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What to Watch for:  More Digital Marketing Trends for 2011

It is a truism that most of us in marketing spend more mental energy planning personal parking exit strategies at a concert than we do planning marketing activities for the year.

We can’t get caught in a line coming out of the coliseum, yet we sure as heck can get caught bereft of a plan that maps to moving the proverbial needle for our professional responsibilities.

Well, if the idiom is correct and the early bird does, indeed, catch the worm, then now is a good time to prepare for 2011 before the D in OND is over.

Following up on a mobile marketing post I wrote recently, here are five more digital marketing trends (two big trends and then three tactical trends) that will impact wine marketers over the course of the next year.


Big Trend #1 / Marketing Automation

I learned a long time ago not to bet against IBM.  Having worked closely with them for a number of years, I know that IBM makes and moves markets.

In the late 90s they created and owned the word “ebusiness” as business internal operations integrated with the internet.  Several years later they created and owned “on demand” which is still manifesting itself in the move to having computer applications in the internet “cloud.”

So, when I read that IBM has been on an acquisition streak around marketing automation, I believe it’s worthy of mention.

According to Craig Hayman, general manager of industry solutions in IBM’s software group, as quoted in B2B, a marketing trade magazine, “Customers first make purchase decisions through digital experiences, but the marketing profession is beleaguered. The lack of IT support is a key bottleneck. We said to ourselves: How can we help move marketing professionals forward to drive relevant messages across all channels, optimize and measure ROI, and steward the complete customer experience online or onsite?”

Of course, this trend won’t fully realize itself in the next year, but paying attention to the convergence of customer relationship management (CRM), social CRM, and metrics management will keep savvy wine marketers poised to strike when the time is right for their business.

Big Trend #2 / Content Marketing

If 2009 and 2010 will be remembered for online participation by wineries, 2011 will be much more reliant upon wineries leading the conversation via content marketing.

Participation is one thing, but what are wineries bringing to the party that is unique, interesting, and original?


Think about content and interaction in the same terms as an intimate dinner party.  The gracious host is thoughtful about who is seated next to whom in order to facilitate shared interests, while serving delicious food, sustenance, in addition to food for thought by leading a conversation in which everyone can participate.

As quoted from eMarketer, “Content can include anything created on behalf of a brand—be it an ad, YouTube video, online game, Facebook page, Twitter promo or mobile app—that consumers genuinely want to engage with and pass along to others. This content entertains, amuses, informs, serves a function or satisfies a consumer need. It’s welcome instead of annoying or interruptive.”

Smart wineries, if they haven’t already, will begin to create unique content campaigns around various conversational points of entry.

Tactical Trend #1 / Social Curators

Have you noticed that there are hyper-users of social media that don’t have a blog and don’t theoretically create content?  These people with their online omnipresence are very active with updates from their mobile phone to Twitter, Facebook and other tools and they’re actively sharing photos, linking to stories, recommending experiences and the things they buy, living their life out loud. 

As digital marketing continues to grow to encompass different strata of participation classes, the class of people underneath those that create original content (so-called influencers) are the “curators,” an increasingly important class of people in online marketing.  Curators are the people that actively engage and organize their life, likes and dislikes for everyone to see. 

These secondary beta influencers should be a target for wineries that want to move farther afield from the current online wine scene.

How to engage these people?  Well, knowing who they are via social CRM and marketing automation is a good place to start, but, more importantly, engage these folks with kindness and status markers.

Tactical Trend #2 / Random acts of Kindness

I’ve written about at least a half dozen times.  I can’t underscore enough that if you’re interested in marketing and contemporary culture, this free trend-spotting resource is fantastic (newsletter sign-up here).  Random acts of kindness and tactical trend #3 both come from this site and their 11 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2011.


Simply, Random acts of kindness means companies and brands genuinely reach out to consumers by sending a small gift, a token of appreciation, or an acknowledgement, for no reason other than touching somebody just because.

Think of this as inexpensive concierge marketing on a one-to-one basis.  The goal is to foster positive sentiment in connecting with customers.

Panera, for example, with their loyalty reward card offers random $1 off coupons at point of purchase, a bakery item on your birthday and other niceties.

Wineries spend oodles and oodles of dollars on using PR to reach out to writers with samples and marketing folders.  Is that money, time and effort better put to use going straight to consumers in a friendly way in order to have them carry a message that has been couched in hospitality?  Perhaps so, especially because social curators live their active life on their digital sleeve and connecting has never been easier.

Tactical Trend #3 / Online status markers

Also from Trendwatching, online status markers are an extension of the times we live in.  When viewed without cynicism, the reality is most adults under the age of 40 are reasonably narcissistic, achievement-focused and status oriented, though that status doesn’t necessarily have to be luxury-oriented.

If I provide a Facebook status that says I’m at Notre Dame Stadium, it’s a sort of status badge for me.

So, the question becomes what can a winery provide to customers and potential customers that denotes a sense of specialness, a sense of exclusiveness (that is also inclusive) while helping people bridge their offline activities with their online activities.

The answer to that question is reasonably specific to the winery, but offering a memento of status based on club membership, a visit to the winery, or frequent commenting on a winery blog all add up to providing brand specific status markers.

In sum, I’m conscious not to say that these marketing trends are must-do for wineries.  It’s not a zero-sum game with winners and losers.  The fact is that should a winery ignore all of these trends they have a fantastic chance of doing just fine next year, but, increasingly, wineries that take proactive and innovative measures towards their marketing efforts, while recognizing that offline and online marketing are becoming indistinguishable, are the wineries that grow mindshare and subsequently sales.


Posted in, Wine: A Business Doing Pleasure. Permalink | Comments (9) |


On 12/06, Jennifer Thomson wrote:

I recently saw an East Bay wine business start a wine club with the premise “FOW” Friends of the winemaker. This type of alignment with customers is how wineries will thrive in the future. The new badge of honor is to get your winemaker Tweeting. Consumers will begin to define how “in” they are with a winery if they’ve met the farmer where the winery is sourcing their grapes and ridden in the back seat of the winemakers car to get there.

Thanks for the on-target post.

On 12/06, Jeff wrote:

Hi Jennifer,

Exactly!  Glad you see that.  I think the key is take the hospitality that wineries know, pluck out the pretense and make it insider-ish.

Thanks for reading!


On 12/08, J.A. Kodmur wrote:

Jeff: congrats on a tremendous post and collection of thoughts, suggestions, etc. Should be mandatory reading for everyone in our biz—-not to mention your generosity to brainstorm this for everyone’s benefit!!!!

On 12/08, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

As a youngster buying Marvel comics in the mid-60’s, it was a badge of honor to have your letter to Stan Lee printed in a follow-up issue. What made it truly special and the thing that you were able to show off to your friends was the much-coveted “No Prize.” Marvel would send an empty envelope to you if you had a letter printed, made an inquiry or basically showed some kind of interest in their product. Of course, the envelope had Marvel’s logo on it, as well as the words “No Prize” in large print.

Small investment of money, a bit of time to execute—but here I am, talking about it 40+ years later. Good way to build loyalty without too much investment—should be able to achieve something similar via electronic means for even less money, eh?


On 12/09, Jeff wrote:

Great anecdote, Sherman!

And, indeed, I think you’re right.  The little things do matter!


On 12/15, Melissa Dobson wrote:

Hi Jeff,

With several of your points, you’re speaking my language both as a wine consumer and wine marketer. I’m particularly enthusiastic about engaging social curators in addition to wine bloggers.  I’ve encouraged local wineries I converse with to take a look at measurement tools such as to identify and engage social curators. I’ve been referring to them as influencers, perhaps more appropriately new media influencers.  I think that many of these engaged wine enthusiasts would be great additions to a winery’s wine club and would help attract new members if they’re given an intimate, exclusive experience by the winery owner and winemaker. 

As you mention, these recommendations aren’t for every winery but for those who have identified that offering intimate experiences has been or could be a successful tactic for growing their wine clubs and best customer lists.  Again and again, I hear from customers that experience and the back story of a winery are key to increased loyalty and what makes customers want to share those experiences both online and offline with their friends. 


On 05/20, TN Pas Cher wrote:

ngaged wine enthusiasts would be great additions to a winery’s wine clu

On 11/03, wrote:

Waooo Nice picture and video.

On 02/28, Dragon and Knight wrote:

Online Status is really very important now a days. Who would have thought?


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