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Sustainable Winegrowing with Vineyard Team

Sustainable Winegrowing with the Vineyard Team brings you the latest in science and research for the wine industry. This on-the-go, sustainable farming educational resource provides in-depth technical information on topics like integrated pest management, fruit quality, water conservation, and nutrient management from experts like Dr. Mark Fuchs of Cornell University, Dr. Michelle Moyer of Washington State University, Cooperative Extension Specialists, veteran growers, and more. Our podcasts will help you make smarter, sustainable vineyard management decisions to increase efficiency, conserve resources, and maximize fruit quality.

Mar 21, 2024

While the tradition of wine is still important to how we connect with customers, the way that we communicate has changed. David Avrin, President of The Customer Experience Advantage explains why brands must have an omnichannel approach to their customer communication. Identify which channels are most valuable to your business by defining your core audience. Then find out what they watch, what they read, and where they recreate. Use these insights to harness the technology that your customers use whether its snail mail or TikTok. David reminds us that there is no shame in not being comfortable with technology but there is no excuse to not work with a technology native who does understand the platforms that best reach your audience.


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Craig Macmillan  0:00 

Our guest today is David Avrin. He is president of the customer experience advantage. Today we're going to talk about a little bit about the business side, and how that applies sustainability in the wine industry. Thanks for being on the podcast.


David Arvin  0:14 

Thank you very much for having me.


Craig Macmillan  0:16 

Now, we've talked about wineries vineyards, but their businesses. In your mind, what are some of the important things that winery and vineyard owners might think about in terms of making their companies sustainable into the future?


David Arvin  0:29 

Yeah, it's interesting, because I think the industry certainly has been around for a very long time. And when it goes back to Biblical times, and there's there's certain ways that vineyard owners, those who are in the business suppliers, and others, this is how we do business, this is how it's done. But what's interesting is for the rest of us, who are the wine consumers, our lives have changed. And it's actually for everybody, right? How we connect, and share and grow our own businesses, and our changing expectations for access and immediacy, and flexibility, all of that has changed. So I think part of future proofing your business is striking that balance between the traditions, that, that go into making a great vintage wine, and how we interact and how we engage as consumers in the b2b side with distributors and others as well. So many of those mechanisms have changed. So I think what's really important is for people to be very clear on the technologies that are expected, and the ones that facilitate great communication in great relationships. I saw a study the other day, and the gist of it said that, that companies today are expected to deploy technology that allows their customers to do business with them, not from home, from anywhere, at any time, I don't expect that I can get my hair cut at four o'clock in the morning, but I expect that I can make an appointment to do so or cancel that appointment. So I think it's a very unique industry, because the traditions and what is tried and true and effective are so important to maintain, so important to pass along from generation to generation, but how we connect and communicate and deliver those services, those products, all of that has changed. We need to stay on the front end of that.


Craig Macmillan  2:09 

One of the attractions of wine, I think, in my experience with customers, is this traditional aspect this is this is something mystical about it. And how do we maintain that kind of magical quality to a product, when we need to engage with the customer in more electronic ways or more distant ways, and maybe without as much touch?


David Arvin  2:31 

I think it's just the business part of it, that it requires that kind of an expeditious, ease of use kind of a methodology are really virtual wine tastings unless you're actually tasting wine in different locations and connecting electronically.


Craig Macmillan  2:46 

And that's happened.


David Arvin  2:47 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We did it during COVID. We had so many double dates with my wife and some other couples and stuff, and just opportunity just over a glass of wine and some dinner, to just hang out with each other. It's one of things we learned during the pandemic that was possible. But I think when I've talked about the technology, I think it really is purely just how do we do business, my, my mantra, my new book is all about how to be how to become ridiculously easy to do business with. And so I think fortunately for the industry, I think the traditions still hold true. I think in person, wine tastings and wine enjoys and pairings at restaurants, I think a lot of that will pretty much stay the same. I think it's we're always want to stay on the forefront of that. But it's the the communication, the distribution, the marketing. There are so many new amazing mechanisms now to reach our target market, which is shifting, of course, we can talk about that. But it's using the mechanisms that they use. And so we can be traditional, but we certainly don't want to be seen as stodgy or antiquated, or old school. And so I think there's there's a really wonderful balance that in the terminus is fully intentional, because there's so much that balance comes into this industry. But I think in terms of our communication and our marketing and our in person enjoyment. I think that part's all very important.


Craig Macmillan  4:07 

He mentioned the generational change. And that's an issue for the wine business, the generation that really brought us to where we are today, their children, and then possibly their grandchildren are coming of age, they're coming of age. And the question is whether that love of the wine product has been passed on generationally or not. One thing that I learned from looking at some of your other talks and stuff was, it's about and you mentioned it was the ease of connection and the ease of doing business and convenience.


David Arvin  4:40 

I think on the business side is that I think there's a great opportunity for the industry to become not just present and relevant but preferable to a new generation as well. It's not like there isn't a long history with wine. As I said, going back to Biblical times. They have survived so well over the years. But what's different is each generation How we communicate, and how we connect and reach out, all of that has changed. I think wine is uniquely positioned to capitalize on that new as long as these generations come to fruition that Gen X, the Gen Y, the Gen Z, and all of them as well, because I think there's a natural progression of maturity in the individual. It's like there's a space, I think, between the parties. And I remember when party was a noun, now it is a verb. And then of course, the the more traditional and stodgy. I think wine is uniquely placed in there. And so while the young people are, they're going to play drinking games at 18, to 23, 24, you know, playing quarters with beer, the opportunity when when it's time to grow up, we grab a glass of wine, and we connect together. So you might have party and the stodgy I think the middle is social. And I think wine has a phenomenal opportunity right now to be positioned as the social drinker, we're not drinking to get drunk. We're not drinking to be to be sophisticated in in our smoking jackets with a high ball and of whiskey. But I think wine lends itself phenomenally to visuals, as well. And so I think if you're going to compare it to industries that have survived and thrived in that transition, I think coffee is probably the best. I mean, we grew up our parents, you go down, look for 15 cents, get a cup of joe. Well, now everybody's enjoying coffee, it's become more profitable, it's become more prevalent, because they've looked at a couple of things. One is the social aspect. And Starbucks had a big role to play in how we look at that experiential thing. But it's also a grab and go kind of an item, being able to recognize how easy do we do that and take that to the office. And that industry has done it very well. No, wine, of course, is something different. We don't necessarily take to the office, but the visuals of people who have come of age socializing, and not just drunk at a frat party, I think there's wonderful opportunities in terms of our marketing to say, when you're when you finally grown up, this is how we connect, this is how we socialize. And the other part of it, I think, is the packaging. And this part has been really fun for us because we are of the mind of so many, that when we get invited to a gathering, we always come with a bottle of wine. What's interesting is talking to others that one of the primary drivers. And this really takes us back to like 50 60, 70s was the emergence of clever and attractive packaging. It's less important today in other industries. But I think it's more important in the wine industry. The clever names, the clever packaging, so many people I've talked to say, I just thought this bottle looks so cool. And that's the one that they bring, right. That's not the bottle we tend to open up we like to display because there's so much creativity in that the elegant yesteryear of wine was a very elegant, labelled today. They're whimsical, they're fanciful, they're, they're tongue in cheek, and everything from the 99 crimes that you can scan and get a little story about them to Menage a Trios, which, which, you know, gives people a little bit of a smile when you realize the the inference, I think is such an exciting industry right now. I think the biggest population bubble in history is coming of age, and the perfect target. And then we look at the social how they communicate as well. Whether it's Instagram, or tick tock, for others, as well short form social short form video, it lends itself so well, two people connecting and gathering and enjoying life and sharing a bottle of wine.


Craig Macmillan  8:23 

I'm a dinosaur, I just turned 55. And I work sometimes in the tasting room, the winery where I work now Niner Wine Estates, as time went on, it became very clear that I was not able to communicate with my coworkers, because they were talking about Instagram, they were using Twitter, they were Venmoing everything like I couldn't even be involved in social gatherings without getting Venmo on my phone. It's a here's 20 bucks and like, I don't want that. No, I wanted my Venmo account. Yeah, so one of them actually offered to become my social media consultant. And that is still continued to this day. So how can we make it easy for the consumer to interact with winery, if the consumer is not either tech savvy or in my case doesn't want to be tech savvy.


David Arvin  9:11 

The term that you're going to hear so often which is which is omni channel. And omni channel means no matter how they want to communicate with you give them that opportunity. I mean, you talk about Venmo, for example, and I speak to audiences around the world, I write books on all of this. And one of the things I talk about in the new book that I'm writing right now, which is called ridiculously easy to do business with one of the chapters is be ridiculously easy to pay, you know, somebody wants to pay you through Venmo Okay, and this is scary for people with very traditional businesses. And I'm like, oh my god, somebody's trying to give you money, say yes. As you had recognized sometimes it takes a younger person who is a technology native who is immersed in all of this to help you translate and help you implement. There is no shame in not being comfortable with some of the new social media platforms or mechanisms. There is no excuse to not work with somebody who is and just because it might be a little bit scary. And for I mean, if you're old, I'm ancient, my kids run circles around me are all of our kids where we've got a Brady Bunch, they're all sort of 20 to 29. And I've got two of them who do digital marketing and digital media for a living. I wrote books if you can, if you're watching the video behind me, I wrote books, and I couldn't keep up today. But what we do is we surround ourselves, we outsource we, we hand off to people who are comfortable with those mechanisms. So when I talked before up omni channel, we're all going to have people, we're going to have customers from 21 to 85 or above, they want to communicate with you differently, they want to access the product differently, some might be able to do sort of online video introductions, a tour of the winery, some things that look very experiential, and some are very, very comfortable using the app and doing things online ordering. And there's another segment that needs to talk to a person for for those in business, those who are listening to this podcast, you don't have to be all things to all people. But you have to be very clear of who your audience is, and who your future audience is. And make sure that you have the processes in place for them to reach you by phone, by text message. However, that might be an even if it's just the b2b aspect of your business and dealing with vendors and others as well. No matter how they want to communicate, try and make that available. We look at the lifetime value of our customers, both on the consumer side and also on the distribution side. being ridiculously easy to do business with is a competitive advantage today. And all of this is with a recognition that you have to be good at what you do, right? This isn't in lieu of a quality product, don't take your eye off the ball. But what's different today, what's different post pandemic is that our mechanisms for how do we communicate or pay or order or reorder have got to be simple and streamlined. And then when we look at the audience is how do they where are they getting their information if you want to really target those, those 21 to 30 year olds posting clever, engaging intent and enticing videos on Tik Tok or Instagram, it's not fluff, it's business. If that's where they get their information, you need to be there. You need to be there effective.


Craig Macmillan  12:11 

And that raises another question. I think it's tough for a lot of businesses just in general, how do you keep up on all this stuff? As there's new applications? There's new channels, there's new preferences, that's another one Pay Pal was the thing. So yeah, Pay Pal? I'm cool PayPal Venmo I'd never heard of it until somebody demanded that as a payment. If I'm the general manager of a business or if I'm an executive, how do I stay on top of this?


David Arvin  12:34 

Um, first of all, is the recognition you don't have to do everything. Because it is overwhelming. It's 100%. You don't have to be on every social media platform. You don't have to take every form of payment. You don't have to take Bitcoin, I would advise against it. But it doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to be a student of business be a lifelong learner of business. And there's no shortage of content available online. That tells you here the the the hottest trends, how do millennials or Gen Z prefer to communicate what is their greatest influence into what they buy? When and why just read I mean, there's videos on on online every day, part of my responsibility to my clients and my audiences that I serve is I need to be very, very current. There was somebody who had booked me to to keynote a conference and that's my my primary business as a keynote speaker. And it was six months away. And they asked if I would send they were finalizing things if I would send my slide deck. And I said, I'm happy to send my slide deck but understand it's not what I'm going to present to you in six months, because things will change between now and that whether you have a second generation who's moving up within your business, make sure that you have people of all ages in the room as you discuss strategy. I think to answer your question, just be a student of this there is no shortage go on YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world only second to Google, and it's owned by Google. But YouTube is a wonderful way to have just looking at stories and news clips and others about what are the latest trends. How are they predominantly buying? Where does Gen Z get most of their information? Right? I saw some of the day was fascinating that Disney was suffering in a significant way just because the youngest of our people are getting most of their videos and content online now on YouTube and others and it's in lieu of that it's not like they did anything wrong. Bed Bath and Beyond goes bankrupt not because they did a bad job. It's that we had changed and how we buy and how we connect we just get it delivered to our house through Amazon or something else. So I for me, I think it's it's a it's an exciting thing. It's a positive thing to be a constant learner, stay up to date and relieve yourself of the pressure to do everything. Just look who is my core audience? What do they watch? What do they read? Where do they recreate and congregate and dine and connect and are we there? And are we there in a way that is is not just present and not overly salesy. Persuasive and social and big the big rule in social media is don't sell share.


Craig Macmillan  15:04 

I was reading something this morning, which reminded me of a topic that we had talked about internally in our winery. And that is the the idea of story. You just mentioned that storytelling. We also know that attention spans are short. And we know that a lot of us technology is set up for no more than a minute, two minutes, three minutes, how do I tell a really compelling story in a short amount of time? there's


David Arvin  15:28 

Well,  two ways to do it. One is a story, a traditional story. And that might be through an article, it might be through a longer form video, it tells us a situation or something about a Thanksgiving dinner, and something that emotional happens. And you see that on the table. Most of story today, in terms of short form, video format, is literally very short. It can be a 22nd, Instagram reel, with pictures and pictures and pictures and lots of lots of music. I think the best example, if you think and look at how pharmaceutical companies are doing their commercials today, for Jardiance, or whatever those might be, whether it's a musical number, how often you see seniors at a farmers market, or at a kid's birthday party, but they're showing them connecting, and being being social, and family. And they just put these scenarios, you don't really know what the whole story is. But it puts it within the context as opposed to somebody holding up the product. And talking about the product. It's what do we want people to feel and I think that's the greatest opportunity for wine today, when looking at Gen Y millennials, or Gen Z is is is showing them in the in the kinds of situations that makes sense. It's laughter It's friendship, it's it's connecting, but it's also post fraternity party, it's post red solo cup, I could see a great ad campaign when you're ready to graduate from the red solo cup to a nice glass of Chardonnay, right? But that doesn't mean that somebody's 60 years old, it can be young and sophisticated. And the romance and all of that I think the stories can be told in short form, through the visuals, you know, and the music and all the things that and once again, here's here's a great thing about about YouTube, you can go on YouTube and search, how do you use YouTube? And you'll see a million videos, how do you create Instagram reels that capture the attention or look for others within your industry don't copy but emulate you know, which are the ones that get engagement and why I think it's an exciting thing to become a student of this. And I've learned so much from my kids who are no longer kids. My oldest daughter works for the number one social media channel on the planet. And they post videos and they get between 40 and 50 million views on their videos in the first 24 hours. Wow. And so what I'm learning from them is astonishing. And did I mention I wrote books on this?


Craig Macmillan  15:29 

You said you've got one out right now what is that?


David Arvin  17:22 

Yeah, well, but my new subject, and it's not really new. But I realized about seven or eight years ago because I talked about marketing and branding for most of my career, what are the what are the words we use that best describe and differentiate what we do in the marketplace. And I came to the recognition probably seven or eight years ago that we had changed in such a substantial way because of social proof that what we say about ourselves, is not unimportant, but it's not nearly important, today's what other people say about us. And it's Yelp and TripAdvisor and rotten tomatoes, and Glassdoor and of course all of the your own social media sites. So I might that's what led to my research would lead to my book, why customers leave and how to win them back is one of the points of frustration, friction in the process, unnecessary delays and, and lack of convenience for certain things. My whole business changed. And so all of my work and my research and my speaking and my books are around the central theme that in a marketplace where everybody's good. The winners are the ones who are ridiculously easy to do business with.


Craig Macmillan  18:56 

I think you just answered the question, but what is the one thing you'd recommend?


David Arvin  19:00 

There's two aspects Well, once the business aspect, and the other one is the marketing. So I think in terms of internal process, you have to be able to replicate what we're seeing in a broader marketplace. You have to be able to reach somebody, if somebody's yelling into the phone agent, real person real person, you're doing something wrong, right doesn't mean we can staff 24 hours but we're learning we can learn from Uber and Amazon and Domino's and others as well in terms of how do they use the mobile technology to make it super easy to reach someone to ask a question to reorder, make sure you have an off ramp so they can talk to a real person. That's the ridiculously easy walk your customers journey. Are there too many steps? How long is your contracts, we're seeing companies reducing their contracts and things that are really relevant and important. Be easy to work with your distributors and your vendors and others as well. And then of course on the marketing side is just recognize who not only your buyers are today, but your future buyers. Beware they are speaking language that's persuasive, authentic for them as well. And I think this this is one in industry and I speak to industries that are really struggling. I think the sky's the limit for the wine industry.


Craig Macmillan  20:05 

So where can people find out more about you?


David Arvin  20:08 

You find me online. My name is David Averin AVRIN, I'm on all social media on some of them. It's the real David AVRIN. That's a whole cat fish for another day. But you can look me up at or just google music videos as well. And as we had said, Before I speak and I consult. I love talking business. I'm a fan of business and I'm very optimistic about where we are post pandemic.


Craig Macmillan  20:32 

Fantastic. Hey, we gotta go. Thanks for being on the podcast. David. Our guest today was David Avrin, president of the customer experience advantage


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