Selling directly to consumers is riddled with challenges yet ripe with rewards. As US DTC wine sales eclipse $2.6B, the need for wineries to build more thoughtful and unique customer relationships are becoming essential to capture and nurture buyer attention. Whether it be a face to face encounter in the tasting room or connecting through digital medium, wineries that are adapting their marketing strategies to recognize customers as individuals will likely see the highest returns. Research has shown buyers are more responsive emotionally and show higher return when making purchase decisions when they are regarded personally, especially through name recognition marketing*.

So, what’s in a name? When we are born we are given a name, a unique identifier… a tag. From the time we begin to understand language, we recognize our name first and foremost. Beginning with our parents, siblings/ family and evolving among friends, teachers, friends, colleagues, and spouses, whenever we hear our name, we instinctually direct our attention to whoever has said it. If someone says our name, we have a feeling of instant familiarity and instinctively we have a connection. We feel special, important… and we listen. A persons’ name carries a lot of power and positivity based on how it is used and how often it is said. Use of a name impacts the depth in which we conduct and respond to conversations and structure our relationships both personally and professionally.

In our two part article series we will be offering tips on how to integrate and master name recognition marketing into our DTC Sales channels. PART ONE will cover the Tasting Room and PART TWO will address the digital segments.

                                                                    PART ONE: THE TASTING ROOM

     According to author Dale Carnegie, ** remembering someone’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Mastering name remembrance skills will help you build closer relationships through a sense of trust and mutual connection. If you are in a role where you meet and harvest relationships with customers every day, learning, acknowledging and remembering who you are talking to can create dynamics that will significantly affect your influence over your conversations and ultimately their outcomes.

The average person has a lot to remember every day. We often get lost in the grind of what’s routine and often aren’t as comfortable learning new things. The very first hurdle to become successful at memory strength is applying yourself. You need to commit yourself to learn how to increase your skills and to become proficient. You need to commit to focus, be open to learn and practice to get the highest return for your efforts. Although most impactful as far as customer impression, the face to face introduction in the tasting room is harder to master than digital conversations because one must be able to think on their feet, juggle real time distractions and since these situations are live, usually don’t have the crutch of an on line database or customer profile to support the dialog.

For any good hospitality or wine sales focused role responsible for making connections through face to face conversations, developing skills to apply to customers through name recognition can be the main differentiator in creating a memorable experience and converting a guest to a committed relationship. Learning and teaching staff the basics on how to capture and keep a more personal conversation going using name recognition techniques will have measurable impacts on value of sales, the happiness of the guest and ultimately their loyalty to the brand.

Here are some tips I call the “FIVE R’s”  I often use to remember people’s names:

1. REFOCUS– Oftentimes when we meet someone we are thinking about what we are going to say next or even something else completely. Making a commitment to focus is half of the battle as oftentimes we don’t realize we are doing it. Before you begin your dialog tell yourself that you want to learn this person’s name. By redirecting any errant thoughts, diffusing the name with other internal conversations become less likely.

2. RELATE– Memory works in the brain operate more efficiently when you can expand the field of reference. Using familiar association techniques have proven to be quite effective for establishing recognition. When you hear someone’s name, immediately think of someone else you know with the same name—a friend, family member even a favorite celebrity. By using this technique you now have doubled the probability you will remember the name because you have built an association to another person who you have more familiarity with and whose name you will always remember.

3. REPEAT– Memorizing (rehearsing and retaining) has always been an effective technique for actors, musicians or anyone who has a script, speech or lines to remember. When you hear a name, repeat it… Clarify it, welcome it, ask it, end the conversation with it, and write it down afterward. After you say or see it 4 or 5 times your chances of not forgetting it increase substantially.

4. RAPPORT– As you begin to engage in dialog and learn more about the person (job, kids, location, etc.) try to tie topics of conversation with the name to build an association. For example, “Tom lives in Texas” or “Dan is a doctor”. Sounds simple, but surprisingly effective.

5. REHASH– Challenge yourself at the end of the day to see how many names you remembered during your customer exchanges. If you make this a practice you will amaze yourself at how much better you will get and see the number increase.

As with anything, learning takes practice. Try to use the “Five R’s” outlined here or find out from others what has worked for them. Mastering this skill will take time and patience, but the returns you will realize through closer connections with customers will build trust and loyalty and ultimately increase sales and build mutual commitment. You may also notice you’ve kicked things up a notch on the “charisma meter” in your personal life as well.

* Journal of Consumer Research- “What’s in a Name- A Complimentary Means of Persuasion”
**Dale Carnegie- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Simon & Schuster