“Beer or wine?” is a perfect question for your guests while they nibble on appetizers, waiting for dinner to be served.

A well crafted beverage is a joy to explore, as initial aromas and visual cues give way to the mouth feel and combinations of flavors.

For simplicity’s sake, the following discussion has been distilled (pun intended!) to the essentials.*

As different as they may seem, both beer and wine are made in very similar ways. A sweet liquid is fermented by yeast, a process that can take from a few days to a month.  The resulting beverage is now alcoholic, and ready for the bottle.

At this point, the processes diverge. After a short period, beer is ready to be enjoyed. Remember Anheuser-Busch’s marketing campaign from a couple of years ago?

Born-on-Date

The idea was that fresh beer is best. To some degree this is completely accurate.  If beer is more than a year old, taste and aroma do begin to fade, ultimately ruining it.

Taken to extreme, the concept fails.  All things equal, ten week old beer isn’t better than twelve week old beer. Earlier this year, A-B dropped the concept and is no longer putting born-on-date on bottles and cans.

Better-with-Age

On the other hand, the vast majority of wine gets better with age. Although a few styles such as Beaujolais Nouveau are made to drink young, most benefit from time spent aging, either in bulk or in the bottle.

Aging wine has a number of beneficial effects. Harsh flavor compounds mellow, existing flavors blend, and new ones develop. If kept cool and still, most wines improve over 2-5 years storage.

Unfortunately, most vineyards aren’t able to store wines until they reach their peak. They need to turn the inventory to recoup their investment. Thus, the majority of wine is released to market before it is at its best and will improve if stored properly for one or more years.

Buy and Drink

Although the precise number is impossible to know, the wine industry believes that about 90% of all wine sold in the U.S. is consumed within 24 hours of purchase.

Why is most wine bought and drunk immediately if buying a bottle or case of wine and sticking it in a cool dark place will make it dramatically better?

Because we’ve been trained to expect instant gratification. If guests will be coming over for dinner, we can swing by the liquor store for a bottle of wine on the way home, and open it before they arrive.

For more on the New Normal of consumer behavior, read this post.

Marketing Spigot?

In today’s always on, internet connected, one hour drone-delivery culture, it is easy to be seduced by the immediate. Any information, most products and many services are at our fingertips, just the swipe of a screen or tap of a button, away.

When agencies start their marketing efforts, their reasonable expectations are that they will achieve good results.

  • Start a Facebook Fan Page. Generate lots of likes.
  • Create a blog.  Build an audience of hundreds of readers and dozens of comments.
  • Build a website. Sell multiple policies.

Many times those results aren’t achieved in the first weeks or even months. It isn’t like turning on a spigot. Results just don’t flow out of the barrel like fresh beer.

When we don’t get immediate results, perceptions shift, the commitment to ongoing investment and even the original decision comes under scrutiny. Woe be unto you if it was your idea.

What starts as a reasonable idea is set up for failure due to a lack of appreciation for all of the critical variables. And one of the most critical variables is time.

In many cases, the plug gets pulled way too early. Because we believe that marketing should be measurable, that we should be able to calculate the Return on Investment.

This isn’t to say that marketing efforts can’t be measured, or that there isn’t any way to calculate ROI.

Of course you can.

Too often, the results are measured too soon, and the numbers miss projections. An actual case will help clarify my point.

Allen McQuiston, of the Jemez Agency of Los Alamos, New Mexico was an early subscriber to TrustedChoice.com. In the early days, we were building traffic and learning how to get referrals to agencies. It was tough sledding all around.

The Jemez Agency may or may not have received any referrals. Allen didn’t think so, and we hadn’t figured out how to accurately measure and report. For the sake of this example, we will assume that he hadn’t received a single referral, and hadn’t written any policies.

The agency’s ROI was zero up until July of this year. And had they decided to pull the plug, they would have been justified by the numbers.

Been there, done that. Got the T-Shirt.

But they didn’t quit. They understood that marketing needs to be sustained for the long haul.

Lo and behold, the agency got a call from an established roofing contractor who was looking for a new relationship.

$ 160,000 premium and counting. For one account including G/L, Auto, Work Comp.

Worst case, let’s assume they:

  • Made 5% commission on the entire account
  • Paid current pricing since July, 2013.

The ROI works out to 421%.

Here at TrustedChoice.com, we’ve learned this lesson too. Our initial efforts slowly improved our traffic numbers. But we’ve kept at it, and over the past 12 months are beginning to see major progress.

We now have 1,894 insurance related keywords in positions one, two or three in a Google search. This means that Google thinks that our page on ‘Business Insurance Cost’ is the best page for a searcher out of 624 million pages.

In total, we now have over 4,100 keywords on page one of a Google search. In addition, the profile page for almost one third of Advantage agencies also rank on page one.

Those results weren’t achieved with a short term, what’s my ROI this week approach. We took the long view, and we are starting to be rewarded.

Long Story Short

2014 was one of the best grape growing years in memory for Oregon’s Willamette Valley. So if you buy a 2014 vintage bottle of your favorite varietal tonight and open it after you get home should you expect it to be one of the best you’ve ever tasted?

Obviously not.

But when it comes to our marketing efforts, we believe that results should begin to flow, just like we’re opening a tap on a barrel of our favorite beverage.

But marketing efforts are more like fine wines. You invest now, with the understanding that patience is required. When your efforts and patience are rewarded, the toast, aromas and taste are  sweet.

I’m raising my glass to you long term marketers,

Marty Agather

NOTE: Some fermenters may want to point out lots of inconsistencies in and exceptions to the brief description of fermentation and aging described above.  These have been ignored for simplicity for our non-brewing readers.

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