Do you have a wine snob in your life? Everyone should have at least one. Wine snobs are important, because they teach important lessons about perspective, lessons which we all need from time to time. Right now is a good time for some perspective.
My favorite wine snobbism is that of the correct wine glass. Never a rounded rim, which drops the wine dully on the wrong location of your tongue. Large bowls to allow red wines to breathe, narrow flutes to retain the carbonation of a good bubbly, gently tipped out rims to properly deliver a young white to the correct area of the palate. All good advice of course, meant to enhance the bouquet and taste of a fine wine – or even improve the performance of a lesser wine. But a truly obsessed wine-snob-with-a-glass-issue can turn a simple dinner into an embarrassment of instruction if given a poor choice of glass – and woe to the restaurateur (or host) who does not have a better glass to offer. At this point, one would hope the expostulating oenophile would simply accept that the glass is but a delivery device, and that the true value of the wine can be found in the wine itself – even if you’re drinking it from a jelly jar.
Which brings us to social media. Social media is but a delivery device. For only a very few will it prove to be actual content, and most of those people are already in play. For the rest of us, social media is a delivery device. A marketing delivery device.
Back to the wine for a moment. My nephew and his wife are 20-somethings with two small children. They don’t have much money, but they love fine wine. Not long ago my nephew (while handing me a glass of his newest discovery) said, “Every time we have a little extra money we mean to buy good glasses. But then we decide to spend the money on the wine instead.” He said this as an apology, but I acknowledged that his priorities were in the right place. Given a choice between delivery devices and content (assuming the delivery device isn’t required to get at the content) one should choose the content! I would have been concerned had he offered me Boone's Farm in a fine crystal goblet.
So, back to social media. Right now the internet is rife with Boone's Farm in crystal goblets. It takes very little talent or skill to establish a Facebook account or post what you ate for lunch on Twitter. It takes very little time and almost no money to download your Yahoo mail addresses and send an invite to everyone you know on LinkedIn. In fact, not only can your middle-school student do it – they led the way.
But it takes a great deal of thought, planning, and discipline to integrate social media into your online presence in a way that is meaningful to your customers. It takes time to build customer relationships, and it requires sincerity and genuine concern for getting to know them. Beyond social media, it requires discipline to develop a marketing strategy that delivers relevant information in a timely manner to the right customers.
The fact that marketing media options continue to expand is directly related to the evolution of customer experience – not product superiority – as the surest route to competitive advantage. It is exciting to have so many choices, from radio, TV, newspapers, direct marketing, and events, to websites, blogs, video and podcasts, and yes, social media. But your responsibility, oh marketer, is to take great care in defining, refining, and crafting your message, then selecting the medium that is best suited to each message and your overall brand image.
The ideal wine collection includes different types of glasses to accommodate different wines. But where would you rather spend your time – at the wine bar with gleaming glass racks and substandard wine choices, or in the company of a terrific little bottle of Cabernet Franc and four juice glasses?
© 2009. Andrea M. Hill