By Mindy Joyce

The wine industry as a whole takes this time of year pretty seriously. In October, November & December wine sales generally peak as people prepare for parties, celebrate with holiday dinners and buy gifts. As a wine seller you may want to start by creating a marketing calendar in advance. This can be as simple or as in-depth as you want, but it will help you organize your time and maximize this opportunity.

One way to look at marketing your wines for the holidays is to consider what the deadlines are for your wine shipments to arrive in time for each holiday day; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Once you know the shipping deadlines then you can strategically plan your activity around creating urgency and getting the consumer to buy. It is fair to assume that some of your customers will respond to an early bird or stock up message, and others will leave it to the very last minute to place an order. You need to market to both types of customers. Also, consider three situations where your wines can fit into the holiday season:

  • Personal enjoyment (parties, dinners, events, home entertaining, etc.)
  • Corporate holiday events
  • Gift ideas

Email is a great way to generate sales. It is a low cost, fast way that works, if done well. Select images that showcase your wines in a holiday setting – or you could just use stock photography of a holiday setting. A stock up sale email could be focused on case sales and offer a limited time discount opportunity. Alternatively, you could send a Happy Holidays email to your best customers to thank them for their business. Give them a friends & family code so they will share with friends and ultimately help you get more customers.

Social media can help you not only get to your customers, but they can help you spread the word by sharing your holiday sale or offer with their friends. Special discount codes just for Facebook and/or Twitter users help you track the source of these orders, and incentives like small gifts with purchases or prizes can work to get people to engage. This is the time when many brands will share holiday recipes, pairings and entertaining tips on Facebook. You can share your own favorite pairings with your wines and ask your fans to post theirs on your page. Over on Twitter, using holiday hashtags will help you get more brand exposure. i.e: #Holiday #TurkeyDay #Halloween #NYE #Xmas. Don’t be afraid to lend your expertise and engage in holiday wine pairing conversations.

It is easy to forget sometimes that the simplest and best solution can be just picking up the phone. Prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an ideal time to call your best customers, thank them for the business, ask them how they liked your wines and ask them if they would like to replenish their wine supply. Strengthen your relationship, show that you care and make it easy for them to re-order with you over the phone. The holidays can be a great excuse to make this call.

Direct mailers, flyers, letters or postcards can also cut through the clutter in today’s online world. Include a limited time discount code, just for a select group of ‘preferred customers’. If you choose to send a letter, show that you know what they have ordered in the past and personalize it as much as you can. This is also a great opportunity to share news and information (perhaps about this year’s vintage, awards/accolades, new varietals, etc).

Don’t forget to add holiday trimmings to your website. There is nothing better to get people thinking about their wine holiday needs than having a holiday image on your site.   But even if you don’t want to change the images, adding a simple line of text can help too. Including shipping deadlines in time for the holidays, mention that they make great gift ideas, and that you are only a phone call away to help customers plan the right pairings, or wine selections for that corporate event, can all spur people to increase their orders, and plan now for the holidays.

There are so many ways to get the most out of the holiday season. Now is the time to sit down and plan out what you will do and how you will maximize this opportunity.