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Tech. Time Saver
Amy Hall, who runs Grow Creative with her husband, Jonathan, tipped me off to this excellent online scheduling tool. Doodle is a simple, effective and efficient platform for scheduling group meetings. 

Instead of sending group emails back and forth to assess availability, the meeting organizer simply "schedules" an event by picking the potential dates and/or times.  This creates a link which may be emailed to group members who may indicate availability in the online platform.  I've used it to find times for large group meetings as well as schedule a full day of one-on-ones at a client site.

Doodle is free, easy to use, and doesn't require a log-in.
News & Events
Marketing Wine to Women, Oregonian article by Katherine Cole quoting me
Stoller Vineyards Labor Day Picnic, September 3 with music by Rock Residue and catering by Tavola

Swiftwater Cellars Grand Opening, September 10-11 featuring Lonestar country band
Wine Business  Links
Business Links
Industry Spotlight: Photography
Compelling photography and videography can make a wine brand "come to life".  They are important marketing tools and should portray unique benefits (key spokespersons, aspects of property or winery experience), help support and demonstrate brand image, and attract and re-attract customers.
OR/WA/CA:  I recently had the pleasure of working with Andrea Johnson of Andrea Johnson Photography on a lifestyle photo shoot for Stoller Vineyards.  She is prolific, professional, and very talented.
Andrea frequently works with Robert Holmes, another award-winning photographer based in Northern California. Although I have not personally worked with him, a number of my industry colleagues give him a very high recommendation.

CA:  I've been working with Wendy White of
W.White Design for five years on numerous projects, mostly graphic and website design.  She has a wonderful attitude and also happens to be particularly good at bottle photography and offers a reasonable price.
Dixie Huey 
Welcome to edition 14 of 
Strategic Guidance from the Ground Up, the Trellis Wine Consulting bi-monthly newsletter.  Even though it's still officially summer, the spirit of harvest is beginning to appear, which means it's a great time for those of us on the business management side of the industry to begin thinking about strategic planning for 2011.
Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a marketing workshop for the Oregon Wine Board.  I focused on how to create and implement a marketing-driven business plan to increase wine sales.  During the presentation, I outlined the importance of operating with a business plan, tips for getting started, the critical elements of a marketing plan and implementation best practices.  We also went through an individual brand assessment to help attendees identify strengths and challenges.
In this issue I'll discuss the first half of my workshop including plan purpose and elements, plus four key tips for getting started.  Next time I'll go into detail regarding plan components, plus implementation and measurement best practices.
Since organization is an important aspect of business planning, this issue's tech time saver is a great tool for improving just that.  This month's industry spotlight covers several award-winning photographers.  Compelling photography and videography is a wonderful way to make a wine brand "come to life" when directed and properly used.

In closing, a special thank you to my current and former clients who took the time to fill out my company survey in July.  Your feedback and suggestions were most helpful.  In your honor, I have donated $200 to the USO,
 a non-profit organization dedicated to serving military members and their families.  These funds provide phone cards, care packages and more to "share a touch of home" with those who serve.


Dixie Huey's signature

Dixie L. Huey, Proprietor
View Dixie Huey's profile on LinkedIn LinkedIn  Follow dixieleehuey on Twitter twitter   blog
Creating a Marketing-Driven Business - Part I

Marketing is a method to achieve your business vision.  It is a process of directing a company to create a proposition that delivers value to customers via a unique set of benefits.  This is turn creates focus, competitive niche, awareness, demand, and a particular brand experience which becomes the "culture" of your company as perceived by your customers.

Marketing can also be a misunderstood "gray" area, an after-thought, and even a dreaded activity avoided all together.  Unfortunately, it is not a magic pill, nor does it happen without effort and one of our most precious resources -- time.

When planning the marketing workshop for Oregon Wine Board, I started looking for marketing quotes that well sum up my service philosophy.  I was particularly pleased by one from Phil Knight, Nike's founder and former CEO:

Phil Knight
"Now we understand that the most important
thing we do is market the product. We've
come around to saying that Nike is a
marketing-oriented company, and the
product is our most important marketing tool ."

Admittedly, this can be viewed as extreme, especially in an industry where we are passionate about making wine (not necessarily about selling it).  The fact is, to continue experiencing the joy of making it year after year, we need to sell through inventory by creating demand. That's exactly where marketing enters the vinous picture.

But before embarking on a marketing plan exercise, a winery needs a business plan.  Abraham Lincoln's quote about vision well defines the value of a business plan:

Abraham Lincoln
 "The best way to predict the future is to create it." 

A business plan is like a building's foundation, it provides the support in the form of vision and strategic direction.  The marketing plan is the roadmap (or modern day GPS) for achieving your winery's vision.  When on a business trip you might pull off the road for an unexpected treat or take a quick detour, but in general, you follow the map to achieve your goals.
Your business plan provides a framework for making effective decisions.  It should be specific, written, and provide a healthy (but realistic) challenge -- we tend to overestimate the positive, and neglect to consider worst-case scenarios. Further, your plan should be a dynamic and living document, something you revisit at least quarterly (not something you place in a web of computer files.  (I print out my client business plans and refer to them monthly.)

The benefits of a clear business plan include improved efficiency, communication, organization, and ability to mindfully analyze business results.  In short, a company should at minimum seek to continue with profit creating activity, cease to engage in unproductive moves, and know the difference between them.

There is no one formula for creating a business plan.  The following is a format I use:

* analysis of new business opportunity or current position

* company vision, background and management including competitive strategy

* specific plan goals for sales, revenue, milestones, etc.

* outline of industry, competition and market including trends and competitive analysis

* marketing plan including a prior years sales analysis, outline of wines with pricing, channel and targets, sales plan by channel, and a promotional plan including all internal and external communication (more detail coming in Part II in late October)

* operating plan for company by department

* financial assumptions and past performance, if applicable

Now that the sections are clear, it is important to go through four initial key steps before beginning to write the plan.
#1 Define uniqueness
Figure out what makes your winery unique, compelling and differentiated.  These two to three key points are unique selling propositions -- USPs are the heart and soul of your winery.

#2 Develop a framework
 Spend time considering your vision (for long-term success), mission (reason for being in business), target market and key talking points (based on your USPs).

#3 Translate the framework into a story
Now that you have a framework, it's time to address your winery story.  (If it's currently all about making wine passionately in a vineyard, this is lovely and expected, but it's not unique.)  Your story should answer the Who-What-When-Where-Why of your wine brand.  Journalists use these 5 W's, so if you want your story covered, think like a journalist.  If the thought of writing is making you uncomfortable, that's okay, there are professional writers who can help you.

#4 Gather your data
A good planner is first a good researcher. To write an effective business plan, you'll need to gather your internal and external data.  Internal data include prior year sales (breakdown between FOB, DTT and DTC), number of winery visitors, number of club members, and any ROI you can figure from prior year marketing activity. External data can only truly be gathered by surveying your key audiences -- consumers, distributors, trade accounts and employees.

Surveying will be covered in a future article or blog post. In the meantime, keep it short (which means thinking critically about the purpose of each question and how to best ask it), offer a reward for completion, and use an online tool such as SurveyMonkey to make collection and analysis more efficient.
Now that you have your data and a general outline for a marketing-driven business plan, the next step is sitting down to write it.  I will expand upon that topic in my October newsletter with in depth explanation of the marketing components, plus best practices for implementation and measurement.
Strategic Guidance from the Ground Up                                                       
Trellis Wine Consulting, LLC is a full service branding, strategy and communications firm for wine businesses.  Our services include business planning, marketing communications and sales strategy, brand identity and packaging, website design and social media.
We deliver exceptional value to our clients by providing a unique blend of breadth of services and depth of expertise that supports efficient and effective growth and enhanced profitability. Ten years of experience guiding over 50 brands ranging from small, family owned wineries to large international corporations means that we know what works and well understand the need for return on marketing investment. For more information, call 360.210.5551 or visit our website.