Innovative marketing is an ongoing challenge for large and small business owners alike, and for those looking to keep up, Michael Wangbickler offers helpful wine communications and marketing tidbits on his site, Caveman Wines. Also a Digital Media Specialist and Account Manager at Balzac Communications, Wine & Spirits Diploma holder and Certified Wine Educator, Wangbickler is highly equipped to convert even the unsavviest of wine and tourism marketing neanderthals into modern guru’s!
We were able to catch up with Wangbickler about his views on wine tourism in Italy and his upcoming presentation at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference. Below are his responses to our questions.
1. The landscape of the marketing business has changed so much in recent years, can you mention one or two of the most dramatic changes that have occurred and how business owners today are affected?
The most significant change I’ve seen in the area of marketing has to be the evolution of marketing communications channels. The old model of advertising, PR, event marketing, direct marketing, etc. are still necessary, but they are having less and less influence. Print publications and traditional broadcast media have steadily lost ground against online content providers. The modern consumer is more savvy and informed than those of the past, and they tend to distrust traditional mediums. For example, in a study conducted by Nielsen Research a few years ago, of those surveyed only 14% stated that they trusted broadcast advertising. Consider the return on investment when only 14% of the people you are trying to reach trust what you say. With the advent of such technologies as iPhone, iPad, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. the whole game has changed. Sure, these are just other vehicles through which to communicate your key messages, but they are quickly outshining traditional methods. Today’s business owner, if they wish to compete, need to be more technically savvy and flexible when it comes to marketing their products and services. Those that don’t are liable to go the way of the dinosaurs.
2. What is the biggest mistake business owners, like those in the Wine and Tourism business, are making these days in their marketing approaches?
Not knowing their audience, or marketing to the wrong one. The tendency of those in the wine and hospitality sector is to market to wine geeks. We talk about terroir and vineyard spacing and varietal character and pH levels and so on. Guess what? Only a very small segment of the greater population really cares about that. What most people want is an experience that is memorable and enjoyable. This is especially true in the U.S. market where only 20% of the population are core wine drinkers. Of those 20%, maybe .1% really wants to know the titratable acidity of a wine. So how do you set yourself apart from the thousands of other wineries competing for the same small group of consumers. Don’t fish where everyone else is fishing, go find a pond that’s less crowded with more fish.
3. In the opening session of the conference you will be talking about Wine Tourism as only a part the Tourism business as a whole. How important is it for Wine and Tourism business owners to understand their position in the overall market?
Without giving too much away, my premise is pretty simple. Wine regions are not unique in the world. They pretty much all have the same things in common. Tourists are tourists, no matter where they go. Wine can be a part of what draws someone to wine country, but it is generally not the driving factor. They are looking to have a good time, regardless of the setting. Wineries and wine regions must compete with other tourist destinations. As soon as wineries and wine regions realize this fact, the more successful they will be over time.
4. What is your impression of Italy as a Food and Wine Tourism marketplace?
I think that when many people think of the idyllic wine country experience, they think of Italy. The wine, the food, the culture, the country has everything. The problem is that it is so fragmented that people are confused about where to go and what to see. Most Italian wine regions haven’t done a very good job of marketing themselves as a desired destination.
5. The 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference is just around the corner, what are you looking forward to at this years event?
I’m looking forward to discovering the wines and culture of Umbria and catching up with old friends. And, of course, I’m eager to attend other sessions and hear what others say about wine tourism.
Join the International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Michael and many more attendees. Michael will be delivering the opening plenary session at the Wine Tourism Conference on Monday January 30, 2012 at 09:45 titled: Wine Tourism Does not Exist