Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an intro Food and Wine Pairing class at Cook’s Warehouse taught by Gil Kulers, Atlanta-Journal Constitution wine columnist and sommelier. He explained the basics of winemaking, including which grapes are used, where they come from, and how a particular vintage is created, among other interesting facts. Throughout his energetic lecture, I couldn’t help but recognize some of the similarities between winemaking and B2B marketing.
Pairings can make or break a campaign (or a meal). In class, we experimented with the many different flavors one glass of wine can take on when paired with a sweet food, a salty food or a spicy food. Similarly, a good B2B marketer knows his or her target audience well enough to pair the proper marketing techniques accordingly, resulting in the optimal brand experience for that audience. For example, inbound techniques + direct mail might resonate with some audiences, while others will respond to advertising + PR. No marketing channel is wrong, but some may be more right for your target audience than others.
Measurement is key. Gil was careful to point out that we shouldn’t concern ourselves too much with what is the “right” or “wrong” wine to serve, but instead to simply drink what we like. However, there are wine rating systems established by various groups of experts to rank one bottle against another. As marketers, we understand the importance of applying metrics to all marketing activities so we can learn from successes and failures, probably similar to the way that vineyards adjust their wines depending on how the experts score them.
Timing is everything. Knowing when to harvest your grapes is just as critical as knowing when to launch a campaign. A vineyard wouldn’t harvest out of season, and a B2B marketer wouldn’t place a campaign without careful consideration of typical prospect purchasing times.
Content is still king. Attractive bottle labels tend to get noticed, but it’s the wine inside the bottle that counts. Similarly, good-looking creative means a lot in B2B marketing, but our content is what’s most crucial, especially in the age of inbound marketing.
It’s impossible to be bored. Wines are complex and (given the intense levels of study necessary to become a sommelier) rather complicated. Every bottle of wine is a new experience, and so is every marketing campaign. I’m lucky to be in this business today because there’s always something to learn, or some new tactic to try. B2B marketing is dynamic and ever-changing, with twists and turns around every corner.
Since we’re at the forefront of change in the marketing world, I hope that one day our peers look back on this as the birth of an exciting new era, the way we now look back on how TV changed the advertising landscape forever. Let’s drink to that!