Marketing Fundamentals for Small Wineries
03.08.2024  |  by The Copper Peak Team

You’ve created a wine that you can be proud of: The grapes were just right, the fermentation went as planned, and there’s now a great product sitting in your bottles, ready to be enjoyed.

How do you get the word out?

This is not a trivial task. You could have the most delicious wine on the planet, but if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. More than that, consumers need to know about you—not just the wine in the bottle, but the brand that created that wine.

This is where wine marketing becomes critical. And while larger wineries and big brand names can throw a lot of money at their marketing departments, smaller wineries have to be more clever with their marketing dollars. Fortunately, building a base of loyal customers doesn’t have to break the bank for your business. In fact, the best thing to do is to go back to the basics.

Here, then, are the six fundamentals of wine marketing, and how implementing them can grow your customer base while giving you the most bang-for-your-buck.

  1. Start with your metrics
  2. Tell your story
  3. Create a customer loyalty program
  4. Include special offers with shipments
  5. Use merchandise strategically
  6. Go local and steal the show

Start with Your Metrics

Understanding the numbers behind your sales gives you the ability to make strategic, data-powered decisions–especially if you sell your wine direct-to-consumer (DTC). For example, which products are moving, and at what times of the year? What is the lifetime value of a customer? What is your churn rate? A breakdown of the most useful metrics can be found in our piece “The Metrics of Wine Clubs.” Using those, you can forecast future needs, find areas of potential growth, and spot opportunities for improvement.

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 the harvest at harvest time, and post them on social media channels. Or perhaps show yourself tasting the wine straight from the barrel to ensure its quality. Hire a photographer to capture your winery and tasting room at its best, and then talk about the dreams you had for the place when it first opened.

These glimpses into your company will help 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.

Create a Customer Loyalty Program

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 tactics.

Include 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. Even a well-thought-out shipping deal might be enough to turn a one-off customer into a repeat fan.

If discounts and deals don’t feel right for your brand, try going in the other direction and proving a “value add” to shipments. A little creativity and a good kitting service can go a long way here. For example, a shelf-stable food that pairs well with your wine, small leatherette case, or even something that provide a sensory experience (like a sprig of lavender) can really up the consumer experience.

Use Merchandise Strategically

Merchandise is so much more than your logo on a wine glass or hat. The right merchandise can make for great gifts, helping consumers mark special occasions or celebrate milestones. These can be included in club shipments or sold separately (online or in the tasting room) for an added stream of income. Added bonus #1: Merchandise sold on the premises helps increase “linger time.” Added bonus #2: Merchandise helps keep your brand top-of-mind and thus also reduces churn.

For more on the right ways to create and implement a merchandise strategy, check out our white paper “’Winery Merchandise: Strategy and Ideas From Industry Experts and Successful Cases.

Go Local and Steal the Show

The goal of marketing is to grow, and wine marketing can allow your winery to grow on a national level. But to do that, you often have to start small.

Start by creating positive experiences at local events. Look for small fairs and festivals where you can utilize existing staff, build some displays, and take your products out to sample (legally, of course). And don’t just look for wine-focused festivals or wine walks; the best event is one where your wine is the only one being sampled, because then all the attention is going to be on you and your product!

That said, it’s not a bad idea to band together with other local wineries and shops, too. Wine lovers want to experience all sorts of different wines, and a wine tour, wine walk, or tasting tent at a festival is a good way to get a lot of people in front of your brand at one time. 

Want More Wine Marketing and Wine Promotion Ideas?

With a little creativity and a good marketing plan, your small winery can bring in big business. Make it a habit to revisit your metrics and your overall marketing plan every year, as trends and technologies change rapidly. We also recommend checking out our other articles on wine marketing trends and winery growth.

And once your DTC channel has grown to the point where you need a little help, reach out to us. We’ve helped many small wineries grow and scale their operations, and we’re happy to help our fellow enthusiasts in the industry.