5 Marketing Fundamentals for Smaller Wineries

5 Marketing Fundamentals for Smaller Wineries

Update: Since we first published this post in 2015, there have been new trends in the wine industry worth noting. However, we are finding time and again that these “fundamentals” have not changed a whole lot–they still form the backbone of wine marketing. In fact, we’ve found that they apply not only to smaller wineries, but to larger ones as well!

So, we’re presenting our audience with these again, as is, and adding a few new fundamentals for 2018. Enjoy!

With major retailers like Costco buying up private label brands and craft beverages becoming more and more trendy, especially among millennials, wineries have more competition than ever. We’ve witnessed many smaller wineries languish even though they had a great product, just because they couldn’t build that loyal fan base.

Fortunately, building that fan base business doesn’t have to break the bank. So let’s go back to basics: here are some simple ideas you can implement that will grow your customer base while giving you the most bang-for-your-buck.

  1. Start with Your Metrics! This bit of advice has moved to the #1 spot this year. Understanding the numbers behind your sales gives you the ability to make strategic, data-powered decisions–especially if you have a wine club. It will also help you forecast future needs, find areas of potential growth, and spot opportunities for improvement. Which metrics should you be gathering? See our piece on “The Metrics of Wine Clubs.”
  2. Engaging on Social Media. These days, there is as much science as there is art to engaging with your customer base on social media. Social media can be a way to learn about your customers, to interact with them, and then to offer them special deals that keep them coming back again and again. In fact, those wineries that have a social media strategy in place are the ones best differentiating themselves, as we discovered in our interview with Paul Mabry about Differentiation with Digital.
  3. Tell Your Story: Engaging on social media– and elsewhere–requires your brand to be authentic and approachable. A good way to do both is by telling your brand story, through words, pictures and video. For example, be sure to take pictures and videos of your harvest at harvest time, and post them on social media channels. This will make your customers feel more connected to your wine and your business. When customers feel connected to your business, they are more likely to trust it. And that’s really the key to developing customer loyalty. And remember, this plays right into what the coveted millennial target market is looking for when they choose to spend on a brand.
  4. Customer Loyalty Programs. It costs more to gain a new customer than it does to keep one. And your current customers will spend, on average, 67% more than new ones will.  No wonder customer loyalty programs are so hot. These programs reward customers for frequent and repeat purchases, often with special gifts or points. But the real payoff is that they are great for gathering important demographic information about your customers, which in turn allows you to tweak your marketing messages and strategies. Another twist is to include a free gift in each club shipments you make – your loyal customers will remember the thoughtfulness of your efforts.
  5. Special Offers with Shipments. Including special offers with each shipment also encourages your customers to keep coming back. This could be something as simple as a coupon code that offers a discount on a special item, or on the next shipment. As offers get used, you’ll also start amassing useful data– for example, you can see which products make good “introductory” products, encouraging further purchases. And remember, there is nothing better than offering “shipping included in the price of your order” as a means of getting new online shopping customers to try your brands.
  6. Merchandising. Here’s something to really boost your loyalty program: Many wineries are offering freebies and appreciation gifts to loyal wine club members. This helps reduce churn and keep top-of-mind awareness if it’s done in an authentic way. Gifts marking special occasions or milestones, or even specialty kits, fit the bill. Merchandise can also be sold in the tasting room for an added stream of income and can help “linger time.” For more on the rights ways to create and implement a merchandise strategy, check out our white paper “’Winery Merchandise: Strategy and Ideas From Industry Experts and Successful Cases.
  7. Wine Tours. By banding together with other local wineries and shops, especially if you are off the beaten path, you can help each other build business. Sure, it may seem counter-productive to send business to your competition, but wine lovers want to experience different kinds of wine. Developing a wine tour can be a novelty for an urban wine lover.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Keep in mind that with a little creativity and a marketing plan, your small winery can bring in big business.

Thank you for taking the time to read, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact CPL by reaching out to Dave:

Dave Dobrow
707.265.0100