The final day of that “Really Goode Job” at Healdsburg’s Murphy-Goode Winery is February 15th. What’s the next step for Hardy Wallace who was awarded the post after competing in an “American Idolesque” contest that played out for months?
That’s a good question, one without a definite answer for the time being.
“I’m in the process of making a decision,” Wallace said, declining to offer details. “Over the next three weeks I’ll be very busy determining the next step.”
Will Jackson Family Wines (JFW) play a role in that “next step”? Mark Osmun of JFW said “Yes, Hardy is being offered a role with the marketing department at JFW. They and Hardy are in the process of discussing/negotiating that proposal and so that’s why neither Hardy nor the company are inclined to go into the details of that publicly at the moment. When that’s settled, we’ll announce it.”
One key question JFW is no doubt pondering is just how this social media experiment has translated into sales. Osmun said it’s difficult to say because the privately-held company doesn’t give out sales numbers and it’s always hard to precisely link marketing effort to sales. With that caveat, Osmun said “Direct sales (tasting room and online) rose dramatically from April through now and these sales might be most closely aligned with social media.”
For now, Wallace’s life continues at a frenetic Twitter pace, with blogs, videos, dinners and speaking engagements. In fact Wallace just got back from a “2010 Wine Entrepreneur Conference” in Washington D.C. last week where he spoke at both the Chilean and Argentinean embassies. He said the trip confirmed his belief that when it comes to wine and social media, Sonoma County is like Silicon Valley was in its heyday when “everyone was really watching it to see what would happen.”
Wallace said he was impressed that some people from Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, France, Australia and the United States asked him detailed questions about his blogs, tweets and videos at www.murphygoodewinery.com. “I’m even happier and even more optimistic because I’ve seen how much of an impact you can make on the rest of the wine world,” he said.
The Net, Wallace said, continues to make our global village smaller, particularly with the latest fascination: Twittering. “Instead of people just seeing it as chatter, they’re now seeing it as part of their 2010 business strategy,” he said.
Meanwhile other hip “location-based” tools like “Four Square” and “Gowalla” are intriguing marketers, Wallace said. These tools allow marketers to pinpoint people who may be staying at a local hotel and offer them a free tasting to entice them to a nearby winery, he said.
Tracking the marriage of social media and technology has been key for Wallace who began this post in Jess Jackson’s wine empire on August 15th. The wine lover from Atlanta who created the “Dirty South Wine Blog” beat out 2,000 other contestants. The big prize? A six-month social networking gig, complete with a $60,000 paycheck and free room and board in a two-bedroom Victorian in Healdsburg.
In the final stages of the contest, Murphy Goode took some heat for not playing out the contest like American Idol where the highest vote getter reigns. It confused those who thought they understood the rules of the game.
As for Wallace’s stint, he said he was most effective when he wasn’t preaching his brand, but rather inventing ways to share the good life, with “wine on the side … The great thing about social media is that people want to interact with a person, not just a product.”
It turns out “the good life” is what has been the highlight of Wallace’s gig. “People are so generous,” he said. “They’ll put a basket of vegetables on my back porch. It’s tough to explain this to people who live here because they may take it for granted, but for an outsider, well this just doesn’t happen in downtown Atlanta.”