Quick: Describe your company in 10 seconds…

You’re traveling on business and a stranger asks, ”what do you do?” If you don’t have a good answer—the so-called “elevator pitch”—this post is for you.

For many wineries, our focus, the difficult part of the elevator pitch is not what to say, it’s fitting it into 10-15 seconds. But the art of clear communication is simplicity. Many wineries err on the side of completeness because they don’t want to leave things out. But a complex answer is difficult for the receiver to remember; a confused mind says “no.” And for many wineries who rely on direct-to-consumer sales – that is, most wineries—they’ve just missed an opportunity to interest a prospective customer.elevator-pitch2014

For some unknown reason – an improving economy or perhaps a hyper competitive retail market — we have had a lot of requests lately for our Brand Consulting Service. Coming up with an elevator pitch is part of these client projects, and for winery brands, here are some tips:

  1. Anchor your winery in a wine region.
  2. Tell them one compelling point about your winery that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the juice.
  3. Invite them to engage in your brand.

Let’s break these down. First, most wine consumers naturally associate a winery with a geographic location. Sounds simplistic, but if you’re located in the Willamette Valley, say so. But also add “Oregon” in case they don’t know where that “Valley” is. So, you might say, “I work for Winery ABC in Willamette Valley, Oregon.”

Second, tell them one interesting fact. And please avoid winery clichés like “handcrafted” and “artisanal,” or throw-away words like “quality.”  You might say, for example, “We were the first Oregon Pinot Noir served at the White House.” Or, maybe, “We started our winery with a group of friends from college.” Something interesting to the listener, something they can relate to. And never underestimate the power of the personal story; if you used to be a rocket scientist, that’s interesting.

Third, close the deal. Wine brings people together, so invite them to visit your winery, in person or online. “Next time you’re in Portland, we’re just a short drive from downtown.”

Let’s put it together: “I work for Winery ABC in Willamette Valley, Oregon. I started the winery with a group of friends from college and we’re best known for Pinot Noir. Next time you’re in Portland, come by for a visit.” Ok, maybe it’s longer than 10 seconds, but you get the idea.

Simple, colloquial, but strategic and welcoming.