After listening to many inspiring (some more than others) lectures at the 2013 Oregon Wine Industry Symposium, I have come away with one prevalent lesson; you must be able to tell a story. Impress people, make them curious, awe them. These things are done through innovation and good story-telling.
In all the branding and marketing sessions, everyone emphasized that one of the biggest indicators of the success or failure of a brand lies in whether or not you can tell a story. Your brand must tell a story, must have a history and must engage people. That could range anywhere from inspiring your audience with your story, making your website more interactive or putting a digitally interactive table in your wine tasting room.
One particularly impressive lecture featured Jack Anderson, from Hornall Anderson, who discussed bringing brands back to life. He spoke about getting people excited, getting people to ask questions about the brand, getting people to enjoy learning more about your brand and essentially getting people to pick up your product. Some of the things they do are truly innovative, such as a light-up ping pong table and a smartphone app that can scan the labels of juice and pull up a short video telling the story of that juice. Lectures like that, wherein I see something new and original, something I’ve never seen before, make everything else worth it.
I always think the point of these conferences is to learn something new. Many of the lectures I’ve seen are simply reminders of common sense (ex. “Get people to believe in your brand,” “price points are important,” etc.), but the things I saw in that lecture were concepts I would have never come up with on my own. That is the value of these symposiums–to be awed and impressed.
Of course, it is important to make connections, to see the other players on your chessboard and to see the different service companies you may use (for example, we browsed all the different glass suppliers at the trade show), but the most important thing is to walk away with an idea in your head that you would not have come up with without the inspiration.