a food/wine/marketing blog that is funny by accident, sarcastic on purpose.

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first step for sunchips, giant leap for the industry.

You can only get Media Post articles if you subscribe to them, so I took an excerpt from SunChips Rolling Out Compostable Package written by Karl Greenberg that I read this morning about SunChips takes a huge step in the greening of product packaging.

sunchips-bSnack brand SunChips, a division of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay, likes its packaging to be ubiquitous on shelves — but on sidewalks, bushes, in trees or the random gutter? Not so much. The company is rolling out compostable, organic-based packaging bit by bit this year, with a fully compostable bag due out on Earth Day in 2010.

The marketing effort includes a 45-second ad showing a time lapse of the 100% biodegradable bag decomposing over 14 weeks. It will run once on “American Idol” on Tuesday — the day before Earth Day — followed by a home-page takeover on various social/video Web sites.  Print ads running in People will include samples of the new biodegradable material.  SunChips has also begun a national point-of-purchase effort in grocery stores this week with pamphlets containing swatches of the material — made of polylactic acid (trade name Ingeo) with instructions on how to compost it.

The campaign will be extended after Earth Day through a participation initiative via a partnership with National Geographic.  A digital campaign — centering on the video — will direct people to GreenEffect.com, where they can submit an account of steps they or their community groups are taking toward a sustainable lifestyle.

Out of all of the Earth Day promotions that I have been reading about, this one stands out the most for me.  SunChips seems to be taking this a step further than just talking the talk…. They are actually inventing a material that will revolutionize the way product packaging is made and putting the idea of composting out there.  Gone are the days that hippies and farmers are the only ones who compost their scrapes of food and now businesses like Whole Foods are setting up Composting Facilities around the United States.  I look forward to seeing this trend continue further than Whole Foods and my backyard (the picture below is a before shot of our garden).

garden


my social media competition.

I just stumbled upon a great social media white paper.  The 26 page pdf SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow is written by Michael A. Stelzer of Writing White Papers.  The report surveyed  over 700 social media marketers, asking them open ended questions about the industry.  If you don’t want to read the entire thing, go here to watch a video that explains some of the highlights.  After reading all 26 pages, I do have to say that I am concerned.

I have been told time and time again that the niche service I provide is a much needed one in Sonoma County (and the marketing industry as a whole) and that I need to help bring the Wine Country into the Web 2.0 world.  With so many “Social Media Consultants, Guru’s and Marketers”  that follow me online, I figured that maybe some of them might actually have some experience with the subject matter that they claim to be an expert on.  According to the report, I may be wrong.

The report justified my own personal commitment to social media and gave me a better understanding of what I should expect (or not expect) from my competition (aka those social media marketers that claim to know it all).  I have been using social media for years and my time spent on my iphone or on my laptop is almost embarrassingly high.  Honestly, ask my friends and they all will tell you I need to have my iphone within an arm’s length at all time.  A debate on if this is healthy or not is another subject.  Apparently (a  positive and a negative for me), my competition isn’t as dedicated and knowledgeable on the subject as I am. Here, I do want to state, that I know not all new social media people can be put into this stereotype and I am sure their are many respectable social media newbies out there. Right now it seems like social media marketing is the hottest trend and everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Some highlights of the report include:

“When asked to rate their experience using social media marketing for their businesses, a significant 72% of marketers have either just started or have been using social media for only a few months. ” What?? I know the industry is relatively new, but a few months, come on!

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“There is a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment.  For people just beginning with social media, the median weekly time commitment was two hours per week. However, for folks who have been doing this for a few months, the median jumped to 10 hours a week. And for people who have been doing this for years, their median is 20+ hours each week.” The longer you have been involved with social media, the more you understand that it does take a lot of time… You also know it pays off.

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“The longer you invest, the greater return you are gonna get”

- Michael Stelzer

So, to conclude, I will never claim to know all the answers.  That isn’t what social media is about.  It is about trial and error…. It is about being able to adapt and react quickly, it is about being honest with your consumers and most important it is about COMMITMENT and PASSION . I am happy to report that I can proudly say I am capable of all of this….  Can a social media guru who just started truly say that?


a perfect blend of wine & social networking.

Thursday, April 2nd is Wine 2.0‘s latest San Fransisco event held at the Crushpad.  After months of hearing amazing tweets about happenings at this venue, I finally get to go!  If you haven’t heard about Wine 2.0, it is a wine social network/event planning company that is looking to bring the wine world into the 2.0 world….

In an interview done by Winterviews, Cornelius Geary, Wine 2.0’s CEO sums up what many of us wine bloggers already know:

“That direct connection with the consumer and the potential sale it holds, I believe, is the number one priority for wine brands in the U.S.”


customer service in the consumer review era.

Years ago, back when the terms blog and twitter were still unknown, if restaurants, retailers or wineries provided terrible customer service then the word only got around to the visitors immediate friends and family.  If it was a truly horrific act of bad customer service or product failure, then maybe the word would spread a bit further.  Of course this is not the world we live in now.

As shown by Lisa de Bruin’s trip to Domaine Chandon, Gary Vaynerchuk’s visit at Mondrian, a “hip” hotel in Miami, as well as my recent trip to Korbel, a bad experience is not only is talked about online – it has the ability to “go viral.”  Consumer review site’s such as Yelp (even with their problems) and personal blogs have had a great impact, both positively and negatively on the service industry.  It isn’t just wine reviewers or food critics that are telling the world their opinion.

You can bitch all you want, but this trend is not going away anytime soon.  The internet is here, and social tools are just making it easier and faster for people to voice their opinions.  Go ahead and complain that these reviews are not from trained professionals, who know what they are talking about, or negative reviews could be from disgruntled employees, or that positive reviews could even be from someone affiliated with the company.

customer-service

Okay, hopefully now that you are done complaining about the situation you can take a deep breath and accept that consumer written reviews are not going away…. Or, hopefully, you are one of the ones reading this that understands that this new form of reviewing the service industry can actually help businesses.

What some people don’t get is that BOTH negative & positive postings provide a great opportunity for publicity.  The online landscape allows businesses to respond to negative comments and even generate positive posts by asking visitors to post reviews, or just by delivering customer service that is truly above and beyond.  Those businesses that adapt to the new era of online voices and not only respond to what is said, but actually LISTEN and (if need be) make changes will be the ones who will make it through.  Yes, I do know there is more to running a business then just this — just stick with me here….

Service businesses HAVE TO adapt to the landscape or watch their competition, that are paying attention, take away customers.  They have to know that in this new online era that they truly have to go above and beyond when it comes to customer service.  If you are a business that needs some help with online publicity or even an evaluation of your place of business, then please visit here.

I will leave you with some quotes from Gary:

“Stop age discrimination in the tasting room because that 24 year old will go and blog about what kind of douche bags you are and no one will buy your wine.”

“Service industry is really going to start feeling these impacts.”


seth godin’s social media quotes.

Some great quotes from the one person I can truly call a Marketing Guru, Seth Godin.

“Social Networking that matters is helping people archive their goals.  Doing it reliably and repeatability so that over time people have an interest in helping you achieve your goals” (You can do it both online and office).

“What I don’t like online is the superficial networking. It doesn’t count for anything” (I can say the same thing for real world networking, sitting in a room of people who are just waiting for their turn to speak without really listening or caring what you have to say).


Thanks to Anthony De Rosa of Soup, Soup for blogging this video….  and for his humorous tweets about Social Media.


why you should hire a freelancer.

I was just recently asked by a winemaker friend of mine if I have any marketing agency recommendations for him.  After he told me he was looking for an agency to create a print ad, my first question to him was why he wanted an agency to do this for him when it would be much cheaper and faster to hire a freelance graphic artist to create an amazing print ad for him.

His reaction to my question was that he hadn’t thought about that and he wasn’t sure how to go about finding the right person to help him out.

This comment got me thinking about local photographer/creative director/social elite Todd Brilliant’s new project the Creative Job Agency and the large number of freelance creative people I know around the area.

The CREATIVE JOB AGENCY will position itself as “LinkedIn for Creatives,” only with a real-world social element that will help form and cement critical professional relationships.

What is great about this “agency” is that it allows like-minded creative people to network, online and offline to discuss work opportunities and possible collaborations.   It is a great opportunity to meet freelancers and build up your list of recommended graphic artists, website developers, pr people, etc.  What it doesn’t do is get the word out to other, non-creative businesses and people who might be looking for our services.  That is up to us.

My current side business (still in initial start up phase) is social media and public relations focused, which is not a discipline that local businesses usually think to use when budgeting their marketing dollars.   This means it is up to me to get out into the community to let them know that I am available to help them cheaply market their brands online.  I currently am doing this by networking with business owners and other creative people, linking businesses that might not need my services with other freelance people that can currently help them.

Other reasons a freelance PR/Marketing/Website person might be the best answer for you*

  1. Price –  Freelancers do not have the same overhead as agencies, which means it costs less for them to create
  2. Attention – More personal attention because they have less clients
  3. Localized services – Help keep freelancers in business and they will continue to live in Sonoma County and help out the economy instead of moving away to work at agencies in the big cities
  4. Talent -The lack of work  in agencies means that talented people (like me) are doing more side work

So before you go looking for a Sonoma County agency, ask yourself if you know anyone who might know a freelancer that could help you out.

*Sorry to agencies I have previously had worked for or will work for in the future.  I am not discounting the work that any Agency does, but during economic hardships, I think that freelance work is the better choice, especially for smaller businesses.


social media can help sonoma county businesses through the downturn.

Yesterday two more stories were in the Press Democrat about Sonoma County businesses laying off people and cutting back on production.  Agilent Technologies and one of my favorite food brands, Amy’s Kitchen, both have been hit hard by the recession.  Both companies say they are cautiously optimistic about the future.  This got me thinking that it may be hard to stay optimistic when reading these articles (and the many others), but if you look at this era as an opportunity, then you can be optimistic about the future.

Even though hard working people are being laid off every single day, the downtime allows people to assess their situation and do something about it. As Scott Ginsberg, motivational speaker and business blogger says in a recent article titled How to Dance in the Rain of Our Current Economic Storm:

Take advantage of your downtime to accomplish projects and activities you wouldn’t be able to do if you were booked solid.  With this approach, you’ll probably end up accomplishing more than ever…

In tough times, one still has to believe that hard work, dedication, creativity and persistence will (hopefully) prevail.   I am lucky to have inspiration from my father who owns a carpet store in Santa Rosa.  Many other carpet stores are closing down because of lack of sales, but my dad has managed to not only stay afloat, he is actually still doing relatively well.  When this recession ends and consumers start having more confidence to start buying products, he will be the one they will buy carpet from because he will still be around.

Will your business be around at to see the rainbow at the end of the storm?   What?  Too cheesy?  How about will your business stay afloat after the hurricane?

One thing that Sonoma County businesses can do to help make sure that they stay afloat is to invest in Social Media Marketing.   An unfortunate trend I am seeing at both the national and local level is that brands are cutting back on most or all of their marketing budgets to save some money.  This is fine, if you want your competition to hog the spotlight and take away your business.  But, if you want to stay relevant and keep your brand on top of mind when consumers do get their purchasing confidence back, then you need to keep on reminding them that you are still here.

Top Reasons Sonoma County businesses should use Social Media Marketing to publicize their brand online:

  1. It is cost effective
  2. It provides national coverage (especially great in such a touristy place such as this)
  3. It can improve SEO rankings and website traffic
  4. You can be responsive to negative comments (as well as thank those with positive comments)
  5. It also provides the opportunity to connect with other members of your community

Chris Brogan, Social Media guru has an awesome post back in October of 2008 on using social media to help you get through the economic downturn.

New Media Type, a Web 2.0 blog explains that Social Media Marketing is sometimes the first to be cut because of the unknown but that it shouldn’t be.


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