Marketing Toolbox

With the long weekend looming right ahead, I know lots of folks will be unwinding this weekend. Sipping a glass of wine or a bottle of beer in the backyard, waiting for the burgers or a nice tritip to finish on the grill, many of us get extra enjoyment from the extra day away from office stress.

I am not the only one who’d like to capitalize on all that great desire to decompress. Thursday’s New York Times article, Marketing Wine as a Respite From Women’s Many Roles, caught my attention wondering whether or not the latest campaign would sound like the usual patronizing, gimmicky crap (pardon my French) I often see experimented with in the marketplace.

So what does marketing wine to women have to do with your small business?


Let me just say here at the beginning having read through this article with enthusiasm that the reason it should be important to you is because this is an example of a large company choosing to depart significantly from traditional marketing methods to invest heavily in new tools and new marketing methodology.

This should be a strong message to small businesses that the shift from previous methods and techniques is now becoming quite significant. Pay attention! Key techniques and tactics explained in this article will become the new norm for you.


Because the old ways simply stop working well enough to justify using them in the same way or at the same volume. Go ahead. Read the story first. I’ll wait. (Oh, and since it’s in the New York Times, remember you probably only get a limited number of free stories to read each month.)

The Cliff Notes Version

So in the event you can’t launch or read the article, here’s the short version: Chateau Ste. Michelle, a large wine producer in the Northwest, is launching a huge campaign to engage female consumers. In the story, the advertising executive cites numerous departures from more traditional campaigns: Facebook is at the center of this campaign with their creation of a custom app. Instead of typical wine advertising in Wine Spectator (preaching to the converted) and obtaining wine critic reviews, they are rounding out the campaign’s more traditional tools using print ads in Parenting Magazine along with Better Homes & Gardens (and similar). The goal of the campaign is to generate genuine involvement with female consumers 25-38 – not to talk at them.

Key Observations and Advice

What does this have to do with your non-wine business? Here are some key takeaways to ponder over the long weekend:

  • If large companies with traditional distribution channels are moving away from the marketing methods used over the past 10-20 years, you can bet they’re seeing some traction – good results from dabbling in these waters.

TAKEAWAY: It’s time to take a look at the new media tools and become acquainted with how they work. New media is highly targeted (but also highly complex to utilize wisely). Start small to get a handle on how it works before throwing everything at it.

  • Niche products are well-suited to make the most of new media. Citing the success of Mommy Juice in the article (a niche wine if ever there was one!), which uses no traditional marketing tactics, this brand uses Facebook and bloggers solely to spread the word and grow sales.

TAKEAWAY: Think of it as a gold mine: It may require extensive digging to find, but locate the magic vein and follow it carefully. The rewards could be huge with the right strategy.

  • It’s clear that Chateau Ste. Michelle’s marketing agency delved deeply into the targeted customer before designing a campaign to attract them. Age and income demographics were easy to narrow down. They went deeper examining personal motivation, understanding what would make them pick up a glass of wine. They describe her as a ‘reluctant grown-up,’ and that she’s harried and stressed out. She’s frequently on sites looking for meal plans and parenting tips (although not all of the targeted group are moms).

TAKEAWAY: Know your target market’s THOUGHTS, feelings, triggers, keywords and phrases, activities, likes and dislikes, favorite websites, magazines and vendors of other products s/he buys. This information literally can create your marketing campaign for you!

  • They bypassed their traditional methods of running print ads in the wine magazines and counting on a great review by a wine critic. Rather, instead of competing head on with a zillion other wine brands, they’re advertising in parenting and home magazines where there’s little competition (if any) from other wine brands. She may be looking for garden or yard activities to organize for her kids. What a lovely surprise to see Mommy’s ‘garden break’ beverage promoted in this publication?!

TAKEAWAY: Look for opportunities to advertise where you’ve no competition. Your customer may be there, but your competition may not have thought to investigate the side of a bus for signage, a shopping cart in the grocery store or a coupon offer on a specific blog or website.

  • One fascinating aspect of this campaign is its use of fragmented phrases. The app in Facebook is designed to create ‘refrigerator poetry’ – phrases any visitor can combine that resonate with her. Example: “Me + a glass of wine + kids birthday party = My Chateau” This campaign uses keyword phrases that resonate with the target audience, leaving out extraneous words because they’re stressed and harried. (Don’t you ever find yourself with snatches of thoughts when you’re really stressed out?)

TAKEAWAY: Learn your audience’s language. Use words and phrases they respond to. You can only use jargon if your audience is a bunch of geeks who actually speak JUST LIKE THAT.

  • The Facebook campaign may be the centerpiece of the Chateau’s campaign, but to create the most buzz and engagement (like a cocktail party), they’re leveraging off several mediums and tactics for greatest effect.

TAKEAWAY: Use sweepstakes and contests that are well-constructed specifically to your target group. Build excitement, offer prizes. Gamification will only become more and more prevalent in marketing campaigns because folks respond to things that are fun – even if it’s B2B sales. ASK for feedback and ideas from your fans and customers.

The Bottom Line

What I see in this campaign is a great deal of detailed research on the desired customer base. ‘Spray and pray’ methodology doesn’t produce the kind of results we need in today’s economy. Further, we now have the digital and technological tools to review and measure every aspect of a campaign for its effectiveness that we didn’t have in the last century. That makes marketing a far more scientific activity than it’s ever been before.

What changes can you see in your own marketing methodology after considering these ideas? Post a comment to let me know your vision of the future.