Clearer Vision, After I Sobered Up

I recently took a trip to Napa Valley to tour the wineries. While the distance from Sonoma to Calistogo is only 20 miles, you have more than 500 wineries to choose from. As always, life is full of choices and while I would have loved to visit each one, I had neither the time nor the physical ability to consume in those quantities.

Tours and stops were selected with consideration to the different regions, the winery size and their processes. This got me thinking. The valley and its vast differences in winery experience is a great reflection on the small, medium and large marketing firms that abound.

Large. Sterling Vineyards owns over 1200 acres in 11 different locations throughout Napa Valley. The panoramic views from the winery, 300 feet up the hillside, were breathtaking as was the shear volume of more than 400,000 cases mass produced each year. The general experience was simply overwhelming and I felt, too commercialized.

If you’ll allow the comparison, the strengths of large wineries and large marketing firms are obvious. They have greater financial resources than smaller firms and therefore can offer a full service menu as well as invest in product development, sales and marketing. They can handle larger accounts and produce a higher volume of work. But higher volume and a well-known name can come with a price. Often times bigger doesn’t mean better quality and when you’re in the middle of a glass of wine, or a marketing campaign, it is the experience and flavor that counts.

Small. Robinson Family Vineyards, located in the Stag’s Leap District, has a mere 7 acres of vine. This is a labor of love for a second generation family winery. The experience was fantastic with a privately guided tour of their cave dug into the mountain slope housing their boutique winery.

When it comes to overall experience and a general warm feeling inside, not because it was our fourth winery of the day, Robinson Family wins big points. Much like a small marketing firm the boutique style offers clients a very unique, one-on-one experience, which is not to be overlooked. However, due to size and knowledge limitations these companies can only handle a small amount of clients or projects (or varieties of wine) at one time. This limits their ability to grow, expand skill sets and offer clients new, exciting, and top-of-the-line ideas and services.

Medium. Just right, in my opinion! Robledo Family Winery harvests 300 acres in Napa, Sonoma and Lake County. As a medium sized winery, I found Robledo’s tasting room to be my favorite. Was it the fact that I enjoyed their wine? Was it that we sampled more varieties of wine there than any other winery? Was it the presentation about the family history, winery and vineyard that captivated me? I believe it was a perfect blend.

In general, medium sized wineries – and marketing firms – have much greater flexibility than larger companies. They’re able to innovate and conjure new ideas and services more rapidly and creatively than larger firms due simply to less structure and a more streamlined chain of command. In essence big business bureaucracy can put a cork in creativity! At the same time, medium sized firms have the capacity to respond promptly to unique client needs and industry developments in a way that many smaller firms cannot.

Another strength is having a knowledgeable staff doing what they do best. Medium sized marketing firms have the financial ability to hire highly skilled individuals for specific jobs such as research, video production or web design. In a medium size firm you’ll benefit from having senior partners or managers working directly on projects. While you get this personal experience with small firms often times your key contact doesn’t have expertise in your area of need.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect wine or the perfect marketing firm to meet your needs, you should evaluate your options – from experience and service to price and capabilities – before you pour yourself a glass and settle in. As a medium sized marketing firm TRIAD brings the perfect blend to the table. You’ll also find a special, intangible quality that comes from a team of associates who are fully engaged and enjoy doing what they do.

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