Business Experts Offer Good Advice to Wine the Experience

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Let’s face it, when it comes to marketing, a lot of small-business owners are clueless or have their hands tied by limited time, expertise or money. Like many business owners, the Balls were good at delivering their product and providing a great wine experience, but had difficulty communicating that experience to attract potential customers. The Laird Christianson Advertising team suggested they go back to the basics – defining their core business, services and audience – to help clarify their message.

“It’s very easy to turn people away with too much information,” Wagner explains, “and that’s often what business owners do. They want to cram in so much information and it just gets too busy and dilutes the message. Most times, the best thing to do is keep it simple.”

Li says how you deliver your message is just as important as what that message is. “The biggest problem I think small businesses have when it comes to marketing is inconsistency,” she adds. “And that goes back to not having a strong strategy.”

Rutherford emphasizes that a business can have many messages, depending on who they’re targeting, and still have a consistent brand.

“All of your marketing, no matter if it’s a flyer, newsletter, website, print advertising, radio or TV, needs to support a centralized theme or idea, which is who you are and what you bring to the table,” she says. “When you’re looking for immediate income because your rent is due and payroll is coming up, it’s easy to lose sight of your ultimate goal, but everything you do should either support your brand or help grow your company, otherwise, don’t bother doing it.”

While marketing can be costly, Wagner says, there are things small businesses can do on a shoestring budget. For instance, Shannon sends out regular e-mails to customers about events and sales, maintains a website, and uses Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to the store.

But social media is not for everyone, Wagner says. If you’re not going to do it substantially, it’s better not to do it at all.

“It’s personality driven, so if you don’t have the personality to be a social media maven, don’t make that part of your marketing plan – or find someone who is and can do it for you,” she says.

LCA also recommends that WTX use its e-mail list to survey customers on products that interest them and how to improve the wine experience. The store could also create buzz by leveraging social media and tweeting special giveaways for followers, or by hosting more wine tastings and partnering with other Kapahulu restaurants or tourism-related businesses on special offers.

Last year, WTX’s reputation for providing high-quality products and service resulted in positive magazine and TV coverage.

To capitalize on that, the LCA team got Shannon started on creating a press kit with updated artwork that better represented his fun and cool personality.

Other marketing tips

• Businesses shouldn’t always try to compete on price. If you can, sell the Hawaii brand and compete on quality and value, then you can demand a higher price.

• Figure out what your long-term marketing goal is and reverse engineer by identifying what steps you need to take to get there.

• Even mega-businesses like McDonald’s are constantly rebranding themselves while maintaining their identity, so look for ways to reinvent yourself and create buzz.


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