I’ve been wandering around Twitter today searching for some of my favorite East Coast wineries/vineyards and what did I find? Nothing! That’s right…Zip. Zilch. Nada. Zero. I couldn’t believe it! This post is specifically for smaller (and some not so small) winery and vineyard owners. Take note wineries…”Social Media Does a Winery Good!”
We all know the basics of Facebook and how important it is to establish a “Page” for your company. And we should all know that regularly updating that page is a must (ahem….). However, that doesn’t seem to happen, and neither does expanding their universe to other forms of social media. This doesn’t apply to just small “mom and pop” wineries, either. There were some notable mid-size wineries lacking presence online, too.
I get it. Social media takes time. Perhaps too much time (raise your hand if you’ve ever been sucked into the social media vortex and hours later, you forgot to eat, forgot to feed the kids….I know, I know). It’s understandable that smaller wineries feel they don’t have time to contribute to social media. They hope that by word of mouth they’ll be discovered or a restaurant will come knocking and beg for their wines. Answer honestly…how often does that really happen? Probably less than 10%, if that. Although, I know some wineries don’t care and don’t want to grow beyond their four walls (baffling, I know, but it’s true). So be it. But for the rest of you, time to get with the 21st Century!
Last I checked, wine is social! It’s fun. It’s passion. It’s sharing knowledge, pictures, and reviews. It’s building stories and relationships. During the last 10 years, the U.S. wine market has become increasingly saturated. It seems like every few months, another winery opens, making it difficult to market a new winery or improve sales of an existing one. In 2011, 5000 US wines received scores of 90+ from Wine Spectator and 125 wines from Napa Valley alone scored 95+ (McMilan 2012). It is clear that success can come from producing a high quality product, but with so many wines scoring in the 90s comes the realization that a winery needs to be more than simply a source of good wine to succeed.
So how do I stand out, you ask? Wine marketing is a bit different from other marketing strategies because of the romantic and emotional ties that consumers have with wine and wineries they visit. Here are three key points to creating a successful and effective winery marketing campaign:
- Make high quality wine. You would think this is a no-brainer, but trust me, it’s not. It’s the most important part of the strategy. If your wine sucks, there’s no point in going further until you fix it.
- Create an engaging story about your winery. Because wine consumers are passionate about wineries they have visited and enjoyed, they want to know more about the people and the vineyards that create the wine they love. Visitors want to feel personally connected to the winery; they come to the winery to be taken on a romantic and fun journey and that’s how the relationship should be treated. Creating a relationship is vital to building repeat customers for life. Your story should answer the following questions:
- What is this winery passionate about?
- Why was this winery founded?
- Who created the winery and its wine?
- Who is the winemaker and why are they special?
- Why is your winery different from other wineries?
- Have a strong and ongoing Internet presence, especially through various social media outlets. We all know Facebook is King, so definitely start there, but it’s important to expand further. Look into wine blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram at least. These are the best places to start. According to the Wine Market Council’s annual consumer survey, the majority of wine drinkers get their wine information through the Internet; 65% of consumers who drink wine at least once a week, and 40% of those who drink wine less often, receive their wine information from the Internet (Vino California 2012). Clearly, an Internet presence is vital to marketing wineries (smack your forehead now and say oh!).
It’s important to keep in mind that none of this should ever be considered one-sided or a monologue. Winery marketing is a dialogue between passionate customers and wineries. If you don’t have the relationships built on stories, you won’t have the wine sales. You need to be consistent and offer a compelling ongoing story, not just discount pricing. Sure you can create a $10 Buck Joe, but then it’s not about the wine…it’s about being cheap.
Word of mouth travels fast and much of the information people find on any topic of interest is found on the Internet. An Internet media campaign is a cost effective way to increase brand awareness, gain more customers and connect to the ones you already have. If you don’t think you have the time to manage social media, there are plenty of quality social media mangers willing to do it for you for a small fee. So there’s no excuse, get to it!
McMillan, R. 2012. State of the Wine Industry 2012-2013. Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, CA.
Vino California. 2012. In Trends & Stats. Retrieved 2012 April 25, from http://www.vino-california.com/history/.