Importance of in-person follow-up
When the programmed wrapped up, Jo returned to the US to follow-up with the contacts she’d made.
Jo says following up those contacts and making the effort to visit them in person really paid off.
“I think after Covid where we all moved to Zoom meanings, a lot of businesses thought that Zoom meetings would replace in person meetings,” said Jo.
“In our experience that hasn’t been the case.
“Showing that you are willing to travel to the US and meet importers where they are shows a real commitment to doing business in the US marketplace.”
Another advantage Jo says was the strong connection and affinity the Watkins family have with the US.
All three of the Watkin’s siblings have lived in America. Sam Watkins did a vintage in Napa Valley, brother Ben had lived in Texas where his wife is from, and Jo had worked in Washington at the embassy.
“The fact that we had all spent time in the US and the move to export there was a planned, strategic move, was very well received,” said Jo.
“The US market was a great fit for our business and our wine a great fit for US consumers, so people could see our approach was authentic rather than a reaction to the collapse of the China market.”
Watkins also export to Canada and Poland, and are now taking steps to enter the UK market.