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July 21, 2021

Charting the Wine Media Landscape w/ Natalie MacLean, nataliemaclean.com

Charting the Wine Media Landscape w/ Natalie MacLean, nataliemaclean.com

Natalie MacLean, a podcaster and writer based in Ottawa, Canada, has been bringing people into her wine world for over 20 years. With two books, a newsletter with over 300,000 subscribers, a mobile app, and the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, Natalie’s main


Natalie MacLean, a podcaster and writer based in Ottawa, Canada, has been bringing people into her wine world for over 20 years. With two books, a newsletter with over 300,000 subscribers, a mobile app, and the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, Natalie’s main focus is on perfecting her food and wine pairing courses - The Wine Smart Course and an upcoming course on wine and cheese. Natalie tells us about how she built her personal brand, the most effective marketing channels she’s used, and where her primary revenue drivers are. If you’re interested in navigating how to be successful in the world of wine, Natalie’s journey provides key insights.

Detailed Show Notes: 

  • Natalie’s background
    • Has an MBA, did consumer packaged goods (“CPG”) marketing at P&G and tech
    • She took a sommelier course and fell in love with wine, as a full-bodied experience
    • Started as a writer - cold-called editors, then wrote books, and now publishes a podcast - Unreserved Wine Talk
    • She didn’t drink alcohol until she was in her late 20’s
    • Brunello was the wine that got her into wine
  • Current focus - online food and wine pairing courses
    • Focused on 2 courses only - believes in doubling down on the Unique Selling Proposition (“USP”), wants to perfect courses vs. add more
    • #1 - The Wine Smart Course
      • Lifetime access to materials
      • 5 modules
      • Pre-recorded videos (on-demand, all “snackable” - 7-9 minutes in length, 70-75 videos)
      • Live webinars via Zoom - bi-weekly tastings
    • #2 - Beta: Wine & Cheese Pairing
    • Appeals to both consumers and hospitality and trade professionals b/c of the focus on food and wine pairing
    • It starts with food, then pairs the wine
    • Leverages some research from Tim Hanni, MW
    • Free wine and food pairing guide
  • Core audience - vast, similar to the general population
  • Newsletter / website
    • 300k email subscribers - free to join, C$3/mo for access to wine reviews
    • Has pairing tips (more depth in courses), a lot of free videos
    • It started as an email to friends and family
    • Uses LCBO pricing
  • Wine scores
    • People use them as a shorthand for quality, to calculate the quality to price ratio (“QPR”)
    • People requested it, and now it’s a service for readers
    • Passion is writing
  • Mobile app
    • Free to download
    • Scans front label and bar codes
    • Integrated liquor store pricing and inventory across the country (Canada) via API’s to provincial liquor control boards
    • Features - virtual cellar, wishlist, buy lists
  • US wines in Canada
    • CA, WA, OR, NY well represented
    • #1 export market for US wines
    • During Covid - premium wines (C$20+) have done well, benefiting US wines
  • Canadian wine palate - driven more towards cool climate wines, Canada’s heritage is beer and whiskey
  • Marketing Natalie’s brand
    • Built over 20 years, started the website in 2000
    • Started with the books (Red, White, and Drunk All Over; Unquenchable) - published by Randomhouse, book tour, Amazon’s bestseller list - led to broad reach and TV and other media appearances and “exploded” newsletter subscribers
    • Podcast a core channel now
      • Podcast listeners stay with you, and most listen 80-100% through
      • Podcast listeners and paid online courses have the strongest overlap
    • Leverage and cross-purpose content to broaden the reach to many channels
      • Podcast videos for FB Live
    • Social media - gets people over to newsletter or free wine and food pairing guide, low commitment, usually not paying
    • Nothing beats email
    • Always strives to deliver value first - drive to something free (e.g., free class/webinar), then promotes paid courses
  • Main revenue drivers
    • #1 - online courses
    • #2 - wine review subscriptions
    • #3 - online advertising
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