Expert of the Week: Paul Snieckus

Paul Snieckus

Director of Marketing at Amalthea Cellars

What is your professional background?

My professional background encompasses a range of different things, actually. While I was finishing up my finance degree at Rutgers-Camden, I was an office manager for a winery called Amalthea Cellars. After that I worked for Merrill Lynch for a short time where I was exploring the world of financial advising, then moved to technology sales in Philadelphia. There I was selling enterprise technology solutions B2B. I was selling for Microsoft, Dell, and Oracle.

 

From there I moved on to Vanguard where I was an investment specialist. At Vanguard I got series 7 & 63 licensed and helped clients make investment decisions on Vanguard’s suite of products. After two years I was getting opportunities to move up in the company and decided that the career path I was on wasn’t for me.

 

I’m a strategy guy. I love helping businesses grow and taking products to market. That’s what I have a knack for. So from there I actually went full circle and came back to Amalthea Cellars to help grow the business. At first, I was managing the day to day business, as that was where the need was. Now I’m the Director of Marketing and am focusing on taking the brand to the next level.

 

I’ve also recently launched my strategic marketing company TENFOURTEEN LLC which I plan on taking a handful of select clients in the restaurant and beverage business and working with them to craft deep seeded marketing strategies to stand out in such a crowded and popular industry.

 

What sparked your interest in marketing?

 I’m not sure, to be honest. I’ve loved the idea of business ever since I was a kid. Whether it was selling hotdogs at the lake in my neighborhood when I was 13, raking leaves for neighbors, dreaming up clothing brands in college, or launching TENFOURTEEN, I’ve always had a genuine interest in it. After studying marketing daily for the last decade, whether it was through books, through my mentors, internships, my work experience, seminars, etc.; I feel I’m finally ready to contribute insane amounts of value to the companies I plan to work with.
 

Another point I find very interesting about marketing is that SO many people think they understand it when very few people actually do. The reason is because marketing is more based in psychology and how the mind is wired than it’s based in business. I love psychology and understanding what makes people tick.

 

What sparked your interest in wine?

 Growing up I always loved the arts. I was a photographer and songwriter. But as I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved business as well. Throughout college I tried to find a way I could make a living by blending the two. Through a few serendipitous events I came across the wine business and it instantly clicked that it was the perfect combination of art and business for my personality and I dove in.

 

In a crowded marketplace, how do wine brands differentiate themselves?

That’s a great question. The market is insanely crowded. There are two critical components to successfully branding in the wine business; story and experience. The wine business lives on storytelling.

If you think about it, in the category of wines that Amalthea Cellars operates (high-end premium reds and whites), each and every bottle has its own unique story...and it changes every year! It’s all tied to Mother Nature, the weather patterns in that vintage.

For instance, the 2011 vintage in New Jersey had a hurricane threaten the entire harvest! Each vineyard has its own story, micro-climate, and even more importantly, passionate people who love and care for it. Most people don’t go into the wine business for the money. They go in it for the love and passion of the process and end product. With that comes a great story that, as a marketer, is your job to fold into the brand’s strategy.

Experience is the second component of standing out. Running a winery with a tasting room for customers to come and visit puts you in the hospitality business. This is a unique opportunity to have customers truly experience your brand and interact with it. So if you are to stand out, it better be top notch. It’s almost like theater - much like the restaurant business.

At Amalthea Cellars we craft an authentic “French chateau” experience that leaves you saying, “I can’t believe this place is in our backyard!” People are charmed from the moment they pull down our crushed stone driveway. They then get out and are surrounded by 100 year old trees that tower over our courtyard to which the vineyard surrounds. From there they walk into our tasting room and our staff guides them through a tasting experience that takes them through several rooms in the winery, each with its own unique feel. People love it. I love it and I’ve been going there every day for years!

 From a marketing perspective this is an experience that “sticks”. From that point on, when that customer thinks of wine, they have a strong chance of thinking about the time they came to Amalthea Cellars and how great both the wines and the experience were. Many end up coming back and bringing friends. THAT’S marketing.

 

What’s your favorite wine?

 Oh man, it’s tough to choose! One of the cool things about wine is that there is so much variety. Wine is made in just about every country in the world and it can vary widely. Over all I like dry reds that are rich and spicy. That means Syrah, Malbec, Zinfandel (its red!).

 

You started at Amalthea Cellars and ventured into the financial industry before circling back. What brought you back to your roots?

I hinted at it earlier, but it really came down to not accepting doing anything less than what I loved to do in my career. I started realizing that SO much time and energy gets dedicated to what you do for a living. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t wasting that time. I’m passionate about food and wine, and I love marketing. I had it right the first time!

I find I’m in my element working with smaller companies as well. I’m not interested in trying to effect change in a board room, because there’s such a small chance of anything happening and there are too many hands in the pot. With a small business you’re dealing with owners directly, and more importantly, you’re dealing with someone's passion. There’s very little passion in a corporation.

 

Your passion turned into a career. What has that been like for you?

Not easy! And I’m still working on it! It has taken a lot of thought, a lot of trial and error, and a few leaps of faith. But, for one reason or another, I wouldn’t accept life any other way. I’ll continue working at it until I feel my path is right. TENFOURTEEN is the accumulation of me working on “turning my passion into a career” for the last ten years. Society, your parents, your friends and coworkers, usually don’t get it, and that’s OK. I’ve always trusted my gut and used it as my guiding reins.

 

What advice would you have for someone who is starting out their career and is unsure of what to do?

 Don’t settle. Absolutely, DO NOT settle for a career that you’re not totally happy with because you’re career makes up a huge part of your life. I see so many people living for the weekends and I really can’t see myself only having that to look forward to.

I totally get that sometimes you just have to “make it work”, but that shouldn’t be your permanent solution. This world is an amazing place and magical things can start to happen when you commit wholeheartedly towards accomplishing something, whatever that may be. So, of all the things I could say, I’d say don’t settle.

Find Paul Snieckus on LinkedIn.

Expert of the Week: John Corrigan

John Corrigan

Staff Writer at Advertising Specialty Institute

What is your professional background?

“I’ve been writing since 6th grade when I covered the CYO basketball team for Our Lady of Calvary in Philadelphia and was published in the now-defunct Catholic Standard & Times. Since then, I went to Temple University for journalism and wrote for various media outlets such as the Philadelphia Daily News, NewsWorks, AL.com/The Huntsville Times, Philly Metro, (also-defunct) City Paper, and Philadelphia University. I’ve also worked in radio—behind the scenes with KYW NewsRadio and on the air for W.H.I.P. and WNJC 1360. Currently, I’m a staff writer for ASI’s publications, Counselor and SGR, as well as the assistant editor of Wrestledelphia.com.” 

 

What sparked your interest in writing?

“I was diagnosed with scoliosis during grade school and would suffer back spasms when I tried to play basketball. My mom knew I still wanted to be involved with the team, so she suggested I report on their games. It was fun seeing my friends’ and classmates’ faces light up when spotting their names in an actual newspaper.”

 

How can storytelling help businesses?

“Well, every business has their own story that they’re writing the chapters to on a daily basis. Every struggle, every victory, every step in the process should be documented on a company’s website through text, photos and/or video for customers to view and identify with. For example, look at Shark Tank. Even if none of the sharks invest, the pitching business owners still have this gigantic platform to share their story and attract emotionally invested customers.”

 

What is the most common mistake you have seen others make when it comes to communicating in the written form?

“Starting statements with ‘IMO,’ ‘I believe’ or ‘I think.’ If you’re writing something, the reader already knows it’s what you think or believe. You’re the author. People use ‘IMO,’ which I see mostly on Twitter, as a shield from criticism. They’re under the impression that by stating it’s their opinion, no one can challenge them or disagree. Well, arguing isn’t always a bad thing—it can be quite therapeutic and can lead to a solution or at a least compromise for both parties.”  

 

What books would you recommend for improving one’s writing skills for business?

“I have never read a book about business writing skills, but I have read and highly recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She offers tips on how to be more creative, more character-driven and most importantly, more personal as a writer.”

 

Is there any software that can help with the process?

“Everybody uses WordPress for building websites or maintaining blogs because it’s user-friendly and easy to learn. But when it comes to actually transforming thoughts into words, there’s no software to rely upon. It’s all you, baby.”

 

How do you use social media to better promote your works?

“As my dad says while tantruming in the kitchen, ‘it’s all about timing.’ On Monday mornings, I’ll announce who our Wrestledelphia Radio podcast guest is for the week. I’ll tag the guest on Facebook and Twitter and blast it through LinkedIn. On Monday nights during RAW, I’ll repost the announcement with the hashtag #RAW because that’s primetime social media scrolling for our target audience. I’ll do the same during Smackdown on Tuesdays, NXT on Wednesdays, and IMPACT on Thursdays.

 

For non-wrestling related works, I post all of my articles and interviews on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with related tags to reach more eyeballs. LinkedIn is my favorite because it notifies all of my connections that I’ve posted. It’s been quite successful because that’s how I got noticed for the 1360 WNJC deal and of course, this tremendous interview.”

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a writer?

“1. Start as young as possible so you can make all your mistakes while nobody is reading your stuff.

2. Never say no to an assignment—over time, your editor will appreciate your willingness and dedication and then will automatically think of you for major stories.

3. Pitch ideas every week to show your enthusiasm and initiative. If your pitches get approved, you’ll be writing about whatever you want and loving your job.

4. Carve out a niche. (For example, pro wrestling.) Pick something you’re extremely passionate about and start writing.

5. Always stand by your work. If you don’t believe in it, or can’t defend it, don’t write it.

 

Find John Corrigan on LinkedIn. Check out Wrestldelphia Radio. John recommends Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.