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Forget the 'What' When Selling Wine


In Simon Sinek’s 2009 best-selling book Start With Why, he tells us:

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Sinek noticed that most of us market in a certain way. First we explain what we do or what we sell, then we explain how we go about achieving what we do, then we talk about our core motivation for doing what we do (what, how, why). But, he goes on, the most successful leaders and organizations do the exact opposite. They start with why, then explain what and how.

Let’s look at an example. If we were marketing ABC wines, most of us would think this way:

  • At ABC Winery, our 2008 Pinot Gris has won more awards than any other wine in B.C. (What)
  • We use only the very best, organically grown grapes in our state-of-the-art winery. (How)
  • Get your bottle before it’s all gone. (Why)

Not very inspiring and easily lost in the crowd. If you truly want to inspire action, you need to reflect on why you are in the wine business.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Then your message might sound like this:

  • At ABC Winery, we believe we can produce a Pinot Gris wine that stands among the very best in the world; a wine Canadians can be proud of. (Why)
  • To achieve this, we focus intently on producing outstanding grapes and wine using the very best practices and an unwavering attention to detail. (How)
  • We have just released our 2009 vintage to the public in limited quantities. (What)

By talking about what you believe in, you attract people who share your beliefs. These are the early adopters, the people you must reach to create a demand for your wine.

Geoff McIntyre, CA, specializes in advising wineries and fruit growers. For more information, contact him at 250.763.8919