing in the same quantities, more or less than they did?
  • Are they still coming to events and have the types of events they attend changed?
  • Do they visit you as often as they used to?
  • Have the ways they purchased changed, e.g. they used to visit now they order via email?

Monitor your customer records regularly to see what changes have taken place in their buying and attendance patterns.

Stay Connected

People buy because they feel not because they think. The keys to the want and/or need to purchase are primarily emotional rather than logical. While logic does come into it, the emotional desire comes first. Part of the emotional desire to buy is driven by customer service. Customer service is important not just at the time of purchase but also in every facet of the ongoing relationship between the company and its customers. In small businesses interaction with the principals is a large draw to whether people buy or not. Customers who feel that they have a personal relationship with an owner or key employees makes a difference in the amount of money spent and the frequency of purchases.

The other key to connection is keeping your promises. What does your brand promise to the customer in advertising and promotion? When the customer buys the product, is that brand promise fulfilled?

The closer you are to your customers, the better your sales will be.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The More Things Change…
29 July, 2016

We are familiar with the saying by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a 19th century French critic and journalist, which is loosely translated “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

In marketing, while the delivery of the messages may have changed (email and text instead of letters and newspapers) the questions we need to ask ourselves remain the same. Before we can create an ad or correspondence (whether electronic or print) to market products and/or services we must first ask:

Who is the audience we are trying to reach?

Most businesses deal with customers of different ages and generations, with a variety of different wants needs and expectations. First start by segmenting your audience into categories that will bring you the best return, such as purchasing history

What makes your customers buy?

Keep track of what individual customers have previously purchased and ensure those types of products make up part of the mix of offerings you send them as well as similar things they have not tried.

How is the best way to reach them?          

Ask your customers how they prefer to be reached. It may be email, it may be text, it may be a phone call or a post card.  While it’s easy to create email campaign after email campaign, if your audience is not looking at your emails it’s not very effective. Check to see how many people are opening the emails, how many are clicking through and how many are actually taking advantage of the offer by buying. Think about a mix of ways to promote your products or services.

When and how often do customers want to get emails from you?

According to Wordstream the best time to send email newsletters for example is 8 – 9 a.m. on Thursdays, with the company seeing upwards of 25% open rather in this time frame. While Hubspot says that small companies (1-10 employees) find that the open and click rates are highest when they send 16-30 email targeted campaigns per month. Companies in this category may see a median open rate of 35.5% and an open rate of 6.9%.

Start honing your correspondence to fit your audience and focus your message on the wants, needs and desires or your audience. Take time to segment your customer list and send messages that suit their interests and focus.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Identify Personality Types to Increase Sales
22 July, 2016

I came across an interesting article by Mikita Mikado the co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc on the ways people think and how you can get them to buy by paying attention to their actions to discern the way they think. Mr. Mikado suggests that one method to understand what motivates buyers is to apply a personality model and sites the DISC model (Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive or Cautious). He goes on to summarize each personality type and useful approaches when selling to different types of customers.


Confident and assertive people who know what they want. These people make statements instead of asking questions. The dominant people focus on the bottom line and are motivated by control and achievement. Ask them questions about what they think or how they would solve something. With products and facts show them why your product works for them. Demonstrate how it will help their life and give them more control.


These are people who will listen to what you have to say. They are interested and want to get to know you by asking questions that relate to your personally. These people are early adopters so if you have a new wrinkle on an old idea, point it out as they value what’s different. Sell them on what makes you unique or different. They want to try new things. Let them help you sell to others by providing incentives for sharing information.


People who want to discuss things they have learned with others. They are interested in relationships and work hard to maintain them. Once they have a relationship with you they will want to keep it and are primary candidates for rewards and clubs. While they like to take their time making the decision, once they make it you have them for a long time.  Sell to them by building relationships and keep in touch. Let them know what others think about your products.


You need to get straight to the point with these people. They want information and them will ask you several questions, so make sure you know your stuff. They are the people who want the details, so focus more on facts. To sell them, validate their thoughts and emotions and when they are right, let them know. Pictures as well as words help.

While many of us share some traits from more than one personality type, look out for the traits you can identify.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Don't Forget The Wine!
22 July, 2016

One of the things I say most often in my seminars for wineries and wine associations is,“It’s not all about the wine.”  So today’s blog is a little different, in that I have noticed, when I go to winery events, that the wine seems to get lost in the mix of the food, entertainment and everything else that goes along with the event.

There are a few things we should do to keep the product as the main focus in guests’ minds:

  1. Have printed information and an order form available for attendees
  2. Provide your staff members with talking points they can use
  3. As an owner and/or winemaker be available and visible to guests.

Printed Information

During any event, but especially when you are participating in a multi-winery event, have an information sheet or brochure available for the event attendees. An information piece they take home with them will make your winery and your products more memorable.

Talking Points

At an event, we don’t want to overwhelm the guests with in-depth talk about the wine or the vineyards. However, at each tasting station or in the pouring areas, we should say a couple of things about the wine, even if the staff members just tell the guests how good the wine is. You could use a snippet of non-technical information about quality or food pairings. For example: “Have you ever tried this wine with a burger? It’s delicious.” Or,“A glass of this wine on a lazy afternoon is perfect.”


Everyone should be wearing a name badge – and especially the owner(s) and winemakers.

Those are the people that your guests want to meet if they don’t know them, or to say hello to, if they do. Their job is to shake hands with and talk to as many people as they can. I know that’s not easy for some, but it goes along with the job of owner or winemaker.

The guests rate the experience higher if they have the opportunity to speak to the owner or winemaker and they are more likely to buy wine when they have met them. Remember that meeting and speaking to the owner and/or winemaker gives them bragging rights with their friends.

So make your events more successful and more profitable.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are Your Events Working For You?
08 July, 2016

As many of you know, my marketing sales and customer service offerings include mystery shopping for individual companies and associations. Recently I finished a large mystery shop (using multiple shopper sets) to assess a multi-winery event.

What forcibly struck me about the answers the shoppers provided in the questionnaires they completed was the lack of training that has been given to the “first responders” that is, the people who are on check-in at events.

The employees or part timers at the check-in desk are the first people that the attendees see and the first people they have any interaction with. The interactions with the check-in folks may very well set the attendees’ attitudes for the entire time they spend at the event. Their first impression will have a great impact on whether or not these people decide to visit the business again.

In this particular case, not only were many of the check-in people inattentive and in some cases unhelpful, it was obvious by the answers they gave to simple questions that they had received little or no training for their role or information about the event itself.

Put one of your most cheerful and most accommodating staff members in charge of check-in. Make sure that the staff members you have on check-in have been well trained and can deal politely and calmly with people who have been waiting in line, been stuck in traffic, couldn’t find a parking space, or anything else that may have frustrated them before they got to check-in.

When visitors begin with a good experience, their attitude towards the whole event is better. They will be more patient if things go wrong or if they have to wait in line for food, wine or to purchase.

I hear a lot of horror stories from consumers about things that have gone wrong while they were trying to check in at a busy special event. So, please, train your staff and make sure to put your best and brightest on check-in.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Tell Stories to Connect With Customers
30 June, 2016

I was wine tasting recently and went to several different wineries in the course of one day. The wines were good, actually very good, no complaints about the wines at all.  The hard part for me was that the experience was the same at most of the wineries I visited. I was told about the wines, how it was going to taste, where the grapes were grown and that was about it.

Stories of the business, the owners, the passion, the history or the reason for the existence of any particular winery were basically non-existent.

We connect to people through stories. We are known to the world by the stories that we tell. So please, tell me your story and I will remember you, your products and your people. I will give you a place in my mind and tell others about you and your wines.

Tell your stories well. Bring the people, places, products and events in your stories to life. When you tell them well your audience will see and experience the story in their minds. They will then retell your story to others. It’s great marketing and it doesn’t cost much at all. Just some time learning to tell your stories in interesting ways.

Keep the stories simple when you first start, you can add more details and complexity as you get more used to telling stories. Not too many details though, as it’s easy for people to get lost in the details.

Make sure the story has a point and a message for your customers to take with them. Add a little humor; when people start laughing they start listening more because they are listening for the next laugh.

Always be checking that your audience is still interested. If your audience is getting glassy eyed, it’s time to come quickly to the end of your story or ask some questions of the people you are talking to.

Lastly, give your audience the chance to tell you a story or two. Talk about wine a little bit less and let your customers talk a little more and you will sell more wine.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Is Your Story Being Told Accurately?
24 June, 2016

I always find it interesting to hear the story of a business. Who started the business, how it was started and why, as well as what happened along the way. Often times, when I am visiting the same business I will make a point of asking a different employee about the story of the business and am surprised at how much each version I hear differs from ones I have heard before.

While you tell your employees, managers, etc. the story of your business when they first join the company, you don’t always have the time to keep track of what the story has morphed into through the telling process and the passage of time. It’s important to remember, too, that what you said is not necessarily what the person heard. The brain is very clever about shifting things around. Just because someone has been told something doesn’t mean that they remember it in the way it was told to them. As George Bernard Shaw said,

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

There are a few things we can do to help staff members remember the story correctly. The easiest one is to start by putting the story in writing and making it part of the employee manual. If you don’t have an employee manual then start one using that as the first page.

Another method that works well is having different staff members tell the story of the company and its owners, as well as what the vision and goals of the company are, at staff meetings, so you know everyone is on the right track. If there are any discrepancies in the telling of the story you have the chance to correct them with everyone present.

It’s important to make sure the stories of your business are being told consistently.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Next Week:  Telling Your Story To Connect

Know Your Customers
17 June, 2016

There are lots of things that you have to remember as a business owner, manager or employee, though the most important thing you should always keep in mind is information about your customers. Not only information about what they purchase from you and how much they spend, though that is part of it; you should also remember your customers as individuals, their likes and dislikes, their loyalty. Starting with one of the most effective things you should know about your customer (take a guess… yes you are right): her/his name.

When a customer walks into a business that they frequent regularly and the employee who is helping them remembers her/his name, it makes a big impression on the customer. It makes your customer feel that s/he is important to you and valued as a customer. Using someone’s name activates their brain, so you know you have their attention from the beginning of the interaction.

Unfortunately, unlike Queen Elizabeth or the US President, you don’t have someone whispering into your ear the name of the person approaching you and/or a small tidbit about the person. So here are a few tips on how to remember names:

When you first meet people and realize that they are going to become regular customers you should (if you haven’t already) find out their names and find associations so that you will remember the names the next time you see them.

Ask the person their name and if you don’t get it when they say it ask them to repeat it.That way you have heard it twice and are more likely to remember it. If you can think of an image that goes with the name, connect the person with someone you already know by that name or someone famous with the same name.

There is a reason why teachers put their name up on the board in school, seeing the name written out allows you to picture the letters in your mind, which makes it easier to remember the name next time you see it.

Keep working on associating people with the additional information you get from them, Remember that most people like to talk about themselves so you should be able to find an association that will help your memory.

If you can’t remember someone’s name, apologize and ask them to tell you again. The fact that you want to know will make them feel good and increase your sales at the same time.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

It's All About Connection
10 June, 2016

Last week I attended the groundbreaking for Sonoma State University’s new Wine Spectator Learning Center for the Wine Business Institute. At the groundbreaking, Bill Silver, the Dean of the School of Business & Economics for SSU gave a great speech.

He talked about raising money for the new building and how, after some phone conversations, he went to New York to meet with Marvin Shanken, owner of the Wine Spectator, to talk about a donation for this new project.

Before his trip he called his parents in Connecticut and told them he was coming to New York. His mother asked what he was doing in New York and he told her about the new building and that he was meeting with a man named Marvin Shanken. To which his mother replied that she went to school with Marvin Shanken. It turns out that Mr. Shanken and Dr. Silver come from the same hometown and both sets of parents owned retail businesses in the town.

In their subsequent meeting Bill told Marvin about their joint heritage, Marvin asked for Bill’s phone and called Bill’s mother to chat with her. Once off the phone, Marvin looked up and said, “Well, I guess we are doing this.” And so, Sonoma State kicked off their fundraising with a three million dollar donation from Mr. Shanken and the Wine Spectator.

The building of the Learning Center for the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State is a great boon for the whole wine industry, as students come from near and far to learn more about the business of wine. It is possible, perhaps even probable, that Mr. & Mrs. Shanken would have donated to the fund anyway. Though the connection between the two families made the whole transaction simpler and quicker.

The point here is to create connection with your customers, employees and co-workers. Having a personal connection oils the wheels of philanthropy and commerce. People are more likely to do business with and buy from people with whom they feel a connection. So, create as many small connections with your customers as you can.

I am proud to say that my connection with SSU is that I teach classes for the Wine Business Institute. It’s a great place.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Wine and Beer Market is Thriving Everywhere
03 June, 2016

I just came back from a month in the UK, traveling, visiting family and socializing in the pubs. It was pleasing to see the amount of wine being consumed by women and men alike. While beer is still very popular (I admit being a big fan of English beer and took advantage of the option to drink beer during my stay) wine is being consumed much more frequently. Not only in the pubs but in most restaurants you will usually see a bottle or two of wine on the table.

U.S. wines were in short supply, in fact in most places there were at most one or two on a good sized wine list. There was however a large variety of wines from all over Europe, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Even in the small village of Uppermill (approximate population 3,000) where I was staying there was a lovely wine shop, The Wine Vault, tucked away in the basement of an old building. The shop carried a large selection of wines. The ones we chose, with help from the attentive staff were very good.

I was also able to sample some of the British sparkling wine, which I have been wanting to do. I was very impressed with the ones we chose. The wine is winning awards in Europe and the wine industry in Britain is growing.

The craft beer movement is big all over Britain as it is in the U.S. and we were able to sample some delicious, local craft beers wherever we went.

Upon returning to the U.S. we found that a new supermarket had opened in the small town in which I live. It has incorporated a tavern with about eight craft beers on tape as well as wine and cider by the bottle or by the glass. So after you have finished your shopping you can pop along to the tavern for a glass. They also serve food or you can buy food in the store and bring it into the tavern. What a great concept. It was a delight to go in there on Sunday afternoon with some friends. It certainly makes grocery shopping more fun.

I am happy to see wine and beer being incorporated into more areas of our lives and more places for the small purveyors to sell their products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Does D.T.C. Mean?
27 May, 2016

The acronym D.T.C. (direct to consumer) is ubiquitous these days. It’s hard to read anything about marketing or business without the words D.T.C. being a big part of it. In order to sell your product directly to consumers successfully, D.T.C. needs to mean a lot of other things to your business, to your staff and to the way you do business.


When you are creating marketing or sales messages, Devise Transparent Content. Make the messages easy and quick to understand. If you are creating a billboard to bring people into your business, you have 2 seconds to let them know where to go and why.

According to, a marketing software company, 55% of people spend less than 15 seconds on your website. Not only that but consumers (including you) are subjected to hundreds of ads and company messages every day. Time is of the essence so make your messages stand out.


When we are talking about the products you sell and how you are going to sell them, through D.T.C. channels, think Determine Targeted Channels. In other words, know how you are going to sell your product and to whom you are going to sell them. Know which channels will work best for you, the ones important to the audience you wish to attract.


How should you be treating your customers and visitors? In this instance D.T.C. may be translated to mean Develop Treasured Customers. If you want to be truly successful selling through D.T.C. channels, focus on your customers, what they need, desire and expect from you. Make them feel as if they are your most important asset because they are.


Finally what is the return on your D.T.C. investment? If you are doing most things right, it could mean Dedication (or Diligence) Turns to Cash. When consumers understand that you are trying to make their life better by bringing them great products sold in a cheerful and pleasant atmosphere, you are well on your way to Doubling The Coffers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Are Your Employees Saying to Customers?
20 May, 2016

I was in Target the other day looking for something or other and decided that I also needed some sparkling water. So I slogged all the way over to the other side of the store. (Are they making Target stores bigger these days? This one was absolutely enormous.)

When I got to the sparkling water the sections of shelf that held the flavors that I wanted, either lemon or lime, were completely empty. My only option was Watermelon Lime, which didn’t appeal to me. A Target employee (easily visible in his red shirt) was further up the aisle stacking the shelf so I strolled over to ask him if they had any more of the lemon or lime sparkling water. He walked back with me to look at the shelf. The area where the lemon sparkling water should have been had a grey dot over the tag. He said that meant they didn’t have any more in stock. The lime just had the tag so he didn’t know whether they had any or not.

I asked when they would be getting more in and was told (politely) that he didn’t know. He then said, “But you can come back and check another time.” To which I replied with a smile, “Or I could get it from somewhere else.” He agreed with me and I left.

The employee was polite and trying to be helpful and I do not blame him, he may not have been taught to say anything different. The store’s training perhaps does not cover the topics of empty shelves, when and how deliveries come in and what a customer should do (besides making another trip) to get the product s/he wants.

Imagine if employees in your retail business were telling customers that you didn’t have the product you wanted so they should come back another time (without any idea whether or not the product would be available then).

Before the busiest times of the year are upon us, institute some training programs for your employees, ensuring that they know what to say to the customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Top Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
13 May, 2016

I came across an interesting article in Business Dictionary, about three weeks ago, that talked about the top four traits of successful entrepreneurs. As most small retailers are entrepreneurs I thought the article (with my own comments added, of course) would make an interesting reading. So whether you are or want to be an entrepreneur, this article offers some good ideas.

Becoming an entrepreneur takes a specific type of personality, though, according to the article, it includes traits that can be developed.

ONE:  As an entrepreneur you need to be a problem solver who can look at problems as an opportunity. If you can solve your customers as well as your employees problems, or learn how to understand their wants, needs and desires, you can provide solutions that will make people happy and make you successful and profitable.

TWO:  An entrepreneur takes calculated risks. The article reminds us that risk-averse people do not, as a rule, make very good entrepreneurs, though on the other hand neither do reckless people who leap first and look later. To be a successful entrepreneur you need to evaluate and minimize risk.

Also, entrepreneurs need to learn from their mistakes and then move on. It doesn’t help to waste time on what ifs. Analyze what went wrong and go forward.

THREE: An entrepreneur is self-motivated. It’s about getting done what has to be done, even though you may not like some of those tasks. In fact get the tasks you don’t like done first. You also have to be constantly looking forward, creating plausible plans to create more opportunities and ways to succeed.

FOUR:  An entrepreneur is confident. Fear can make you back away from projects that could be ultimately successful. If you aren’t confident you will have a harder time getting others to see the value in your business, service or products.

I have added a fifth rule to this group of four and that is: surround yourself with people who have entrepreneurial tendencies. People who, while they don’t have their business, are creative and understand the need to innovate to move forward.

Keep growing your entrepreneurial spirit.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Putting Into Practice Influencing Tactics
06 May, 2016

The past two blogs have been all about the tactics of Professor Robert Cialdini, described in his book “The Psychology of Persuasion.” The first two weeks were mostly about theWhat, describing the tactics with a little of how to use them. This week, the last week on this topic, I am going to write further on the How of these tactics and how they can help you in your job.

We are all in sales in some way or another and it starts at an early age. I have been in the supermarket many times and overheard small children presenting very cogent arguments as to why their mothers or fathers should buy them whatever it is that they wanted at that minute.

During our day there are many times when we want or need to persuade people to comply with something we want from them. Though it’s not about being manipulative, it’s about being open and using these tools for everyone’s advantage.

In order to use these tactics you have to know your objectives. What you want to accomplish and what does being successful in this area mean to you, your customers and your bosses? What can you use that will accomplish your goals?

Think again about what you can do to create involvement with your customer. What can you give them to make them feel special. If you are dealing with customers you have worked with before, remind them of a past interaction when you were able to help them. If it’s a new customer, give them something they are not expecting that will please them.

Are you in sales? If so, your best trait is a genuine interest in the customers you are talking to, rather than your product. Plan to spend more of the conversation talking about them and less talking about the product. Although it seems counter-intuitive, it will result in more sales. The caveat is that if you are getting a lot of one word or short answers, change your tactic. In this case they may want to know about the product. Though most people like to be asked questions.

Work on your listening and communication skills. Be yourself and act naturally. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Following Cialdini’s Science of Persuasion
29 April, 2016

Last week we talked about Robert Cialdini and the first two principles of influence, especially as they relate to sales. Last week we talked about Reciprocation and Consistency. This week we continue with the final four.

Social Proof

Social proof is the third of the six influencers. Basically it means that we are influenced by people we deem to be similar to ourselves. If a group of people is buying wine in a tasting room there is a greater chance that others in the room will do the same. The subconscious of the visitors persuades them that if other people are doing something that they should do it, too. That’s why, when someone is buying wine, if you can, put the bottles on the bar where they can be seen during the transaction. Then they are bagged or boxed and handed to the purchaser.


Most people will follow the lead of those who are seen to be authoritative in their positions. If you watch advertising for medical or pharmaceutical products you will often see a doctor as a spokesperson for these products. In today’s society people have been trained to listen to doctors and to assume they know what they are talking about.

Giving visitors information that they can take home and impress their friends with will make it easier to sell your products to them. As the salesperson you are the expert. Your job is to pass along some of that expertise to make your customers feel that they have some expertise. Use language that is easy to understand and make the information interesting or your will lose your audience to glazed eye syndrome.


As well as being influenced by authority, customers are also more likely to be influenced by people they like. If they like you, the salesperson, they are more likely to buy. So the key is while you are the expert be a nice expert and make them feel good about what they know or what they are learning.


There is much more chance of your customers wanting what they cannot have if they wait. Scarcity will make people buy, which is why it is used regularly in advertising.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

How Persuasive Are You?
22 April, 2016

I have been reading Robert Cialdini’s six influence tactics again. The 6 principles something remind me of how important the science of persuasion is.

Cialdini is best known for his book “The Psychology of Persuasion,” published in 1984. He is a Professor Emeritus in Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and was a visiting professor of marketing, business and psychology at Stanford. He knows his stuff.

The six principles that Cialdini outlined can be of great help in all parts of our life. In this blog we are focused on helping our customers make decision to purchase. We do this by using tactics that tap into common behaviors that work on us, not only consciously but subconsciously as well.

We think we know what’s going on in our brain, but mostly we are clueless. Our brain has a life of its own. Plus we don’t have the bandwidth to take in everything that is going on around us consciously, so a lot of it goes directly to our subconscious and many of our actions are performed without much conscious thought.  Have you ever been walking along and suddenly realized you have no idea how you got there?  Well, your subconscious has been busy keeping you on the right path.

The six principles that Cialdini coalesced are:

Reciprocity • Consistency • Social Proof • Authority • Liking • Scarcity.

In today’s blog I am going to discuss the first two, finishing up next week with the last three.


If someone does something nice for you, you are going to want to do something for them in return. When we offer something extra to someone, something they weren’t expecting but something they will appreciate for any number of reasons, they usually feel obliged to do something for you. For example in a winery tasting room you give your visitors a taste of something they don’t expect or treat them to a walk around the cellar or a small piece of chocolate with a wine.

You have done something extra for them and they will do something for you, i.e. buy something.

Consistency or commitment:

Most of us in the sales world know that if you can get people to say yes, you can keep them in a consistent frame of mind. In winery tasting rooms you can try the wines before you buy them and therefore up the odds of making a sale.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

More on Making Your Emails Count
16 April, 2016

Last week we talked about emails and how to make them more effective. We covered in more detail when to send emails. Today we have a few more tips.

Getting Attention: When you send an email, the first thing your customers see on the left hand side is the name of the company or person who sent the email. So why is it that I am still getting emails from companies whose company name is shown on the left hand side and who then repeat the name of the company in the subject line? You are wasting valuable real estate and your best chance of getting readers engaged.

Segmentation: Most businesses have lots of people on their email lists, but they send the same email to everyone. Segment your emails to fit the different categories of customers. Look at how much the customers buy, how often, when and what. Take the top ten or twenty percent of your customers, those who support your business regularly, and send them a different email than the customers who purchase from you occasionally. The email to occasional customers should encourage them to visit you more often and give them reasons to do so.

Personality: Each business has a personality, as do the people in the business. Bring out your personality in your emails. If people are used to having fun when they visit you, add some fun into your emails too. Let your customers see the real you (unless you really are a grump, then let someone else write the email).

Stories: Are you telling stories in your emails? Short stories can captivate visitors. Stories are entertaining and will increase sales. Mention something that happened in the business, for example how you were able to solve a customer’s problem or meet a need. There are lots of different ways to make your emails more enjoyable and interesting for your customers. So don’t stay with the same old thing. Take a step forward.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Encouraging Recipients To Read Your Emails
08 April, 2016

When we send an email from our business, we often times assume that many more people read the email than the number that actually does. For example, if we have an email list of 1,000 people and the open rate is around 20% that means that approximately 200 people out of the 1,000 see your offer. Even less then click through to your site and even less actually buy from you because of that email.

When you send an email to your customers, you are among the scores of emails that these people may get that day. In my seminars I ask my audience, “How many of you don’t get enough emails every day?” No hands ever go up. Your customers are in the same position, too many emails and not enough time.

How do you increase the number of people who actually read your emails?

Most people don’t spend a lot of time deciding whether to open an email, in fact the decision to open or not open an email takes about 2 seconds. So what they can see in the inbox display is very important.

Your customers are busy with their own lives and work. So send your emails at off times. Emails that come during the middle of the work day are not as likely to be opened and read if they come earlier or later in the day. The decision is usually based on a few things they can see immediately.

  • The date and time the email was sent, if it’s sent in the middle of the night it’s probably a large group email.
  • Who sent it? Is it a business or person that the reader knows?
  • What is the subject line? Does it sound interesting, important or valuable?
  • Is the salutation personalized?
  • If you can see the teaser or first line of the email, does it engage you?

All these things play a part of whether or not your customers are going to open your emails. So you need to make these first impressions count.

There will be more on emails next week.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

This & That
01 April, 2016

This week I am tidying up some loose ends. After last week’s blog about Spring, I have decided that I will not being going into the weather forecasting business for a while. For those of you in The Rockies and in the Midwest, my notes in last week’s blog about the coming of Spring were, as it turns out, a little premature what with the snowstorms that rolled through last week. Hope the weather has cheered up some and it is starting to look more like Spring.

In other news, the Wine Marketing Council restated their results on the amount of wine Millennials are buying and drinking. While the Millennials are still great supporters of wine (and thank you for that) Boomers are drinking and purchasing more wine. It is obvious that times are changing but for the moment Boomers are still your biggest audience. It will be interesting to see what happens next year as Millennials are closing the gap.

Speaking of Millennials, Nielsen has some interesting information about Millennials and their media habits, which Nielsen calls “different and distinct.” They divide the Millennials (18 -34 year old) into three groups:

  • Dependent Adults (living in someone else’s home)
  • On Their Own (living in their own home without children)
  • Starting a Family (living in their own home with children)

When it comes to technology, 78% of “On Their Own” Millennials have subscriptions based video on-demand services such as Netflix or Hulu, which Nielsen says is 14 percentage points higher than “Dependent Adults” and 20 percentage points higher than “Starting a Family” Millennials.

Radio seems to work for Millennials in all stages; according to Nielsen, radio reaches 90% of Millennials who are Dependent Adults and 89% of the On Their Own group. The numbers rise to 92% for the Starting a Family group. Nielsen also noted that the Starting a Family group contains a higher percentage of Hispanics, who tend to be heavy users of radio.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Welcome to Spring!
27 March, 2016

After a hard winter in many parts of the country, I am sure that we are all ready for some spring weather. Spring is also the time of renewed energy as we see the grass and plants growing and possibly the sun shining for the first time in a while.

While we are full of the joys of spring and ready to say goodbye to a hard winter, it’s a good time to take a serious look around your retail space and see what is in need of some sprucing up after the winter. Come into your business the way your customers would and try to look at the space as if for the first time.

Is it time for a little paint, a really good spring clean or a re-organization of displays or furniture? Changing something physically can give you new ideas and bring the focus to different types of products. Take some time to move and/or change the displays and add new displays that reflect the season.

Spring is also a good time to look at your systems and see how they are working. Are there are new ways of customer service or sales that you want to present to your staff? This is the time to do it, as most of us feel the pull of spring and are more receptive to change. Make sure that your goals for the year are written down, discuss them with staff and get their buy-in. In short, lay the groundwork to ensure a really good year.

Take advantage of the energy of spring to update, upgrade or spruce up your retail space, encourage your staff to come up with new ideas to improve the business. Access the renewed energy that spring brings to enhance your business over the coming year.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Pricing Your Products
18 March, 2016

For a long time I have been fascinated by wine pricing. I have noticed when I speak to wineries that many times I am told that their wine is reasonably priced. Reasonable is one of those words that mean different things to different people. Though, if you want to be successful, you have to make sure that you and your target audience share a common view as to what is reasonable, whether it’s $9.95, $89.50 or S299.

While I was researching this topic, I came across an article called “Different Types of Pricing Strategy” by Leigh Richards of Demand Marketing. The article goes considers the different types of pricing.

Let’s start with Premium Pricing, which according to Ms. Richards is establishing a price that is higher than the pricing of competitors. Premium Pricing can be an effective strategy if your product can be differentiated from others, and you have the ability to get your message out of consumers who would make up your target audience.

Another way is through a strategy of Penetration Pricing, where the company acquires market share by coming into the market with a lower price in order to raise awareness and encourage people to try the product. This will get consumers to try the product and help with generation awareness.

There is also Psychological Pricing, which creates in the mind of the customers an idea that a price is lower. For instance, as Ms. Richards says, $99 is psychologically “less” in the minds of consumers than $100. Even though we are only talking about a dollar difference, it is a minor distinction that can make a big difference.

Next time you are thinking about pricing products, start by asking yourself a few questions, including:

  1. Who is my target audience? Then describe the perfect customers.
  2. What are the customers willing to pay for the product?

Pricing needs to be considered very seriously, as it affects whether you are or are not successful. Once you have decided on your pricing, it’s time to start writing a list of reasons why your product is worth what you are asking for it. Give this list of reasons to everyone who sells your products and ask them why they think your product is worth what you are charging. That way, they will be able to tell the customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Design Your Customer Experience – Part 2
11 March, 2016

So how do you ensure that your customer interface is superior? By focusing on superior customer service. Not only do the people who interact with customers have to be aware of the need for friendly and helpful interactions with each and every customer, but owners and managers need to develop the infrastructure and provide the resources needed for these superior interactions to take place.

Through promotion you present the messaging that reminds customers of the superior service they receive every time they interact with your business, whether that interaction is in person, over the phone, or by electronic media, internet, email and social media.

What you should be doing with each interaction is creating that emotional bond with the customer or potential customer. The emotional bond is a powerful differentiator that, while it is difficult to do well, has long-term positive effects when it is done well.

To differentiate your business from others through this strategy you must know your customers. Who are your current customers and what has engaged them and created loyalty to your business in them. You must know what is important to them, their individual values, aspirations and social interests. You have to put the time in to know them as individuals. What are your brand values and can or will your customers respond to them. What do your customers hold dear? Do their interested an passions coincide with yours. It could be the environment, family, lifestyle, social- responsiveness or other things.

One of the ways to do this is to find out more about your customers by asking them questions and paying attention to the answers. After your have the answers, segment your customer records by these things that are important to them, what they want. You cannot build anything but a generic experience with the one-size or brand-fits-all approach to your customers.  They are not all alike and neither do they want to be dumped into a collective box.

You can measure the success by the customers’ ability to brag about the experience. You know you are doing well when customers talk about how they were treated and being the first one of their friends to know about the business and recommend it to others. Remember that when people brag about your products or business, it’s not about you, it is about them, how cool they are, how smart and how sophisticated for choosing your products and your business.

So give some thought about what you can do to encourage everyone in your business to aspire to create the best customer experience they can. Help your employees do this by giving the resources, encouragement and backing to do so. 

Design Your Customer Experience
04 March, 2016

I have been doing a lot of research lately in the customer experience and found that more than ever the experience is what differentiates our companies and our products from our competitors.

The first question to be answered is why the customer experience is so important. The fact is that the customer or user experience is the single most important differentiator and critical in today’s marketplace. There are many differentiators but as industries mature they become less important than customer service and the user experience. Your brands differentiation strategy should change and evolve as the market matures and competition intensifies.

Taking a look at some of the differentiators that have been used:

Product differentiation: This differentiation is not sustainable in many industries as the changes and improvements in product come along so quickly that your competitors can quickly outpace your abilities to change. And as quickly as it came your advantage disappears.

Price differentiation: You can be the lowest price, but that can destroy profitability and if another company comes along with even lower prices (think K-Mart vs WalMart) you are in an unsustainable battle.

The high priced differentiator of the luxury or ultra premium brands takes a large marketing and promotional budget to establish and cuts the size of your market quite drastically.

In addition, and most importantly, the majority of customers say they would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience. I am definitely one of those people.

Your customers have higher expectations of service than they used to and when they don’t have a good experience they do not go quietly, instead they turn to social media to give voice to the frustrations to a wide variety of people. Research has shown that more than a quarter of customers who have bad experience post their experiences of social media.

If you are not already focused on providing the best experience, now is a great time to shift you focus to a customer experience model by making the experience you provide personal and individual.

More about the customer experience in next week’s blog.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Getting the Most Out of Your Email
26 February, 2016

I came across some great information on using email to its best advantage, a report that was sponsored by Act-On. The overview of the report, which featured 16 marketing experts providing advice on the best use of email, caught my attention. It reminded me, that direct marketing is a consistent winner but somewhat costly, while social and mobile media are full of tricks though you can get tripped up sometimes. However, the report called email the “marketing’s work horse” – always dependable, it supports and connects other channels, it is cost effective and continually evolving.

There are however some pitfalls, which can be overcome if you know what you are doing. In this week’s blog I have picked out what I consider to be some of the most important tips from these experts.

  1. Shooting out email blasts to customers without taking into consideration specific needs and preference only contributes to disengagement. Create emails that are tailored and personalized as much as possible.
  1. Test email designs, frequency and subject lines on multiple devices to make sure that your emails appear on most people’s computers as you would like them to.
  1. Make sure that your audience is receptive to receiving and reading your emails. Know who is and isn’t opening your emails and/or clicking through to your website or ordering site. Sometimes other channels, social media or direct mail are more effective.
  1. Take steps to make sure that the email addresses on your list of customers is up to date to reduce the list of bounce backs. Track bounce backs and update addresses.
  1. Research has found that, when combined with other channels, e.g. social media or direct mail, email can generate response rates up 1.5 to 3.8 times higher than one channel alone.
  1. To stick out on email you must deliver value with a painless customer experience.

It’s not just a matter of sending out emails, it’s knowing your audience. Who are you sending to and what do they want? Would your customers prefer to be contacted by email alone or should you employ a multi-track approach? How effective are are your emails relative to open, click through or buying rates? How long is the impact of your emails (i.e. for how long after an email is sent do you get response or orders?)

Lots to think about, but if you do it right, email can work well and increase your business.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Guerrilla Marketing
19 February, 2016

Using guerrilla marketing, which is low cost, innovative and somewhat unconventional marketing techniques that are a great way to obtain maximum exposure for a product or company, can work well for companies that do not have a lot of money for traditional advertising and marketing.

Okay, there is a trade off and that trade off is time. It’s not just placing an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine or running an ad on the radio and waiting for the people to come rushing through your doors. It is a different approach that will garner attention. The upside is that the tools at your fingertips these days (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) make it easier for small business to create a presence in the minds of consumers.

Guerrilla Marketing has been going for a long time. For example in the early 1900s PT Barnum was hired to walk a herd of elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge when it opened to prove to people that the bridge was sturdy enough. It worked. People and cars are still crossing the Brooklyn Bridge today. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream used guerrilla marketing very successfully to fight off a threat to their ability to distribute their product from a major competitor. There are also more expensive examples of guerrilla marketing, such as the Goodyear Blimp and the Oscar Meyer wiener-mobile. When you see either of those icons, you immediately know who the company is and what they products are.

Today videos can be particularly effective in promoting your product and company without breaking the bank. The wine industry uses videos well. Check out the short Paso Man videos from the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance or the video take off of popular songs from Jordan Winery in Sonoma County. There are many more examples. Social media and postcards are other ways to take advantage of guerrilla marketing to make a name for yourself.

Take time for some creative thinking with your staff, friends and family. Don’t rule anything out to start with, take all ideas and see what can come from them.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Running a Family Business
12 February, 2016

If you are in a family business – Come to DC February 17 & 18 for US Bev Expo where I will be moderating two sessions on Surviving a Family Business with speakers who have the professional background and personal experience in the ups and downs of family business.

Being a part of a family business presents unique challenges as well as positive opportunities. Maintaining the balance between the wants and needs of the family (or friends) and the needs of the business can leave everyone walking a tightrope.

Whether you are in the midst of running a business with family and friends or just thinking about it, there are some things you need to be aware of.

Understand each family member as they are today

Sometimes it hard to see our parents, children or siblings as the individuals they are today rather than the people they were in the past. Parents and older siblings should remember that their younger siblings or children are now adults with new ideas and opinions. Children and younger siblings should see their elders as having a great deal of experience and knowledge. Even if you don’t agree it’s important to listen. There are always going to be differences between generations. Listening with an open mind to new ideas and traditional ways of doing business is helpful.

Keep business decision-making within the members of the family involved in the business

It helps if family members or in-laws not involved in the business do not try to exert influence over those that are. While everyone has the right to an opinion, that doesn’t mean that those opinions should always be expressed. Leave the decision making to those who are primarily involved.

Divide up family time and professional time

If you are having a family dinner, that is not the time to talk about business, it’s time for the family. Keep business discussions to the workday.

Suit the job to fit the person

Define the roles and fit the family members to the positions to which they are best suited and have the experience for. Many family businesses have policies that mandate that anyone coming into the family business has experience working at other businesses first.

Non-related employees vs family employees

Members of the family filling positions within the company should be subject to the same rules as non-family employees.

For more information on family businesses, join me in Washington DC, February 17 & 18 for US Bev X where I will be presenting two seminars on surviving a family business. 

For information check out

See you there!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Mission Possible
05 February, 2016

According to Business Dictionary, a mission statement is

“A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.”

How long has it been since you have looked at your mission statement and compared it to where you are in the business and if you are still on track? Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked from your original purpose as your business grows and you add new things.

Or you may have found new opportunities and your business has changed its focus. If that is the case it’s time to update your mission statement. Or you may also find that you are, perhaps, focusing on things that aren’t the most important to your business.

Additionally, by paying attention to point two, you can assess your market strategies and tactics. Lots of opportunities come along throughout the year by being aware of which markets you serve and how they need to be served will allow you to take advantages of those that are a good fit and ignore those that aren’t.

Most importantly, is everyone who works in the business aware of the mission statement and what their focus needs to be to work to fulfilling the mission you have set forth? When all employees are clear on what needs to be done, the chances are much greater that the objectives will be reached.

We have talked about the business mission statement, and what about your personal mission statement? Do you have one?

A personal mission statement may help balance your life if you have responsibilities in different areas. So think about a personal mission that may help you bring order to an overly busy life.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Motivating Staff
29 January, 2016

Whether you are a manager or would like to move up into management someday, one of the most important things you need to know is what motivates your staff. It also helps if you know what motivates you.

It is most commonly believed that employees are motivated by money and while money can be and is used successfully to motivate employees it’s certainly not the only way to motivate and for many employees not even the most important one.

Some years ago there was an interesting article in Inc. magazine entitled “Managing One-to-One” by Leigh Buchanan.  In this article, she begins by saying,

“Operating under the premise that no two workers are alike, companies that are practicing one-to-one management are figuring out what makes each of their employees tick. And that, the employees say, makes all the difference.”

 It has been proven that in just about any business employees, especially those who regularly interact with the customers, are critical to the success of the company. If employees are treated as valuable assets and managers take the time to get to know their employees’ goals and aspirations, it helps the manager motivate and appreciate the employees individually. In turn employees who feel appreciated will treat customers well.

Understanding each person as an individual allows managers to create personal goals and rewards for each employee depending on their (the employees) wants and needs. Additionally, employees who are treated as individually are much more likely to treat customers in the same way.

Creating this kind of an environment in your company can take time and some thought, but the time you put in can reap great reward. Your business will flow more smoothly and with less friction, which can mean employee longevity resulting in less time spent hiring and training new people to join the team.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Using Emotion to Promote Products
15 January, 2016

Many times the ads that we see on television, in magazines or on websites or social media focus too much on the features of the product rather than on the emotional components of the benefits of the products.

When you are advertising your products, are you reminding your customers and potential customers of the positive emotional benefits? For example, will buying the product bring your audience pleasure? Will it help them in any way or make their lives easier?

Advertising or marketing to consumers’ emotions can be powerful and effective. The audience becomes more motivated to purchase when their emotions are involved in the process. As human beings we buy because we feel, rather than because we think. Though the intellectual part of the brain has to be engaged, it only comes into play after you have involved the part of the brain that controls the emotions.

Understand what it is that your customers and potential customers want, need and desire and how using your product can meet these needs and desires. Make a list of how your products can make customers look better, feel better, be more sophisticated, give them more confidence or fulfill any other wish they may have.

Consumers buying wine, for example, may want to know how to pair wine and food in order to put together a successful dinner party for their friends. They may wish to know some less well-known facts in order to impress their friends with their knowledge. It has been proved through research that restaurants that play classical music are likely to sell more wine as the combination of the music and the wine make consumers feel more sophisticated or worldly. While you may be giving them facts, the reason behind the need for the facts is emotional.

So before you plan your next social media post, print advertisement or email for your customers and potential customers think about how you can attract emotionally - as people may not remember what you said but will remember how you made them feel.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

It’s Conference Season!
08 January, 2016

The holidays are behind us and another year, with all it promises, is ahead of us to shape and do with what we will. Or perhaps this year will lead us into things we never thought were possible.

The first quarter of 2016 brings us conference and trade show season, which is starting very quickly this year. It’s the time to pick up new ideas and new ways to operate and manage a business.

This year my travels start in Knoxville Tennessee, February 11 – 13. Then it’s onto Washington, DC for the US Bev X, February 16-18. This is a new show and I am looking forward to it as I have put together two sessions as part of, what will eventually become a one day conference on Surviving a Family Business, The two sessions focus on the skills needed to operate a successful, single or multi-generational family business.

On Wednesday, February 17, Max & Teresa McFarland, a psychologist and educator respectively, who also own a family winery with their two sons, will speak on the challenges and opportunities for owners, family members and non-family employees. This workshop provides insight on managing those workplace dynamics including shared collaboration and shared responsibilities. In addition, you get practical, real-world advice on managing family members, building intra-personal skills, and creating functional teams.

Thursday, February 18, it’s Terry Taylor’s tour – he is a psychologist and president ofGlobal Genesis, a family owned consulting business that specializes in high-performance teamwork, and corporate training around the world. Terry will tackle some of the integral challenges of combining family and employees, with an emphasis on negotiation and conflict resolution, understand long-term goals, succession, and awareness of possible obstacles as you go forward with future generations of family members and employees.

I look forward to seeing you at the conferences!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Let’s Start a Wine Club!
21 December, 2015

Over the years, it seems that everyone is getting into the wine club business. A friend of mine just received a flyer from Southwest Airlines. The company has partnered (it would seem) with an online wine club and is encouraging him to join. He can get “12 top estate wines for only $69.99…a gift of three very highly rated bottles ($47.97) value and 2,000 Rapids Rewards points,” The Reward Points will be added to his Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account. If my friend stays as a member of the club he will receive a case of wine every three months and have an additional 1000 miles added to his Southwest Rapid Rewards card for each shipment he takes.

This is one more way for airlines and others to make having their loyalty cards even more rewarding. In addition of Southwest offer through Laithwaites, there is a Virgin Wine Club, were purchasers are also rewarded with air miles, the Wall Street Journal Wine Club and many, many more. There are many magazines that also run wine clubs, including Sunset, Rolling Stone, Touring & Tasting, The Nation and many more.

Consumers have lots of choices when it comes to wine clubs and the big companies have a lot more money to advertise and promote their clubs than you do. Take an hour and get on the internet to check out what they are offering to promote their wine clubs. You may come up with some new ideas to promote your clubs, offers, and benefits.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Are You Actually Selling?
11 December, 2015

It’s easy to think that in any type of retail business, salespeople are there to sell the product… but that is the last part of the sell. Before you can sell the product you have to sell yourself and you should be selling the concept of how your product will make the customer’s life a little bit better, easier or more enjoyable.

Before you meet any customers, put yourself in their shoes. Know generally who they are and what they are looking for. Your customers have a wide choice of products and no shortage of businesses to buy them from, so unless your product is truly unique (you are the only company in the world that is making this product) you are not the only place in the area where they can buy it. It’s up to you to make sure that you are the one they buy from.

At the beginning of your interaction with the customer, you should focus on the customer and what s/he wants, needs and desires. Keep in mind that each customer is an individual, with their own way of looking at the world and your products. Start by asking questions to ascertain what this customer is looking for. Did they come into your retail room because they already know and like your product, because someone told them about the business or just by happenstance? Having this information will give you insight into their level of interest in the company and the products and the approaches you should take to increase their interest.

Continue to ask questions that will give you the information as to their familiarity with the product in general and your company and products in particular. Showing interest in and enthusiasm for the customers makes it easier for them to like you and enjoy the interaction.

As you chat, bring information about the products into the conversation, in a relaxed way, without overwhelming the customer with too many facts. Give them something amusing or intriguing to remember about the product, so they will tell their friends about it next time they all get together.

Making the sale is easy if your focus is the customer rather than the product.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Up Your Customer Service
04 December, 2015

Not only are the holidays full of warmth, family, celebration and good feelings, they are also stressful, frustrating and, of course, there is not enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

For those of us in service industries and retail sales, it’s time to up our customer service to mega levels as the customers we are dealing with may have less patience than usual. With the holidays comes more to do and less time to do it in, longer lines and harder times getting parking spaces. Plus trying to find that perfect gift for Uncle Fred, when the shopper has no clue what Uncle Fred would like.

Every morning before you throw open the doors to greet the customers, take two or three deep breaths and practice smiling. Warm, sincere smiles that will let your customers know that you are happy to see them and ready to help them no matter what they need. The hard part is not the first couple of hours but keeping that smile in place through the entire day, regardless of what comes your way.

The last few weeks before the holidays are a great time to offer something extra for your customers. Offer a small cookie, piece of candy, a packet of nuts or a piece of fruit, as many of your customers may not have had time to eat. Low blood sugar and hunger can make people a bit crabby. Make sure, too, that you take time to eat.

Be aware of what is going on around you, so you may offer your assistance before someone asks for it. And be ready to commiserate when a customer tells you how hard getting everything done at the holidays are.  Think about how you are feeling when you are running around trying to get everything done.

In short, be your most cheerful self and let your customers know that you are there to make their lives just a little bit easier. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially when you are also trying to figure out how to get everything you have to do done.

Remember to take those deep breaths and make sure you get your breaks. Having ten minutes away from the crowds makes a big difference.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Email Fatigue – The Curse of the Modern Age
28 November, 2015

I just downloaded from Direct Marketing News their 2015 Essential Guide to Email Marketing, which popped into my email box today. It has some great articles in it, including an article by Perry Simpson, 7 Ways to Use Email to Combat Email Disengagement.

The subhead to this article: “Email is as popular as ever but so are feelings of email fatigue…”  Think about this – how many of us are getting so many emails that we are overwhelmed by email fatigue? Perhaps our customers feel that way too. There is at least one company that I have done business with in the past that emails me every day. I no longer read their emails at all, because it’s too much for me, so they go, unread, into the trash.

In his article Mr. Simpson list seven ways to combat the phenomenon of email fatigue including getting to the root cause of why your email recipients are no longer interested. He quotes Kara Trivunovic at Epsilon who says, “It’s important to determine the disconnect and adjust your reengagement strategy accordingly.” Ms. Trivunovic suggests, “surveying customers to learn firsthand why they aren’t engaging with you.” She continues by saying that you may want to ask your customers questions, such as “Are we getting it right? Or “What would you like to see from us?”  Not only are these good questions, they are subject lines that would be likely to get people to open those emails.

The information you will get back from putting the time in to find out what your customers want will give you a more in-depth understanding of the needs, wants and desires, as well as better content for future emails to meet those needs.

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I am a big fan of surveying customers to find out what they want. Remember – your business is important to them, that’s why they gave you their email address to begin with. So make them just as important to you by kick-starting the relationship part of Customer Relationship Management. Find out what they want from you and how you as a company can be more relevant to them. Create a real relationship. With your customers.

This is a great article and I will be bringing you more of it in future blogs.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are Your Social Media Posts Hurting Your Business?
20 November, 2015

There are lots of examples of people using social media to say or do things that it would be better if they didn’t. It is common now to hear of some celebrity tweeting their opinion on some topic that they have to explain later. Very recently I saw on the news a clip of a young woman, using the social media app Periscope, to broadcast herself driving while very drunk. I was reminded that we should think long and hard before we put anything out on social media for our business.

It is even more important on a business account that puts up posts that are born from frustration. I recently came across one of these and am sharing some excerpts from the post. I have taken out any reference to the type of business, name or location, even though this was posted on the business Facebook page.

“…We are extremely proud on what we do. And yes, we get it… (our products) are not for everyone. Understand our (business) for what it is – not what you think it should be… stop making us regret our decision to stay true to what (our business) means to us.”

Berating your possible customers on an open site for everyone to read it not a great way to encourage people to visit your place of business. I know owning a retail business can be frustrating sometimes and yes there are times that we would like to tell people exactly what we are thinking, but it is very rarely a good idea.

What you do on your own private social media accounts is up to you. Though, if you are using a business account, it’s good to keep your personal opinions – especially your opinions on politics, religion or other possibly incendiary topics – to yourself.

What goes up on your business’ social media accounts is a reflection of you and your business. It’s hard enough to gain customers without losing them because of differing viewpoints that may have nothing to do with the quality or price of your products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Adventures In Moving
13 November, 2015

I have been in the process of moving for the last few weeks. Well, it’s finally over; everything is moved and I am now in the process of unpacking. Of course, I have no idea where anything is.

I went through what I am now calling the three stages of moving. The first stage is when you are first thinking about packing, you walk around the house looking at the things you are so fond of and wonder how an earth you can get rid of them. Stage two is when you have started packing and you realize that there are things that you don’t really have to keep and you start to let things go. The final stage, stage three is as you are packing up the last third of the house, at which time, you look at everything that is left to pack and say, “I don’t care, just get rid of all of it.”

Now that I am working on the unpacking I have a feeling that as I start to run out of room it will be easier to let things go. I don’t actually need things to remember the good times though perhaps I should write a few things down in case I forget, as I get older.

However, that is not the biggest lesson from my move. I called the Salvation Army to come along with a truck as I had a number of things to donate. I won’t have as much room as I did before so needed to downsize a bit.

The two young men on the Salvation Army truck were really great. They were pleasant and engaging, cheerful and happy to help. They chatted as they loaded up the furniture and managed to get everything on the truck even though they were only supposed to pick up the number of boxes that I said I would have. They came out twice to pick things up and each time it was a pleasure to see them. I cannot say enough good things about them. It’s amazing where you can find great customer service.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating a Congenial Workplace
06 November, 2015

I went into a retail business, not too long ago, and it became quickly apparent that the employees were having a dispute of some kind. While they cut off their discussion once they saw me, it is clear that they were not happy with each other.

It may be that they are usually the best of friends and that a disagreement had occurred, which caused the disruption, but the atmosphere, even though they had shelved their conflict was palpable. I was uncomfortable and had I been able to creep out without being seen, I would have done so.

Disagreements between employees, managers or owners do happen, we are, after all, human and some days are better than others. The important thing is to make sure that the conflict is not seen by customers, no matter what the conflict concerns. It’s also important that managers do not correct employees in front of customers unless it is absolutely necessary.

The question is: do you respect the people that you work with, work for, or those who work for you? Working in an environment that is not comfortable leads to stress and frustration, which usually leads to a less than ideal work environment for everyone.

Whether you are an owner, manager or an employee, it’s important that action is taken to resolve any problems, as if a dispute continues it may well affect others on the team. The first step is to try and working things out quickly and without escalation. Talk to the other person and see if both of you can understand the problem. Use the employee handbook as a guide if the problem is procedural. Sometimes it is as easy as a mistaken impression and making a real effort to see the situation from the point of view of the other person can solve the problem.

Ask for someone else’s opinion. It is possible to get stuck in our way of thinking and harder to see the other side.

The important thing to remember is that there are always going to be people that we are not going to be friends with, but that doesn’t mean that they, like you, are not doing a good job, even if you don’t agree with the way the are doing the job.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Acquiring Visitor Email Addresses
30 October, 2015

Most businesses work hard on collecting email addresses, in order to stay in touch with their customers and potential customers. These days it seems to be getting more difficult to get visitors to give you their email address. Like most of us, these people already get too many emails and are hesitant to pass their email address along. So here are some tips from Vertical Response that might make it easier for you and your staff to get email addresses from visitors.

Vertical Response’s number one tip is to include a link to your email sign-up form in the main navigation bar of your website. The more people see something, the more “normal” it becomes to them and if they like your website they are more likely to leave their information. Especially when you make it easier for them.

You may also create a “sign up” call to action on your Facebook business page. If visitors like the page and your products, they may want to get more information from you and because it is their decision to give you the address, they are more likely too.

Another idea is to offer email only discounts and mention them on the sign-up page and on social media. Though you use these discounts only on email.

Vertical Response has a blog on 29 ways to collect email addresses for your business that you might want to check out.

An interesting thing I have noticed when I go onto business websites that the business email is not always listed on the contact page. A visitor to the website may be able to contact the business by phone, but not by email unless they fill out a form.

If you want people to give you their email addresses, you might want to reciprocate by giving them your email address too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Helping Employees Expand Their Horizons
23 October, 2015

Managing and motivating employees can be hard work though there are some ways to make it easier. Hiring the right people is, of course, the first step and inspiring them to do the best job they can is the next.

During the interview process, discover what your candidates’ dreams are. You may be hiring them for a particular job, though this is an excellent time to ask what types of jobs they think they would be good at (any why) even if they have never done that type of job before.

Whether they answer the question or not, as time goes on and they have proven that they are competent and willing to try new things, give those employees an opportunity to try their hands at different jobs in the company.

Allowing employees to stretch themselves and increase their skill sets is an excellent way to motivate them and foster loyalty. This is especially true if you want these employees to have a long-term future with the company.

Showing employees that you trust them, believe in their abilities and will give them the training and opportunity to grow and try different things if they wish, is the greatest gift you can give your employees.

Many years ago, when I was much younger, I had a boss, Maggie, who said to me, “I will teach you everything I know and if you can do my job better than I can, it’s yours.” She and I worked together for quite a while and remained friends until she died. I have never forgotten her and hope that I have passed that same kindness she offered me along to others. Maggie was a great manager and made me a much better employee.

Think about what you can do for your employees, not only will you be doing them a favor you will also be doing yourself one.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

An Easy Way To Get More Wine Club Members
16 October, 2015

I am teaching a short (eight week) class at the local Junior College entitled Consumer Direct Wine Sales & Marketing. As a homework assignment, I asked my students to visit wineries and report back to me on their experiences. My students are of different ages and both genders, a mixed group of people. They were asked to report back on:

  • How they were treated
  • What questions they were asked
  • What they thought of the experience

Many of my students are in the wine industry, so I told them to visit wineries where they were not known, nor were they to tell the people working in the tasting room that they were in the wine industry.

They went to all different types of wineries, small, medium and large, corporate and family owned. Some wineries were quiet and some were busy.

Most of my students reported that were not asked many questions except for the ubiquitous question of, “Where are you from?” which is wine speak for, “Can we ship to you?” At many wineries they were not even treated very nicely. Nor did the tasting room person try to engage or connect with them. They server would pour the wine and walk away. Not a great way to encourage sales or a return visit.

However, that was not the biggest omission during most of the visits. Out of about 30 wineries they visited only one time did any student say that the wine club was even mentioned. Only once!!!!!!!

I was so stunned that I asked the class if they were sure that the wine club was not even mentioned and except for the one winery (out of 30) they said that was the case.

We are only talking about mentioning the wine club, so needless to say there was no chance that anyone actually asked my students to join the wine club.

The takeaway is:

If you are wondering why more visitors aren’t joining your wine club, the biggest reason is because the wine club is not being mentioned most of the time.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Maximize Holiday Sales
12 October, 2015

It’s October already, hard to believe, but the year is almost over. How are your plans coming for Thanksgiving and the December holidays? Before someone sends me a “To heck with you” email, I know this is a very busy time of year, with harvest and all the other things you have on your plates. It is also the time to make sure that your plans to maximize the upcoming buying season are clearly defined and ready to roll.

For the smaller wineries especially, the needs of marketing and promotion tend to take a back seat as this time of the year, but if you can manage to squeeze some time out the time is ripe to organize the holiday selling season.

  • What do you have planned for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
  • Do you offer corporate gift packages? If so, now is the time to send your customers a quick preview of what you will have coming up.
  • Work on the first draft of your holiday newsletter done by the end of September. That will give you plenty of time to review it, edit it and make it more effective.
  • Outline your email campaigns for the coming months to maximize holiday sales.
  • Start promoting wine clubs as great gifts in the tasting room
  • Add a sticker to your wine club brochure, “The gift everyone can enjoy” to remind visitors to make wine club memberships holiday gifts.
  • Outline a phone sales program
  • Your customers really do want to hear from you. Give them a call and let them l know about your holiday offerings.
  • Before the visitor count slows down with the cooler weather and the upcoming holidays, focus your attention on getting the names, addresses, email and phone numbers of visitors who come into the winery.

There are many people who start planning early for the holidays. They like to get their shopping done and everything squared away. Help them reach their goals by being read for them to buy from you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Improve Your Short Pitch to Make Your Customers Listen
11 September, 2015

I found a great article by Jacqueline Whitmore in Business about refining the short pitch, called 7 Essentials for an Elevator Pitch That Gets People to Listen. I changed it slightly, as it was directed more to pitching to businesses rather than consumers. However, the key points are intact.
There is never any predicting what interaction, whether it’s in a grocery store or at a networking function, will present a new business opportunity. So be prepared to seize the day. The key that unlocks these opportunities is a short pitch that grabs people’s attention and makes them remember you and want to talk with you further.
To craft a pitch that is succinct and compelling keep these seven fundamental factors in mind:
1. Be brief.
In terms of actual time, plan on one or two minutes to make a connection and a strong impression on someone.
2. Be clear.
From the first line to closing sentence, your pitch must convey a coherent message about you or your business in easy-to-understand language. How you deliver it is as important as the content. Speak in an even but energetic tone, stand up straight, smile and maintain eye contact.
3. Make it specific to your audience.
Delivering a good pitch is like playing an instrument. …memorize the melody so you can improvise variations and still sound authentic instead of rehearsed. You’ll play your instrument slightly differently for various audiences.
4. Highlight your benefits.
In most settings, people are interested in who you are, what you do and what you can do for them. If you open with something like “I’m a (fill in the blank),” be sure to expand on your job title by explaining why this matters to your listeners.
5. Identify the problem and your solution.
What matters most to your listeners is that you are credible and competent at what you do. Communicate that you understand how your product or service trumps the competition.
6. Make a compelling call-to-action.
Tell your listeners what you would like them to do and how they’ll benefit from doing it. Remember, people can only do what you want them to do when you are clear and concise.
7. Extend an invitation to continue the conversation.
If you have made a convincing pitch to your listener, should she/he want to learn more about you, say something like, “May I give you my card?” Then invite them to your company.
A short pitch is often the first thing that people learn about you. Improve your pitch’s persuasiveness by practicing it frequently with different people in various settings, and watch your success rate rise higher and higher.
A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Personality of Your Business
04 September, 2015

What is the personality of your business? When you think about your business, what personality traits would you ascribe (or have you ascribed) to the business? Even more important, how would your customers describe the personality of your business?

What is it that you want them to think and feel as they leave?

Understanding your business’ personality or what you want your company’s personality to be makes it easier to get there.

Define the characteristics

Create a detailed definition of the personality, listing the aspects that would define the character, as it would come across to your visitors and customers. List the traits that would make up your company’s identity, those that would make it easy for visitors and customers to remember you and your products.

Get Buy-In

All management and employees should be involved in the process of suggesting traits and qualities that the business should or does embody, whether the employees work directly with the public or not. The more people are involved with a project, the more they will work to ensure that their words and actions meet the personality everyone has agreed on.

Once everyone has internalized the vision of the business personality, it will affect them and their work in positive ways. For example, if deem that your business is helpful, friendly, professional and knowledgeable, everyone will, in time, start to incorporate these traits into their daily dealings with vendors, customers, and each other, especially if you remind everyone regularly.

Once you have written your personality statement, it should be a part of your employee handbook, and employees especially those who work with visitors and customers should talk about it regularly in monthly or weekly meetings.

The business personality statement may also be used when assessing job applicants. Using it as a benchmark to match the personality of the applicant to the personality of the business.

This may be a project for a slower time of the year, so start thinking about it and encourage your employees thinking about it, too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Accomplish Your Goals Through Planning
28 August, 2015

Creating a plan to reach your goals is the first step along the road to success in business and in your personal life. Well, actually the first step it to have goals, though, even if you haven’t actually written down specific goals you probably have some idea of what you want to achieve. However writing down the goals and creating a plan to achieve them, reviewing them regularly to see the progress you are making towards meeting those goals, will make the chances of success much greater. If you are creating goals for your employees as well as yourself, include everyone in the group in the planning. Give those who will bear some of the responsibility the opportunity to voice their concerns about the project as well as their ideas on how to achieve the goals. Listen to everyone’s views and incorporate the viable ideas into the planning.

Take a piece of paper and write down the goals you have. Then add the things you are going to have to do to reach those goals. For example, do you want to increase business by a certain amount over the next twelve months? Write down the specifics of how much the business is making now, what you would like it to me making 12 months from now and in detail what you are going to have to do to get there. Or you might want to improve your performance at work. Be specific about exactly how you will improve and what you need to do to reach the goals of selling more or being more efficient.

Assign the tasks you need to perform to make your goal a reality. In addition to assigning the tasks create a timeline with smaller goals that can be achieved as you go along to make it easier to reach your goals.

Also, set up rewards as you and everyone involved reaches the milestones along the way. Keeping yourself and others engaged and rewarded as you all make progress will maintain the enthusiasm for the project.

I doubt that there is anything in this blog that you don’t already know… but have you done it? Will you make the time to do this? Many times it doesn’t happen, but if you do, your chances of success are much more likely.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are You Researching Your Market?
21 August, 2015

Market research is very important to success. After all if you don’t really know what your target audience is looking for it’s hard to give it to them. According to, market research is:

“The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service.”

If you have done the research, you should have the information you need to assist you in getting the jump on the challenges of marketing your products or business. It will help you segment your customers by identifying the people you are trying to reach through your marketing campaigns. It also helps you differentiate your product in ways that will separate you from your competition. It’s tough to really differentiate this without doing the research first.

The great thing nowadays is it’s much easier to get the research you need. The internet is full of information about marketing, how to market, etc. There are lots of report by everyone from individuals, the government and trade association.

You might also want to look at getting information directly from your customers as to their likes and dislikes, their demographics (name, age, etc.) and psychographics (hobbies, feelings about your products, how they spend leisure time).  It is easy to create a three or four question questionnaire that asks your customers for their input on what they like and don’t like about your products, service, quality, events, etc.

Keep the questionnaires short so that your customers will complete them and always leave room for comments – you never know what pearls of wisdom you will get from the respondents.

If you wish you can offer those who respond a perk for completing the questionnaire.

Knowing to whom you are trying to sell, will make hitting your goals a lot easier, as you will be sending out the type of information that will appeal to these people.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Fonts and Shapes - Their Perception on Buyers
09 August, 2015

In last week’s blog I wrote about how color affects the consumer’s perception of products. This week I am focusing the influence of fonts and shapes on perceptions.

Choosing the right font is important, as consumers will react to fonts either consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes they know that they like or don’t like a font, while other times all they know is that they feel uncomfortable and they don’t want to read anymore, though they don’t know why.

It’s not only the font selected but also the size of the font that affects readers. In an article entitled, The Psychology of Fonts, Emily Matthews writes, “Larger fonts convey insecurity, suggesting that the author feels a need to fill the page. Smaller, more minimalist fonts are more successful choices for powerful messages.” It rather reminded me of the idea that if you want people to really listen to you don’t raise you voice, lower your voice.

Ms. Matthews goes on to say, “The use of more than two fonts on a page is generally excessive and should be avoided…” Though when using two fonts, use two that are distinctly different but complimentary, bringing energy to the page.

When designing a logo, the shape is very important. The Canadian company Colourfast presents information what different shapes mean to buyers:

Circles, Ovals, Ellipses represent

  • Positive, Emotional Message.
  • A circle can suggest community, friendship, love, relationship and unity.
  • Curves of any sort tend to be viewed as feminine in natures.

Squares & Triangles

  • Straight edges logo shapes suggest stability and may also be used to imply balance.
  • Straight lines and precise shapes also impart strength, professionalism and efficiency.
  • Triangles have been seen to have a good association with power, science, religion and law.

Vertical & Horizontal Lines

  • Our subconscious associates vertical lines with masculinity, strength and aggression.
  • Horizontal lines tend to suggest community, tranquility and calm.

If you are creating a new logo, label or other promotional materials, there is a lot of think about before you come to a final decision. Even if you draw the label or logo yourself, get some help from a graphic artist who has experience in your field to help you finish it off. It will definitely pay off in the long run.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Fonts and Shapes - Their Perception on Buyers
09 August, 2015

In last week’s blog I wrote about how color affects the consumer’s perception of products. This week I am focusing the influence of fonts and shapes on perceptions.

Choosing the right font is important, as consumers will react to fonts either consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes they know that they like or don’t like a font, while other times all they know is that they feel uncomfortable and they don’t want to read anymore, though they don’t know why.

It’s not only the font selected but also the size of the font that affects readers. In an article entitled, The Psychology of Fonts, Emily Matthews writes, “Larger fonts convey insecurity, suggesting that the author feels a need to fill the page. Smaller, more minimalist fonts are more successful choices for powerful messages.” It rather reminded me of the idea that if you want people to really listen to you don’t raise you voice, lower your voice.

Ms. Matthews goes on to say, “The use of more than two fonts on a page is generally excessive and should be avoided…” Though when using two fonts, use two that are distinctly different but complimentary, bringing energy to the page.

When designing a logo, the shape is very important. The Canadian company Colourfast presents information what different shapes mean to buyers:

Circles, Ovals, Ellipses represent

  • Positive, Emotional Message.
  • A circle can suggest community, friendship, love, relationship and unity.
  • Curves of any sort tend to be viewed as feminine in natures.

Squares & Triangles

  • Straight edges logo shapes suggest stability and may also be used to imply balance.
  • Straight lines and precise shapes also impart strength, professionalism and efficiency.
  • Triangles have been seen to have a good association with power, science, religion and law.

Vertical & Horizontal Lines

  • Our subconscious associates vertical lines with masculinity, strength and aggression.
  • Horizontal lines tend to suggest community, tranquility and calm.

If you are creating a new logo, label or other promotional materials, there is a lot of think about before you come to a final decision. Even if you draw the label or logo yourself, get some help from a graphic artist who has experience in your field to help you finish it off. It will definitely pay off in the long run.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


How Consumers React To Color
31 July, 2015

I found an interesting article regarding what the color of your logo says about your company. Of course it’s not only your logo, it’s also the colors you use in every promotional or advertising piece you present to customers or prospective customers.

Catherine Clifford writing for reminds us that people associate different feelings with different colors. She gives a couple of great examples. For instance, “green conveys organic growth, the earth, nature or feelings of caring” and uses Starbucks and Greenpeace as examples. Black is the color used to convey feeling of sophistication, authority or seduction. Consider the black labels used by Chanel or Sony.

Ms. Clifford includes some information compiled by Colourfast, a Canadian plastic-card maker, on the influence of color on consumers:

  • 93% of purchasing judgments are made on visual perceptions.
  • 84% of consumers cite color as their main reason for buying a particular product
  • 80% think color increases brand recognition.

In addition color can improve:

  • Comprehension by 73%
  • Learning by 55-68%
  • Reading by 40%

Colourfast also gives some examples of the attributes that consumers associate with different colors.

  • Blue: Secure, calm, honest, strong, caring, trustworthy
  • Red: Energy, love, exciting, action, bold, passionate
  • Orange: Happy, sociable, friendly, affordable
  • Yellow: Logical, playful, optimistic, forward-thinking, confident
  • Green: growth, organic, natural, caring, fresh, earth
  • Purple: imaginative, creative, nostalgic
  • Black:  sophistication, luxury, seductive, formal, authority
  • Multi-colored: multi-channel, positive, playful, bold, boundless

So think about the colors you are using in all the promotional pieces that you present, what they might mean to consumers and how you want consumers to perceive your company through the colors you use.

Of course, you also need to consider the font and spacing between letters as well as the shape of the letters, though people first see color (even though they may not realize it).

To that end, next week we will talk about fonts and what different logo shapes imply.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Improving the Odds of Making Sales
27 July, 2015

I know that I have in the past harped on the concept of saying less about the wine and finding out more about the people. Here are some handy hints about how to do that.

The Comfort Factor

Make visitors feel that they are important to you. Let them know that you care about them as individuals and not just as buyers.

Give guests individual attention; I know that it becomes more difficult the busier the retail room is. Track the hours that you are the busiest and bring in some additional staff.

Solicit guests’ opinions of the wines and your other offerings.

Make visitors comfortable enough so that they want to make you happy.

Activate the Need to Reciprocate

Allow visitors to taste a wine that is not usually available. Show them the cellar. Make a dinner reservation for them. Give visitors an extra taste or waive the tasting fee.

One of people’s most basic urges is to reciprocate whenever someone has done something nice for us. The simplest way for visitors to reciprocate is for them to buy.

Have Information Available

Visitors will internalize your messages more easily if they both hear and see them. Hand visitors information on the wines being served, being careful hot to tell them what the wine will taste like. Tell them what they may find in the wine. Include the price of the wine and the wine club price. Tell visitors what you are offering.

Make It Easy to Purchase

Handing visitors an order form and a pen with a spoken request for the sale improves your chances of visitors purchasing.

Use Your Individuality, but Tone It Down

The visitor should always be the focus and you should the visitors enough time to talk if they wish. Allow them time to ask questions. Allow them time to impress you with their knowledge.

Make Positive Comments about Visitors

Compliment visitors in an authentic way on their wine knowledge, palate, jewelry, wine preferences, how pleased you are that they came to the winery or how happy you are to see them again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


Leadership vs Management
17 July, 2015

I found a great article by Jeffrey Glen on Business and while it is longer than my usual blogs I wanted to print it all, as it really makes you think about what your position is as a leader and/or manager.

Many people quickly assume that being a good leader means you’re a good manager and vice versa. The two concepts are actually quite distinct and understanding that distinction can help you understand what it means to be good at either or good at both.

What are the Key Characteristics of Management?

From a broad perspective, management is smaller scale and more focused on details than leadership. The leader sets the vision and the broad plan, the manager executes it and does what is needed to achieve that plan. Key characteristics of management are:

  • A tactical focus on aspects of the organization’s strategy
  • Executing on specific areas within their responsibilities
  • Formulating and enforcing the policies of a business to achieve its goals
  • Directing and monitoring their team to achieve their specific goals
  • Management and containment of risks in an organization
  • Short term focus with attention to the details

What are the Key Characteristics of Leadership?

Leadership is setting the tone of an organization, the broad objectives and long term goals will come from the leader, and then managers need to execute on a plan to attain them. Leadership is not necessarily getting caught up in all the details but rather setting the plan and inspiring people to follow them. Key characteristics of leadership are:

  • Strategic focus on the organization’s needs
  • Establishing goals and the strategic direction
  • Establishing principles
  • Empowering and mentoring the team to lead them to their goals
  • Risk engagement and overall identification
  • Long term, high-level focus

Which is more important?

Any organization or business needs people who are good at both leadership and management if they are going to succeed. With good management and poor leadership they will be able to execute everything very well, but will be doing so without a consistent direction and overall strategy. With good leadership and poor management, a company will have the goals and inspiration to succeed, but no one to execute the plan on how to get there.

Emphasis needs to be placed equally on both areas if an organization wants to thrive.

Can someone do both?

Good leaders and good managers are not often the same person, the few people that excel at both tend to be overwhelmingly successful in achieving their goals. Management and leadership skills are in some ways very opposite from one another, short vs. long term, big picture vs. detail oriented, etc. It can be very difficult for one to split their time between the two and excel at both. Often organizations that succeed have a mix of individuals, some who excel at leadership and some who excel at management.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


It’s Time For A Change
10 July, 2015

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” W. L. Bateman

And nowhere is this quote truer than in the wine industry, although there are many different types of retailers jostling for second place. The majority of the wineries that I visit around North America are still firmly rooted in the belief that the way to sell wine is by talking about it non-stop. Overwhelming visitors with facts, which they may or may not be interested in, and not finding out anything about the visitors themselves is not going to help you to sell wine, in most cases.

Yes, you do get the occasional wine aficionado in your winery, the one who really does know a lot about wine and wants to know more. These are the people that you can give as much information as you want to. But there are many others who visit wineries. They want to know a couple of facts they can use to impress their friends when they get home, though by and large they really want a two way conversation, they ask you questions, you ask them questions. They listen to your answers and you listen to theirs.

What leads winery folk to talk almost exclusively about wine is passion. Their passion about wine leads them to keep talking about the wine, even when the visitors have become glassy-eyed and they are looking for an opportunity to escape.

If wineries ever want to be really successful at sales, they have to make sure the staff is asking questions and talking about things that interest the visitors – mainly talking about the visitors themselves. Find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes. Once you know something about them you can talk about wine in ways that relate to them, rather than talking about wine in ways that it’s important to you.

I understand that when you are really busy, all bets are off. So practice asking questions and being more customer-centric, than wine-centric when things are quieter and then you can use a few of those engagement techniques when things are busier.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Always Making the Right Impression
06 July, 2015

This week I was reading over some things I had written some time ago and came across this story I had written down, though have not used it in my blog. It is as pertinent now as it was then.

Sometimes what we say gives the wrong impression instead of the right one. While we all say the wrong thing occasionally, it is important to think about how what we say presents the company. For example, I had been in line at my bank for quite a long time; most of that time there were only two tellers on duty. After about seven minutes, one more teller opened her window. When I came up to the counter, the teller, without any prompting from me, said:

Teller: Well you can tell it’s four o’clock.
Me: Why is that?
Teller: It’s very busy, it’s always busy at four o’clock.
Me: Everyday?
Teller: Yes, regular as clockwork.
Me: Why don’t you have more tellers available if you know it’s going to be busy?
Teller: We don’t have any more teller windows.
Me: The window next to me is not in use. 
Teller: Oh, that teller is at lunch.
Me: Perhaps you shouldn’t schedule lunch breaks at this time.
Teller: Well it just happened, there was nothing we could do.

This exchange did not make me feel particularly comfortable about having my life savings in their bank. I do not want to come in one day to find all my money gone and the teller saying, “Well it just happened there was nothing we could do.”

Experiences like these erode customer loyalty, satisfaction and confidence in the company. Think about how your sales employees might be explaining a problem. No employee should ever say, “Well, it just happened, there is nothing we could do.” Even if your employee says, “Well, it just happened” it should be followed up with, “but we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Customer service is the one thing that will set you apart from the competition.Start thinking of ways you can provide more service to your customers before and after the sale. Think of your staff not only as employees but also as customers. Let them know how important they are to you. Keep them loyal because all your customers, including your staff are your most important assets.

How Customers Respond to Music
29 June, 2015

Music has a definite impact on customers, sometimes good and sometimes bad – depending on the music and the type of customers who frequent your business. So, considering the type of music and the noise level that will suit your customers is important.

There have been a number of studies conducted that examine how customers react to the music being played while they are in a retail establishment. In one study by Immedia Plc, originally published in Retail Wire in 2011, 40% of customers will stay longer in a business if they feel that the music is well chosen for the environment, and an equal percentage will spend less time if the feel the music isn’t suitable.

The first question though is not What kind of music should you play? but… Who are your customers? Once you know the demographics of your average/best customers, you can start planning the type of music to play that will keep them happy and shopping longer.

Background music is important to a shopping or dining experience if you want people to stay longer to dine or shop, play slower music, according to a study conducted through the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

In an article by Humayun Khan in Shopify, music can be used to help slow customers down, speed them up or get them to spend more. One study looked at the effect of music on wine purchases in a UK store found that when stereotypical French music was played the sales of French wine far outsold German wine. When German music was played the German wines sold much better.

In another study, it was found that classical music played in a wine store increased sales and led customers to buy more.

And how loud should the music be? According to an article in Psychology Today by Emily Anthes, “Shoppers make more impulsive decisions when they are over-stimulated. Loud music leads to sensory overload, which weakens self-control. These tactics work better on a younger clientele, so if that is the demographic you are looking to attract that might be the way to go. Remember though that you may lose many older customers.

If you find that you have a varied customer base, younger and older customers, study their visiting and buying habits, based on the music you are playing at the time.

Experiment with different types of music to see if your customers are enjoying it and spending money, then change it and see if the length of time that customers spend in your business is shorter or longer and whether sales are up or down. Once you have decided what works, stick with it.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The History of Your Business
20 June, 2015

I am in the process of writing a history for a winery association that has been in business for more than three decades. I am spending time finding information about the roots of the association; which wineries were the first members, who the past presidents were and basically what happened when.

This got me thinking about whether or not individual businesses archive the things that will be important when they have been in business in fifty, seventy-five or one hundred years from when the business was started.

The history of your business is going to be important to future generations when they are ready to celebrate the fifty or one-hundred-year anniversary. Here are some of the things you need to be thinking about now so that your descendants are not moaning about the fact that their grandparents or great-grandparents never kept anything useful about the start of the business:

Photographs are a big part of connecting people with your past. Do you have photographs of the owners, casual photographs of the owners dressed in their regular 1970s, 80s, or 90s clothes? Older fashions are always good for a laugh.

Keep the photographs in digital and printed form and don’t forget to name everyone involved and what their connection to the business is/was. Make sure each picture is dated (day, month and year.)

Take pictures of your employees while they are working (once again, name and date the photographs.)

Keep a file of major happenings in the business and the photos that relate to these occasions:

– The day you opened

– How you got the idea for the business

– Your first medal or award

– Anecdotes that will amuse or interest your future customers

Make notes on company tradition and what was important when the business was started.

In years to come, your company history will be a great boon to marketing and allow the future owners to promote the traditions that have come down through the ages.

Take all the things you collect and keep them safe, dry and away from rodents and add to them over the years. Lastly keep them somewhere that will make them easy to find in the future.

This is just a beginning. But it’s a great start.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Marketing – It’s So Simple
12 June, 2015

I was reading a book the other day, the autobiography of a man, Jack Petchey, with whom my Dad was in the Fleet Air Arm (a name for the British Navy air force) in World War II. Mr. Petchey and my Dad were good friends during the war and for a while after the war. Jack went on to be very, very successful and because of his success wrote an autobiography.

Jack Petchey started working at 11 years old for a greengrocer (shop selling vegetables and salad ingredients) in the East End of London, where, he says that he was taught his first lesson in marketing.

When he first started at the greengrocery, he was given, by the owner, a large box of tomatoes and asked to polish half of the tomatoes and not the other half. After he had finished polishing the half of the box that was supposed to be polished he was told to put them into two piles. One pile of tomatoes (the ones that were not polished) were given a lower price, while the tomatoes that had been polished were given a higher price.

Jack asked the owner why the tomatoes were two different prices, at which time the owner told him that some people like to buy cheap and some people like to buy expensive.

While we all know that some people don’t buy if things that are (in their estimation) too expensive, we also know that some people don’t buy if the things that they are considering purchasing are not expensive enough.

Make sure your pricing varies so that you can appeal to both those people that like to get a bargain price and those people who are more comfortable buying something that they fits their ideas of quality and what (in their opinion) is an appropriate price.

Remember: never underestimate people’s willingness to spend money to impress their friends. Whether they impress their friends with how little they spent or impress them with how much they were able to spend on a product.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Best Customer Service Ever
05 June, 2015

I went down to Monterey, CA for a couple of days, recently, as a quick getaway to celebrate my birthday. While there I spent a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The exhibits were amazing, but the thing I was most impressed with was the customer service. While there I spoke to at least seven different employees and volunteers and every one of them was helpful, informative, pleasant and interacted with us on a personal as well as a professional level.

During each interaction, we were given interesting information about the fish and birds that made up that particular exhibit. The person speaking with us, whether they were volunteers or paid employees were cheerful, friendly and obviously loved what they were doing.

In contrast, I was at a winery a few days before with a friend who had gone to pick up a quarterly wine club shipment. As we walked in the front door to the tasting room there was a woman behind the desk who was looking through some papers. She did not raise her head from the papers when we came in or acknowledge us in any way.

We continued over to the tasting bar and the young woman behind the bar who was pleasant but not at all engaged with us began to tell us how the tasting worked. My friend mentioned being a part of the wine club and she pointed to the other room and said that we could pick up the shipment over there. We stayed at the tasting bar to taste some wine. The tasting was free for anyone who came to the winery and there was nothing special for wine club members to taste. We were asked no questions, nor was any attempt made to form a connection with us by either of the two employees who served us. They just came over, asked what we wanted, poured and left. There was also no attempt to sell us on anything, asked how we liked the wine club. The tasting room was not busy yet there was no personal interaction at all.

When we went over to pick up the shipment, the employees put it into a bag, asked to sign the sheet and said goodbye. No suggestion that we might want to purchase something else was made. My friend will be cancelling the wine club membership at this winery before the next shipment.

The two experiences were polar opposites. If I had to choose where to spend my money based on how I was treated, I would be back at the Monterey Bay Aquarium tomorrow.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

A Great Way to Learn
29 May, 2015

This week I am in Portland, Oregon for the VESTA curriculum conference. For any of you that don’t know about VESTA (I can’t imagine there are many), it is the Viticulture, Enology Science & Technology Alliance. This is a national grape and wine education program that combines the flexibility of online instruction; instructor guided education from industry professionals; and crucial hands-on experience under the guidance of an experienced mentor at a vineyard or winery close to where you live.

VESTA has classes on everything you would need or want to learn about viticulture, enology and the business of wine including marketing, finance, etc. The students are from all around the United States and the online format makes it simple to attend.

So what am I doing in Portland? In September, I am lucky enough to start teaching a class for VESTA, VIN 271, Advanced Marketing. The class covers all in the different facets of marketing in the wine industry including:

  • Understanding the importance of marketing
  • Create a viable marketing plan
  • The meaning of branding
  • Keys for developing packaging
  • How marketing and sales technology facilitates success

And much, much more!

The live class meeting takes place once a week via a web-based conference system. Participation in the live class meetings is required. It is an opportunity for the instructor (that would be me) to go over weekly topic highlights and for students to interact with the instructor and fellow students through questions and discussions. Students are expected to be ready to ask questions and actively participate in the discussions. There are also course assignments include weekly readings (online lectures/presentations and print-based materials) that are posted on the online course site. And, of course, there are quizzes, two exams and participation during the live class.

It is going to be a great class and I have and will continue to compile lots of information keep the class interesting and relevant. It should be fun.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Objective or Subjective? How Are You Selling?
22 May, 2015

I have recently talked about the difference between customers’ preferences for objective or subjective information when considering a purchase.

The preference for objective information relates to the facts about the product, how it is produced, where it is produced, any third party endorsements and the education or expertise of the person who made it. Those are just a few of the things that might sway an objectively directed customer into purchasing your product.

On the other hand, the customer who relates to subjective information is more likely to want to know about personal perspectives, opinions and feelings. Their method of buying is more emotional than intellectual.

Of course many customers like a little bit of both objective and subjective information in order to make the purchase. However, one or the other, either objective or subjective tips the scales for them. For instance, how many times do you buy something from someone you really don’t care for? How we feel about the person serving us has a great deal to do with how we feel about the product if we are looking from the subjective point of view.

So what can you do to discover how people want to be sold when you are presenting your products, services or other offering to first-time customers? The first thing to do is to listen. Do your customers ask you for subjective or objective information? There are many different questions that customers may ask you that will help you to figure out whether they are looking for subjective or objective information.

For example: How many awards have you won? (objective) or What do you like? (subjective) Tell me about your quality? (objective) or Do a lot of people buy this product? (subjective)

Focusing on the type of information your customer is asking for will help you tailor your conversation to what is most important to them. So listen hard to determine how you want to be sold and respond to the questions they have asked you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Give Customers The Opportunity To Buy
15 May, 2015


I talk a lot about making customers feel special and valued and will never stop encouraging this behavior. However, the best way to encourage your staff to treat customers well is to treat your staff well. I was lucky enough to see the concept put into practice a couple of weeks ago.

Recently I was invited to a surprise party at Mill Creek Winery, one of the wineries in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The surprise party was in honor of Bruce Thomas, who has been the tasting room manager at Mill Creek for twenty years. The owners, Bill and Yvonne Kreck decided to throw a surprise party for Bruce to celebrate a great twenty years.

The party took place after the tasting room closed on a Saturday evening. It was a lovely night with food, music and, of course, great wine. The evening was made even better by the look of complete shock on Bruce’s face when he realized the party was for him. There were personal friends of Bruce’s, winery people and the Kreck family who turned out in force. I have known Bruce for longer than the twenty years that he has worked at Mill Creek and can’t think of a person more deserving of this celebration.

There are lots of things, big and small, that you can do for loyal and hardworking employees of your business. And everything that you do to let your employees know that they are doing a great job for you will reflect back onto your customers, making them want to return to such a warm and friendly place. Your reward will be increased customers and increased sales. All in all more than a fair trade.

A tip of the glass from me to Bruce, Yvonne, Bill, and you!

Making Your Employees Feel Special
10 May, 2015

I talk a lot about making customers feel special and valued and will never stop encouraging this behavior. However, the best way to encourage your staff to treat customers well is to treat your staff well. I was lucky enough to see the concept put into practice a couple of weeks ago.

Recently I was invited to a surprise party at Mill Creek Winery, one of the wineries in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The surprise party was in honor of Bruce Thomas, who has been the tasting room manager at Mill Creek for twenty years. The owners, Bill and Yvonne Kreck decided to throw a surprise party for Bruce to celebrate a great twenty years.

The party took place after the tasting room closed on a Saturday evening. It was a lovely night with food, music and, of course, great wine. The evening was made even better by the look of complete shock on Bruce’s face when he realized the party was for him. There were personal friends of Bruce’s, winery people and the Kreck family who turned out in force. I have known Bruce for longer than the twenty years that he has worked at Mill Creek and can’t think of a person more deserving of this celebration.

There are lots of things, big and small, that you can do for loyal and hardworking employees of your business. And everything that you do to let your employees know that they are doing a great job for you will reflect back onto your customers, making them want to return to such a warm and friendly place. Your reward will be increased customers and increased sales. All in all more than a fair trade.

A tip of the glass from me to Bruce, Yvonne, Bill, and you!

I talk a lot about making customers feel special and valued and will never stop encouraging this behavior. However, the best way to encourage your staff to treat customers well is to treat your staff well. I was lucky enough to see the concept put into practice a couple of weeks ago.

Recently I was invited to a surprise party at Mill Creek Winery, one of the wineries in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The surprise party was in honor of Bruce Thomas, who has been the tasting room manager at Mill Creek for twenty years. The owners, Bill and Yvonne Kreck decided to throw a surprise party for Bruce to celebrate a great twenty years.

The party took place after the tasting room closed on a Saturday evening. It was a lovely night with food, music and, of course, great wine. The evening was made even better by the look of complete shock on Bruce’s face when he realized the party was for him. There were personal friends of Bruce’s, winery people and the Kreck family who turned out in force. I have known Bruce for longer than the twenty years that he has worked at Mill Creek and can’t think of a person more deserving of this celebration.

There are lots of things, big and small, that you can do for loyal and hardworking employees of your business. And everything that you do to let your employees know that they are doing a great job for you will reflect back onto your customers, making them want to return to such a warm and friendly place. Your reward will be increased customers and increased sales. All in all more than a fair trade.

A tip of the glass from me to Bruce, Yvonne, Bill, and you!

Have Tea, Will Travel
01 May, 2015

I just returned from a week in the Midwest, working with the wineries of Iowa and then on to Illinois for some time with the wineries in the Northern region.

After flying into and staying in Des Moines overnight, I drove down to Two Saints Winery in St. Charles to present a full day seminar, then took off for Oskaloosa to visit Tassel Ridge Winery. From there it was a three-hour trip up to Galena, Illinois.

I was listening to the radio as I drove up to Galena and was told of a tornado watch around Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, which I was passing at the time. I am happy to say that the tornado did not materialize in that area though Illinois got hit. I have no idea of what to do in a tornado, having only lived in England and California, neither of which is known for tornados.

Galena, Illinois is a picturesque little town, obviously a tourist town, with lots of wonderful shops, restaurants and a few wine tasting rooms and my stay at Galena Cellars, where I presented another full day seminar, was fun and interesting. Thanks Chris (Lawlor-White) for your wonderful hospitality! I would definitely like to go back to Galena and take in more of the wineries in and around that area.

It’s so gratifying to see the wineries in these areas doing so well and making a variety of wines that suit their climate, some dry wines, some sweet and some in between. Their enthusiasm for their products and dedication to their profession is inspiring.

Wine clubs are catching on in these areas, with a few in Iowa and more in Illinois and even more in the planning for a number of wineries. In both states, I tasted some lovely Seyvals (one of my favorite grapes) as well as Marquette and Chambourcin. The French hybrids are doing very well in the Midwest and the wineries understand the grapes as well as the demands of their customers.

The only thing I have to remember when I travel to the Midwest is to make sure that I have plenty to teabags with me, as it’s hard to get a cup of tea in many restaurants. Which is the reason for the title of this blog. But as long as I have terrific people to work with (and the Midwest has plenty of those), can get a good glass of wine, and remember to bring plenty of teabags with me, I am set.

So thanks to the wineries for their wholehearted welcome and to the people who worked hard to put the days of training together. It’s always a pleasure to come to the Midwest and I hope to be back to see you soon!

A tip of the glass (and the cup) from me to you!

Surviving a Family Business
26 April, 2015

A one-day conference, June 16th, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. at Shone Farm, Forestville (Sonoma County).

I have worked with many family businesses, both in and out of the wine industry, and have seen the struggles that can result in the loss of the business or even more devastating the breaking up of a family. It’s for this reason that I am producing this one-day conference that will help your business and your family survive and thrive.

A family business presents challenges and opportunities for owners, family members and non-family employees. Compatibility and family relationships can create workplace dynamics that are not found in companies owned by stockholders or run by corporate teams; though creating and building functional teams of employees mixed with family members can be more challenging in family owned businesses. The “Surviving a Family Business” conference will provide insight on managing those workplace dynamics, and practical, real-world advice on managing family members, building intra-personal skills, and creating functional teams.

To give family owned businesses the survival tools they need, I have put together this full-day conference, featuring speakers who not only run family businesses, but are experts in helping others do it also.


Topics and speakers include:

Living The Dream: Running A Family Business

Vision/Strategic Plan (May the Force be With You)

Shared Collaboration & Shared Responsibility (Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe)

Perception Is Everything (Experience the Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat)

People Skills (Yes… Siblings, Children & Parents are People, Too)

Who’s in the Club (In-laws vs. Out-laws)

Speakers – Max & Theresa McFarland – psychologists and educators, conducting workshops in the U.S. Europe and the Pacific Rim and owners of Mac’s Creek Winery, which they run with their sons.


Negotiation & Conflict Resolution

The art of the win/win, rather than the win/lose

Creating functioning teams and real teamwork

Seeing family members for who they are today, not for who they used to be

Understanding the big picture and everyone’s place in it

Best choices for business, family and employees

Speaker – Terry Taylor, CEO of Global Genesis, a family owned and run company and psychologist working around the world with corporate clients and small businesses teaching the arts of negotiation and conflict resolution.


Integrating & Retaining Employees & Family Members in Your Family Business

Establish Boundaries, Policies & Procedures

Define Roles & Expectations

Rewards for Family and Non-Family Employees

Promotion & Advancement

Speakers – A panel of highly respected speakers who work with a myriad of family business in a variety of industries including Barney Barnett and Jennifer Tincknell speaking to the topic of integrating family and non-family employees.


For registration or more information go to

Or you may call me at 707.953.1289 or email at

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Guerrilla Marketing for Locals
20 April, 2015

At all times during the year it’s great to have local people frequent your business, buy product and bring their friends. It’s particularly important during the slow times, as the local people can boost sales at times when tourists are thin on the ground.

I have a friend who owned a bookstore and a restaurant at the same time and in the same small town. We were talking about running a small business and how hard it can be, at times, to get publicity for a small business with the local newspaper or magazines.

Jack told me what he used to do. When he needed part time help in the bookstore he would hire reporters from the local newspaper or writers for local magazines. Many reporters who work for small town publications are part time and are not getting paid a lot of money so are in need of an additional part time job to boost their income.

A part time job in a bookstore is perfect for someone who likes to write. It was also perfect for Jack and his bookstore as they also regularly mentioned the bookstore in the newspaper or magazine for which they worked. He had people working for him who were passionate about his product and effectively publicized his business to locals. It certainly doesn’t hurt to throw an ad in once in a while as well.

Another way to get local attention is to call in to local talk radio shows with comments or questions. When they give out the phone number and ask listeners to call in, pick up the phone. Make your comments interesting and, if you get a chance, mention your business name or the type of business you have. You never know, you may end up with an interview or become a resource for the radio station. The same goes for the local newspaper, become a regular contributor to the “Letters to the Editor” section.

You may also talk about your contributions to local media on your social media sites. Something you say may get picked up nationally or even internationally.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Extraordinary Brands – Part 2: Engaging Employees
03 April, 2015

In last week’s blog, we explored the importance of business leaders to engage the hearts of employees so they pass that enthusiasm and personal service along to the customers. In this week’ s blog we delve further into the article by Alessandro Donetti, where he talks about engaging the minds of employees and the need for continuous engagement.

Engage the Mind

Mr. Donetti points out in his article that elevating performance through meeting employees’ three intellectual needs of Achievement, Autonomy, and Mastery is often overlooked, even though it is a basic premise. CBE (of which Mr. Donetti is a managing partner) research has shown that only a small percent of frontline people have an acceptable level of the ability to focus attention on customer emotions. The percentage varies from 25% in financial services to 65% in luxury retail stores. He goes on to say that frontline people who have higher levels of focused attention ability are 85% more effective in sales results and that this ability almost triples the rates of those who promote products rather than focusing on customer emotions.

Your job as a leader is (if you are not already doing so) to learn to engage the minds of your frontline people to see their performance improve.

Continuous Engagement

This practice of engaging the hearts and minds of your employees cannot be a once in a while thing, it has to be done on a daily basis. Mr. Donetti brings up an interesting point: instead of asking senior leaders, “What do you want your store managers to do when a customer has a problem?” he asked them a very different question, “Which emotions do you want your customers to feel?”

This is a great question to ask your frontline employees. When your staff is solving problems, they need to answer the customer’s emotion concerns as well as offering rational solutions, which may only solve half the problem. Once you have created an emotional connection and allowed the customer to tell you how s/he feels, then an employee may go forward to the solution.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Extraordinary Brands
27 March, 2015

I came across a great article Extraordinary Brands, Extraordinary Leaders, Extraordinary Frontline Behaviors, by a man named Alessandro Donetti, the Managing Partner of CBE, a consulting company.  Mr. Donetti talks about the difference it makes to customers to deal with service people who are excited about their work and their words “jump out of their hearts rather than being regurgitated from a script.”

He continues, “In a world of product parity and increasing consumer demands, the brands that will rise to the top and stay there will be those who find a way to leverage their most powerful and differentiating asset – their people.”

Those of you who follow this blog will realize that Mr. Donetti’s ideas are familiar to you as this is a topic near and dear to my heart and for good reasons. CBE’s research has shown that approximately 85% of customers’ decisions are based on positive interaction with the people who are taking care of them. It’s what leads to brand loyalty.

Here is the part that really caught my eye:  Mr. Donetti goes on to say that in order for the people in your company to speak from their hearts the example has to come from their leaders. Mr. Donetti says that he often asks senior leaders, “Do you think it’s important to engage the heart of your people?” He goes on to say that the answers are almost always, “Yes, tremendously important.” So he asks these leaders another question, “What have you done in the last 10 days to engage the hearts of your people?”  He says that, this question often leads to an uncomfortable silence.

It’s interesting that many leaders are less comfortable with the emotional side of engaging their people and many have never really learned how. I have come across this often in my own work with businesses. There are times I’ve had to remind owners to tell their staff that they are doing a good job or, in the case of some absentee owners, to remind them to say hello to everyone on staff when they are on property. A quick hello or positive comment about a job well done goes a long, long way.

So here’s my question for you: Are you engaging with your staff from your heart, so your employees will engage with customers from their hearts?

This is step one and I’ll have more from Mr. Donetti next week on Engaging the Mind and Continuous Engagement.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Different Ways to Engage Customers
23 March, 2015

While looking through my email, a while ago, I came across an email from theIndiana Uplands Wine Trail, detailing some of the events and options for consumers to do different things at the wineries.

A couple of the events being offered at French Lick Winery, in French Lick Indiana, caught my eye. The first one was an event called Wine and Canvas, which is a guided art class. The $35 fee includes everything needed for participants to create their own masterpiece. Wine and snacks are available for purchase from the winery during the class. The event, is held at the winery, though the reservations and purchase for the class, etc. is all done through Wine and Canvas, a separate company, so there’s less work for the winery staff before the event.

I have heard of this type of event, as a friend of mine in Southern California went for an afternoon of Wine and Art, though this was not done through a winery. So it may be that there is something similar in your area.

The second event that John & Kim Doty, the owners of French Lick Winery are offering is“Abstract Art Wine Glass Painting” Participants take home with them a set of four unique abstract art 20oz wine glasses that they have painted themselves. Once again, all the supplies are provided.

What a great idea! The question in my mind is where to put the winery logo on these glasses. I assume that the bowl of the glass will be painted, though perhaps placing the winery logo in a frosted square below the stem might work.

This event took place recently at the winery. I will be sure to give Kim or John a call, as I am very interested to know how the wine glass painting worked out. Perhaps they have some pics of the glasses that were painted. I wonder what wine they will be featuring for participants to take home to christen their hand-painted glasses. It’s a great reason for people to buy wine.

If you’re hosting events at your winery that are out of the ordinary, please let me know, I’d love to hear about them.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

If You Want To Win the Lottery, First Buy A Ticket
20 March, 2015

A good article on Business talks about developing an action plan to accomplish goals. It’s important to have an action plan for every goal you have listed, whether it’s personal or business. Some of you may remember that I have talked about my goal of winning the lottery. My action plan to make this happen is to buy a ticket. No ticket, no win, it’s that simple. Of course, I may never win the lottery, but at least by having an action plan I have given myself a fighting chance.

So look at your goals for each of the different areas of your business and if each one of your goals doesn’t have specific action plans, then it’s time to add them under each one of your goals. If you haven’t stated your goals for each of the areas of your business rather than an overall goal (to be successful), now is the time to do it.

You also want to be specific with your goals. If, for example, you are planning an event, you need to have a clear picture of what your goals are, such as how much product you want to sell and how many people you want to attend and how many new people you want to add to your mailing list. Once you have got the goals sorted, then add details, such as: we want to sell products totaling $5,000 dollars to the 130 people who attend the event, 40 of whom will be added to our mailing list.

Your goals should be realistic but make them a bit of a stretch. After all, you want everyone to feel good about having reached the goals. Once you have your goals, let everyone who is involved know the goals and get them involved in making an action plans. Include deadlines as part of the action plan. Keep track of your progress along the way, to make sure you are on target.

If these are plans for longer-term goals, create rewards along the way as certain objectives are reached. We all perform better when rewards are part of the project.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

A Few Bad Email Subject Lines
16 March, 2015

I received an email today, not in itself unusual as most of the internet world can attest. It wasn’t the email itself that bothered me but the subject line that I disliked. The subject line was:

“Discover one of ——‘s best-kept secrets…”  I left out the name of the area to protect the guilty.

Whether you are saying best-kept secret in an email, on your website, in a brochure or verbally to visitors, I encourage you not to do so. After all, why would you want to keep your business a secret? And not only is it a secret, it’s the “best kept” secret so you’ve obviously been working very hard to keep it a secret. Not a good idea if you want to stay in business. It is at best lazy marketing.

Companies that do want to keep their businesses a secret don’t send all and sundry emails or ads. You have to be on their mailing list or waiting list to hear from them.

There are other email subject lines that don’t help you much including:

      We are proud to announce 

Your pride is not of major importance to the readers, let them know something to theirbenefit.

      Anything in all caps

I still receive information from businesses where the heading or subject line is in all caps as is the body of the message. All caps are hard to read.

     Using your business name as the subject line

Your business name appears on the left when your email hits the recipient’s mailbox.  Don’t waste valuable real estate repeating your name.

      Too much punctuation

Exclamation points are becoming very popular these days, too popular and for no good purpose much of the time.

Here is an idea for a subject line for wineries that should get people to at least open the email:

      “Do you love wine and have an inside closet?” or

      “You don’t have to have a cellar to collect wine.”

The body of the email may start by saying:

      “Many people think you have to have a cellar to have a wine collection, you don’t.

      As long as you have a closet that stays cool, it’s a great place for storing wine.”

And go from there (giving readers ideas of storage, aging, etc.)

If any of you try this subject line, I’d love to know how it worked. Did more people open your email and did more people click through? If you hate it, let me know that too. Drop me a line.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Right Type Is Just As Important As the Right Stuff
27 February, 2015

I received an email from a winery that arrived in my inbox shortly before Valentine’s Day advertising a special Valentine’s Day event on Saturday and Sunday (Feb 14 & 15).

The event itself sounded like fun, but my enthusiasm for the event was diminished by the font that was used to write the body of the email. The font was, to say the least, hard to read with its swirls and squiggles, kind of Olde Englishy. Because it was so hard to read, I stopped reading after the first paragraph and, had I not decided to write a blog about this email, I wouldn’t have bothered to read any further. As it was, I battled on to the bottom of the email.

If your customers have a hard time reading your emails, they just won’t do it. Additionally, please remember that the generation that is spending the most money on wine and drinking the most wine is the Boomer generation (ages 51 – 69). This is the generation that spends a lot of time reaching for their collective reading glasses, even when the type isn’t hard to read, so please make it easy for them.

The second problem with the email: There was very little in the email that focused on the potential attendees and how this would enjoy the event. The headline focused on the ordering of tickets for the event instead of letting people know what was in it for them.
The headline could easily have been: A Valentine’s Day to Remember, or Enjoy the Best Valentine’s Day Ever, or You, Your Sweetheart, Wine and Chocolate.

In the body of the email was a list of the wines being tasted with information as to what people would taste in the wine. We never know how a wine will taste to others. Tasting wine sometimes seems like a test and when we don’t taste what we have been told we should, it’s rather like failing a test. Let your customers decide for themselves.

When putting together an email invitation to an event or to buy wine, think first about the people you are sending it to, and what is important to them, instead of what is important to you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What Are Consumers Drinking And Where Are They Buying It From?
20 February, 2015

The Wine Market Council has provided the company’s 10th annual presentation on U.S. wine consumer trends. Here are some of the highlights from the presentation.

The research showed that high-frequency wine drinkers were purchasing wine from many different places:

Wine specialty store 58%
Supermarket/grocery 53%
Bar/restaurant 52%
Mass Merchandiser 34%
Warehouse club 31%
When visiting winery 29%
Specialty food store 25%
State liquor store 23%
Online winery or retailer 9%

Research for this report showed that by generation, wine drinkers were: 41% Boomers, 29% Millennials, 18% Gen X, and 12% older people. So Boomers are still the biggest audience for wine, by quite a large percentage. Additionally, Boomers are also the largest share of high-frequency wine drinkers, a total of 38%, with the Millennials coming in at 30% of high-frequency wine drinkers.

While you are concerned about bringing in Millennial consumers, don’t do it at the cost of your Boomer customers, who still make up the majority of your wine buyers and wine drinkers. Pull out of your customer records the breakdown of your customers by age and see how many you have in each category. The ages for three categories are: Boomers – 51-69; Gen X 39-50, Millennials 21-38.

This year the youngest of the Millennials will turn 21. As 99% of Millennials wine drinkers are now of age, how much of the sales are they responsible for at your winery? This is interesting data to have on hand and will help you get the most out of your advertising dollars by allowing you to focus your advertising and marketing on the audience that buys the most from you.

The most telling information presented in the Wine Market Council’s survey of high-frequency wine drinkers is that other alcoholic beverages (craft beer, spirits, and cider) are more frequently being chosen instead of wine.

We need to be aware that we have more competition, not only from other wineries but also from other forms of alcoholic beverages. Keep marketing and keep selling if you want to stay ahead of the game.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

What’s In A Name???
17 February, 2015

Whether you are naming your business or naming your products it’s important to think long and hard before you put the name on the package. Once you have built up some brand equity in that name, you’re not going to want to change it.

Of course, the most important thing is that nobody else has the name, so investigate the name thoroughly. I have known more than one business that has started with one name and had to change it because the name or a very similar name was actually trademarked by another company.

When considering names of more than one word, you need to consider whether the words flow well together and make the name easier not harder to remember. Another tip is the use of alliteration, commonly used in many business names, such as Coldstone Creamery or PowerPoint, for example. Both of those names roll easily off the tongue and because of the alliteration is easier to remember. Alliteration has long been accepted as a memory enhancer and is used in everything from cartoon characters to products and sports teams.

You can also consider names that may bring up certain feelings. An interesting fact you many not know, according to Aaron Keller writing for, “Cellar Door has been rated as the most phonetically beautiful pairing of words.” This is a great boon for the wine business.

You also want to think about how the name of the business or product looks in the different places that it will be seen, e.g. the web, your logo, a brochure, social media or a billboard.

According to the SBA you should also be aware of the connotations the words may evoke. For example, does it reflect your business philosophy, your culture, the price point and the product you are selling? Beer, for example, may have much more whimsical, funny or slightly off-color names. Interestingly enough, there was a report on NPR in January of this year that talked about the fact that craft brewers are running out of names. Wine and spirit names, on the other hand, tend to be more sedate with an aura of quality, at least those at a higher price point.

So when you are naming your next product, think long and hard before it becomes part of your product line.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Talk About Yourself, Your Business, Your Products
06 February, 2015

For many businesses, especially the smaller ones, public/press relations tend to spend a lot of time on the backburner. It’s always something that is going to get done, but if you don’t have someone tasked with creating press releases and stories, it’s rare that the press releases and promotional pieces are written with any regularity.

Put Yourself Out There
Take advantage of local, regional and national press by being organized and up-to-date with the information you send to the press, through email and put on your website. You never know who is going to see it and become a life-long customer.

Get Organized
Time to get organized. If you don’t already have one, start with a Press section on your website for the press. Rather like the old printed press kit but without the cost of printing. This gives reporters who may have heard about your winery an easy way to get the information they need about your vineyards, winery, wines, staff, history, owners, winemaker, dog or whatever. You should also include products photos, videos and, most importantly, contact information.

Note: If someone from the press or electronic media calls you with questions speak to them immediately or call them back as quickly as you can as they are usually on deadline. If the reporter can’t get a hold of you s/he will find someone at another company like yours to talk to.

Be a Resource
When something happens in your industry, journalists are often times looking for someone who can give them a salient quote. If you want to be that person, rather than it being one of your competitors, get to know these journalists, reporters and bloggers. If there is bad weather during harvest, take a few minutes to call your local newspaper and let them know how it’s affecting your crop.

Whenever anything newsworthy is happening at your winery (and you should make sure that the story is really newsworthy) contact everyone you think might be interested. The more you send out good information, the more the press will get to know who you are and start counting on you when they need information.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

How to Put Together a Productive Brainstorming Session
30 January, 2015

I came across an interesting article in the Business Dictionary, a few weeks ago, about the benefits of brainstorming and how to put together a productive brainstorming session. The article by Leo Sun gave some great tips on how to conduct a successful session.

Plan a brainstorming session with your staff at least once each year, while setting up individual department brainstorming sessions more regularly during the year (perhaps three times each year). To help your employees’ creativity, change the venue from your regular meeting room. A different venue may help people express their ideas more easily.

Prior to the brainstorming session, let your employees know if you have a specific agenda or what topics will be addressed so that they can be thinking about them beforehand and have some ideas ready for the meeting.

You will need a leader for the brainstorming session, or more than one leader if you are going to break people into groups. Smaller groups can be more effective if you are bringing a large number of people together. Your leaders should write down the topic or topics that are the reason for the session, taking each topic separately and putting a time limit for each topic.

In the first phase of the session, it helps to get as many ideas out as possible, so let people know that you are looking for quantity over quality. Let everyone know that there are no bad ideas and that this is not the time to say that certain ideas won’t work. Additionally, everyone should contribute. The leaders should not allow anyone to sit quietly.

When you have all the ideas, you can group them into themes. Once you have them organized go back to the groups and ask them to go deeper, rooting out ideas that have not yet been thought of, then organize these items into themes. At that time start talking about the two lists and see what unique ideas emerge.

If you have more than one group, compare the results in each group and have the group leaders write up the results then tape them up around the room so people can vote on their favorites.

The objective is to come up with new ideas and to have buy-in from the employees so that when the new processes and procedures are introduced, everyone will feel as if they had a part in setting them up.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Are You Selling In Your Tasting Room? Really?
23 January, 2015

I had some friends from the Midwest in Northern California recently. These are wine savvy people who were looking for some wineries to visit. They wanted a variety of experiences and so they and I chose many different types of wineries in both Napa and Sonoma to visit.

Overall their experiences at the 12 – 15 wineries they visited were good, with the majority of the people in the different hospitality centers being pleasant and cheerful. The one thing they noticed at every winery they went to is that no-one (let me repeat – no-one) tried to sell them anything, not even in the mildest way.

In some wineries, they thoroughly enjoyed their tastings and loved the wine but were given no written information on the wine and by the end of the tasting were not sure which wines they had tasted and which ones they liked the best. It was especially confusing when they were tasting different examples of the same varietal. After you have had five Pinots (for example) it’s hard to remember which one was which. And no one offered to help them choose wines to take home with them.

The other thing that struck them was that it was hard to get some of the hospitality employees off their favorite topic. In more than one case the winery employee started talking about a certain topic (soils, wine & food pairing or something wine or grape related that was close to his/her heart) and it was almost impossible, without being rude, for my friends to ask questions or move onto a different topic. In addition, they were asked very few questions about themselves or their wine tastes, though they were given lots of information, most of which they didn’t remember by the time they got to the car.

As it is early in the year and tasting rooms around North America are slower than usual, now is a great time to get the staff together to talk about customer service, sales and how to treat the customers. I will be sending my Midwest Spies and others out again to do more research, and as they live in the Midwest you don’t know what wine region they might turn up in.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Think From A Different Perspective
16 January, 2015

In my line of work I look at a lot of outlines for different tasting room programs such as blending classes, sensory tastings, differences in glassware, wine and food pairings, etc.

While there are some great ideas that have been well thought out, I would love to see an outline for an offering that comes from the perspective of those who will be enjoying the session, rather from the perspective of those who are trying to sell wine to visitors. What is it that your visitors want?

Based on recent research, most people coming to wineries want to be entertained. They are there to have a good time and while education is important to some (a small percentage of the people who visit), it’s not the main reason they come. However, if you can give them a story and incorporate some educational facts that make them look intelligent and knowledgeable when they share with their friends, then they are more than likely to talk about your winery once they get home. They are also more likely to buy wine to take home with them so they can share it with these same friends or family.

If you don’t know what your customers and visitors are looking for, perhaps you can make 2015 the year of the survey. Send out short (three – five question) surveys asking people what they are looking for, what types of events or special classes they would like to participate in. Discover what their interests are and plan your events based on the information you receive.

You can send out a three question survey monthly and it’s a great opportunity to drop in a little information about the wines you have available. Just a couple of sentences, don’t overdo the sales pitch, remember it’s about them.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Upping the Ante on Customer Service
09 January, 2015

I encourage you to take a leaf from Amazon’s book (no pun intended) and create a way to emulate Amazon Prime. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Amazon Prime, when you join you get free Two-Day Shipping for all eligible purchases, as well as a host of other benefits including borrowing books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, streaming movies and much more.

I have done some very unscientific research among my friends who belong to Amazon Prime asking the simple question, “Since you got Amazon Prime are you spending more money with Amazon?” The answer to my question was a unanimous “Yes I am spending more money with Amazon.” Now granted this was a very small sampling, but the wineries that have already started their own version of Amazon Prime are finding it is increasing their business tremendously.

For example, Constellation Wines offers what they call Star Shipping to wine club members. Simply members of their Expressions of the Vine wine clubs purchase a one-year Star Shipping membership for $99.00. Whenever they place a wine order for $49 or more (and this includes wine club shipments) the wine is shipped without any further cost to them by ground shipping.

Take a look at your customer records for wine club members and figure out how much they pay to ship their wine club wines for the year and charge them a little less than that to become a member of your pre-paid shipping program. Not only will it make your existing wine club members happy, it will also encourage non-members to join the wine club. Most of us are willing to spend money to save a little. It’s just the way our brains work.

It also gives you another reason to contact your wine club members. When you are presenting a special offer you remind your customers of the pre-paid shipping, which is another reason for them to buy. For those who are already members of the pre-paid shipping program you let them know that they won’t be paying any shipping if the purchase the required amount.

There are a number of benefits that can be added into this program, so put on your thinking caps and start creating your program.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Are You Analyzing Your Business?
05 January, 2015

As it is winter and things (supposedly) slow down a little, it’s a good time to analyze and assess your business. Most of you have conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of your business. Of course, it may have been when you were creating a business plan to start your business. If that has been a while, it’s probably a good idea to do it again (include your employees in the process).

Another analysis that is beneficial to conduct is the PEST analysis. This is a broader view of things that affect your business, such as the Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural and Technological factors that need to be considered. As we all know these factors are changing constantly, though if you want to continue to be successful, it’s important to keep abreast of this information.

For example, on the Political front, the U.S. recently went through a mid-tem election. Now is a good time to figure out how the changes in local, state and federal government may change policy in your local area or on a national scale. In the beverage industry we need to pay careful attention to how changes in government may change regulations regarding alcoholic beverages.

Next up is the Economy. What is happening with your customers’ discretionary income, it is growing or becoming a smaller portion of their total income? And if you are considering expanding your reach to outside North America what are the economic factors of the countries into which you want to import products?

Socio-Cultural concerns are also important. What is the average age of your best customers and are changing attitudes within these generations likely to change your profitability? It’s also good to consider what social attitudes or taboos could affect the business.

Finally, there is Technology, which we all know is changing at the speed of light (or possibly faster). It may be time to consider what new technologies you should be using to increase business or your abilities to connect more effectively with your customers.

There are a number of other considerations for each of the factors that comprise a PEST. Let me encourage you to take some time to do a quick analysis over the winter – while things are quiet :). Or am I just being a pest?

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Put Yourself Out There!
26 December, 2014

Some wineries seem to be the go to businesses when reporters (whether television, radio, newspaper or internet) need a quote from a winery about something of general interest that’s happening in the wine business.

This isn’t just happenstance, many times the winery has developed a personal relationship with reporters, a personal relationship that works for all of them.

What does it take to develop these person relationships? It’s very similar to developing relationships with your customers. You must know what the person likes and how you can help them. You must also be familiar with what they do, the column or blog or types of stories they write, or the program they present (whether it’s TV, radio or video). In short, do your research on who they are and what they are likely to want.

If it’s television or radio you should also know the name of the producers on the show. You can do this by picking up the phone and asking. If you want to pitch an idea to this person be sure to tell them what they will see and hear. Before you call you already know that it’s a subject that will interest them and be right for the show. Regional programs are always looking for experts, so if you have expertise in a certain area, let them know, this is not the time to be modest.

Once you have talked to them, be ready with a strong email pitch for a story that will be of interest to their audience (the release of a new wine, is not going to catch any attention). Make sure the information is on your social media pages (especially LinkedIn) in case they are looking for you.

If you are invited to sit down with a reporter producer it won’t hurt to take a couple of bottles of wine with you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Welcome To Stress Central!
19 December, 2014

It’s the holidays, which just adds more work and errands to lives that are already stretched to the max. Not only the customers who are coming to buy gifts and are not sure what to buy are stressed, but also the owners and staff of the business. They might well be thinking that they still have their own gift shopping to do, cards to write, the house to decorate and a menu to write for the lunch or dinner they are hosting for all the relatives.

Time to relax, take a deep breath and consider doing something that I have started doing lately, which is standing still, closing my eyes and imagining all the stress flowing out through the soles of my feet. It only takes about thirty seconds and I have found that it actually works. It makes me feel more relaxed and ready to greet visitors and customers and help them de-stress for twenty minutes or so.

At this time of year, it’s easy to get into the mindset that everything is really important. Thinking about who to buy for and what to buy, will they like it and what if they don’t… It is rare that I don’t like a gift that someone is kind enough to give me (well I did get some quite hideous things from my ex-mother-in-law for a while there). Mostly, I appreciate the thought and am happy that they think about me.

When you are working during the holiday period, take time to focus on the customers. To give them extra special service that will make their day brighter and yours too. Put your own concerns and stresses to one side. Imagine putting them all into a backpack and then leave the backpack beside the door on the way into work. You can pick up your backpack of stresses on the way out (I promise you no one will have stolen it). The nice thing is you don’t have to pick it up if you don’t want to.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Creating Your Messages so Your Customers and Prospects Want to Read It
12 December, 2014

We have all gotten emails or seen websites where the information just goes on and on, in one long, long paragraph. Most of us read the first few lines (maybe) then can’t be bothered to read the rest. Unless you have a headline that offers an amazing deal, “FREE PRODUCTS, TODAY ONLY, ABSOLUTELY NO COST”, followed by the line “Yes, this is really true” we are not going read far enough to get to the meat of your message.

When you are writing your website, an email, a brochure or anything else that is going to consumers, the trade or the press, you need to keep it short and simple. Get to the point very early and when your readers see that there is substance to your offer they will keep on reading.

The key to this is to start writing early. Let’s say you are sending out an email. Write it a week before you want to send it out. Once it’s written, save it and put it away for two days. Then come back and delete all the words you don’t need. Then give it to someone else and let him/her take out some more words. Less words means more white space and more white space means people are more likely to read it.

Keep your sentences short and your paragraphs to just a few of those short sentences. Don’t overload your readers with information in the first couple of paragraphs. Once you have hooked them they will keep reading. Keep the flow going from one paragraph to the next, with more information in each subsequent paragraph.

Remember: you may be passionate about your product or service but they are passionate about what your product and service can do for them. Keep the focus on how you and your products or service can make their life better.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Be Careful With Those Tweets
05 December, 2014

With everyone out there tweeting away, when you are a producer of alcoholic beverages it’s important to know the laws around, regarding what you can and what you cannot say. Just knowing the laws is difficult, as there are so many – especially surrounding alcohol, but not realizing that you are breaking the laws can have dire consequences for wineries, breweries, distilleries, etc.

I was reading in the Wine Industry Advisor Afternoon Brief recently about the wineries in the Sacramento, CA area that tweeted information about wine tasting event in Northern California called the Grape Escape. SaveMart sponsored the event. By tweeting the name of this retailer, the wineries and breweries were breaking the tied-house laws, laws that don’t allow alcohol producers to promote retailers. The eight wineries and breweries who tweeted the information could have been subject to a license suspension or a fine. While the California Alcohol Beverage Control send letters threatening 10-day suspensions, they opted to allow businesses to admit to wrongdoing and put them on probation for a year – which means that any future violations would cause the 10-day suspension to go into effect.

Rules and regulations concerning the marketing and advertising of alcoholic beverages are available through the TTB and your state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. Anyone who handles marketing, advertising or social media should be aware of the rules regarding what you can and cannot say in ads, tweets, on Facebook, emails and on your website, etc.

The other thing to remember is that new laws are coming out all the time, and, as we all know, “ignorantia legis neminem excusat,” which is Latin for “ignorance of the law does not excuse.” While that may not apply all the time, you don’t want to spend your hard earned money to fight that.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are You Telling Your Stories to Your Customers?
01 December, 2014

How many stories do you have to tell visitors and customers? Is everyone saying the same thing, or do different people in the business have different stories to tell about the business?

When you can tell a personal story about who you work for, where you work, or why the company you work for is special, it goes a long way to connecting visitors and customers with the company. Think about what stories are special to you, or something that happened to you while you were at work that will make someone laugh or give them a warm feeling. Do you have a great story about your boss, which shows them in a positive light? Or if you’re the boss do you have a great story about one of your employees?

Even though it has been some years ago, I still remember a story that a hospitality employee told me about how the people she worked for supported her through a time of personal crisis. It made a strong impression on me and led to me buying more wine than I would normally have. If I am in the area, I will always stop at the winery to taste the wine and engage with the staff.

Also telling a story of something that went wrong at the winery, makes your winery and the people in it more human. If it’s a story that your visitors or customers find amusing and engaging there is a more than average chance that they will tell the story themselves to their friends and to others.

In addition to telling visitors and customers your story, it’s important that you take the time to hear their stories as well. Give them time to chat with you about their stories around wine in general or your wines in particular. Create the bonds that will bring people back again and again.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Conveying Information to Consumers
23 November, 2014

If you want to engage and connect successfully with customers, as a  tasting room employee, you need to quickly intuit what information individual visitors want or expect and tailor the information you present to the wants of the visitor. You can learn what visitors want by asking questions. Create a list of questions that can be asked of visitors, to discern their level of interest in wine, viticulture, winemaking, attending events or other wine related topics, and their level of wine knowledge.

Of course, there are certain things that you want to make sure that every visitor knows before they leave your business. These are the three things that are the most important for the world to know about your business.

Except for the three things you want the world to know about your business, you don’t have to convey the same information every time. Diversity of information makes it more interesting for the people listening, as the information does not seem stale, which it may when your server is saying the same thing time and time again. When varying the information the person talking is more animated and excited about what they are saying.

Take a time out every so often for questions or comments from the audience. If no one has any questions, it’s probably time for you to change the subject as you may well have exhausted their interest in the present topic. If they want to know more, they will tell you.

Keep in mind that the reason people buy is because they feel, not because they think. By talking about the things that they want to talk and learn about, rather than what you want or have been told to tell them, they will become more engaged and connected with you and the winery, which leads to an increase in sales and long term customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

The Key to Good Marketing: Differentiate Your Product
19 November, 2014

I was reading recently in the Wine Industry Advisor that the TTB has established 11 new viticultural areas within the Central Coast region of California. The Paso Robles AVA was established in 1983 and is very large, about 42 miles from east to west and 32 miles north to south. Definitely a big area.

While having these distinctive areas is a great help to vineyards and the wineries focusing of different climates and which grapes grow best where, along with a myriad of small differences that affect grapes and wine, all these viticultural areas can be very confusing to consumers. Many times they are not sure which valley or AVA they are in, and get confused about the differences.

It is not unlikely that, as the wine industry and these individual AVAs keep growing, in years to come each separate area will have its own association, its own events, its own literature and marketing plans. This means even more information for consumers to absorb and remember in a world that is already throwing way too much information at them.

I remember talking to a gentleman on a plane bound for San Francisco and mentioning that I was in the wine industry. He told me that last time he had come out to California on business his wife had accompanied him and they had spent the weekend in “the wine country.” When I asked him which area he had visited he said that he and his wife headed north from San Francisco to visit (and this is a direct quote), “The one on the left.” Assuming he was going up Hwy 101, Sonoma County is on the left side and Napa is off to the right, so I presumed that he went to the wineries in Sonoma County. He didn’t know.

We are in the habit of dividing up our wine areas into even smaller areas (and they are becoming much, much smaller) without doing the work needed to really cement the distinctive and differentiating quality of the AVAs in the minds of consumers. As the key to good marketing is differentiating your product (in this case a new viticultural area) all the AVAs need to continue to work on differentiation, especially as the industry continues to grow. Here is the hard part, differentiation is showing differences that are important to the majority of your customers, not just to those of us in the business.

Congratulations to the Central Coast on their new AVAs! They have worked hard to get them and now the hard work of differentiation really starts.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Are you Ready for the Biggest Shopping Weekend of the Year?
08 November, 2014

It’s November already and we are quickly coming up to the holidays. Your customers are already thinking about gift giving and what they will need for their own festivities. Consumers are primed to buy and just need you to let them know that your products will fill the bill.

As we get close to Black Friday (November 28th), the kick off to the holiday buying season, are you ready? And not only for Black Friday; for those of you who are small businesses (most of the wine industry), what are you doing for Small Business Saturday? According to an article I read on, in 2013 consumers spent $5.7 billion at independent retailers on this day. So, what are you doing to make sure you get your share of that $5.7 billion?

And we haven’t even got to Cyber Monday (Dec. 1st) yet!

What have you got planned for these three days? Many wineries choose the Thanksgiving weekend to host an open house, as people like to be out and about that weekend. Lots of your customers will have family in town, so encourage them to bring family members with them to the winery. You might even want to offer “Wine Club for a Day” opportunities for your wine club member’s guests. For one day only they can redeem a coupon that entitles them to wine club discounts or to buy special wines that are usually reserved for wine club members only.

You may also wish to style your business as the anti-mall. Instead of visiting a crowded mall they can come and relax at the winery where you will have special tastings, food pairings and possibly some preferential pricing on certain items.

Start getting the information out through your social media, emails and any other ways that your customers and visitors use to find you.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

How Involved Are Your Customers With Your Business?
31 October, 2014

One way to keep your customers engaged and connected with your business is to encourage them to become more involved. The easiest way to do that is to solicit their opinions and feedback. Of course, it can sometimes be difficult to hear that you are not doing as well as you may think you are in certain areas. Though, at the same time, if you are getting straightforward and honest input from your target audience, the information can be amazingly helpful.

Your customers may have a very different take on the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising. The emails, newsletters and even your website may benefit greatly from the information you get from your customers.

What information do you have regarding how often customers read your emails? Do they read all of them? Do they read one in three? What makes them want to read your emails?  Is it the subject line? Is it because they know there will be an offer that will benefit them? If you don’t know the reasons that they are opening the emails, you can’t craft them to be successful.

You can also invite some of your regular customers to participate in a small group meeting to talk about what makes them buy the product and what you could do to make the product more interesting to different types of people. Invite the participants to lunch to thank them for their time, or organize a tasting or other small function to that will take place after you have their input to thank them.

Don’t forget your employees, they have unique insights into the business, what works and what doesn’t. Not only managers – include everyone who is part of the work force should be asked for their opinions. Not only should you come up with some new ideas, you will end up with employees that are more loyal and more aware of what the customers are asking for and what they are most interested in.

So take some time to send out some short surveys three or four times each year and perhaps add in some phone calls to customers taking up five minutes or less of their time to get great information.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Different Customers Want Different Relationships
27 October, 2014

A few weeks ago, I blogged about an article from Harvard Business Review about analyzing customer data. In this week’s blog we are going to look at the different types of customers.

While consumers do not engage or connect with every brand (for example I have no attachment to any brand of dishwasher detergent), many of them do connect with craft beverage companies, becoming an ambassador for the brand.

According to the HBR article, the various types of customer relationships are governed by their own rules, based on the customers’ expectations. The article lists six different types of customers.

Basic Exchange – This customer wants a good product or service at a fair price, looking for dependability without having to think about it or do too much.

Business Partners – Want to work with the company as a valued and reliable partner working over the long term.

Fling – Expects the company to provide excitement, fuel his or her passion during every interaction and not encourage reflection or rational thinking about purchases.

Best Friends – Looks for intimacy and emotional support. The customer wants a two-way flow of honest communication and expects that the company won’t take advantage of vulnerability.

Buddies – Looks for sustained interaction but doesn’t want a close or emotional relationship. Expects that the company will not make demands or limit freedom to associate with others.

Master-Slave – Wants to intensify feelings or self worth. Demands that the company listen, anticipate every need, satisfy demands and not ask questions.

Can you break your customers into one of these six categories? I believe that many businesses know the customers who are looking to be their best friends. They come in regularly, bring other people with them and present the business as theirs. For example:“This is our winery” rather than “this is a winery we usually go to.”

What about the other categories? Spend some time thinking about how many of your customers slot into the different categories, and start focusing your communication to meet the expectations of different categories of customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you! 

Why Consumers Buy, A Personal Story
17 October, 2014

I spend a lot of time my time learning about why people buy. I know all of the emotional and rational reasons why people buy and after my actions of a few weeks ago I know on a personal level why I buy.

I had been to the car dealers a while back to have my oil changed. As part of the service I had asked them to refill the container that holds water to wash the windshield. They did but omitted to check it and when I got home I found that it still didn’t work. So I set up an appointment to find out what was wrong and to get it fixed. When you are in and out of as many vineyards as I am, being able to wash the windshield is critical.

Three days later, I took the car to get it fixed and while I was there I wandered through the used car area. Just as I spotted this beautiful dark blue car a salesperson walked over to me and began to tell me about the car. He asked me if I would like to take a test drive. As it happened the salesperson was English so we had a nice chinwag about England and because we had connected, I said yes to the test drive.

Okay, yes was the wrong answer. As soon as I started driving the car, I was hooked, but still not planning to get a new car. Then he told me that this pristine car was a 2011, a lease return that had been very well taken care of (by that dealership) and (wait for it) with only 15,000 miles on it. I was hooked. I went home and checked the same model and age, etc. to see if the price was reasonable. It was, so I called them back and told them I would take the car.

I did have good reasons to buy a new (to me) car. My current car is 15 years old, although it runs well and only has 144,000 miles on it. I have enjoyed owning the car for many years though don’t like the cup-holders. Is not liking the cup holders a good enough reason to buy a new car?

Why did I buy it? I was sold emotionally. First, I connected with the person I was buying it from. It was a good buy financially and logically (it has all the new features I missed in my old car). However, the reason I bought it was primarily emotional.

Hose to fix the windshield washer water container – $13.61 cents; a new (to me) car – a heck of a lot more, but priceless. I did, by the way, make them take the $13.61 for the hose off the price of the car.

A tip of the glass from me to you!