The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2017

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30  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2017 PR SPOTLIGHT J eremy Benson, Founder and President of Benson Marketing Group, helms a wine marketing agency providing public relations, digi- tal and social media, trade promotion, and brand strategy with his 12-person staff. "Simply put, we create demand for our clients. That's the essence of marketing," he tells The Tasting Panel from his office in Napa. Benson's background includes brand management, communications, and export sales for domestic and global wine and spirits companies. Before he founded his eponymous company, which also has offices in New York City and Lyon, France, he served as Marketing Director for the Napa Valley Vintners association. Benson takes a personalized approach to each client by understanding their individual needs. "That includes a combination of increasing sales, building brand awareness, converting sampling to trial, and gaining better presence on and off premise," he says. "We don't take a formulaic approach. We're an integrated agency, therefore we build custom campaigns and use various tools, piecing them together like a puzzle. We build a strategy." Though PR and media relations are central to Benson Marketing Group's work, it's not strictly a PR agency; the company also provides brand strategy, trade promotion, social media, and digital advertising. "We look at costs and benefits across marketing functions to determine the most cost-effective tool for each goal," Benson explains. "For example, we can improve brand credibility using PR at $7–$10 CPM (cost per thousand impressions), but also need to reach a younger audi- ence, which is best done using digital partnerships at $20 CPM. We integrate different services based on their inher- ent strengths, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics." Benson believes spirits brands have more nuanced views of brand seg- mentation and demographic groups, making them more successful in terms of undiluted marketing. He says the wine industry, by contrast, wants to be inclusive, whereas the spirits category fosters and grows its base. "Great marketing is about excluding things, not including them; it's about achieving a pure position," Benson adds. Another misunderstanding Benson says he frequently encounters is that PR is merely press sampling or increasing visitors to a winery. He tells of one pro- spective client who gave the firm just two words to build an entire campaign around while developing a comprehen- sive story that communicated the core purpose of the brand. But it's this very idea of a narrative that matters most to Benson. "We are in an industry that is both contemporary and ancient at the same time; this offers tremendously rich material to work with," he says. "After all, we tell stories." story and photo by Michael Cervin Strategic Storytellers CREATING DEMAND AND BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS WITH BENSON MARKETING Jeremy Benson, Founder and President of Benson Marketing Group, sees his employees as storytellers: "We are in an industry that is both contemporary and ancient at the same time; this offers tremendously rich material to work with."

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