Increase the Impact of Wine Marketing with 3 "Rs"

James Runkle Drummond St. Marketing

James Runkle
Drummond St. Marketing

Contributed by guest blogger James Runkle of Drummond Street Marketing. James offers marketing strategy services to clients from many industries, but we asked him to hone in on wine marketing and give us his best easy-to-use advice. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter

Nobody likes change. Right? Can we all admit that? But I have to agree with Jack Welsh when he said: “I'm convinced that if the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.” 

“49% of American wineries have a dedicated marketing manager who creates and published content on social networks.” Do you??

Professional wine critics and established wineries no longer have the power they once had. In fact, there are very few traditionally trusted sources that hold the same level of authority that they once did. Even the role of Doctors has been shifted to be in the hands of the consumer.

Illustration: Marc Fredric Gottula

Illustration: Marc Fredric Gottula

Let Your Marketing Go Social

And nowhere is this change happening faster than in the world of marketing. For some companies such as Lego or Anheuser-Busch, it seems they have almost given up control over their idea-creation process and turned it over to the masses. The nicer term is “crowdsourcing” and, admittedly, it is a radical shift in thinking. But even though, say it with me, “Nobody! Likes! Change!” – this is a great step forward.

And crowdsourcing is, in no way, exclusive to companies. People do it all the time, in their own say. Several of my friends are recent parents and, when they have questions about the best baby food, they don’t go to Gerber.com. They post on Facebook. They tweet. They join Mommy blogs and get real answers from real people. 

“We don’t have to like change. But we can use it to our advantage!”

How? It’s simple. Put technology to work for you. People are already out there having conversations about wine, entertaining, asking for recommendations. So, be part of the conversation!

Think of 3 easy steps: Recognize, Recruit, Retain

1. Recognize

Get real-time feedback on what works (and what doesn’t) so you can recognize new opportunities and capitalize on them. Start with a simple Twitter search and find accounts that have used keywords that are important to your winery. For example: Wines of Washington on Twitter (@WINESofWA) or other online resources such as the Puget Sound Business Journal.

2. Recruit

Engage in these conversations! If you haven’t already, create profiles for your winery on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Instagram (those are the basics). If you’re feeling like you can handle more, look into Reddit, Pinterest or the localized search blog, Patch.com.

Remember to use your etiquette. It’s no different than being at a dinner party where you don’t know all the guests. Be polite. Be part of their conversation but know that you won’t be the main focus. Offer help. Offer suggestions. Don’t be pushy.

Also, this is your chance to show off your people, your operation, your history and your culture. Videos are fantastic for getting to know your employees, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your social media. Photos posted to Instagram get more engagement than text alone. Did you know? Instagram just surpassed Twitter for active number of users. So, get snapping!

3. Retain

Once you have fans and have started the conversation, keep them interested! Position yourself, and your winery, as a resource. No one likes a hard sales pitch so don’t be the winery-version of that person who sprays cologne at the mall. Ask questions. Get to know the people. Give them your honest advice on wines. Yours may not always be a fit for the customer. That’s OK! People want a trusted source, not a pushy salesperson.

By creating honest relationships with customers – even if only 140 characters at a time – you become the person they come back to for advice. That’s how you create customers that last a lifetime.

Finally, a major trend in consumer buying behavior is the sense of “experience”. So let them experience what it means to be part of your vineyard family. Show them photos, post ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories, and use video. After all, anyone can pick up a bottle of wine. But if a person can tell a story about the experience they had buying it, they are going to spread the word much further. And they’ll keep coming back for more.