November is gonna be a big month. There's a little election going on here in the USA. BloggerCon is coming up this weekend. And Halo 2 is coming. Here's the latest Halo 2 commercial.
What was fun is that even while on the road I was able to read blogs thanks to my new Audiovox Cell Phone. Friday night, while we were driving to Yakima Valley, Brian Goldfarb wrote me and said "you should check out this post from ScottGu (Scott Guthrie)." And it had a link. I clicked the link on the phone, then spent the next few minutes reading a most amazing entry.
Scott is the Product Unit Manager for ASP.NET 2.0 and the Visual Web Developer. Want to know some inside details about what's been going on lately inside building 42? How about 505,000 test scenarios? 105,000 test cases? And answers to all sorts of weird Developer Division trivia like "why is the test team larger than the development team?"
All while Maryam drove. Did I mention I love this phone?
Ian's been hanging out in the same developer communities I've been hanging out in for a very long time. That's spooky for sure!
Matthew Smith: Windows 2003 Server "From the perspective of a Lotus Domino guy who has had a long time love affair with Linux…!"
Maryam says that she found the Murder Mystery Dinner on this Wine Yakima Valley site, but she was just surfing around looking for ideas. Five words and a link on a Web page got her to spend $130. "You know what I liked about Mike and Liz," Maryam just told me, "they are really generous."
Just think about the ROI of those five words. Where's the RSS feed? We're planning on going back for Thanksgiving. But they don't want us to have a permanent marketing relationship with them. That's lame, but common.
Adam Barr: did a Nine Guy pumpkin. That's just too much!
Maryam and I didn't know it, but on Saturday night we were witness to the birth of a winery in Yakima Valley: Windy Point Vineyards. We had dinner with the founders, Mike and Elizabeth Stepniewski.
The winery is so new that you can't find them in Google yet.
We were the lucky guests at their first Murder Mystery Dinner. Along with about 12 other people.
How did we find out about it? Maryam found it on the Internet (it was listed on a Yakima Valley directory).
I was lucky enough to sit next to Mike during the dinner (we all played parts in a murder mystery. It sounded stupid before I got there, but was a great deal of fun!).
As we munched on a four-course dinner prepared by Jessica Smith. She works at Essencia Artisan Bakery. Unbelieveable dinner. Among the best dinners I've ever had.
In Yakima Maryam and I visited seven wineries. Snoqualmie, Claar, Bonair, Windy Point, Hogue, Columbia Crest, Silver Lake. Some were very large corporate affairs (Snoqualmie and Columbia Crest, while others were very small like Windy Point, Silver Lake, and Claar).
Anyway, back to Mike and Liz and their new winery. They are successful apple growers. He's been doing that for more than 30 years, he told me, and has about 400 acres of apple orchards in the world's most productive apple-growing land.
"What's your philosophy as you get into wine?"
"Make the best wine."
Ahh, I love a good philosophy. "So, how you gonna do that?" I asked him?
He explained all sorts of stuff about the uniqueness of Yakima valley and why it's a great place to grow wine. He said he's working with experts from around the world, and he's a wine enthusiast himself. He also said he wasn't going to spare any expense in his attempt to make the perfect wine.
For instance, he said that most wineries will use a trellis system (the vines grow along a wire strung between two polls) that produces about five tons of grapes per acre. He's using a French system that produces only 3.5 tons. But, it produces higher quality grapes. "You can't make good wine if you don't have good grapes," he told me.
Turns out Mike is the grower, and his wife Liz is the wine maker. Both jobs are important, but both Mike and Liz told me that having great grapes is the most important job because all the wine making tricks can't do much if you start with bad grapes.
Anyway, since I'm writing this entry mostly to help all these guys get discovered by Google, I'll go a little further. Hope you don't mind.
For one, his wines are excellent. Maryam and I sampled a little too much of his fine product on Saturday evening, and we bought a bunch home with us. Anyone up for a geek wine tasting party?
One problem here, ALL OF THESE WINERIES are making sizeable marketing mistakes.
For one, NOT A SINGLE ONE came up first when I searched Google for their name. That means that none of these wineries know anything about search engine optimization.
NOT A SINGLE ONE had a weblog. That means they aren't napsterizing their knowledge, sharing it with others, and getting people excited about making a Yakima Valley trip in the future. And there's a lot to be excited about. Yakima Valley is every bit as beautiful as Sonoma Valley in California. And it's a LOT cheaper! A great bottle of Merlot here will cost you $8 to $20. The same quality wine in California will run $20 to $50.
It's also a lot less crowded. Even at Columbia Crest, which is a large commercial winery, we had lots of elbow room at the tasting room and didn't have to wait in line. On some weekends in Sonoma or Napa you have to fight with 30 other people just to get the attention of someone at the tasting room counter.
I told Mike to start a weblog. He didn't know what that was "I'm not a computer expert," he told me. None of the guys I talked to knew anything about blogs and their potential for marketing. So, I'm gonna work with Mike to get something started. Their winery really is special and if you're ever in Yakima, do visit it.
While there, the owner, Gail Puryear, waited on us. He's a really fun guy and you can see his sense of humor on his site, where he writes things like "Sure, we have them. We just don't place a lot of faith in medals. Drink the wine you like, not what some jerky judge likes."
We talked a bit, and he told me that he loves Google's ads -- says that they do more for his business per dollar spent than anything else he's done.
I asked him to start a site that'd be an authority site, in other words, not just about his winery, but about all Yakima Valley Wineries. He told me he is working on such a thing: the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. Oh, that's really close. Now, add a blog to it, update it often so we can learn all about what the wineries are doing and so we can link to it, and so it'll show up in search engines like Yahoo, MSN, and Google.
Finally, how can business owners learn more about how to use the Web to market their businesses? Come to the Blog Business Summit in January. I'll be speaking there on some of these things.
Happy Halloween from your local neighborhood corporate troll.
At least that's what someone called me last week. I'm not gonna link it out, but he also said I am desperately seeking attention.
My answer? That's called great marketing. Or haven't you noticed? If no one notices you, or talks about you, or finds out about you, then you aren't going to even get to the part of the relationship where you're likely to sell something.
For instance, this weekend I went to a bunch of wineries in Yakima Valley. Talked with a bunch of owners of wineries (I'll write up my experiences in the next post). They said their #1 job is getting noticed. They all had different methodologies to doing that. Some by making great wine that wins awards. Some by holding great marketing events like murder mysteries (which is what Maryam and I were doing on Saturday night). Some by having great tasting rooms. Some by buying ads on Google. But, all of them admitted these devices were designed to get you to notice their wineries.
But, that's old-school marketing. See, for the past few years I've been studying the great brands on the Internet.
For instance, Yahoo. How did they start? Two kids in college telling their readers to go away and check out some other site. Craig's List? He took the Yahoo concept further. His list sent readers away to check out jobs, housing, and other stuff.
eBay? Even further! Ebay put you in touch with people selling stuff and said "we'll help you negotiate the price, but after that, will you please go away and complete the transaction?"
And, then, there's the now famous Google. They couldn't find enough ways to send their readers away, so they started selling advertising to companies and people who'd pay to have Google's readers come to them.
OK, OK, I'm taking this a little overboard, but seriously, you go to Google to go someplace else, right? In fact, why don't you go to MSN? It's my theory that they don't tell their readers to go away enough.
Along these lines, I was reading Hugh Macleod's manifesto on being creative (he's one of the most creative people I read every day) and his creative tip #27 is titled "the best way to get approval is not to need it" and it sure rings true for me.
Ever wonder why Gizmodo is getting more than a million unique visitors a month? They tell people to get lost! Go someplace else. Engadget does it too. 250,000 unique visitors per day, Jason Calcanis told me. Yet, look into it, nearly every item tells you to go away and get lost. You know, go to someone else's site.
It's the new marketing, er trolling. Instead of being desperate and saying "look at me look at me" you tell your readers to get lost. Go someplace else.
What's the philosophy? Those sites will take you to the coolest stuff on the Internet. And by doing that, Engadget and Gizmodo have BECOME the coolest places on the Internet. Just like Craig's List, Google, eBay.
Funny how that works, huh?
Why is my link blog getting more traffic than my main blog here? Well, over there tonight I posted more than 100 new ways you can get lost on the link blog.
The evidence is clear. Want some attention? Tell your readers to go away.
At least that's the view of the corporate troll on this Halloween evening.