5 Marketing Secrets of the Master Sommeliers

5 Marketing Secrets of the Master Sommeliers

Reader Comments (27)

  1. Hi Sonia,

    Brilliant comparison πŸ˜‰

    Here’s what I’d add (I love good wine, I just don’t understand the intricacies of them, so this is a common problem in upper-scale restaurants for me…)

    4.1 Frame your wine as the solution to his desires

    If you know the person will drink the wine with a selection of fine cheeses, tell them how well a wine complements the saltiness of the cheeses. In that situation is doesn’t matter if the wine has “strong flavor” or “blueberry-ish aftertaste”; though these might be the reasons why a specific wine is or isn’t a good choice with cheese. Okay, for customers who understand wines well, they should talk about the aftertaste πŸ™‚

    • I agree — that’s really a features/benefits issue. People who know wine well often talk too much about certain features (the blueberry thing) and not enough about benefits (this is going to make your cheese course taste even more amazing).

      • It’s again the endless fight about benefits vs. features πŸ˜€

        Long (really long) story short, if a feature translates automatically to benefits in your prospects’ minds, then you can talk about the features. Otherwise stick to benefits…

        Or how would you sum it up?

        • That sounds right to me. Just keep in mind that benefits are why your customer cares, so it makes sense to focus mainly on those. But you can always switch to features if you have a customer who’s interested in those as well.

          Focus on the customer and the rest of it will be much easier. πŸ™‚

          • Yup, benefits are always most important. But sometimes you’re looking for features.

            For example when you buy a ruler. You buy it based on features; how long is it, how much it costs, and how pretty the pony pictures on it are…

            You’re not looking for the benefits; how straight the line you draw will be, how you’ll be $1 closer to buying your dream house, or how you’ll be delighted by the pretty ponies every time you look at it…

            But if you understand your last line, “Focus on the customer and the rest of it will be much easier.” then the rest really will come easily πŸ˜‰

  2. Hi Sonia!

    Really a nice post and I think knowing how your reader or customer will use your product is certainly very crucial and before launching the proper testing should be made and that’s how you would know about your product better. Thanks for sharing great tips πŸ™‚

  3. “You don’t have to serve the desires of every customer β€” and the truth is, you can’t.”
    I think a lot of brands have a hard time coming to terms with this one. You don’t have to appeal to the masses in order to be successful. In fact, I’d much rather appeal to a small buy extremely loyal customer base than try to make everyone like me.

  4. Thank you Sonia as always for a great marketing lesson! πŸ™‚

    “Never tell a customer what they want, it is bad manners and bad for business.”

    This is what struck me most out of the 5 points you talked about. I really run into customers who call on me for my expert opinion on things and end up telling me what they want. I have been having a hard time dealing with this for so long because, from my view it’s like going to a doctor and telling him how to treat you. Does that sound great?

    Sonia, any advice on how to cope with this without being rude or ill-mannered to the customer?

    • I’m not Sonia, but here’s how I handle that issue, Tito.

      Customers *need* to feel heard. They need to tell me exactly what they want. My job is then to explain how to either get them what they want and need or – when my expertise says what they want is a really, really bad idea – to reframe it as “Ok. I hear you need x, y, z. Let’s work on giving you a, b, c – for these benefits – and I think you’ll find that it fixes x, y, z.”

      Because once you give them what they need, they usually remember it in retrospect as you giving them exactly what they wanted – as long as you are polite, and as long as they feel heard.

  5. I remember watching on the TV out of random, a wine sommelier showing the customers many types if wine. One thing that stood out for me is he was one heck of an entertainer.

    Everybody loved him and he knew how to make them laugh. This experience for the customers was a great impression on them. I know he had it on me. I sure knew they bought a good amount of wine, such I would..

    It is all about making them feel good.

  6. Really interesting approach to marketing. I agree that a lot can be learnt from wine sommeliers and one can determine the brilliance in their marketing once you begin to study their techniques and approach.

  7. Thank you for this fantastic marketing lesson. I loved the analogy.

    I resonated with Point #3, “It’s not your job to tell people what they want. You don’t have to serve the desires of every customer β€” and the truth is, you can’t. You need to shape your offers based on a well-defined picture of who the right customer is. But never tell people β€œwhat they want.”” You can’t and won’t be everything to everyone. This is why it’s important to know and understand who your target audience is along with their wants and needs.

    Also, it’s important to build your business on a solid foundation. Like the soil for grapes, you must weed out the gunk and muck and begin on a clean, solid foundation. If you don’t, your business will crumble faster than a house of cards.

  8. Sonia – Much of what I learned about wine was from a master sommelier. He made selecting a wine both unpretentious and fun! So, I would suggest the combination of those two qualities as #6, given that effective marketing is experiential.

    He too would have wholeheartedly agreed that its all about you and what you enjoy. If your palette enjoys Chardonnay with steak, he would (probably wincing) say go for it. Although, I am sure he would suggest a compromise if he felt the patron was open to it.

    Nice intersection of ideas here!

  9. Amazing article Sonia.
    I’d like to build one off of #3: Spark a sense of creativity within the customer.

    Through intriguing speech, some of the best sommeliers are able trigger wine tasters to discover specific aromas and flavours that they otherwise would never had thought of. Leaving this room for thought and creativity can also be effective for driving engagement in content marketing. For example we use social media to allow readers to speak their thoughts and engage in that matter.

  10. Wine and food. Two of my most fav-O-rite things!

    #5 really resonated for me — especially as I’ve been focusing on helping my clients do exactly what you talk about here: find “…the unmistakable thumbprint that distinguishes your business from everyone else’s.” (On my end, “Find ways to leverage your unique ingredients so you can cook up your own Secret Sauce brand.”)

    I bet you’re a lot of fun to go wine-tasting with! If you’re ever in the Bay Area, look me up and I’ll be glad to take you somewhere new. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Sonia,

    I loved reading your article. After months of slushing around the internet, I finally figured out my niche…I really want to write for the wine industry! Over the past few weeks, I have immersed myself in the wine industry and how it uses social media. So, you can imagine I was ecstatic to find your post on wine and marketing.

    Point #5 really caught my attention for the sheer fact that I love the word terroir! And how you connected it to marketing by comparing it to a company’s USP was delectable πŸ™‚

    Great read…thanks so much,

  12. Entertaining read. As someone who works in sales I’ve found that my most unexpected sales have come when I have take time to get to know my customer. I’ve also found that the more knowledgable I am about my product the easier it becomes to sell… I am seen as the expert, and they come to me to fix their problems. It had been interesting, though, to see the company I work for try to please everybody. In the end they please nobody and are stuck with their foot in their mouth.

  13. I really liked this. Posts that can connect other experiences back to something we do everyday are the best ones. A good metaphor is a tailsman (<— see what I did there?). At the risk of being a link-dropper, I, too, feel the same way. The local wine manager + sommelier near me is so passionate about what he does, I wrote about him. And he nails items 1, 2, 3, and 5. Great stuff here, Sonia. http://www.subjectivelyspeaking.net/2010/08/10/passionate-people-fred-mullins/

  14. Hi Sonia,
    I loved this article. As a writer who does marketing for a living, I’m often trying to help my writer friends build their (dreaded) platform and brand themselves. By emphasizing finding the unique aspects of a product and speaking to the right audiences in the right way, your article made marketing seem approachable and possible. Even for creatives who are selling themselves rather than widgets. Thank you! I’ll be sharing this widely.

This article's comments are closed.