Archive

Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Who is Seattle Wine Gal? Interview With Sacre Bleu

All Content Belongs to Barbara Evans. Into and interview questions written and conducted by Sacre Bleu

The tale of anyone who manages to map their way back from distress or misfortune seems always worth repeating.  We love the comeback story, the person who in spite of whatever crap got dumped into their life just didn’t see failure as an acceptable option.  They played it out.  That’s Barbara Evans, or as many of us have come to know her, Seattle Wine Gal.

Seattle Wine Gal is the Twitter name and emerging brand that is becoming a sort of Internet/Wine pop culture phenomenon.  Her number of followers, in a very short period, has sprung to almost 5000 and her web site look and content could be best described as guerilla minimalist.  It is at once both substantive and irreverent with no shortage of attitude and charisma.

Evan’s is a study in survivor strategy and balls out determination.  From a childhood depression and a learning disability comes a young woman with 7 years of TaeKwonDo experience at traveling tournament team level, roller derby girl, MA is Social Anthropology, aviation and pilot training with a final touch down as social media advocate/wine babe.  In short, she’s one of the important faces helping transform the ever youthful wine landscape.  Our interview with her comes at a time when her work load and popularity are growing rapidly.

When you look back to when you first began enjoying wine, did you ever have a eureka or Sacre Bleu! type moment where you realized wine was really special and what was the wine that came with that moment?

People love asking wine lovers “what was the bottle that turned you into an enthusiast”. Many wine lovers think up some super expensive First Growth Bordeaux or fine Champagne as the bottle that ‘did it’ for them… don’t believe them! I have asked this question to hundreds of people, and after some coaxing have learned that most wine enthusiasts discovered that wine was special when they bumped the price point from $8 to $12! I believe there are scads of “eureka” moments in a wine lovers life, all which make it more difficult to go back to that $8 bottle. As for me, I used to drink boxed wine. After “splurging” on a $15 of Tempranillo, I couldn’t drink the boxed wine anymore. My second Eureka moment came when someone bought me a bottle of 1999 Sanford Pinot Noir. After that I began working at a wine shop, attending seminars, and eventually traveled the world in the pursuit of wine!

You’ve managed to overcome a great deal in your life. The journey from young girl with a learning disability to licensed pilot, SCUBA certification and ultra marathon runner with an MA in Social Anthropology isn’t typical. What is it that burns inside you as motivation?

Yes, my past surprises people. I openly admit to having had a rough adolescence. I had severe depression and behavioral problems, which led me to “special kid” classes/schools, learning disabilities, and other problems which I will not mention (but thankfully overcame). I have always tried to keep my head above water and be a good kid who got good grades. To get a B, I tried a hundred times harder than many of the A students. After years of struggling to keep up, I developed an unintentional, systematic hyper drive sense of motivation. As life got easier, the hyper drive that barely kept my head above water started propelling me above and beyond. I guess I never really noticed (and still don’t) where this unique inner flame to push life to the limits leads me.

What is it about the integration of social media with wine that brings you to this level of passion and fun that you chose to carve out a career in it.

I never intended to start a business after ‘creating’ Seattle Wine Gal. One Year ago, I worked for a large online retail company. I created and managed their Social Media program. I was given no resources to learn how to create a winning campaign, and I had no background in business. I poured my own money into educating myself and spent hours and hours of my own time mastering SEO, analytics, and basic platform tech skills for this campaign. Just as I began to see real success, and a positive Return On Investment, I was let go due to a merger with another company. It was then that I decided to push the limits with what I learned. I created Seattle Wine Gal as an experiment. Everything that I wanted to do working for corporate, but was not ‘allowed’ to, I did with Seattle Wine Gal (from dropping the F bomb occasionally in my tweets, to pics of me guzzling expensive wine out of the bottle on my Facebook page). I found that people were tired of the same old ‘wine review’ style wine bloggers, and drawn to my style. Along the way I began to see the wine industry struggling to tap into one of the most sought after customer demographics right now… young wine drinkers! Wine makers and shop owners, as well as Seattle restaurants began calling on me to help them with their Social Media. Trading my know-how for wine and food wasn’t paying the bills, so I started my own business BeRealTime and do business as Seattle Wine Gal.

Do you believe that social media will reach it’s true potential in terms of engaging consumers with products? At least in the wine world it seems that so much social media bandwidth is spent with company’s and brands engaging each other more often than the consumer.

Yes, there is a very fast shift from traditional marketing to social media marketing right now, and there is no sign that it will ever go backwards. This seems to be very scary for the wine industry. They know that they need to get involved, but have no idea how or why. I see a lot of heal dragging, but I also see just as many people adopting these new marketing tactics.

As a company, it is very easy to get caught up in only engaging online with other companies like your own. To maximize Social Media efforts, businesses need to be dialed into their target audience i.e. their potential clientele. Extend your reach, find new people, and always be other focused. No one likes a product pusher (snore). I strongly advise business owners to get on board as quickly as possible. You get what you give; dedicate some time and effort to Social Media… the return on investment may shock you!

You’ve opted for a minimalist look for your site and turned away the recommendations of some who have urged you to upgrade its look. Why do you resist those urgings?

Part of this marketing shift I spoke of above is a consumer appreciation for raw, gritty, human presentation. People are tired of high production values and clean shiny print ads. At the same time Reality TV became popular, so too did reality marketing. It’s all about content. I am going to create a webpage soon (using zero dollars), but ultimately feel that it is completely unnecessary. I also feel webpage’s them selves, and text blogs (no offense) are beginning to lose interest and will fail to capture consumer attention. I am focusing my efforts more on video, and just started a fun new Youtube channel. For businesses too busy to write text blogs, I highly recommend getting into video. It’s easier and is the direction Social Media Marketing is headed! As for webpages, they are like a business card- a completely stagnant advert unless you work to bring it to life (badges to your YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook etc). The new target audience is more likely to find your Facebook or Twitter page than your website.


Advertisements

Social Media Tips for the Wine Industry: Your Twitter Homepage

February 22, 2010 4 comments

The details of your Twitter homepage ARE important for your Social Media efforts.

  • Pay attention to your bio (use key words for best Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Chose a hometown location of the closest city to you to maximize people’s search for you
  • Customize your background with completely free applications such as FreetwitterDesigner
  • Chose a high quality image that you keep consistent throughout your platforms (Facebook, blog etc)

Real Life Social Media Success: The Influence of a Great Campaign

February 8, 2010 10 comments

Sorbet at Russells Dining (@RussellsDining) in Bothell, WA

Picture this scene. I’m in a gorgeous restaurant (that I frequent often) on a date with my snookems. We were dining fireside, great wine, nice shoes… the works. Before I go further, I digress a bit… I tend to have a one track mind and bore the hell out of him with Social Media talk, so on the way to the restaurant I mentioned something about having a Social Media and Seattle Wine Gal free dinner. I will tell you now that it was NOT an evening void of Seattle Wine Gal, and here’s why.

[Keep in mind how this directly relates to the real power of influence that exists within the walls of Social Media].

We were talking about an upcoming trip possibility and how we can go about it since we have a new puppy when I was interrupted mid sentence and told by him that someone in the restaurant was talking about “Seattle Wine Gal”. We both listened quietly and finally spotted the table of 6 who were enjoying a bottle of one of my favorite wines a few tables away. Phones all out in a tweet-friendly position, one of the gents was saying: “Seattle Wine Gal highly recommends this place. She’s become one of Seattle’s prominent tweeters and has awesome recommendations for wine and cool events.” I phased out and let them have their privacy back, but I did notice my name come up again a few times later that night. I must also mention that the wine they had ordered was a wine I recommended last week on Twitter.

Now folks, it is imperative that you know that I am not writing this to ‘toot my horn’. I was literally SHOCKED to hear this, and didn’t quite know if I liked the little bit of notoriety. It really did, however, get me thinking a lot about spreading a message through Social Media platforms such as twitter and Facebook, and how very powerful it can be if done well and with honesty and enthusiasm.

I have worked with many restaurants, wine shops and wineries to help them get on the Social Media Map. I am sure to check in with them up to 6 months afterward to see how their campaign is influencing business. They have all reported super positive things, and I can see just how well their campaigns are developing.

I am having an absolute blast with Seattle Wine gal, and meeting so many new and great people as a result. I did not set up this persona to make money, but I have been offered countless job opportunities, free event tickets, meals, wine etc. as a result. I sometimes feel that I am sitting on a gold mine of sorts. The fact of the matter is that everyone has the same opportunity to be doing so.

Thanks for letting me share this thought with you. Please contact me at Contact@SeattleWineGal.com if you have any questions, or would like to touch base about your own Social Media Efforts and how I can possibly help you.

Thanks all for the support folks, I truly appreciate it.

-Seattle Wine Gal

Social Media Strategy or Tacky? Putting Twitter/Facebook Info on Wine Labels

January 19, 2010 50 comments

“Oh c’mon Seattle Wine Gal, I know you’re ‘into’ Social Media Marketing, but Twitter names on wine bottle labels? That’s just stupid”. Was something like that going through your mind when you read the title? OK, OK, understandable. While it may seem a little tacky, it could also be one of the most progressive social media marketing decision a winery could make right now! Here are a few pros and cons that I can think of for an idea like this. Please comment below to share your thoughts and to add to my pros and cons list.

Con:

  1. Social Media platforms are always changing; Twitter/Facebook/your blog may not always be around, how embarrassing for you when people cellaring your wine, see an outdated twitter/facebook/blog 5-10 years later when they open the wine!
  2. You may turn off a lot of people who feel that it is tacky and tasteless; losing some of your potential/existing clientele– it’s just too risky!
  3. Wine marketing has always been about selling more than just wine; you are selling an experience. A Twitter name on a wine bottle causes the wine to lose all romantic and traditional appeal.
  4. It creates a stressful situation for winery staff or vintners, who then have to constantly stay on top of their social media efforts, even during crush and other very busy times… too overwhelming!
  5. The marketing worth of the back of a wine label is alluring tasting notes and winery history- a Facebook web address is not alluring and will not help sell wine.

Pro:

  1. MAJOR increase in visibility in online social media communities, which IS the next/new way to market products.
  2. Increase in Twitter/Facebook/blog follower counts, which will help establish industry leadership in the social media space.
  3. You will be viewed as fun, hip and appealing to a younger target market.
  4. You are making yourself immediately accessible to your clientele (they can contact you and get ‘real time’ interaction with you and your followers).
  5. People WILL talk about you for having done something so bold– this is always a good thing.
  6. Your buyers will follow you on Facebook and Twitter and buy more wine after seeing your tweets/posts about upcoming deals; it is a way of continuing a relationship with them and creating loyalty- you will sell more wine!

Lets face it folks, when t.v. came out, companies were apprehensive to spend their marketing dollars on it; they stuck with radio until they realized how lucrative it was. When businesses started creating ‘websites’, many were apprehensive to do so (some companies still don’t have one)! We are in the age of twitter now; why not strike while the iron is hot? What do you say, is a Twitter name on a wine label like screw caps- beneficial and will slowly gain acceptance but currently risky due to potential alienation?

THE Most Important Social Media Marketing Business Strategy: Be Authentic

December 27, 2009 15 comments

Like most small business owners and “self- branders”, I used to have the wrong idea about how to ‘use’ Social Media.

Are you a wine shop owner or winery looking to add Social Media to your Marketing campaign? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to focus solely on an increase in bottom line sales and conversion rates. Here is what happened to change my thinking, and why you should change yours now.

I ran a Social Media Campaign for a large international online retail fertility supplies corporation. I adopted the persona of @FertilAidAmy, the infertility world’s online source of trusted and accurate infertility information (having attained a degree in Women Studies and health, I was actually a legitimate trustworthy source of information). I will be frank with you. The number one goal we had as a company was to use Social Media to increase bottom line sales. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all; most companies are using Social Media for just that reason. It’s not so much about why you’re doing it, it’s how you go about it.

As FertilAid Amy, I slowly built a community, employed clever tactics to increase clicks on our website (and conversion rates), used coupons, contests and games to engage people, and ultimately increased bottom-lines sales quite significantly.

Here’s what I never bargained for, and what I realized the moment we saw this campaign become truly successful: I began to really, truly care. I was involved in the lives of the people in my online community, well beyond just trying to sell them stuff. I established trust, create a raport and gained a huge following for the simple reason that I began to honestly care and love my ‘target audience’ as real people, and friends. I believe that this reality was ‘sensed’ by my community, and this was the moment the campaign began to thrive. All of my aforementioned goals of bottom line sales etc. began to increase. I was being rewarded for being authentic, and my reason for doing Social Media began to change. I went from a sales person to a friend and trusted source of information, both seemingly and in reality.

When done well, the lines between Social Media done for profit and done because you care will begin to blur.

You may be asking yourself what is the intent behind Seattle Wine Gal? I am in no way going to mask the reality of my reasons for starting this Social Media presence. My Seattle Wine Gal campaign (using my love of wine) was originally intended to show future employers the level of Social Media engagement I am capable of. The moment I began to truly care for the people in the community I am engaging in, and my campaign shifted from ‘putting myself on the map’, to meeting new like-minded people, and creating real, true friendships, was the moment I realized that Seattle Wine Gal was a success. I do not feel like the timing was coincidental.

Be Authentic, create REAL friendships and connections, engage, stop trying to sell stuff (or at least do it in a more elegant way), Go beyond your business sense and enter an arena of mutual respect and care.

Start Giving a Damn… you will be amazed by the ‘results’, and the shift in how you view your clientele and the Social Media Community you created.

-Seattle Wine Gal

Social Media for Wineries and Wine Shops: Why is Everyone Talking About Gary Vaynerchuck?

December 24, 2009 21 comments

Wineries and Wine Shops interested in Social Media Marketing may be hearing the name Gary Vaynerchuck floating around. Even if you haven’t heard of him, or have some sort of objection to him, it’s important to at least know about this pioneer of wine marketing and personal branding. Author of Crush It, Gary is known as the Social Media Sommelier. Gary entered the wine industry by taking over his small family wine and liquor business. With a lot of hard work, he is now considered THE face of Interactive Internet Marketing for the wine industry (and well beyond). Check him out, read the book and get your butt in gear with your Social Media Marketing! If you would like more information about how to start your Social Media campaign, feel free to email me at SeattleWineGal@yahoo.com or find me on Linked’In, Twitter, or Facebook.

Check out this VIDEO! Gary Vaynerchuk – Social Media, Marketing & Personal Branding Guru