Buster

Behind the Scenes at Benson

Our homepage underscores an important point: our clients, and their stories, come first. But we thought it time to pull back the curtain and share what we do in our off hours.

prowein 2016

What we learned at Prowein 2016

French Directrice Jeanne Peron and President Jeremy Benson recently attended Prowein 2016 in Dusseldorf. They share a few observations from the largest wine trade fair below.

  1. Bigger than Texas. Prowein is now the world’s largest wine-focused trade fair with 55,000 attendees and 6,200 exhibitors (99% of which are wineries).
  2. Wineries Bring Their “A” Game: The larger wine companies had immense booths with tastings, offices, couches and lots of espresso for guests; the marketing investment is substantial. But the sheer number of booths by small and medium-sized wineries was also impressive. This isn’t just for the ‘big guys.’
  3. Virtual Reality Comes to Wine: Castel had a VR bike route through Paris; we’re not sure if it was effective branding, but it was fun.
  4. A 59 Nation Army (couldn’t hold us back): Fifty-nine nations were represented, and just one of the many buildings was home to upcoming wine regions in Slovenia, Turkey, Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries. There was wine from China, England, New York, South America…you name it.
  5. Culturally Appropriate: The regional associations did an excellent job designing their spaces to reflect their culture and personalities. Champagne’s section was luxuriously carpeted in all white, Vinho Verde had a fresh and youthful feel, while California’s wooden frame booths and faux fireplace were inviting and contemporary.
  6. Mood: Like at other conferences, you see old friends and make new ones at Prowein, but the mood is all business at the same time. Event organizers did an excellent job of providing the tools to facilitate both, including a useful app with maps, summaries and a meeting scheduler (all grounded with sturdy Wi-Fi).
  7. Prepare NOW for 2017: Next year’s Prowein takes place March 19-21, 2017. Get your comfortable shoes ready and reserve your hotel rooms eight months in advance (and close to the 78 or 79 metro lines, which connect downtown Dusseldorf to the Messe Exhibition Center). We’ll see you there!
Telrato

Benson Adds Six New Clients, New Staff, in Q116

March 30, 2016, Napa, CA  –   Benson Marketing Group, a leading wine and spirits marketing agency with offices in Napa Valley, New York and Lyon, has added to its U.S. team and roster of clients in both the U.S. and France.  “We are seeing a strong uptick in marketing investment that reflects the global competitiveness of our industry,” said Jeremy Benson, president. “More clients want a sharply defined brand story, and consumer campaigns that drive both DTC and 3-tier sales.”

In the U.S., Benson is now working with Terlato Wines. Activities include brand messaging and PR support for two wineries: Chimney Rock Winery (www.chimneyrock.com), one of the elite Cabernet Sauvignon specialists in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley; and Sanford Winery (www.sanfordwinery.com), home to one of California’s most iconic vineyards, Sanford & Benedict, in the Santa Rita Hills AVA.

Last month, Benson began managing social media for the Napa Valley gem, Frank Family Vineyards, which just won its 7th consecutive annual “Bay Area A-List’s Best Napa Winery” award. www.frankfamilyvineyards.com  Also last month, Benson created a launch campaign for Barton & Guestier’s Passeport Bordeaux by Laurent Prada, an elegant and affordable classic Bordeaux ($12) from this venerable French wine house. www.bartonguestier.com  (Two additional new U.S. clients remain confidential.)

Additionally, Benson’s French office has begun working with Famille Fabre, a family-owned wine company dating back to 1605 which now includes four chateaux in Languedoc. Today, the new generation is proud to continue the story with a complete range of organic wines from AOP Corbières, AOP Corbières-Boutenac and IGP Pays. (www.famillefabre.com)

Finally, Benson added two new staff members in March: Megan Helphand and Alisa Langer in the agency’s Napa and New York offices, respectively.  Megan brings public relations and trade events experience from Francis Ford Coppola Winery.  Formerly with Ruder Finn PR in New York, Alisa’s experience includes L’Oreal Paris, McDonalds and Novartis.

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What U.S. importers look for in a supplier partner

We’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of U.S. importers over the years, and we often ask them, “What makes a great winery client?” In summarizing the responses from various importers, key points start to gel around some practical suggestions for international wineries looking to export to the U.S. Here is the condensed version:

  1. Job #1: Sell the importer. Know how your brand will complement their portfolio. Show how your wines fit trends, will make them money, have a compelling story, are priced right, and have great volumetric potential.
  2. Do your homework. Wine-searcher.com is your new best friend. Go online and research competitor product lines, pricing, and positioning so that your offer is competitive and realistic. Know the sales channels where you are most likely to succeed.
  3. The real work begins after the first shipment. We’ve heard that importers in other countries provide more sales support than U.S. importers, so don’t expect U.S. importers to do all the selling. Present them with a comprehensive marketing and sales plan including media plans, market visits, PR and scoring plans, etc.
  4. Start by focusing on a few states. By demonstrating success in 2-3 states, you can entice importers in other states.
  5. Provide a professional presentation. Include items like a winery fact sheet, tech sheets, winemaker bio, accolades from third parties that are recognizable to the U.S. trade (e.g., Decanter), etc.
  6. Consider secondary markets. There are a number of great wine markets outside of the usual suspects of the New York tri-state area, California, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois. Do some research to uncover those secondary markets.
  7. Bring a global mindset: A French winery, for example, is not just competing with other French wineries, but also with Australia, Italy, Washington state, and Chile.
  8. Know the difference between your “brand” and your product: Your product is what you make; your brand is what you stand for, your story. These are often confused.

These are some practical suggestions. But you should also Google, “How to do business in America” so that you understand its business culture. A few quick suggestions:

  • Get to the point. For example, summarize what you want and why in the first sentence of an email, not at the end.
  • Be on time. Arriving late to a meeting, or being unprepared, is considered disrespectful.
  • Know cultural values. Americans, in general, place a lesser value than Europeans do on tradition and history, organizational hierarchy, and youth versus experience.
  • Follow up. Follow-up a meeting with an email within 24 hours that summarizes who will do what and when.

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PUBLIC RELATIONS

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

WHY-YOUR-PHOTOS-ARE-AS-IMPORTANT

Why your photos are as important as your press fact sheet

I love a good sunset photo; who doesn’t? Sunsets are beautiful and often transport us back to a relaxing moment. But I am about to tell you why they often don’t work for your wine marketing and PR materials. Can you tell which one of the three photos is our client’s vineyard? Of course you can’t, and therein lies the problem. Simply put, these three photos could have been taken anywhere.

Consider your images as closely as you do your words for your marketing materials and PR fact sheets.

Here are three guiding principles when thinking of photographing your vineyard:

  1. Sense of Place: Your images should show where you are. Every vineyard has a defining feature, so work with your photographer to capture it and anchor your image.
  2. Tell a Story: As cliché as it sounds, what story are you trying to tell about your vineyard? There are a thousand words wrapped up in an image. Is it organically farmed? Is it densely planted? Is it always handpicked and pruned?
  3. Beware of the Green Blob/Mega Vineyard: You’re growing world-class grapes. Let’s make sure we can see they’re grapevines and not another agricultural product. This is best done from the end of the row and not across the row. Additionally, going wide angle or with an aerial view may just make you look big and industrial. Showing one small portion of your vineyard is OK, and often showcases the vineyard best.

In case you were curious, Photo A is the vineyard. Photo B is from my honeymoon in Hawaii, and Photo C is a stunner of Mount Moriah in New Hampshire, which I found by Googling ‘sunset.’ And for the record, I wouldn’t mind reclining in wonderment in front of any of them!

by Sarah Jones, VP Public Relations

FRENCHIE WINERY

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SIPPING-IN-SINGAPORE-IMBIBING-IN-BURMA

Sipping in Singapore, Imbibing in Burma

As a wine & spirits marketer, the most fascinating aspect of world travel is discovering cultures through the lens of drinking. It was no different on my recent journey to Singapore and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Singapore has one of the highest GDPs per capita (almost $56,000 US); Myanmar has one of the lowest (just over $1,200). However, there is a stronger drinking culture in the poorer of the two countries. Here are a few insights I gained while drinking abroad.

Alcohol is Prohibitively Expensive in Singapore
price-tags
Singapore discourages its citizens from drinking with a hefty “sin tax” on alcohol. Thus, a 12 oz. light beer can cost you almost $14 US! Wine drinkers will spend much more. A bottle of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi (take your pick of Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel) will cost you more than $60 US ($87.80 SGD). And that’s with a discount! The SRP is over $100!! ($144 SGD)

The result? The little bit of available wine stays in stock a long time. While checking out at a local grocery store, I noticed a Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon behind the counter… from 1999! Let me assure you, the display case was not climate controlled. My pity goes to the buyer of that poorly-stored bottle.

Myanmar Loves Campari
sodaCampari is a global spirit. No better reminder of this than seeing it prominently displayed on every back bar in the country and offered on multiple happy hour menus. Ironically, the flagship Negroni was not a specific option on menus, so I usually opted for a refreshing Campari and “pop soda.”

Craft Cocktails Feature Local Flavors
At the Rangoon Tea House—a hipster-esque local restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar—bartenders concoct creations where local ingredients shine. I sampled two cocktails: one with pineapple and red Thai chili peppers that gave the drink a spicy kick, and a sweeter option flavored with tropical purple dragon fruit.

The Medal System is Universal
Myanmar beer, the major local brew, has an adept marketing team. The ad below uses a tactic we suggest to some clients at Benson—using competition results to validate quality. In this case, Myanmar beer is the “international champion” with 12 medals between 1999 and 2010.

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Myanmar Beer Advertisement in Airport

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Bar at Rangoon Tea House