2019 VingDirect Forum : "Staying Relevant in a Competitive Marketplace"


DTC Industry leaders and experts met on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 8:30am in Santa Rosa, CA for our fourth annual conference!

Here's the Recap:

This year’s theme, “Staying Relevant in a Competitive Marketplace” produced high-level panels addressing the life cycle of a winery customer through "The Evolution of a Brand", "Leadership Leads to Loyalty", and "Consumers in Motion".

Anne Moses, founder of Patz & Hall started the day off with a keynote about her journey to selling, noting she and her team realized it was time to sell when “We were in a raft together, but we were all rowing in different directions.” The company realized they had two choices, either evolve or quit. They chose to commit to change and enlisted the help of professionals to prepare them to be marketable to sell. Moses noted there are three types of winery buyers: Financial, Strategic, and Lifestyle. A financial buyer is looking for profit, high EBITA, great assets, or none at all. A strategic buyer is looking to fill gaps in their own business and potential, and the lifestyle buyer is looking for the wine county life- the vineyard, the winery, the DTC list that buys the wine and sell out on schedule. If you’re thinking about selling, Moses recommends looking for where your opportunity lies and enlisting professional help to run your business as if you are selling, even if you are not for sale.

Here are some of the highlights from the three panels.

The Evolution of a Brand:

Wineries should be asking themselves:

  • How are you differentiated?
  • What do you stand for?
  • How do you stay relevant in this marketplace?

The customer experience starts well before a consumer ever makes a purchase and today’s consumer has higher expectations, but lower attention spans than ever. You must differentiate yourself from the pack in all of your brand touch points throughout the customer experience!


Leadership Leads to Loyalty:

Not only is our industry faced with the task of retaining wine club members and loyal brand advocates, but we are also facing the toughest job market in the industry’s history. Why? David Newlin, of Newlin Associates, shared his insights on why the hiring model is broken, beginning with...

These 4 Macro and Micro Factors

  • Historically Low Unemployment Level
  • Generationally - driven Smaller Talent Pool
  • More Wine Companies Chasing After Smaller Talent Pool
  • Companies Raising the Bar on Talent Level Requirements

Have caused a shift from:

Talent Surplus Market       Talent Deficit Market

Implications of a Deficit Market?

  • Job Seekers have more power than before!
  • Traditional Online Job Postings and Job Descriptions aren’t as effective
  • You have to be more strategic and creative with how you find, contact and engage talent, plus how you “market” jobs to them

So, what do great companies do?

  • They get the right people on the bus!
  • They get the wrong people off the bus!
  • Finally, they get the right people in the right seats on the bus!
  • Doing this produces successful teams!

How do they do this? They start with the end in mind.

  • Goal: At the end of the first year, the New Hire turned out to be a Great Hire and a Top Performer… AND they love their job!
  • These are the people you want to get more of on your bus!
  • How do you do this? Define the Job, not the person!
  • To hire Great People, you have to start w/ a Great Job and Career Opportunity, not a list of skills, experiences and “must have” competencies (JD)!
  • They define their core values, their mission, and vision AND align them into everyday business practices.

Consumers in Motion
Managing Your Sales Model through the Consumer Lens

Educate Your Consumer:

What is your model?  

  • Club?
  • Release/Allocation?
  • Onsite?

How do you plan to sell your wine?

  • How Often/Schedule?
  • Outbound Calls?
  • Tasting Room and Events?

Educate Your Team:

  • Establish Philosophy & Outline Objectives
  •  Thoughtfully Manage your Data
    most of the widely used CRMs require users to predetermine the activity they want to track and manage
  • Continue to Reinforce Philosophy

Understanding Your Consumer:

  • Who is your customer now?
  • Is there a group of customers that you would like to attract?

Engaging Your Consumer:

  • Make it easy
  • The Path to Purchase
    Test! Test! Test!
  • When testing your consumer experience
    Don’t limit yourself to the wine industry
  • Consumers are comparing!
  • Remind & Reinforce your consumer and your team

VingDirect Founder and President, Tammy Boatright rounded out the thoughts of the day saying “We’ve relied so heavily on wine club, that we haven’t put enough emphasis on our other customers. The wine club is just one type of customer behavior. We need to be taking a deeper dive into our customer insights, in and outside of the wine club.”


9:30- Keynote: Anne Moses | Founder, Sales & Marketing | PATZ & HALL


10:00 -11:00- "The Evolution of a Brand" : Your winery has built a beautiful brand representative of your unique values and personality – but can that change over time? How do you keep the integrity of your message while allowing your story to evolve? Our panelists will address how their brands have adapted to shifting consumer expectations, advancements in technology, and the digital winery experience.

Eric Guerra, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Vineyard 29 | Janie Heuck, Managing Director, Brooks Wines | Brian Shapiro, Business Development Manager, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery


11:00-11:15- Break


11:15-12:15- "Leadership Leads to Loyalty" : We know recruiting and retaining quality team members in the wine industry is one of our biggest obstacles. With increasing competition across the hospitality industries, how do we entice top talent to join our workforce?  In this panel, our experts will discuss how top-down leadership strategy affects team retention. We will address fresh approaches to recruitment, and share best practices for onboarding and ongoing training and coaching. 

Tracy McArdle, General Manager, the good life wine collective | David Newlin, President, Newlin Associates


12:15-1:30- Lunch/Networking


1:30-2:30- "Consumers in Motion" : We live in an age of an exponentially distractible consumer. How are industry leaders effectively and efficiently engaging the right people at the right time? Our experts will discuss digital marketing strategy, consumer retention through segmentation, and the metrics that matter for defining success.

Jennifer Downing, Director of Operations, Martinelli Winery | Laila Subaie, Director of DTC Operations, Miner Family Wines | Alexis Nicolai, Air Traffic Controller, Emeritus Vineyards


2:30-3:30- Town Hall


3:30-4:30- Happy Hour/Networking


 4:30- Adjourn


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