How to Have Others Pay for Customer Acquisition


Last week I had the opportunity to head off to the Bloomberg studios in San Francisco and participate in a wine panel with the still somewhat lovely and modestly talented Michael Honig of Honig Vineyards & Winery, and the witty and much more attractive Bill Price Chairman of the Vincraft Group. If you didn’t get a chance to see the give and take, you can take a look above if you give a hoot. The event was also covered by Steve Heimhoff in his Blog so its possible if you are in the wine business, you are probably already saying to yourself,

“Self?…… Who cares about a wine panel even with attractive and slightly weathered male models? I might as well read the back of wine bottles ……. special soils with long days and cool nights … blah, blah, blah. Time to go watch bud break.


My mother’s review of the segment was the chairs seemed uncomfortable, I needed to sit up straight, and I was the smartest and most handsome boy on stage. She said it was amazing! Then again, she used to be proud of my finger paintings ( …. no not the ones I did when I was at Hillview.)

You might think the over-educated Ivy-League Bloomberg folks would bail us out and make the panel compelling? Those gentlemen must be worth a listen? Sadly to me, after watching this you will most likely come away saying,

“Self? ……. I can’t believe that host dude Jeff made a mistake introducing the name of this Blog! Isn’t that some sort of professional breach for a member of the Paper, Ink & Lies Union #911 to insult a fellow professional writer.?”

Personally, I think Jeff has blog envy. No matter. There is another person who was interested in this wine panel: the wine consumer.

While the content of the discussion is not that enlightening to someone in the business who listens to this kind of stuff ad nauseam, I wanted to use this as a marketing bookmark because the reality is your wine consumer has a voracious appetite to relate to you and interact. They don’t track the stuff we in the business consider de rigueur. Blog-Envy Jeff has that figured out. The wigs at Bloomberg were trying to think how to enhance their relationship with their clients and advertisers and the answer was ….. ta-DAAAA! Lets do wine!

It’s not remarkable in concept but open up your mind to the example. Bloomberg invited a bunch of highly compensated working professionals who accepted the invite because they love wine. That was a much better group on average than that which shows up in your tasting room on Saturday. I didn’t see any sign of Uncle Billy who pays a $5 tasting fee and shares a single glass with 4 people.

Blog-Envy Jeff, Moderator Ryan Flinn, and the hard-working Bloomberg staff put in all the effort for the event and catered in really good passed hors d’oeuvres. They invited a couple interesting wine people (plus me) to talk about the business of wine so they can justify deducting the event. All the wine guys had to do was show up and take the names of attendees to add to their direct mailing lists. I guarantee you the somewhat lovely and talented Michael Honig Winery and the witty and much more attractive Bill Price were doing just that while they poured wine late into the evening at Bloomberg’s studios on Pier 3.

Bloomberg has already given Silicon Valley Bank exclusive rights to pour only our client’s wines at all future wine events in San Francisco so go find another partner. We have first dibbs. Still – think through who else you might want to partner with, what other luxury brand, which museaum, hotel, or concierge doctors even. Think how you could work together to serve their members and at the same time, present your wines.

How many professional organizations are out there just drooling to do something interesting for their professional members? How many non-profits full of wealthy donors would host a high end pouring? Which boutique hotels would kill to have a partnership with you. How about using technology even to have a remote tasting on a flat screen television at a private dining club in Kansas City? What about all those long ignored Gen X’ers (or the authentic young wine drinking demographic to cite Bill Price). They are now in prime spending years in an improving economy and they want to be noticed. Perhaps unnoticed but research way back in 2004 showed the Gen X’ers we’re responsible for 33 percent of all professional memberships which was equal to the Boomers. You want to target that generation with increasing disposable income? Go sort through your local professional organizations and establish a relationship with the organizers.

The list of corporate partners to work with, and variations on the theme can be endless. SVB in fact has worked this angle for our clients for years now with the first Flash Web-Site ever developed ( We also have a concierge, a full-time Director of Wine programs and a certified sommelier on staff. Our goal is to connect the CXO’s of our tech clients, the Venture Capital partners and the Fund managers in other parts of the bank to our winery clients and enhance their relationship and experience with SVB …. and at the same time build our winery client’s direct and club programs with targeted events.

Yet another example of this cross-marketing approach was in the news last week where Safeway and Chevron are teaming up to offer discountrd gas. Think about how many people will switch to shopping at Safeway with that connection.

For some of you, this kind of thinking might be old hat. For others it might be thought provoking to rethink your customer acquisition costs and strategies. And for everyone else, its maybe a reminder that your mom is in your corner no matter how dumb you look. For Blog Envy Jeff, it might be the realization that he’s on to something with this news and wine thing.

What do you think? Do you have a winery program going after this kind of customer acquisition? Are you considering other kinds of partnership marketing? Log in and offer your thoughts. SVB on Wine

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