Walk Where There’s Wine

Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities. – Frank Lloyd Wright
Russ Beebe of California Wine Hikes writes on his blog about the difficulty he’s having converting page views into dollars, something a lot of people in the ad biz can relate to.

It’s not to say that my website isn’t getting visitors. In fact, quite the opposite: my hit rate has sprung dramatically upward since early Spring. Even Alexa.com now ranks californiawinehikes.com as being at or near the top 250,000 websites worldwide for traffic – quite a leap in traffic compared to this time last year. Interest in me and conversation via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook has rocketed in that timeframe, too; in the case of Twitter, that interest has reached well beyond the subscription level of my blog, and in much quicker fashion. These things have occurred despite the decrease in frequency of my blog postings over the same timeframe. But despite the heat-map stats telling me that 50% of my website visitors on average over the past six months are clicking through to my shopping cart, it’s become painfully obvious that they’re not clicking further: nobody since January has purchased a single California Wine Hikes tour. Those numbers are staggering, and they’re problematic.

I love this guy’s business idea. He helps people directly experience terroir, a.k.a. the magic of the land where the grapes are grown. He’s got his self-promo machine cranking out content, people willing to recommend his service and wineries happy to host his walking parties. I’d like to see a business like this in Dundee, OR.
Despite all that’s in his favor, Beebe isn’t converting and making the sale. Is it the economy or is there something more Beebe might do to land business?
I know I struggle with the same things Beebe does. Anyone who goes out and forages for new business knows what it is to face lean times. It’s not easy under any circumstances to constantly sell your services in a witty and charming manner (so as not to annoy). At this time when ALL discretionary spending is inspected under a microscope, it’s particularly tough to bring in new business. Everyone’s risk averse and price sensitive, right now. Whatever solution there is to be found, it’s going to address these two core concerns.
Can a freelance copywriter/creative director guarantee his services? Can an agency? I don’t know, but I do know we can work on price. My going rate is $100/hour, but please, talk me down. Then we’ll be able to afford a trip to California and have Beebe show us around. People helping people enjoy wine and nature. Could anything be more wholesome?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.