Part 3 – Micro … CONSULTANT
Who has the most influence in this market?
Selling YOURSELF is what you do every day anyway, and you also do through your blog, after all you want people to read your posts and come back for more whether they are doing anything else. If you manage to get a reader to think positively about brand YOU in the context of wine, all of a sudden you have INFLUENCE.
Agencies, PR and Media, hold the purse strings of their Brand clients and the question they ask is: “who has the most influence in this market?”
Influence is a factor of many things, but let’s consider two of the main ones: Reach (not just traffic, but also targeting of audience) and Authority (the perceived quality and reliability of the information / content provided).
- There are influential bloggers who may not know much about wine, but have access to a large audience,
- There are influential bloggers who know their subject incredibly well, but their focus is so narrow they have no readers,
- There are plenty of new bloggers out there with ideas, but no audience and no credentials,
- … and many blogs that exist somewhere near the centre of this chart, with small overall audiences and limited recognition
- … but where we want to be heading is to the “Star” opportunity of matching great knowledge, communication skills and experience with a wide and eager audience.
If we think about the previous models, it is clear that blogs with high reach can adopt the advertising route, acting as vehicles for advertising in much the same way traditional magazines and publishers do.
For the other blogs somewhere in the middle, the best opportunity is to collaborate and jointly boost their reach, whilst focusing individually on creating better content.
Now, what about those sites with high ‘authority’ but limited reach in terms of traffic?
If you have great knowledge of a specific market or industry, there is always a call on your services by those who need that insight. That role is that of a “consultant”.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of wineries, brands, retailers and other media intermediaries that would benefit from “on the ground” knowledge of an industry on an on-demand model. Of course, we are not talking about being able to charge thousands of dollars/pounds/euros per hour, but there are many discrete opportunities where market knowledge would be of value to others. The issue in the past has been that this knowledge has been hard to access.
Bloggers provide much of this information for free on an every day basis, and brands just like consumers, can read it and learn from it. However, there is a monetisation opportunity for certain bloggers to act as consultants by answering these questions, conducting research and making introductions that would otherwise cost clients a lot of time and money to achieve.
Imagine a scenario where a brand wants to enter a new market. Who should they speak to? Who are the importers and retailers with the right profile? What are the market opportunities? How do they reach the target consumers? What communication and marketing programmes should they put in place? There are plenty of bloggers who could answer these questions for their market (state, country or region) and sell this as a service.
Even more interestingly, there is a potential network of bloggers who can draw on each others’ strengths, who can answer these questions more effectively than anyone else, AND spread the word to their fellow bloggers, readers and contacts.
The role of a micro-CONSULTANT is a much more complex one that will rely very heavily on the experience and knowledge of individual bloggers. This is the area where qualifications, whether recognised ones like the WSET, MW or CWE, or industry experience, will be much more important than they are in other areas, and probably only those with something pretty unique will survive, but my role is to point out opportunities.
For those current or prospective bloggers who do not intend to strive for “pop stardom”, consultancy as part of a team could be the answer, but in this case, it isn’t so much the popularity of the content of the blog that matters as the use of the blog to create awareness and build a profile, or “personal brand”, for the blogger.
I could go on, but there are plenty of materials on “personal branding”. However, let’s remember that there are hundreds of thousands of wineries in the world, and we represent some of the best placed “intermediaries” to get their products to the most valuable consumers in the world. In this case, how do YOU think you could exploit it?
[oh! and Part 4 is the Conclusion which will start to be worked out at the conference and will deserve a follow up post here]