When Manor Estate Wines first embarked on its journey to capture the US market, it was an unknown brand in the States. Today, it sees growing export orders to businesses across the country. Peter Cap and daughter Sharleen share their secrets to success after successfully capturing the niche market for fine wines that began with a dream and culminated in accolades and celebrations.
Building a Network from the Bottom Up
Sharleen notes that talking to people can be the start of great things. In her case, it began with “talking to waiters.” After all, with New York as a starting point, Manor Estate hoped to capture a share in the fine dining niche market. They were up against wineries supplying already-famous-brand wines to New York restaurants and wine bars. If Manor estate was to “take Manhattan,” it needed to know what Manhattan wanted – then deliver the goods.
As newcomers to the New York scene, Peter and Sharleen didn’t have any contacts to speak of, but through personal connections with frontline staff, they soon gained access to managers – and from there, industry influencers were just a hop and a skip away.
Don’t Count on Marketing Messages: Be There
This raises the second point of the Manor Estate export marketing adventure: few people are interested in emails, brochures, and other marketing materials unless they have in-person contact first. It’s a sceptical market. They’ve seen it all before. Someone can get on the highest rooftop and shout that their product is the best ever, but even if it is, nobody is going to listen. But, when there is a face to face meeting, it suddenly becomes real. They’re ready to give the product a chance, and if they like it, they will share it with their network.
“Once they see and experience what you have to offer and believe in it, they will tell you who to talk to next,” says Sharleen.
Get Third-Party Recognition
Apart from business networks opening up through in-person contact, recognition from authorities in the field will add to the audience of “believers.” Manor Estate Wines was able to achieve Wine Australia’s endorsement as one of the few wineries supported by its export development initiative. With that, came a flood of additional interest in the boutique winery’s products. “Wine Australia has mentorship programs that facilitate introductions to decision-makers and influencers,” says Peter Cap, founder of the brand, winemaker extraordinaire, and father of the family.
In addition, Manor Estates submitted to rating by one of the most influential wine appreciation organisations in the world: “Wine Enthusiast.” The results of this evaluation surpassed expectations – Manor Estate Wines received highly favourable reviews in a blind tasting process, and with this achievement as a feather in their caps, Peter and Sharleen were able to take their marketing to the next level.
Be Ready to Offer Instant Gratification
In today’s world, nobody wants to wait for satisfaction. In the USA, this adage is even truer. Manor Estate was prepared for export orders. The winery had complied with local regulatory requirements, including those specified for product packaging, and warehousing in the US had already been taken care of. When the orders began to flow in, the company was ready to offer speedy fulfilment, thereby keeping its new client base excited about the “new find.”
The take-home message is – don’t keep US clients waiting. Once their attention is gained, it must be kept. If they have to wait for weeks or months for fulfilment of an order, they’ll be in cool-off mode by the time it arrives.
It Takes Guts to Get Glory
Businesses hoping to enter the US market will need guts to get their glory. It’s easy to advertise – harder to confront possible clients face-to-face. It’s easy to say the product is “the best in its class,” – harder to prove it through third-party ratings. And if someone is ready for the baptism of fire, then New York is the place to start. “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” says Sharleen.