Making great wine isn’t the only thing you should rely on for a successful winery business. It’s a good start, of course, but you also have to think about getting the word out about your wine. That’s where a marketing strategy comes into play, and it doesn’t have to be just one.
When you think of marketing vs. advertising, think of marketing being the umbrella that your advertising and other outreach efforts fall under. Keep reading for some helpful tips and strategies for marketing your winery.
What to consider when creating a marketing plan for your winery
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re passionate about your creation and want to share it with the world. But it’s time to reel it in when it comes to your marketing plan. Before you know it, you could be spending thousands of dollars you don’t have on strategies that may not pan out. Consider the factors below before taking the leap and tapping into your bank account.
This can be a tricky thing to consider. Let’s say you have a line of higher-end wines and another of more approachable and more affordable wines. Each is going to have a different customer base. Your market for the higher-end wines might be an older demographic with more life experience and financial means. The lower-cost wines might appeal to younger generations that like good wine but aren’t able to pay a lot of money for it.
It’s normal to have more than one type of customer base. The younger customers could buy your higher-end wines for their parents, while the older generations could have children or grandchildren who might like your more approachable wines.
The most important thing is that you understand every customer because each one could potentially contribute in some way to your winery business. Understanding that is key to figuring out your marketing plan and how to increase customer acquisition.
Marketing funds should already be worked into your business budget, so this is more about spending in the most productive and efficient way for your business. Once you have your overall marketing budget, now it’s time to think about how to break it up and spread it across different channels.
Wineries tend to do very well on social media because of their picturesque locations and clientele. Hosting events like a trivia night or an open mic night at your winery can also bring in repeat and new customers — and it’s an approach some may not think of as marketing. Then there are print ads, radio ads, local magazine ads, and email marketing as well. All should be taken into consideration.
Business model and alcohol laws
Not every winery is the same or can offer the same things, and a lot of that can depend on state and local alcohol laws. If your state doesn’t allow for shipping wine across state lines, be careful about how you market bottle purchases. And if your winery serves food, be mindful about how you market your guest’s winery experience.
For example, if you promote your wine as a great addition to a picnic, people might interpret that as meaning they can bring a picnic to your winery, buy wine there, and enjoy it on your property. But if your winery sells food, regulations usually prohibit outside food on the premises. Make it clear to your guests what you offer, what you’re allowed to offer, and what they can bring to the equation.
5 marketing strategies to promote your winery
It’s less about the number of marketing strategies you have and more about their impact. The list below features the most useful strategies, but you can try as many or as few of them as you want as long as you get the results you desire.
1. Have professional photoshoots
Local wineries are often in areas where there are creative professionals, especially in small towns. The winery I worked at also hosted weddings, so we partnered with some local photographers to have them shoot at the winery to have photos for social media. We brought in local teens for setups related to the food and clothing we offered and adults for setups involving wine tastings at the bar.
Such partnerships allow both you and the photographer to get exposure, and you end up with professional photos that can be used across all of your . Some photographers will offer a discount if you have a relationship with them, some will do it as an equal exchange if you offer them something in return, and sometimes you will have to pay full price.
2. Tell your story
Why should people care about your winery? That’s up to you. Share the story about how you got into wine, what made you want to open a winery in that location, and how the community has impacted you and your winery in a positive way. This can be done on your website in an “About Us” page, or it can be part of your mission statement that gets sprinkled around other advertisements.
Remember, you’re marketing yourself and your business as much as you’re marketing your wine. Customers want to know you aren’t just there to make money but also to connect with fellow wine lovers and contribute to the community.
3. Interact with your community
This can mean free exposure for your winery. Show your face around town and let people get to know you outside of your business. This will encourage them to visit your winery and also make them want to support your business.
If your area puts on parades, make a float that represents your winery. If there are charity events, get a team together to volunteer. Highlighting other local businesses with your marketing can also go a long way with the community. It sends the message that you recognize there’s enough space for all of you to coexist and be successful, and it’s a marketing tactic that shouldn’t be overlooked.
4. Utilize social media
This is a big one, so it’s important to do it right. Each platform — whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — should offer different information about your business since they’re geared toward different demographics.
Use Instagram to post beautiful photos, use Facebook to promote events you’re hosting at the winery, and use Twitter to link to newspaper or magazine articles in which your winery has been featured. Think about it this way: If you followed a business on all three platforms and kept seeing the same thing, would you continue to follow all three? Probably not.
Social media is also a great place to find out who your audience is. Facebook offers that capability as well. It can tell you the age groups of everyone that interacts with your photos and where they live. It can also tell you what type of content performs the best and when your posts get the most engagement. This is crucial information for creating a content plan.
5. Hire the right people
This is probably the most important strategy. I morphed my initial administrative/event planning position into doing most of the winery’s marketing efforts because I saw the need and had relevant experience.
Was that the most effective way? No, and there were a lot of things that could have been done differently had the resources been available. Hiring someone with marketing experience for a marketing position and nothing else is hugely beneficial for your business.
However, local wineries might not have the budget for that, so they utilize people from other departments to handle social media and marketing. But that often doesn’t work because too many hands are in the pot.
Many times I would log onto the winery’s Instagram page and see photos I didn’t post with captions full of spelling errors and poor grammar. That was because there was no clear definition from the top as to who had control over the social media pages.
This mistake is not uncommon, but remedying it before your brand starts to suffer is crucial.
New wineries seem to pop up every week, so you need to do everything you can to make sure yours stands out. Use your marketing budget wisely and familiarize yourself with the different advertising channels. Perhaps most importantly, hire someone with marketing experience to get to know your winery and promote it in a way that brings results and brand awareness.