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Where to Get Your Wine

My in-laws are thinking of moving to Durham, where I live. They were visiting for Thanksgiving and my brother-in-law and I went to buy some wine at a local store, Wine Authorities. The store is much smaller than Total Wines, also in Durham. Its aisles are a bit cramped; there is no way two carts can traverse the same aisle simultaneously. The selection is substantially less than Total Wines and the prices may be a tad higher. I bought a case of wine and my brother-in-law seven bottles for Thanksgiving dinner.

The day after the Thanksgiving feast, my brother-in-law was in the car with his daughter and his wife when they happened to pass Wine Authorities. As they zoomed past, he announced we had just passed his new favorite wine store.

How could that be possible with cramped aisles, smaller selections, and higher prices? Well, the wine selections are curated. Each wine has a description by it and a suggestion of what foods it would pair nicely with. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to help. This is a wine store that is not trying to please every wine drinker, but a specific kind of wine drinker. (My guess is their perfect customer is someone with a good but not an expert’s knowledge of wines, is willing to spend $15 or more per bottle, and will try bottles from smaller producers.) They have created a niche and if you fall into that niche, like I and, apparently my brother-in-law, do, this is the store for you.

As leaders we need to think about who our ideal customer is and how to craft our product or service to meet her needs perfectly. We need not please everyone, but rather please those that embrace our mission. As Seth Godin is fond of saying, we need to find our smallest viable audience. Once we find that audience, and they rave about us, more folks will want to become customers.

Wine Authorities will never outsell Total WInes, but they have more loyal customers who are willing to brag about their wine buying experience. That is what you want your business to be like.


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