Friday, January 22, 2010

U.S. Drinks Conference Redux

We had the pleasure of reprising the U.S. Drinks Conference for a trade delegation from Eastern Europe this week. The U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration invited us to present a distilled (or should I say fermented) version of the conference to winery representatives from Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia under the SABIT program. And if you can't put your finger on just where Moldova is, this map may help.

Only a few of the delegates spoke English so we had two interpreters who do simultaneous translation. That's a pretty intense task so they needed two to pass the baton every 10 minutes.

It was pretty hard to tell how well the audience were absorbing the arcana of the U.S.'s "Three Tier System", but the feedback we got from Tanner Johnson who coordinated the event (and was behind the lens in this photo)was that it was well received.

Mike Ginley of Next Level and John Beaudette of MHW did their usually brilliant job of putting things in perspective and I covered allocating marketing resources and also an overview of social media marketing. It was fun trying to explain Twitter and Facebook to someone unfamiliar with them. But my intro slide talks about Social Media having replaced porn as the #1 activity on the web, and that if Facebook were a country it would be the fourth largest in the world. So they might not have gotten the concept of why anyone would "Tweet", they did understand the scale of impact social media is having on consumers.

For any of my readers who will be going to Vino 2010 next week in NY, I'll be on a panel discussion on marketing wine to millennials moderated by Anthony Dias Blue with fellow panelists Kevin Zraly, Alder Yarrow, Susannah York and Doug Cook. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Are These The Best Salespeople on Earth?

Having visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul the week before Christmas, I’ve got myself convinced that these are the best salespeople on the planet. Granted they’ve had over 500 years to hone their craft, but these guys are GOOD. They’ve got the basics of good salesmanship covered…never ask a closed end yes/no question, learn about the prospects needs so you can personalize the pitch etc. But these guys have taken a skill and turned it into an art form.

Anywhere else in the world, if you make eye contact, they’ve got you. Here, they almost assault you from all sides before you can even look around…”you American?”, “Here, come to my shop, it’s very near,” “Of course you’re in Istanbul to buy a rug, some come see the best.” But assault is probably the wrong word…it may feel that way to a Westerner initially, but you’ll find out pretty quickly it’s more of a personal invitation. Courtesy according to the guidebooks, dictates that if they do get you, you have to go to their shop, have some tea and small talk and then get down to the important business of the day… home d├ęcor. It’s not an unpleasant experience but the concept of “NO” has no meaning other than, “you haven’t addressed my real need yet.”

Still and all, visiting the Bazaar is a real trip, it’s well organized chaos and if you’ve been there you know the oxymoron makes sense. There are sections dedicated to category…leather, rugs, silver, gold, antiques and street maps with vendor locations are available. In fact, the streets in the Bazaar are better marked than many cities I’ve been in.

A funny thing happens when you sit down for a cup of tea, or better yet, Turkish Coffee (which I was humored to find out was called “Greek Coffee” in Greece). Nobody bugs you. It’s like there’s this unwritten rule that if you’re on the move you’re fair game. But if you’re eating or drinking, then your personal space is inviolate. And while there are Starbucks and Gloria Jean’s all over the city, there are none in the Bazaar and that means….no cardboard “Go cups”. If you’re going to have coffee you have sit down, relax, engage in conversation (and smoke…everybody smokes everywhere there). It is very civilized approach I think. Sphere: Related Content