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Katherine Jones of ThinK Wine on Disrupting The Old Boys’ Club of Wine

Today on the Engaging Marketeer podcast, I’m speaking to Katherine Jones, a successful businessperson and entrepreneur who excels as the director of two businesses in completely different industries. As well as running the influencer marketing agency We Are SN, Kath’s ThinK Wine Group is taking the wine industry by storm, which hasn’t gone down too well amongst some of the old boy clique within the industry, it’s fair to say.

Kath and I are discussing topics such as her origins in business, the nature of working with social media influencers and the difficulties that come with breaking into the wine industry. Be sure to check out the entire interview, which includes these highlights:

Katherine on her desire to travel the world…

Darren: I see from one of your websites that you’ve travelled around the world quite a bit working, what got you to want to leave the beautiful city of Liverpool to go off to the states?
Kath: I always wanted to travel ever since I was very young. I never knew what I wanted to do, all I knew was I was obsessed with traveling. It turns out that in school I was really good at business, so I studied business at Leeds because I wasn’t quite ready, I guess, to move away. But when I was in university in Leeds, there was an opportunity that arose to go and work for the Marriott hotels in the U.S and so I was just like ‘absolutely, this is perfect’, so that’s how I initially moved to America.

…on living in America…

Darren: How did you find it living in America?
Kath: I absolutely loved it, honestly. I always say it was the best thing I ever did because my confidence just skyrocketed, because the way they are is so different to the way we are; we’re so self-deprecating and everything has to be like taking the piss while they’re all just oozing confidence. I went there and was like ‘oh, it’s cool to be the best’ and I learned how to be the best and to be confident, maybe a little cocky.

…on her client base as an influencer marketer…

Darren: So what kind of clients are you working with?
Kath: It’s predominantly reality TV and TikTokers. Shows like Made In Chelsea, Geordie Shore and Love Island, lots of Love Island. Then also aside from that, we have TikTokers, so like people have just gone viral. But usually, the way we’re going with our agency is we’re trying to now just take on clients that really do good in the world. One of our girls that we’ve got, she’s got 3.5 million followers on TikTok – she’s got a stammer and she gives herself challenges on TikTok to overcome the stammer. Now she just wants to pave way for people with speech impediments who can look at her and take inspiration.

…on not working with certain clients…

Darren: Are there types of clients that you won’t work with, either because they’re values don’t align with yours or they’re simply not a good fit?
Kath: Yeah, loads now, probably not when I first started because it was very much a case of let’s growing quickly. Now I say no to people all the time all the time. We get hundreds of DMs from people that say they want to be an influencer and they want to do this and this, and it’s obviously no because you don’t really have any followers and you haven’t done anything. But some of them have big followings and we could take them on and make a bit of money for them, but I just think they don’t fit with us and what we’re doing and how we move.

…on the best businesses for influencer marketing…

Darren: What sort of businesses work best for influencer marketing?
Kath: Female stuff. I would say that the big spenders on Instagram particularly, and even TikTok, are women. Not to say that men’s brands can’t work, as they can and I’ve seen it, but generally women just love buying and so if it’s a female brand – fashion, hair, makeup, skin care, alcohol, fun spa experiences, restaurants, holidays – anything where a woman is like ‘oh that’s the ones that perform best’.
Darren: What sort of products or businesses do you think don’t work so well or, perhaps, you’ve seen try influencer marketing where it’s not paid off?
Kath: I think sometimes there’s like companies that are really business-to-business, not really direct to customer and that seems to fall flat on its face, unless you are utilising LinkedIn. What I’m noticing on LinkedIn is that there’s like a huge influx of LinkedIn influences and they’re doing business-to-business stuff like coaching; it works in the exact same way but if you were to put that onto Instagram, it would fall flat on its face.

…on upsetting the wine industry…

Kath: The industry was fuming about young girl coming in here with her wine, and we keep winning awards because we’re only entering into blind tasting awards. I’m telling you now, if you enter an award and you’re not part of that little clique wine world, you better know you’re not going to win, but if you enter a blind tasting awards, then you can just keep winning and they can just get keep getting angry.

…on advice for aspiring influencers…

Darren: Final question. For someone who may want to become an influencer, what advice would you give them?
Kath: I don’t really have any advice on that, other than probably focus your energy into something else and just document it as you go along. My girls have become really good influencers now, it’s because they’ve got a passion doing something else and they’re just sharing the story of that. Also, I have never really created influencers, I’ve always taken them on when they are an influencer. I wouldn’t sit down with a girl who just fancies being an influencer and map out their plan for them.

Katherine says that the best way to get in touch with her is through LinkedIn, where she loves to chat to people about business. She can be reached by email at kath@wearesn.com and kath@thinkwinegroup.com, for each of her respective businesses. ThinK Wine Group can do wholesale orders for customers looking to buy in bulk for events such as Christmas parties and corporate gifts, so be sure to drop her an email if this interest you.

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