My Library and Courses
Last Update: Sunday February 23, 2020

Key Idea: Jump On New Technology

In 1997, with a few dollars and a home-grown Web site developer, Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard doubled its retail traffic by putting up a simple Web site.

Key Question:


Fess didn't think so and he is typical.  Most of us small business owners have someone already on our payroll who is interested in learning more about technology.  You may not need a CIO but you must have someone who can help you take advantage of the power of web.

Q: Does more traffic on a web site mean more sales?

A:  Not necessarily. In it's first year of operation, had 60,000 visitors. This is the same number of physical visits experienced by the shop located at the winery. Charlie Kears is the winery manager and took on the web project himself. He used a boxed software program because the price was right and it was easy. He couldn't imagine loosing money so he plowed forward. Now, anyone can order from the web site or shop on the site and call in an order the old fashioned way, and, the restaurants who carry the wine can check out what's new.

Today the site changes daily. They've had a ball using what they think is the greatest marketing tool ever invented. Their suggestion for us all: tell your story with a few good words and some nice graphics. Though web sales are much lower per visitor than the winery store, the potential is obvious and they're glad they got started early.

You need to become an e-minded company because we now know there are no degrees of separation. We saw something in 1994 when we first examined the Internet and then put up a few web pages. We were so astounded by it that we began telling our viewers as early as 1995, "Get email and a web site." That something, the it, collapsed the six degrees of separation to no degrees of separation. In an e-culture, every person in the company uses the Internet purposefully to do some part of their job.

Why isn't every company creating an e-culture?

A: First, we are quick to point out that some industries are low tech and we understand that reality. For example, our friend who manufactures expensive sweaters that are sold in high-end boutiques tells us that these boutique owners don't even have computers in their stores! This is hard for most of us to imagine. The construction business has hung on tight to the fax machine and most legal documents are still being moved around in hard copy. Therefore, we argue that some aren't where they could be because they are part of the late adoption group.

Second, thousands of companies today are being lead by men and women who are getting ready to retire. They just don't want to think about the expense and headache associated with a revolution.

Third, some small business owners don't see the fun they could have exploring the connected world. It might take hiring some high school or college students to help bring the ideas into a firm that may have grown stale.

Fourth, some people are afraid of the openess required by an e-culture. In this new world, everyone can know everything.

Can every employee become e-responsible?

Yes because the net should become an extension of each person's work area.

Some business owners and IT professionals might have nightmares if every employee had access to a page on the company's web site. What would happen? Would content management run crazy? Would grammar and spelling mistakes appear everywhere? Would bad ideas pop up? Would too many people be spending too much time with too little return?

All of this is certainly possible. And small businesses of over 100 employees would have to monitor many pages of content. Yet, if each of these pages were integral pages of a business plan as well as your web site, what might be the result? In 1995 we said, "Get email and a web site." Now, we are saying, "Get everybody involved." Every person in a business has a public face and should be responsible for maintaining at least one page that reflects their work area and the relevancy of their contribution to the overall success of the business. Aptrix is one of many businesses that have developed tools that make the interface to one's web site as easy as word processing.

This is the extension of the participatory democracy that Carol Schroeder discusses in the episode about her and her company, Orange Tree Imports. The fundamental issue is trust and building your team. You think about it: What would it take for you to give every employee access to web page creation?

Think about it

Where do you stand now? Do you have a fully functioning e-culture with every employee using the Internet purposefully?

Clip from: Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard: Brand Matters

Los Olivos, California: Way back in the 1950s a young Texan by the name of Fess Parker took a job with Walt Disney. He became an actor and the incarnation of two American heroes, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. With so much exposure on television, this man truly became an American icon in our time.

We caught up with Fess in beautiful Santa Barbara wine country to continue our studies of the first principles of branding and storytelling.  Fess left Hollywood and bought land then built a hotel.  Here you'll also discover that he believes in real estate and in helping his customers create memorable experiences.

The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard is located 32 miles north of Santa Barbara on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. 

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...
Go to the homepage for this episode of the show...

Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker, founder

6200 Foxen Canyon Road
Los Olivos, CA 93441

Visit our web site:

Office: 805-688-1545

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Jump On New Technology

HATTIE: Sales come through wholesaling to distributors, and retail sales come from the winery visitors center, the wine club and the catalog.

CHARLIE KEARS: We have several retail divisions. We're standing in one right now, which is our retail center. This is our guest center and retail shop. We taste wine here and we have many wine-related products.

HATTIE: What would you like people to know about this place.

CHARLIE: The Fess Parker family commitment to quality. I think a lot of businesses will profess quality and customer service and customer care. And here, it's not a matter of, `We talk about it.' Here, it's expected.

HATTIE: Why did you jump on the Web so early -- you've had a Web site a long time? You've been selling wine on the Web a long time. Why did you do that so fast?

CHARLIE: I found it to be probably the most exciting, cost-effective, greatest thing there ever was for marketing. We could tell the story of the family, the winery, what we did, how we did it and how proud we were to do it all in just a few minutes. And it didn't cost us anything to do that.

HATTIE: What can you teach people that are watching this who haven't done a Web page yet?

CHARLIE: Telling the story correctly, and always emphasizing the quality and not trying to elongate the tale, make it too long.

HATTIE: OK. Fewer words, then.

CHARLIE: Fewer words, more graphics. We have Fess Parker, which means we have Davy Crockett and we have Daniel Boone. But even more so, we have a wonderfully beautiful property to work with and a great product. And we had all this beautiful graphic material that we could put on the page to attract attention to it.

HATTIE: How often do you update it?

CHARLIE: Almost daily.

HATTIE: You didn't have to hire anybody?

CHARLIE: No, we didn't.

HATTIE: And you just did it yourself?

CHARLIE: I did, yes. I did it all myself. I used Home Page Creator. It was a matter of reading the tutorial, having a little bit of help from a friend and doing it myself.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!