“Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash…”

by Katie Pizzuto on October 27, 2010

in marketing

The subject of marketing and advertising is a particularly sore one with me because it’s my industry…my bread and butter. Or at least it was. Finding yourself in a position of having to struggle for work in this economy—fighting for the only slice of bread and the last pat of butter—is absolutely no fucking fun at all, especially when your services and talents are one of the first things that get chiseled out of a budget until it resembles the Sphinx’s face. But you know what they say about cutting off your nose…right, it really hurts and leaves a major mess.

I’ve repeatedly ranted that a soft economy…oh, hell, who am I kidding, a terrible economy is the most important time to market yourself. When your first instinct is to cut your company’s advertising budget in order to curtail spending, you need to take a look at the bigger picture—the one that will still have you in it five years from now—because letting your market know you’re still alive and kicking and ready to serve them is crucial. It gives you an amplified voice at a time when others have resorted to a self-imposed silence. Finally, there’s someone else—someone more respected than this lowly blogger—saying the same thing.

McGraw-Hill Research’s Laboratory of Advertising Performance studied the 1981/82 recession and analyzed the performance of hundreds of companies during that recession. What it found was that “business-to-business firms that maintained or increased their marketing expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth both during the recession and for the following three years than those which eliminated or decreased marketing.” Score one for the Gonzo. Those that are succeeding in the face of this crap economy—be it winery, brewery or distillery—are those that are now holding on to their megaphones when their competition has decided to slap duct tape on their own mouths.

Craft beer sales volume was up by 9% in the first half of 2010 (and retail dollars were up by 12%) despite overall US beer sales declining, a clear marker that consumers are definitely still spending, they’re just becoming more discerning about what they spend on. And though most microbreweries don’t have the kind of money to bankroll an ad campaign as enormous as Bud Light’s, they are spending their advertising budget carefully…key word being spending. Wine consumption has also increased despite the tough times, with a particular jump in domestic sales as opposed to imports, which were down in both the beer and wine industries. So although consumers may be going out less, the fact that they are still making room in their budget for alcohol is plain as the nose on their face…or lack thereof. Now is the time to woo these consumers by honing your advertising message with laser-like precision. Now is the time to let them know why you are the better choice. Now is not the time to go gentle into that good night, because it is far easier to be heard when your competition isn’t busy putting out white noise.


Working off my own thoughts on self promotion, I’ve got a bit of a giveaway. BuildASign has been kind enough to print Gonzo bumper stickers and window decals for my readers, so here’s your chance to grab a few, slap them on your car, truck or Xbox console for all I care, and show your love of all things Gonzo. Leave a comment in regards to the state of wine/beer/ spirits marketing and pretty much anyone with a semi-coherent thought gets a couple of freebies. After all, you guys make great megaphones.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zinhead October 27, 2010

I’d have to agree. It’s actually surprising how many companies, given the free aspect of social media, fail to use them. Case in point is the company I work for. No FB page, no Twitter no nothing. Employees, at least those involved in sales and marketing are actually forbidden from personal pages. It’s stupid and shortsighted. I tell you that I myself, just from Twitter alone have made purchases, checked out websites, sent inquiries and made meccas to many of the places that at least have a clue. Some very surprising and pleasing experiences and some blew. But it worked. Right on G!


2 Heather October 28, 2010

SHUN technological advancements! Advertise only in the yellow pages… lol


3 Dragon October 28, 2010

I have to agree with Zinhead. Many companys don’t take advantage of social media. 🙂 BTW, I love all things Gonzo.


4 François October 28, 2010

In the beer business, too many micros don’t think about advertising but it is no sin to have a brand or overall look – like Flying Dog or Unibroue (even Gonzo). Ralph Steadman makes the best damn labels, they practically stand out!


5 Subdaimon October 30, 2010

I think that its half hearted at best. You have the few that go all in, creating forums, mass twitter followings, etc.. and actually are pro-active, committed and more importantly genuine in their efforts. Then the rest are relegated to creating half-hearted, fan pages on FB, a mailing list with the occasional email only deal, and all are really kind of going through the motions; to those that just don’t hop on the boat, despite it being nominal in cost. While some businesses just really don’t mesh well with Social Media, or haven’t found a way to yet; those that do are crazy for not building on their presence especially when tighter budgets are ruling this economy.


6 JN Eggerman November 1, 2010

I remember back in the early eighties an east coast regional sales manager for a large wine company (Seagrams) saying in a sales meeting that “the next bottle of wine the marketing department sells will be the first bottle of wine the marketing department sells!” Wine companies were then, as the are now, run by the sales side. They would rather put a promo allowance out and/or discount their brand than spend money on their image. Let’s fix it for today, not focus on the future…


7 Kimberly November 3, 2010

Love him or hate him, Gary Vaynerchuk and Wine Library have done some pretty great things when it comes to marketing wine. Yes, there’s the video blog that gets in the hundreds of comments for each video posted, but also the mailing list of special wines with special prices every night at 9:00 p.m., called Cindarella Wines or similar, and a new thing called Behind the Vine that they’re doing that’s a daily video of wine tasted with some of their suppliers (?). I’m on both of those e-mail lists, and haven’t purchased anything yet, but I think the way they’re building relationships through e-mail marketing is spot on.


8 The Wine Commonsewer November 5, 2010

Went to a Gary party in San Diego last year. It was fun. He was as in-the-bag as everyone else. 🙂 It was a great venue, too. Wine bar that was in the basement, accessed by outside concrete steps going down from the sidewalk.

Click my name for a picture of me and Miltie holding him up.


9 The Wine Commonsewer November 5, 2010

In Chicago, 2002 there was a hot dog vendor who sold the very best hot dogs by the side of the road. His business was booming, people loved his hot dogs, and his business steadily increases month after month. The man loved his business and believed in the need to provide great food at a great price.

This man was so busy advertising and selling his hot dogs and making lots of money, that he didn’t even have time to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Consequently, he never heard a word about a predicted recession or the need to cut back to save for the potential economic slowdown. As long as he continued to offer his delicious hot dogs, his customers bought them. He kept selling, and they kept buying.

Then one day his college educated son told him that an economic recession was surely coming. His son told him that people wouldn’t have enough money to buy his hot dogs. The successful hot dog vendor believed this, so on his son’s advice, he cut back on his advertising. Additionally, he started ordering less supplies and product, because after all, people would be cutting back soon.
He even went so far as to take down many of the billboards that lead to his roadside stand. And sure enough, people stopped coming to him. People stopped buying his hot dogs, and he eventually went broke.

Then he thought to himself. “How smart my son is in predicting this.”


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