A Serious Personality Disorder

If this sounds like I’m talking about one of your co-workers, a neighbor, or the distant relative no one likes to talk about, then you may be disappointed. Because the personality disorder I’m talking about here isn’t the one that makes people come across as belligerent, rude, or obnoxious. No, I’m interested in a more serious problem, one that can cost you thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Namely, a complete lack of personality in your marketing. Let me explain...

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Ron, Suzanne and Lorie at Heller Estates Winery.

Quit Your Wine-ing... As many of you know, we like to drink wine. We had a wine room in our old house, and space to create one was a requirement when we were looking for places where we could “downsize.” Part of the fun comes from finding unique and unknown wines, and when you combine our love of wine with our love of travel, northern California becomes a very attractive destination. On one of our trips there, we discovered not only great wines, but also some great marketing lessons, including what may have been the most important one of all: people like doing business with people they like. Plain and simple. When you spend a good part of your vacation scouting out wineries trying to find great wines that simply aren’t available where you live, you’ll discover that your greatest successes often come when you visit out-of-the-way wineries that are so small you have to call in advance to make sure someone will even be there. And when you compare this with the large “corporate” wineries with big tasting rooms and a large staff, the results are predictable. Which is Better–Big or Small? The quality of the visits were just what you might expect. At the Chateau Julien Wine Estate in Carmel Valley, we had a tasting presented by a lifeless employee who seemed to be more interested in his plans for the evening than explaining the wines he was pouring. On the other end of the spectrum was the Heller Estate Vineyard, just down the road. (www.hellerestate. com) There, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Suzanne Genovese, the tasting room manager. She insisted on taking a picture with us during our visit. Suzanne was hysterically funny, entertaining us with her frustrations in finding a nice guy despite being in a very visible job in a very affluent area. We had a blast there. We also bought three bottles of wine. Wine and Horses

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Lorie, Jim, and Ron at Rust Ridge Winery.

There’s also Jim Fresquez of the RustRidge winery. (www.rustridge. com) He popped in while we were tasting wines because he saw a car in the driveway, and spent 20 minutes telling us about his racehorses, his dogs, and his wines. After looking at the picture we took with him (at right), he got a big grin on his face, laughed, and said, “Hey, I’m a pretty good looking guy!” We bought three bottles of wine; we joined their wine club, and we’ve been back several times since then. A Long Tradition... And then there was Nichelini Winery, (www.nicheliniwinery.com) the oldest family-owned, continuously operated winery in Napa Valley, where we were greeted by Toni Nichelini-Irwin, whose grandfather, Anton, founded the winery back in 1884.

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Toni Nichelini-Irwin at Nichelini Winery (She has since passed away but her memory will live long after her with all of the people she served in the winery.)

We sampled their fantastic reds, and had our lunch on their picnic table, where Toni joined us and talked about the history of the winery, the wines we were drinking, and the fact that her children don’t come to visit often enough from the East coast. We couldn’t decide which of the four wines we sampled that we liked best...so we bought all four and have ordered several more cases over the years. It’s About the Experience As we were drinking one of these wines the other night, our friend Lisabeth pointed out that the wine was fantastic, but it tasted even better to us because of the experience of discovering the winery and the personality of the various owners. You may not sell wine, but adding some personality to your customer interactions will help keep your business from going “into the red.”