My brother-in-law Tres is a wine maker in Napa, California. He is an outstanding wine maker and he has taught me a lot about wine since I’ve known him. He has impressed upon me the importance of a sommelier—or “smelly air” as he jokingly pronounces it. The sommelier is a wine expert who guides you on the best choices based on what you’ll be eating that evening. A sommelier is also, almost by definition, a winemarketer. It’s the sommelier’s job to create a fantastic experience for the customer so that the customer buys more wine. What does a sommelier have in common with your marketing message and customer experience? A good sommelier does five key things you should adopt in your business:
"It’s the sommelier’s job to create a fantastic experience
for the customer so that the customer buys more wine."
1. The first step is to shape the customer experience
It’s not a simple matter of “only stock good wine.” Yes, it has to be good, but there are endless definitions of that. Just as important as quality, the wine has to be the right fit— for your clientele, your neighborhood, the food you serve, the price point you’re working within. As a marketer, your first task is to choose what you’re going to market — and to make sure that’s the perfect fit for what your customers are looking for.
2. Your personality matters, too
A sommelier whose wine list is at the intersection of his/her own passions and the desires of his/ her customer is a sommelier who’s going to sell a lot of wine. If he/she can tell a great story— about the wine or the winemaker — so much the better. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge, your passion — even to geek out a little. That’s infectious. Tell a compelling story.
3. It’s not your job to tell people what they want
Good sommeliers know they’re not in the wine business … they’re in theentertainment business. It’s their job to create diversion and pleasure, not to inflate their own egos or intimidate customers into worrying about whether they like the “wrong” kind of wine. Let your customers tell you what they want and then give it to them.
4. Know how the customer’s going to drink this wine
Develop as clear an understanding as you can of how your customer will consume your product or service and make sure you’re offering something that really works for what they need.
5. Make the most of your raw materials
Every business needs to understand this … the “raw ingredients” you have to work with. If you’re wise, this will become the foundation of your winning difference or unique selling proposition — the unmistakable thumbprint that distinguishes your business from everyone else’s. What is unique about you that your competitors’ can’t offer or match?
If you can market your product or service as a sommelier does a fine wine, you sell more. It’s really no more complicated than that because it’s not what you do or offer that’s important, it’s how what you do or offer lines up with the experience the customer/client has with your product or service inside of his or her lifestyle.