Calling all winery owners, principals and marketing personnel – while this is a difficult situation for all, let’s use the time wisely.  There is a lot you can do right now to pivot your sales strategy, and prepare for the remainder of the year to be your strongest yet. I’ve outlined here what you can do right now, general housekeeping items and what you should be doing right now to bounce back.

Sugarfly is offering complimentary 1 hour consultations on Zoom during this crisis.  Email me to schedule your time slot now.  We are here to support the wine industry globally.  I’m happy to discuss your specific business goals, marketing, sales and how to bounce back.  [email protected]

What you can do right now

  • Email your customers and let them know the situation. This can be a sincere letter about how you are staying in business, how you appreciate them as a customer and look forward to welcoming them back.  Ideally it comes from your principal or most senior team leader.  I would stay away from talking about stepping up your cleaning practices at the winery, as that begs the question, why weren’t you doing that anyway!
  • Offer virtual tastings on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime etc. While you or your team might have more time offering up a winery principal or ambassador to do this is a great opportunity and costs nothing.  You can extend it to wine club members and do it in group calls, you can also ship the wines in advance.  I studied for my wine exams over Skype with virtual tastings with people from all over the country. It was fun and interactive.  Here is a great example here from the Mondavi Sisters.  
  • Video updates from your owner, principal or winemaker. This is a fabulous way to let people see who is behind these wines.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy video, in fact using an iPhone is fine.  You want to get across with sincerity that you are concerned but still open for business.  You might want to go into details about the wines you are about to launch right now or in the near future, i.e: how about a Rosé tasting?  People are currently a captive audience on social media so this is a good time.
  • Create a virtual event like a Facebook live where you ask your customers to tune in and watch you unveil the Rosé and have the wine team discuss it.
  • Be fun with email topics. We are getting so much doom and gloom. I just love the list of French films I received this morning from my champagne club, Fat Cork.  Be creative and fun with your topics that fit your brand.  Do not overdo the frequency of emails but still communicate.
  • How can you enhance the wine club experience right now with adding goodies, extra wines, video or inserts? Now is the time to appreciate your loyal customers fully.  They will remember it as everyone is stressed out.

Housekeeping Action Items

  • Comb through your website and look for what changes you can make. Is your site ADA compliant?  Have you added a Covid-19 update?  Make sure it is up to date.  Take notes of any things you want to change and engage your developer or marketing teams to make the updates.  This could actually be a great time for a full site redesign if you have an older site or want to move from a template to a custom site.
  • Does your email template need a refresh? Most emails I get from wineries have designs that could use an overhaul.

Extra Marks

  • Have you ever done a digital audit on your brand or wines? This is a matter of searching for your brand name on Google, all social channels, YouTube, TripAdvisor, Vivino etc.  This is a great time to try being a consumer and see how they see you. If there are things you see you don’t like now is the time to address those.

Prepare for the bounce back

This situation is temporary so make plans right now for success.  Your Q3 and Q4 might be the biggest growth your business has seen.  Create a strategy now that you can deploy when the time is right.  Have your assets and campaign thought through and ready to go.  You do not want to be wondering what to do when the situation turns around and your competitors are getting your market share.

Now is the time to really act.  For some it may be the first time you’ve really sat down and created a strategy to reactivate your customers, restaurants, retail and international sales.

Check list

  • Is your website ready? Check photos, content, copy, footer, blog.
  • Review your Google Analytics and be aware of popular pages, engagement, traffic sources.
  • How will you drive traffic to the site? Develop a conversational calendar on social and email to drive appropriate traffic.
  • Is your photography and video up to snuff? Spring is a fabulous time to get photos.  You can also do indoor photo shoots / beauty shots of bottles etc.  Engage your photographer now.
  • Supporting your 3-tier partners. Restaurants have their minds in other places right now but what could you do to help them bounce back after this blows over?  Who are your most loyal accounts?  Can you build them into packages, or experiences at the restaurant?
  • Database clean up. Whether it is your email list, or a customer database now is the time to clean up the undeliverable addresses, consolidate data or add more into customer records.  Can you segment the list in any way based on preferences, longevity, spend?  How might this influence your email marketing?  These are the questions you have time to sit down and think about as they are truly where you need to get to in order to grow your ecommerce business.
  • Rethink your experience. DTC businesses with tasting rooms need to have compelling experiences that resonate with consumers when the market bounces back.  If you have the ability to go beyond a tasting bar be creative and come up with experiences that will be so compelling people will take the drive to see you.   We are at the point now where (unless you are a well known brand) tasting rooms are not generally enough to entice travelers.  We have to offer more.
  • Partnership marketing. If you have a tasting room in wine country how are you going to engage with local partners, whether your local chamber or neighboring wineries and hotels to re-engage travelers to come back to wine country. After this is over people WILL have pent up demand to travel and they WILL want to go to a place where they can relax, rejuvenate, connect with friends.  Let’s make wine country that place to be and start thinking about the right message and ways to engage.

Stay safe friends!