Writing the Harvest 2009 Newsletter

I finished up the Harvest 2009 Newsletter yesterday and posted it on the Vrede en Lust website and via our GoldMine CRM system, to our database. It is always a much tougher job to write it than I expected – hopefully I will learn and set aside enough time in the future! This one took about a week to get done.

Some of my friends ask me why do I spend so much time writing it myself ? Why not just get a PR company to do it ? Well, I really believe that in our industry (and most others around the world), it is really important for the brand owners to communicate directly, personally and in their own words with their customers and prospective customer base.

There are tens of thousands of wineries around the world – the competition is intense and it is very hard to try and build a brand in such a crowded market place. We are blessed with a beautiful winery that attracts more than 5,000 visitors per month in the season. During the low season this will drop to about 2,500 per month. We will never get a better opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship, than when we are face to face with our customers.

It is my goal to establish an ongoing relationship with as many of our customers and visitors as possible. Using today’s technology this becomes easier and easier. Every one of the newsletter that goes out is personalised. In time I hope to increase the level of personalization, as we improve the level of information in our GoldMine database. I would love to get to the point where we send an Afrikaans newsletter to our Afrikaans clients and a German newsletter to our German clients!

It is a fact, that there is no shortage of marketing out there and that our clients are bombarded with thousands of messages a day. It is hard to turn a message into communication. By putting in the time and thinking about every word, editing it down, trying to balance the length of the email with the level on information on hand and doing it yourself, you improve the level of communication significantly.

I do believe that the vast majority of our clients are quite smart and can spot a PR written email/newsletter/messsage  a mile off. At that point the message gets downgraded to spam. So, while I am sure quite a few of our newsletters get marked as spam (especially due to the word ‘Lust’ in our name), I do believe the effort is worthwhile and I will continue to put in more and more efforts into the development and nurturing of such relationships.

Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that PR companies have their place – their place is just not here at a family owned and managed business. I originally went to university and learned how to write computer programs. So please excuse some mistakes when write a very different type of code!

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3 Responses to Writing the Harvest 2009 Newsletter

  1. Simon Back says:

    Nice post. Couldn’t agree more with you: it’s all about a dialogue, a conversation and real interaction. You can’t get some PR company to do that on your behalf, with integrity. SB

  2. Ian Davidson says:

    As an ex-PR consultant myself, I think there is great value in communicating with your customers directly. In this day and age there is far too much spin doctoring going on. People want authentic relationships and to engage with real life! There’s a wonderful book called “Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life” by David Boyle, which I would recommend to any marketer. Although a bit dated, the fundamentals still shine through. If only the banking fraternity would read it…!

  3. Jon Ferrara says:

    Hi Dana,

    While I agree that direct communication is more personal and required in today’s over-communicated world I also feel that you have to keep using all of the other forms of touching the prospect and customer as well. The customer needs touches from multiple places, friends, magazine, stores, direct, bloggers, newsletters ect, in order for you to get through the clutter and end up in their mouth.

    One form of direct communications would be to profile their specific interest in the type of wine they like or liked from your estate. Maybe a particular vineyard or grape that stood out to them during their tasting. Encourage them to give you information that would allow you to tailor directed communications to them when they stop for a taste or when they visit your website. Then when you have a new release, write-up or review you reach out with a personalized message directed at them.

    But I do get your drift, a one-on-one relationship, devoid of any hint of marketing, that enables you to truly connect with your customer in a real two-way manner is very powerful. I guess part of it is the size of your customer base and the touching staff that might limit how far you could take this.

    Speaking of personalizing, I really like the new trend in Web sites that adapt in real-time to the behaviors of individual visitors. Goto http://blog.mixergy.com/increase-conversions/ and download the interview of Olivier Chane of http://www.magnify360.com. Their is an mp3 link at the bottom of the page. Listen to it and apply those concepts to your website.

    Cheers,

    Jon

    ps. I fondly remember my visit to your wonderful home. Your vineyards and estate are a slice of heaven.

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