Recent St. Kate’s MBA graduate Kayla Forbes leveraged her education to assist the International Cold Climate Wine Competition (ICCWC) for her final capstone project. By combining general business skills with her advanced knowledge of integrated marketing communications, Kayla worked with the event co-chair to put together a plan that could be executed in 2017 and beyond.
The International Cold Climate Wine Competition is an annual event held in the Twin Cities, which showcases wineries using the unique cold climate grapes. It is the only competition of its kind, attracting wine makers from around the world, with a primary focus on the United States and Canada.
Organized by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, and partnering with the University of Minnesota, the ICCWC relies on funding through submission fees and sponsorships. The event itself is organized and executed solely by volunteers who are passionate about the wine industry.
Despite a clear differentiation and a highly attractive industry, the International Cold Climate Wine Competition faced some clear barriers that had been preventing it from gaining overall awareness, funding, and success. Areas of opportunity included:
- Reduce Cost Waste – Of the funding that the ICCWC was receiving, it became evident that the event could benefit from using funds more efficiently in order to cover competition costs and pursue other goals such as educational programs.
- Raise Awareness – With an ever-growing interest in wines, especially those made locally, the ICCWC had a substantial opportunity to grow the success of the event if they could properly increase awareness.
- Increase Funding – Again, relying heavily on funding through sponsorships, the ICCWC had an opportunity to substantially increase sponsorships.
Kayla worked with the International Cold Climate Wine Competition to the assess and create a strategy around various components of the event.
At the core of all successful organizations is a strong brand. From the look and feel to the communications across all marketing channels, a distinct brand amplifies the reach and engagement with an organization. Kayla evaluated the brand across multiple facets including the logo, event medal, website, and media channels, and created recommendations for improvement of each.
Kayla identified key opportunities for the ICCWC to grow sponsorships, including:
- Increased Visibility and Professionalism – Create clear, professional communications and platforms to attract ideal sponsors.
- Improve Sponsorship Package – Besides having their logo displayed at the event, the ICCWC could benefit from creating an appealing, well-defined sponsorship package.
- Create Processes & Options – The ICCWC could enhance and grow sponsorships by creating clear processes and responsibilities for a volunteer or paid employee, and by creating more sponsorship levels or packages for companies of various sizes.
The long-term success of this event is reliant on a strong budget with decreased cost waste and increased revenues. Kayla worked with the event co-chair to develop a recommendation around a clear, defined budget that decreased expenses while growing revenues.
The perfect opportunity to use the skills gained through her MBA program, Kayla Forbes was able to work with the International Cold Climate Wine Competition in order to identify key pain points, and develop a comprehensive strategy to overcome these obstacles and enhance the long-term success of this event.