When Wine Meets Marketing: A Formula For Telling Your Product’s Story, as seen on Forbes

I love a good wine tasting. When we could do those in-person, it was one thing — I’d half-listen to the spiel about the floral notes of the cabernet I was sampling. But lately, I’ve been on virtual wine tastings, and I’ve noticed that I’ve started following along with the wine’s story: the history of the region, the soil and the weather. Vintners talk about their varieties of grapes and the generations of family who’ve tilled the land. There’s a story behind every bottle.

I’ve been comparing that to how we marketers think about marketing and branding. Sometimes, I feel we want to just skip right to the product without going into the people and the story behind it — or why we do it.

Wineries use a formula when telling their stories. It always begins with their grapes — what kind they use and the conditions and soil they’re grown in. Then you add the history and the people, like the reasons the owner picked a certain region. Sprinkle on a unique experience and, voilá, they have a compelling story about their cabernet.

So, grapes + history + experience = great wine.

That’s a winning formula for wineries, and I think it’s a winning one for marketers, too. In fact, as I reflect on my own marketing journey, I see how this formula has helped my company get plenty of “wine club sign-ups” — a.k.a., new customers — and I believe it could help you do the same.

Great Wine Needs Great Grapes

When we started developing our account-based marketing (ABM) product, we knew we needed great data — and a lot of it — to accurately make the predictions our buyers expected. Now, by “great data,” I mean clean data coming from both known and anonymous sources that buyers could trust. That was tricky to do, but we knew if we got that right, we could really disrupt the field. And so we started by cultivating the right kinds of data.

Just as vintners start with their grapes, marketers need to start with their data. And the variety and region where those data “grapes” came from matters. For example, lots of our competitors started with ads instead of data. And while those grapes work, they might not be the best quality for making the final product. You can age, ferment and blend your grapes all you want, but when you hear the story of great wine, it’s always about the grapes’ original quality.

Opt for high-quality grapes from the outset. For us, that meant growing them in the soil of the known and anonymous intent signals buyers were sending. This will help you lay the foundation for the rest of your product.

Do You Remember Your History?

Our first customers were enterprise customers. When you design for them, they expect a certain robustness. It indicated early on that we needed to invest in great grapes and set a big, bold vision with data as our north star. As a result, we developed our data-intensive approach — call it our “cabernet” version — to meet those needs. As marketers, your history should remind you where you came from and why you’ve built your product in your unique way.

People are also part of your history. When our CEO, Jason Zintak, came on board, he made a big impact on how we approached our products. We’d been so focused early on with gathering quality data, but Jason pushed us to get equally good at application, too. After all, great grapes still have to be usable.

That really mattered when we decided to launch a new product variety. We’d built the cabernet version for our previously defined enterprise user persona, but Jason wanted us to expand our line with a more easily approachable product — a “sauvignon blanc” version. We had to ask ourselves, “Who is our wine for?” and develop new personas from our answers. In the end, we started with the same great grapes, but we used them to help develop a very approachable product and connect with different personas.

Your history and people could lead you to reach out to new markets and expand your brand to include new personas.

Building The Right Tasting Room

With grapes and history in hand, the final ingredient is the experience. And it’s an important piece, too. Think about the wine clubs you may have joined before — it’s partly for the wine, yes, but also for the experience. It’s the education you receive in the tasting room that makes a wine memorable and that elevates one cab over the rest.

For us, that meant making our product a meaningful part of our buyers’ martech stacks. If they’re not invested in the product, then it’s not meaningful or memorable. To deliver a memorable experience, we invested a lot into customer success. That included essentially turning marketers into educators: we provided barrels worth of great content that told our product’s story and taught them why we did it. Strategies like these can get buyers excited about your product and keep them interested throughout the buying journey. They can bring meaning to the product and help make it a critical part of your buyers’ work.

How You Can Get More Wine Club Sign-Ups

And that’s the formula — it worked for winemakers, and I’d say it worked for us as well. So, let’s get you some wine club sign-ups. To do that, look at your marketing and ask:

• What are your grapes?

• Who’s your vintner?

• How’s your tasting experience?

You need all three parts to be successful, so really dig in and be honest with yourself. Is your messaging hitting on these key points? Do you want to sell the why, but you’re only selling the what? Remember to use your grapes to help inform whatever shifts you might make in your marketing.

Winemakers are masters of their stories, and it serves as great inspiration for marketers to become the same. So go uncork a bottle of wine and get to work.

About the Author

Latané Conant

Latané Conant is the Chief Market Officer of 6sense and author of the bestselling book, No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls. She’s passionate about empowering marketing leaders to confidently lead their teams, company, and industry into the future. Latané is laser-focused on leveraging technology and data to build marketing programs that result in deals, not just leads. She’s known across the industry for her creativity, competitiveness, and boundless energy.

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