Wednesday, 5 June 2013

What businesses can learn from French vineyards

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be in Burgundy, cycling amongst the vineyards and tasting some of the delicious wine.

Two experiences on consecutive days struck me as the perfect example of how businesses should tell their story to potential customers.

The first was a paid for visit to a chateau with a wine tasting at the end of the visit. All the staff my wife and I met were polite, the wine we tried was superb but the message communicated by these staff and all their promotional material was - I paraphrase - "we make the world's best white wine from the vineyards in and around our historic and beautiful chateau". We weren't asked what we might want the wine for or what we usually drink. There was no attempt to build a connection with us.

Although we liked what we had tasted we decided not to buy any wine as we were cycling but were minded to head back in our car later on the trip.

Now contrast the message this chateau communicated to the experience we had at a small vineyard we visited the next day. The owner, despite arriving unannounced at his lunchtime, shook our hands and was happy to welcome us to his cellar. Each wine we tried he asked us what we thought and then gave his opinion of what foods it could be drunk with or for what occasion. He was giving us the benefits of buying his wine from him.

The clincher for me though was the short story he told us of how he was the fourth generation of his family to run the vineyard. This in itself wouldn't be any different to saying "we make the world's best white wine from the vineyards in and around our historic and beautiful chateau".

It was different however as he talked about their expertise built up over decades, hands on approach to making every bottle in small quantities and the fact they are a small producer meaning they produce brilliant wine at a reasonable price.

So his story became the reason we should buy his wine not merely a summary of who they are. His description of his family business was actually a list of the benefits we would get from giving him our money. It worked; we bought 6 cases.

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