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

Posts tagged ““Santa Rosa”

social media classes in sonoma county.

If someone asked me at the age of eight what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have had one of three different responses: A lawyer, a teacher or the person who writes commercials.  The third dream of mine is the one that I ended up pursuing and even though my dream was crushed by the decline in TV advertising, I knew even at a young age that the marketing world was the world for me.  Good thing the world of internet advertising allows for more creative thinking and versatility than the in-the-box model of the TV advertisement.

Over the years many people have told me that I would make a great teacher, that I have a commanding voice (I think they mean loud) and now it is official – I am breaking out the glasses, the khaki pants and a plain blue blouse (memories of Mr. Murdock and Mr. Kaufman my two favorite teachers in high school) because I am going to start teaching social media classes for the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.

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customer service done right.

There has been a recent epidemic of blog postings that have been critical of the lack of customer service that a few wineries have provided, including two recent ones from me (here and here).  With the ever-expanding blog posts about everything from what people had for breakfast to the wine they drank before going to bed, the internet is a haven for people to write about their daily experiences.  It is also a fact that people talk more about their bad experiences than their good ones.  Online and during their everyday lives.

I was told by one of my male friends that my posts as of late have been a bit pessimistic and that I should write about something pleasurable and not just promotions or brands that upset me.  Though I don’t believe him, especially looking at the overwhelming exceptional customer service I received (and wrote about) from my favorite wineries over the past two Barrel Tasting weekends, I figured I would take a look at some places I have been to recently that I think have the right idea.  Two Sonoma County restaurants instantly came to mind.

Jack and Tony’s Whisky Bar- They opened up in Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa last month, but local Sonoma County chef, Jack Mitchell (of Sassafrass) knows that a good restaurant is nothing without a great staff who is dedicated to providing a memorable experience.  They literally rolled out the red carpet for their customers this past Wednesday.  It was their Grand Opening celebration and no matter how cheesy it sounds, the party was in fact  Grand.

jt-010

A limo drove guests from the Santa Rosa Hyatt and dropped them off at the front door.  Here guests were greeted by a red carpet and a smiling Jack saying “thank you” for coming.  For part of the day, a paparazzi style photographer snapped candid photos, the mayor showed up for a ribbon cutting ceremony and they gave away free appetizers.  The drinks were delicious and the garlic parmesan fries were cooked perfectly.

Jack personally went from table to table to greet each of his guests and to chat for a bit.  It will be interesting to see if they can keep up this level of great customer service, but as Jack told me “He had the best restaurant staff to choose from in Sonoma County,” so look for people who know what they are doing.

Bovolo Restaurant- One several different wine tasting occasions, myself and a group of wild women have entered into Bovolo (behind Copperfield’s on the Healdsburg Square) to dine on their infamous mac and cheese and carbonara dishes.  Other than my friends being obsessed with the handmade bacon, we go there because they offer free corkage for locals and I have a bit of a crush on one of the staff members at the cash register.  I like that you order off the menu at the cash register and you go to sit down, it brings a more informal vibe to the place.

bovolo

We tend to get a bit rowdy, so instead of yelling (which has happened at various restaurants or hotels), the staff will come in the back and simply ask us to keep it down.   I understand that sometimes we need to be reminded to use our inside voices, but asking us nicely goes much further than coming back and acting like we are ruining your life.

(Bovolo picture taken from Google Images)

Both of these restaurants have proven to me on more than a few occasions that it is the simple things that create an experience worth coming back for.


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.


wine bloggers conference.

It is all about the First Annual Wine Blogging Conference this weekend. The entire Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa will be taken over by some of the best professional wine lushes in America.

My dumb ass was too much of a procrastinator when it came to actually purchasing a ticket so I wasn’t able to buy one before it sold out. Thankfully, I am now helping out with the CIA’s Blind Tasting Challenge so I am now able to get in! Whoo hoo.

The best part of the event: meeting all of the people I talk to on Twitter on a daily or weekly basis, including @winebratsf (whom I have already met and already know she kicks ass) of Vinquire and Luscious Lushes Wine Blog, @Sondara of WannabeWino, @DrXeNo of WineLog Blog, @smellslikegrape of Smells Like Grape Wine Blog and those are just the ones I talked to today…  There will be many, many others that would take me all night to write down.

Any wine bloggers reading this right now: I will be the one handing out Scharffen Berger chocolate, so look for me at the event!

More about the event next week, for now I leave you with a quote from everyone’s favorite internet wine geek, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV.

“People are always talking about what you’re doing now… To me, it’s not what you’re doing now, it’s about where you’re going.”


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