Dialogue vs Monologue and Wine Marketing Online

I've used the word "authenticity" on too many occasions and in too many talks about blogging and social media, and in the content of this very blog to even count my use of the word at this point. Furthermore, many others use the term when speaking to the same issues I speak to here and there: what disposition is necessary to successfully market wine in the world of websites, blogs, social networks and email.

And yet, I'm spurred to wonder exactly what "Authentic" and "Authenticity" amounts to in the world of wine marketing. I was brought to question my views on "Authenticity" by this article on the "License To Steal" conference held recently in Ohio at which the speakers all seemed to say what I've said about being "authentic" when exposing themselves via on-line tools. For example:

"The Internet is not just a tool," [Jamie] Rule noted, "It's a culture. The
Internet is alive, and as a winery, you have to make sure that your
website is alive too. You have to have a great product, good service,
and then be able to respond to different social media communities where
authenticity is most important."


Let me speak to the issue of "Authenticity" by giving you an example using a Wark Communications client.

Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen has a second tasting room called the Reserve Room. There they sit down visitors and give them a seven course food and wine tasting experience. The Wall Street Journal called their tasting room "Awesome" and "The Best Deal in Wine Country".

And yet, these are not Jeffrey Mayo's words. They could be if they didn't have quotes around them. In fact, if they were Jeffrey's words they might even seem "authentically" enthusiastic. Better yet, if they were the words of an ordinary visitor who wrote them on Jeffrey's facebook page they would appear even MORE "Authentic". But because they are a from a traditional media source, because they have quotes around them, because they are re-posted purely to get folks in the door, they do not qualify as the kind of "Authentic dialogue" that wine marketers are told they need to pursue when working the Internet culture.

In other words, "Authentic" and "Authenticity" refers to the ability to define and position one's product or service in personal and individualistic forms that stress the seller's feelings and perceptions in a way a single other person taking part in a dialogue will appreciate—rather than positioning one's products and service in the form of a monologue where the products or services are defined by what they provide to a group.

Put another way, "Authenticity" in on-line marketing is a matter of asking for the sale in the context of a dialogue, rather than a monologue.

But, it's still about asking for the sale.


9 Responses

  1. John Kelly - April 7, 2009

    Tom – IMHO you can’t “create” authenticity or the perception of it. You are either authentic or your aren’t, even in a dialog.

  2. Tom Wark - April 7, 2009

    Interesting perspective. It presumes that we each have a unique self that can be accessed and communicated.
    I’m not necessarily saying that “Authenticity” needs or should be manufactured. But I do know that the perception of Authenticity can be manufactured and manufactured in a way the betray the deception.

  3. Thomas Pellechia - April 7, 2009

    Yes, Tom, ‘authenticity’ can be manufactured to work, but it takes a willing receiver–one that suspends either belief or curiosity.
    That discovery is what’s behind the success of con artists. Madoff is among the latest to prove it…authenticity is one of the qualifiers that others used to hook themselves with the guy.

  4. Barbara Keck of WineBizNews blog - April 7, 2009

    It’s so good that you noted the importance of Asking for the Sale. Profitability only results from the cash register ringing (or the terminal sending data). I think all professional marketers who are involved in various aspects of the wine industry are searching for ways to increase sales in a crowded marketplace. Sometimes I think the efforts to twist-and-turn to the latest social media craze do in fact sap away energy from the good solid marketing techniques that we know work. But mostly I think that, sadly, YOU HAVE TO DO IT ALL. It is exhausting but exhilarating work to keep on top of the trends.

  5. el jefe - April 7, 2009

    What Barbara said, except that you don’t have to do it ALL. What you have to do is what works. What works for a small winery like us can fall flat for another winery, and vice versa. And definitely ask for the sale!

  6. John Kelly - April 7, 2009

    Tom – you have reminded us that we have a mantra: “Ask for the sale. Ask for the sale. Ask for the sale… đŸ™‚

  7. Dylan - April 9, 2009

    I think it’s sad that people are reminded to be authentic. Why would anyone be anything less? Unless you are hiding something about your product or yourself, there’s no reason to not be genuine. It’s silly to think, but does it even make sense to be unauthentic? Who even wants to deal with someone unauthentic? How many people here have friends they are proud to say are fakes and phonies that only use them to feel better? They’re called brand relationships for a reason–that whole “relationship” part. Consider what makes a relationship work in your own life, 9 times out of 10 those qualities (like authenticity) will work for your brand.

  8. Susan - August 20, 2009

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  9. Jeremy Gilbert - August 16, 2011

    How many times have you been told: You have to find a niche, a niche that you are interested in and have some basic knowledge about what you are going to be selling. Yes, that is quite true if you are building an offline business, having to speak to customers about maybe some tech stuff or do a calculation for a heating system etc. etc. If some one wants to buy some thing nowadays where do 85% start looking? They start doing research online, trying to find the best or maybe just the cheapest offer.

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