[Sandra Hess – June 30, 2022]
With a 11,000+ wine brands competing for the attention of consumers in the US today, effective and meaningful storytelling is a key brand differentiator. High performing winery hospitality teams leverage past, present and future wine brand stories to best connect, educate and convert a variety of guests. The beautiful, late Maya Angelou, said it best, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. There has never been a better time for winery teams to intrigue and inspire like-minded consumer audiences through inspiring stories.
We help marketing and hospitality teams better organize stories that best reflect and connect through our workshop programs. In today’s blog release, I have provided the “Top Five Storytelling Tools” to develop master storytellers. Reach out HERE to dig deeper or schedule a Storytelling Workshop Series for your respective team.
TOOL #1 DETERMINE “WHO” OWNS AND MAINTAINS THE BRAND STORIES
Many times, stories get lost because nobody is responsible for being the “story keeper”. When we look back at some of the great storytellers in the wine industry ranging from Jack and Dolores Cakebread, to Robert and Margrit Mondavi, the Wente Family, Trinchero Family, etc., etc. each one of these teams saw the value in protecting the stories.
TOOL #2 ORGANIZE YOUR WINE BRAND STORIES TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE STORYTELLERS
Every tasting room guest should have a good understanding of your wine brand’s Past, Present and Future Story as these are the journeys that create long-term loyalists. Ideally, members will share their past and present stories when visiting. Hosts will help these brand builders envision themselves on the future journey with your winery before they wrap up their visit. Take time to document what these stories sound like by “consumer type” and include 3-5 bullet points for each category. TIP: don’t overwhelm your frontline staff with too much information to share with guests by prioritizing the most important information by guest and experience type.
TOOL #3 DEFINE YOUR “3 PILLARS OF STORYTELLING”
People or Family – The families long-time commitment to the brand is a very strong talk point and should be woven in at most touch points. Share the unique contributions of each family member in building the family wine brand whenever possible. If not family owned, share stories about the owners, founders/partners, winemakers, team, etc. Note: commitment to your community is important if not family owned so highlight these stories.
Craft – vineyard ownership, continued commitment, unique winemaking approaches, variety of wines and the why behind each wine collection. If you don’t own vineyards or a working winery, talk about strong partnerships and commitments to winemaking practices, sustainable practices, etc. Communicate awards/recognition. The point here is to highlight your true assets.
Place – your wine region, your vineyard sites, your winery experiences, your events, your community partnerships. Highlight unique visitor options that compliment wine enjoyment. Touch on several places such as a Barrel Room, Crush Pad, Vineyard Tour area if that is a genuine part of your “place” story.
TOOL #4 IDENTIFY KEY BRAND DIFFERENTIATORS TO BUILD STORY
Get your DTC team together and carve out time to work through this exercise. What do you think your key brand differentiators are VS what your members and long-term loyalists think. You can find clues in the member survey feedback, ratings/reviews, comment cards, etc. Here are some topics to begin with: Wine Offerings, Visitor/Brand Experiences, Educational Opportunities, Lifestyle Experiences (onsite and virtual), Status/Brand Maturity.
TOOL #5 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE(S) TO BE MOST EFFECTIVE
Master storytellers first know their audience before they ever share a story or speech. Here are some tips to best prepare for your time with guests:
- Go beyond stereotypes. Tapping into the shared sensibilities and passions of your audience can help you achieve something truly profound – making them feel like they belong. High-performing teams collect flags or notes about loyalists passions, interests and lifestyle points to reengage in the most meaningful way.
- Know what they know. Understanding the level of knowledge your audience possesses will help you in a key area of storytelling – determining what needs to be included and what can be left out.
- Give them what they want. Your audience wants something – to be inspired/intrigued/recognized/educated/etc. = sometimes a new perspective or a feeling of connection. Discover what this is and use it to anchor your story.
- Circle back in your story to touch on facts your guest/audience has shared to show that you are listening and THEY are the star of the show. Leverage “active listening skills” to be your best storyteller.