Ep. 12: Pete Przybylinski – Optimize Channel Marketing with Data Insights…and Duckhorn Wine!

Pete Przybylinski and the team at Duckhorn Vineyards have a ton of great ideas for using data to optimize their channel marketing.  Lucky for all of us, they also work in an interesting and highly-regulated space, making their story extra interesting to anyone working in marketing or partner enablement in the fast-moving and increasingly data-driven corner of the business world. So, if you’re enjoying this episode responsibly in your own home and are of legal drinking age for your jurisdiction, pour yourself a glass of their famed 2014 3 Palms Vineyard Merlot and enjoy this episode.

Pete is the SVP of Sales and Strategy at Duckhorn and right out of the gate that title is part of what makes his tale interesting.  You see, the “Strategy” part of Pete’s title was only added in the wake of the great economic recession of 2008.

“The recession was a painful time for us,” says Pete.  “(Before then) our strategy was, ‘if times are tough, raise your prices,’” he jokes.  He adds, “Looking back on it now it was the greatest thing that ever happened to us because it forced us to be smarter about how we were running our business.”

And that, dear listener, is the power of data insights in channel marketing in a nutshell.

Optimize Channel Marketing Through Partner Enablement

A recurring theme we’ve seen starting with episode four of this podcast is the ambivalence (at best) that many channel partners likely feel toward your product as a producer.  It’s true in the technology space and just as true for Duckhorn’s upmarket wine offerings.

“These distributors have their own business to run as well,” Pete points out.  “They’re not lazy, they’re not stupid, they’re not self-centered but they have their own business to run,” he adds.  “A lot of times their business goals are not going to be in complete alignment with our business goals.  We’re never going to be in perfect alignment, but how do we make that work so that we’re in better alignment than we’ve been in in the past.”

Each year the Duckhorn team sits with their partners and goes over their transaction history for that year, concluding with a detailed business plan for their coming year of business together.  The plan highlights not only the quantities of each SKU that the vineyard expects will work best in the partner’s business but also opportunities for co-promotion and other support that Duckhorn can offer to enhance the symbiosis of the partnership.

Of further note, Pete’s team works hard to engage the partners in Duckhorn’s five-year vision of where their brand is headed.  The “arms around each other” approach and extra steps toward building alignment continue to reward the team with the revenue growth they’re looking for.

Crushing The Field of Dreams Myth

In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character is encouraged by mystical forces to turn his cornfield into a full-scale baseball diamond.  “If you build it, they will come,” the voices promise.

While this may work well in the realm of Hollywood cornfields, it is a terrible tactic for marketers who are looking to engage channel partners and third-tier sellers in the brand’s channel incentive programs.  Pete and his team long ago realized that communication and great connectivity out to the important stakeholders are key to program success.  Having handed out sales awards to prizewinners who didn’t even realize there was a contest happening, you could even say that they learned this lesson was learned in a very, very memorable way.

Tasting notes on this episode:  While editing it occurred to me that the recording had gotten better with age; the audio file displays beautiful layers of dense dark red fruit, cedar, graphite and cream, as well as hints of wet river rock.  Enjoy!

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