Archive for the ‘Winery Marketing’ Category

Humbled Wine Consumers Want Luxury Products Made by Real People

Visitors at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards (photo provided by Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards)

Recently, this excerpt resonated with me and I thought of you.  It’s from “What Will 2010 Bring for Fine Wine Sales?” the preliminary findings of Silicon Valley Bank’s  Annual State of the Wine Industry Report for 2010-2011:

“…the fine wine business at some point in the past decade began to believe the product was about an expensive purchase and ego-based conspicuous consumption. The industry now finds a humbled consumer still wanting luxury products, but products made by real
people
, and not just expensive brands without a soul. Each producer has to figure out new ways to touch every one of its consumers in an authentic manner. That is the good news for an industry connected to family business, the earth, and hand made production.”

Keeping this in mind, have you adjusted your PR, marketing and social media efforts to speak to these discerning consumers?  I realize that these types of individualized, personal interactions can be very time consuming.  However, a combination of recurring touches can help your winery to connect with its enthusiasts, their friends and your new customers.  Make your campaigns about them, not all about you.  Thinking about a new event concept or wine club offering?  Ask your customers for feedback, what they like about your current events and wine club, what they would like that’s different, what a comfortable price point is.  Let them get to know your people, your winery dog, your wine club members, that special something that you have to offer that sets you apart from the winery up the road.  And of course, talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on daily at your winery,encourage and answer questions on your Facebook fan page, become a resource of wine information.

My husband and a couple of girlfriends and I took a day and toured a few wineries on Seneca Lake recently.  After our second tasting, we sat out back at one of a group of tables set up for customers to sit and enjoy a bottle on the patio.  We struck up a conversation with a group next to us.  They were regulars to Finger Lakes Wine Country from Maryland.  They were loose with their feelings after a day of tasting and didn’t hold back.  My husband Rich asked them what kept bringing them back to the region, always curious about these things after numerous conversations with me about it.  The most vocal of the bunch didn’t hesitate.  She said point blank, “What brings us back and makes us buy wine here?  It’s all about selling the experience to us.  We visited one winery where the wines were not good at all, but it was a fun place, we enjoyed our time there so we bought some wine.  Then there was another new winery with a young husband and wife as the owners.  They told us their story on how they’re just getting started, we liked their wine but more than anything, we liked them and wanted to buy wine from them, so we did.”

Another example of the loyalty that personalized marketing can make for wineries is illustrated in comment #1 by JLBrown in this recent post by Eric Asimov on the NY Times’ wine blog “The Pour” titled “The Mystery of Marketing” :

The dumbing down/dunderheading of wine marketing makes me crazy.

Want to see a vintner that really gets wine marketing? Check out Hafner Vineyard (http://www.hafnervineyard.com/). I was introduced to their wines several years ago by a direct-mail piece that was so unforced and so evocative of their product that I bought. And bought. And bought. I have become a raging fan.

The product is wonderful, but the personal touch to marketing really sets them apart. They understand that wine is a personal experience, and that they are in the enjoyment business. They do everything possible to make obtaining and enjoying their wines a special, personal experience.

— JLBrown

Okay, these are just a couple of examples, but as much as wine quality is important to sustaining a winery’s business, please don’t forget how important your back story, your dreams and aspirations, your “one thing” that sets you apart, those personal touches by real people…are to your customers.  A few quick things to think about:

  • Does your website, email and newsletter copy come from an authentic voice or does it sound stiff and corporate-y?
  • Does the “About Us” page on your website tell your personal story and philosophy and does it have pictures of the people and maybe the four-leggers that are the core of your winery brand?
  • How does each “touch” feel to your customer?  Will they want to come back to you for more of that feeling and share your story with their friends and family while opening a bottle of your wine?

I wholeheartedly feel that here in the Finger Lakes, the people here, the experience provided, the beauty of the region, the family-owned wineries that feel like home are also very important to many wine tourists as they carefully weigh out where and with whom they’ll spend their money in challenging economic conditions.  What brings your best customers back to see you and purchase wine from you regularly?  What are you doing to emphasize those qualities?

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Winery Marketing: “Trust Agents” Outlines How to Win Hearts and Minds

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Chris Brogan & I at SM2Day Conference

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a huge fan of Chris Brogan and the book he co-authored with Julien Smith entitled “Trust Agents.”  (And Chris’ blognewsletter…) Okay, I know I’m gushing.

This isn’t meant to be a blatant push for Chris and Julien or their book.  But one of the things I believe you come here for is my opinion on discoveries that can help you to grow your business and keep you on track to continue to engage with and build a community of enthusiasts for your winery brand.  I understand that your days are busy so I love to bring you resources to help you to do that.  Being a solopreneur affords me the flexibility to watch out for things for you that I strongly believe can help you to tell your winery’s unique story to those who want to hear about it the most and will in turn tell their friends about you.  “Trust Agents” outlines best practices for using the web to build influence and teaches you how to earn trust and build relationships that can benefit you and your community.

If you’ve been reading my posts on social media, have attended workshops or webinars but still feeling like you’re not sure what to do next or if you can improve results on what you’re already doing out there on the web, Chris, Julien and “Trust Agents” offers guidance and actionable steps.  And there’s a really cool story about J Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma and how one of their staff members won the trust of tech blogger Robert Scoble and got him to buy a case of wine from the winery after winning him over.  Plus, there’s a bit on Gary Vaynerchuk and how he makes us want to buy his products.

The book was also recently listed as one of the recommended books for those interested in digital marketing for the wine industry by Paul Mabray, founder and Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank in a post on John Corcoran’s Think Wine Marketing blog.  If you’d rather listen to an audiobook version, there’s one available via Amazon.

Have you already read “Trust Agents?”  What are the takeaways that resonated most that can be applied to a winery’s business plan?

Social Media Quick Tip: Post Quality Content on Twitter

photo courtesy of Heron Hill Winery

photo courtesy of Heron Hill Winery

If you’re a winery public relations and marketing person or owner who wears this hat, your head may be swirling with questions about how social interactions on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are changing the way we “pitch” bloggers and writers and land coverage.  I know that it’s at the top of my list of things to pay attention to and I’ll continue to share what I discover with you here.

This social media quick tip demonstrates a very simple example of how a local winery’s public relations person posted content onto Twitter and had it picked up by a local wine blogger, landing a photo featured in his blog post within an hour of their exchange on Twitter.

The winery PR person is Kitty Oliver at Heron Hill Winery, who has consistently been one of the region’s most forward-thinking public relations and marketing representatives.  The blogger who picked up the photo and got permission to use it via Twitter is Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor at the New York Cork Report. (Disclosure: I have contributed posts to The New York Cork Report for the Finger Lakes)

The exchange occurred last Friday morning with Kitty posting photos of the snowfall at Heron Hill Winery to Twitter.  Evan spotted the photos, liked one and found it relevant to his post about the effect that unseasonably low temperatures followed by predicted Indian Summer conditions will have on the vines and grape development here in the Finger Lakes. Within a few minutes and via Twitter post, Evan secured permission from Kitty to use the photo for his post.

Kitty shares tips from her experience with using Twitter to engage with wine writers, bloggers and enthusiasts for Heron Hill:

“Twitter has been a great tool for Heron Hill Winery as far as getting information out quickly. We’re connecting directly, if a media person or consumer  needs more information we go from there. Posting pictures has been helpful too, I can show people what I’m talking about, especially when it comes to harvest. People want to SEE the grapes, SEE the crush pad and SEE the people behind the wine. You have to be yourself on Twitter because people can sense sincerity and relate to it. It requires a personal touch and you have to be ready to engage, learn and share what’s really going on. Your relationships will be better for it. It takes time to learn the Twitter ropes, but once you get it, it’s a lot of fun and a great tool.”

Evan’s advice for those venturing into social media:

“Social media starts with being social. Profound, I know. Seriously, though – you’re not going to develop a strong and loyal readership through social media unless you show people you care about them. You read their stuff. You react to their posts. You answer their questions. You show some personality. Over time, we’ve been able to develop a strong following that responds when we have questions or need help. In this case, we didn’t have to ask Heron Hill for photos — they were savvy enough to post them. But had we simply tweeted about a need for harvest photos, I have no doubt we’d have a virtual pile of them within minutes. And that only makes our blog better.”

There’s still some work to be done in my observation.  Some Twitter peeps are showing up just when they need something and to promote their own interests and then disappear without really interacting or helping anyone else.  Although that may provide a bit of benefit, showing up consistently and following Kitty and Evan’s tips lead to much more robust engagement and benefits for you and your brand.

Interview: Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth Talks Facebook for Wine Businesses

Video Source: WITS YouTube Channel

Here’s a video interview from the Wine Industry Technology Summit earlier this year that addresses some basics of how Facebook can help wineries differentiate their brands.  There’s also some discussion around privacy settings, content appropriate for personal profiles vs. business fan pages.

Key takeaways:

  • Emphasis on the importance of telling a story
  • Engage with your customers
  • It’s not enough to have a good wine product, how will you differentiate your wine?
  • Find the stories that consumers can latch onto
  • Your ability to communicate with multiple people via social media is greatly increased as opposed to private, individual email responses
  • If you’re not sure if you should post something on Facebook, don’t post it.
  • Facebook helps you connect in a richer, more dynamic way than traditional channels

I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Harvest reports via video, photos and posts on Facebook and Twitter here in Finger Lakes Wine Country this year.  Are you noticing an increase in interest or conversation around Harvest this year from consumers because of the reports?  Do you expect these Harvest stories to help you sell wine and wine club memberships? Any other benefits to report?

Update: Academy of Wine Communications Finger Lakes Chapter

awcmasthead

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the development of the Academy of Wine Communications Finger Lakes Chapter. With the announcement of the AWC’s new website today, it’s time for an update.

The AWC has recognized that there’s a need for an organization that will become the go-to resource for wine writers, bloggers as they seek sources within the industry to interview for articles and posts.  Having this  information readily available on the AWC site will be a time saver for both writers/bloggers and PR and marketing representatives and becomes a first step in getting them connected.

The rapidly changing wine communications industry has made it difficult to keep up with the latest in best practices for engaging with wine writers and bloggers.  The Academy of Wine Communications plans to open and facilitate conversations surrounding these topics in order to keep members up to speed and ready to apply traditional methods and the latest in social technologies to help them tell their winery’s stories, establish trusted relationships with writers/bloggers and plant the seeds for coverage in a manner in which writers and bloggers want to be engaged with.

I’ve been honored with the role of Finger Lakes Chapter Director of the AWC. My goal is to organize and facilitate a strong chapter here in order to help keep the Finger Lakes wine region in-the-know, front and center in the world of wine public relations and marketing.  With the increase in interest in the region and the people behind the numerous wineries here, it’s prime time to continue actively collaborating and pushing forward.  Let’s do all we can to make it easy for writers and bloggers to contact us and get the information, photos, videos and samples needed in a buttoned-up, efficient manner so that those writers and bloggers will come back for future articles and posts.  One of the best ways to stay updated on things is to reach out to and participate in conversations with wine communicators in other regions.

With that, our first meeting will be an info session to discuss the organization and get your input on the shape of our chapter.  I’m working on the details but look for it to be sometime in November after Harvest, and you can count on a glass of wine or two.  What are some of the things that you would like to see the Academy of Wine Communications help you with?  In the meantime, check out the Resources pages on the site for info that can help you right away.  And be sure to  submit your contact information to be included in the Wine PR Directory.

Top Social Media Resources: MarketingProfs Summer Series

marketingprofs_logo

Many of you who know me and know my story have heard that I’ve been exploring and engaging in social media for just over a year now after entering as a skeptic.  It was around that time that I became intrigued and then submerged myself in learning about how social media could help me to make my dream of helping wineries and small businesses become a reality.  Originally, I thought that traditional public relations and marketing services would be my core offerings.  But now, my business has evolved.  I find that I’m being sought out to help my clients with humanizing their brands and social media mentoring. And my dreams of a successful, fun business have been coming true.

I don’t call myself a social media expert, but mentoring based on my observations, studies and experience is a more accurate description of what I’ve been tasked with by my clients.  This is the first of a series of my top resources to pay attention to as you explore the possibilities in social media for your business or personal brand.

MarketingProfs Social Media Summer Series

This is a stellar line-up of thought leaders in social media.  The series is in progress, but if you purchase a Premium Plus membership, you gain access to all of the archived webinars with materials to play on demand.  I’ve viewed two of the series of nine so far and they are full of the latest research and information on relationship building, creating content, measurement, creating community, using social media for B-to-B marketing, public relations and to drive sales.  I’ve been a MarketingProfs Premium Plus member for several months now and I highly recommend their program to you.

The tactic that has been most helpful to me in navigating and embracing social media is reading about it regularly, attending webinars such as this series and keeping an eye on what’s happening with thought leaders who have successfully built their personal brands as trusted experts in their industries.  Much of the latest I’ve found by following thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook!

Are you already attending the series?  What are your impressions?  A recommended next step is to seek out your favorite presenters in this series on Twitter, Facebook and/or their blogs and watch for their updates.

Social Media Quick Tip: Add Social Media Info to Signage

july 2009, wbc, personal 055

I bet a bunch of you are already all over this one.  I spotted this signage from Faust Winery in Napa Valley during the Grand Tasting of Napa Wines at Quintessa during the recent Wine Bloggers Conference.

This is a simple, low-cost branding strategy to promote your social media efforts.  Once you get your customers there, you know what happens eventually: they’ll start talking to you and hopefully providing valuable information on their likes and dislikes, preferences and experiences with your wine brand.

Although this sign was on a table at a tasting, you can also create signage that is representative of your brand’s look and feel and post them in your tasting room, create postcards, add your social media info to your business cards, print out pages and include in the bottom of customer shopping bags, include in your shipment boxes.

If you’re a winery who is already promoting your pages this way, I would love to have you upload your photos to the fan photos section of my Facebook fan page.  That way we can see each other’s signage and use the photos for info on how to fan each other’s pages.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a smiling staff member to promote the info either.

july 2009, wbc, personal 054