Creating a New Job Category for the Wine Industry

Mg So, Murphy-Goode Winery is going to pay someone $60K over 6 months to be their Social Media Director.

That sounds about right. By my estimation, if you hired someone to work full time in such a position and if they had significant social media, sales, PR and tech experience that kind of salary might be at the high end of the spectrum but not outside it.

Of course the way Murphy-Goode has gone about screening candidates with video's being posted on-line is a pretty darn good idea since it not only brings their brand visibility and attention, but it also draws attention to the whole realm of wine social media activities. (KUDO's Murphy Goode!!)

Vt But of course what else is interesting about this process is the involvement of VinTank, the wine industry "Digital Think Tank" started by Paul Mabray, Eric Hsu, Patrick Angeles, and Joel Vincent. Vintank has offered $100,000 work of consulting services to the individual that Murphy Goode chooses to be their Social Media Guru. This means that Murphy-Goode will get a very good return on the $60K+ they will spend on their new recruit.

But Vintank has gone one step further and identified four candidates for the job they think are best suited for the job, as well as a second set of four candidates they also endorse. For the company that hires the "VinTank+4" candidates the firm will offer $50K in consulting services. For the company that hires any of the second set of VinTank candidates, they will deliver $25K in consulting services.

The point, according to Mabray, is to "catalyze wineries to engage in digital marketing and wine social media."

Back around 1993 to 1995 wineries that I worked with as well as most others had taken note of the Internet. Most weren't too sure what it mean or what its potential was. But some of my PR clients did start to dip their toe into the water by building websites that were essentially brochures. It all represented the First Steps.

Social media involvement by wineries and wine companies will happen faster than they initially moved into the Internet if only because most have become accustomed by now to use Internet technology in one way or another and have become somewhat alerted to the fact they need to keep up with where digital communications are leading their industry and consumers.

The thing about the Murphy-Goode and VinTank promotion of Social Media tools is that the kind of impact I think it will have is to spur other wine companies to give careful consideration to bringing on employees dedicated to these new tools and arenas for communication. In other worlds, Mabray's hope for his efforts at VinTank are likely to pan out…slowly…but pan out nonetheless.

Posted In: Wine Business


17 Responses

  1. St. Vini - June 8, 2009

    Consulting is the way to go for social media right now – that’s the only way to make any real money out of this “space”!
    Also, what happens to Murphy-Goode when this hired hand inevitably leaves for greener pastures? How do they maintain what’s been built by a person in what is obviously a corporate position that will turnover every year or less?

  2. Paul Mabray - June 8, 2009

    Thx St Vini – social media can make money but we see this more than social media. It is digital sales and maketing with social media being one (a very key) channel. With the proper training and support, Murphy Goode and others will have continued success after this first campaign. Many thanks to them and people like Tom for helping push the industry into the digital arena.

  3. Tom Wark - June 8, 2009

    I suspect that when one’s “Social Media Director” leaves a company will do the same thing they do when their VP, Marketing leaves. Find another. And as time goes by, that person will be easier and easier to find.

  4. Dirty / Hardy - June 8, 2009

    Nice post Tom-
    What were your thoughts as to the slow speed to bring these people on?
    The normal speed of the industry, or something more specific?

  5. Rick Bakas - June 8, 2009

    Thank you for posting, Tom. Your question is one of two I’m hearing frequently from clients. “What happens when the person leaves?” The other question I hear is, “how can I measure the impact on sales from social media?”
    Both are valid, and the answers are too long to list here. What we’ve learned in the past month since Murphy-Goode launched this hiring process is what we already thought–wine is a very social thing. The conversations around wine are social-media friendly.
    The other thing the wine industry can take away from this is a well-crafted social media strategy can do wonders for a wine brand in a short time period.
    There are a number of ways a winery can achieve success in social media. Just focusing on the increase in sales is missing the bigger opportunity.

  6. Ed Thralls - June 8, 2009

    Tom, I agree with your sentiment to Vini, that if the person leaves the position, then the company will find another. And with Murphy Goode and VinTank “catalyzing” (as Paul puts it) social media in this space there will be (and currently ARE) plenty of qualified candidates waiting in the wings and hopefully more if our work is successful. These are the “First Steps” of is this new era for wine and social media together.

  7. Director of Lab Rhetoric - June 8, 2009

    I think this is tricky territory. I’m not at all convinced that social media is something that you can motivate from the top down. This is not traditional marketing with amped up tools.
    So much of social media is primarily user-driven, and I wouldn’t be certain that wine producers will be able to wag their own long-tails just by hiring qualified people (through clever contests).
    The real keys to a compelling social-media strategy are going to be making sure the “influencers” in these new and emerging media (and not just bloggers, but CellarTracker users who are “favorited”, big sellers on Vinfolio’s marketplace, etc) are moving brands in the desired direction. And much of that is going to mean producers will really need to focus on production, not information technology.
    I think if Murphy-Goode actually finds someone who can manage a comprehensive media strategy efficiently and effectively for $160K (annual salary basis plus on-costs), they should consider that a bargain.

  8. Richard Beaudin - June 8, 2009

    Social media is somewhat a double edge sword: On the one hand it doesn’t have to be a cash drain, and it allows a winery to open up a direct dialogue with its current and prospective customers, which could help (as noted in both the VinTank and Silicon Valley Bank whitepapers), to drive additional direct winery sales. On the other hand, it can be a big time drain and is likely beyond where most winery personnel are comfortable. All of that said, it is simply another marketing option and one that could pay some reasonable dividends for those that apply it properly. It is likely that some of these same concerns were voiced when web 1.0 surfaced. Tom as always, thanks for keeping the conversation going!

  9. David Mark Horowitz - June 8, 2009

    I’ll be trying to teach areallygoodeclass at ssu next semester!
    Also, I think Murphy Goode Video 468 is awesome!

  10. Anneliese - June 9, 2009

    May I add, please, that Social Media is a great way to get attention, allow users/consumers to plug in, for those same people to buy, but, Social Media requires constant updating, and that is a daily or weekly task satisfied more at an Administrative-level, than Management. Management certainly would suggest content topics, but it takes the fingers of the updater to get that content onto the web.
    So, it does not matter if a Director stays or leaves, as long as there is one body dedicated to fresh content to keep the users engaged. This is the struggle then, to find that person and how to keep them engaged.
    Just my .02.

  11. St. Vini - June 9, 2009

    Paul: How do you quantify this as a “very key channel”? Most wineries generate web-based sales in the (very) low single digit %s?
    My estimate for a $15 wine like M-G is that this person would have to create a revenue base of $250,000 annually (that’s 16,600 bottles) just to pay for their salary, benefits and payroll taxes, let alone any incremental profit. Seems unlikely with everyone else out there trying to grab the same brass ring.
    As for the responses to my question about this person leaving, I don’t think this is the same as a marketing director, particularly when they will have made many personal impressions on people via this new medium. It will lack the geniune experience that people want with wine and will smack of “corporateness” – something that doesn’t sell as well here….no?

  12. Mr. Met - June 9, 2009

    “Of course the way Murphy-Goode has gone about screening candidates with video’s being posted on-line…”
    Why is there an apostrophe in videos?

  13. Paul Mabray - June 9, 2009

    St Vini –
    Key Channel – place where you can market and attract customers.
    Web based sales deficiencies for wineries can be more attributed to the resources and expertise dedicated to the channel than to the effectiveness of the channel. There are only approximately eight dedicated winery ebusiness employees in the US (our of 6K wineries). Please remember that a good e-business director will not only stimulate online direct and trade sales but offline sales as well. Moreover they will increase LTV of all customers, create press opportunities, and more. E-business is an asset that is greatly underutilized by the wine industry.
    Engagement can occur on all levels. To look at a company that leverages social media for branding that is large ($1B) check out Zappos. Sincerity, fun, transparency help “wash” away corporate .

  14. Dylan - June 9, 2009

    “So, it does not matter if a Director stays or leaves, as long as there is one body dedicated to fresh content to keep the users engaged. This is the struggle then, to find that person and how to keep them engaged.
    Just my .02.”– Anneliese is completely on target. When you lose that person, you gain a problem. As of now, the biggest hurdle to overcome in social media is what to do when the person managing your content leaves. The connection is formed with that content creator–transparency makes this so.

  15. Randy Pitts - June 10, 2009

    More than 1/2 of my tasting room guests are under 40 years old and of this % nearly 40% are under 30! It’s possible that we may simply be attracting the younger crowds, however these are stats I must pay attention to, thus I’ve dedicated 4-6 hours/week for one of my staff who knows his way around these social networks to get the word out. So far so great!

  16. mydailywine - June 10, 2009

    Most wineries and importers are not maximizing the potential of the online sales channels, Direct to Consumer and Direct to Trade.Once they do this, online sales numbers will increase. They have traditional sales managers who handle their 3 tier business but lack a dedicated, comprehensive online sales strategy, as well as an informed professional to supervise these channels.
    Social media is the new school of marketing but most companies are not connecting the dots between SM and kaching yet.
    And yes, they need to hire consultants or new staff for these rapidly expanding channels. Based on my experience in the wine biz, most traditional 3 tier focused sales managers do not fully grasp online strategies.

  17. David Biggar - July 7, 2009

    I think Murphy-Goode showed great creativity in creating the campaign. They got the word out. In the long run that will lead to increased sales. Buzz is good.
    Social Media is somewhat new and given the low amount of involvement, pretty untapped. So there is much more to learn. But it is probably more of a marketing vehicle than direct sales per se. Realistically, why would anyone buy a $10-$15 wine (or less and ship it to their home)? They can get a bottle around twice the price & quality in their neighborhood store. I’d rather have the quality than the shipping costs.
    Consumer Direct is a better vehicle for expensive wines that are in high demand, low production—probably not immediate social media targets. Their success to date (pre-recession), was a personal connection through their mailings and a play on the demand (waiting lists), to encourage the customer to act fast.
    However, now that there are over 2800 CA wineries and 110,000 labels approved by the TTB annually & growing, the key is that there are tons of thousands of $15-$75 wines vying for attention, which struggle through the consolidating distributor networks. Traditional scoring pubs can only rate so many wines. To be new & different, they will need to reach out and what better way than to be social; media or otherwise.

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