Wine Marketing: Direct to Consumer Challenges and Opportunities

Vineyards

The acronym “DTC” aka direct to consumer is one of the most important concepts the wine industry as a whole must leverage in order to survive and thrive during our challenging economic times. Direct to consumer sales provide opportunities for  higher profit margins, increased special event sales, and to sell the ever vitally important wine club memberships. Yet with all that is riding on DTC, the awareness of the power of social media marketing as a sales channel remains under appreciated and under utilized.

Case in point, the Winebusiness.com “Direct to Consumer: 2009 Tasting Room Report.” Most interesting in this report are the hurdles or “barriers to maximizing DTC potential for all wineries. The reported challenges as well as  the opportunities to overcome the challenges may surprise you.

Common Barriers to Maximizing DTC Potential

  1. Compliance and Shipping: (39 percent) believe issues of compliance and shipping “still outweigh all other barriers
  2. Lack of Resources: (17 percent)  people, time and money
  3. Effective Technology and Systems: (13 percent)
  4. Acquiring Customers: (13 percent) aka lead generation
  5. Marketing Tools: (13 percent) believe a lack of DTC marketing tools like customer relationship marketing (CRM) and Web analytics

Opportunities to Maximizing DTC Potential

  1. Tasting Room Software: according to the report there are many online systems available to greatly reduce the challenges of shipping and compliance
  2. Lack of Resources: the three resources in question are people, time, and money. The answers should include social media marketing training to help key employees. The other solution is to hire a social media marketing agency to perform monthly marketing maintence and run your marketing program
  3. Effective Technology and Systems: nothing was specified. The obvious technologies that could improve DTC sales would be a blog and a social media marketing plan-strategy to engage with consumers on Facebook, and Twitter. Placing laptops in the tasting room so consumers can directly fan your Facebook winery page or follow your Twitter account(s) creates a bridge from real world to online world.
  4. “Acquiring Customers”: this challenge (lead generation) could be addressed with a DTC Twitter strategy in concert with a Facebook company page for customer relationship management
  5. Marketing Tools: CRM would be the role of a strategically implemented Facebook company page that engaged consumers and created “Call to Action” messaging.  Web analytic measurement tools could be implemented to measure each message delivered in specific channels including the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter for the messages relevance or effectiveness

Sell Wine or Bust: Social Media Is A Winery’s Secret Weapon to Survival

Wine cellar

Computer Shopper published this deansguide article 9-11-09

Is there empirical proof that social media sells wine? If you take my experience, as an example, it does sell wine. If you are a Chief Marketing Officer, Wine Tasting Room manager, or anyone tasked with selling wine you may say no to social media. You may have created a Facebook page. You may have registered on Twitter. You may have even established a blog. Yet all of your efforts have fallen flat with a resounding thud! No uptick in sales, no mad rush to the tasting room, no phone lines burning off the hook. What happened? You forgot to do a lot of something-here are 6 reasons nothing has happened yet:

  1. Participation: you set up your Twitter, Facebook, blog, and LinkedIn presences thinking they would run themselves with minimal participation- wrong
  2. Plan: you showed up on each network without a plan to engage, a strategy, or a purpose
  3. Call to Action: you don’t ask your audience to do anything; your messages simply make statements without a compelling reason for audience participation with you
  4. Targeting: you utilize the “more the merrier” approach where you will shotgun your messages without targeting the audience that is most interested in your products and services
  5. Twitter: you are not utlizing Twitter as a source of sales leads and list building with consumers as well as businesses
  6. Facebook: you are not utilizing Facebook as your customer relationship management tool to build and maintain customer loyalty
  7. Measurement: you are not developing a system to track and analyze which messages are working to engage with customers, which messages are eliciting a call to action. Without this information, you can NOT continually tweak your strategy and messages to improve results