Dixie Lee Huey
 

Marketing Matters

by Dixie Lee Huey
 
 
 

 

Marketing Matters

 
January 2011
 

Managing Direct Consumer Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 

There have been some particularly hot challenge topics in the industry during the past few years—distributor consolidation, price pressure, brand proliferation and, of course, the economy. These trends and the down part of the economic cycle are real, and in an acute way they necessitate a focus on marketing-driven sales strategies. Wishful thinking, status quo and avoidance do not sell wine. Thankfully, proactive measures do, especially when implemented on a consistent basis, measured and improved for maximum efficacy.

 
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Marketing Matters

 
March 2010
 

Wineries Urged to Use Mobile Devices  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
A keynote address and a breakout session at the 2010 Direct to Consumer Symposium emphasized that winery marketers must include mobile communications as a key element in their promotion and sales plans. The Jan. 19 event, in a new location at the Hyatt Vineyard Square in Santa Rosa, drew an overflow audience of about 300, mostly representing California wineries large and small, plus another 100 staffing the well-attended trade show.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
January 2010
 

Selecting Software for Direct Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Major changes in the wine industry during the past 20 years—including increased competition, the growth of e-commerce and wholesale consolidation—mean that having a solid plan for direct-to-consumer sales is a necessity for most wineries. Selecting and implementing supporting software not only helps open and manage sales channels, it also serves as an important tool for evaluating business performance. Direct-to-consumer software should ultimately help wineries create operational efficiency and gain a better understanding of—and ability to market to—current and potential customers.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
June 2009
 

Five Mistakes New Wineries Make  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
We've all heard the joke about making a small fortune in the wine industry, where the owner starts with a larger one and loses money. Launching a wine business is a tremendous undertaking, given the complexities of agricultural planning, production, regulation and compliance, marketing and sales and the unexpected hurdles that appear along the way. Some owners have the luxury of starting with that fortune, but many others add financial pressure and strain to the new business blend. In either case, there are five critical mistakes to avoid when launching the business. Even if yours is an established brand, implementing the recommendations below can help you become more efficient and effective.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
April 2009
 

How to Engage Millennials  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
'Millennial' was the No. 1 buzzword at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium this year, and the topic on everyone's mind was how to reach the tech-savvy generation. According to a study presented by Wine Market Council president John Gillespie, nearly half of millennials surveyed say they consumed more wine in 2008 than they had the year before, and their consumption continues to grow, even as the industry's overall sales volume slows.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
March 2009
 

How Smart Marketers Capitalize on Festivals

 

We've all been there. Languishing behind a skirted table inside a tented pavilion that's growing steamier by the moment, bottles of new releases half-empty and spit buckets nearly overflowing. An over-served consumer leans over your table, thrusting his glass forward.

 
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Marketing Matters

 
November 2008
 

Co-Op Advertising Can Stretch Ad Dollars  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Wine and cheese. Wine and chocolate. Wine and tourism? If you are not blending wine and tourism, you should be. Wine is the most elegant and marketable of all agricultural products. I once heard a spirited debate between a vineyard owner and a university extension agent, in which the vineyard owner said: "Soybeans are not sexy, wine is."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
August 2008
 

Finger Lakes Makes Match With Riesling

 
Finger Lakes Wine
 
Dr. Konstantin Frank, an immigrant from Ukraine, is credited with bringing Riesling to the Finger Lakes region of New York in the 1950s. Convinced the cold-resistant vinifera would thrive when grafted to native rootstock, he planted Riesling in his vineyard (above) in Hammondsport, N.Y.
 
Stags Leap Cabernet. Oregon Pinot Noir. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Will Finger Lakes Riesling be the next wine marketed as a geo-grape?
 
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Marketing Matters

 
July 2008
 

Bringing Wine Home

 
Wine on Airplanes
 
Foldable cardboard boxes from the Spirited Shipper (left), and the bubble-cushioned Wine Mummy (right), provide options for traveling wine drinkers looking for a way to get new bottles home.
 
Since 2006, when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopted regulations limiting to 3 ounces the amount of liquids passengers could carry onto a plane, vacationers visiting tasting rooms--and the wineries that want their business--have been forced to get creative.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
June 2008
 

Online Surveys Encourage Feedback  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Online Winery Surveys
 
Customers completing online surveys prefer multiple-choice questions--the fewer the better.
 
If you're wondering how you can sell more wine, draw more people to winery events or get members to stay in your wine club longer, there's an easy way to find the answers you seek: Ask your customers what they want. A decade ago this meant asking people to fill out comment cards in the tasting room, or getting them to answer and mail back paper surveys. Even if you managed to get some completed forms back, some poor sucker at the winery then had to go through them and tally the results--if he could even read respondents' handwriting. Chances are, the survey forms sat in a pile on someone's desk for a few weeks before being shuffled to another stack and forgotten.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
May 2008
 

New Websites Increase Direct Sales Prospects  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Winery direct sales
 
Online wine sellers are exploring different business models that cater to tech-savvy wine drinkers and generate business and name recognition for smaller wineries.
 
For my column in the June 2007 Wines & Vines issue, I highlighted the sales benefits of one-deal-per-day websites such as wine.woot.com and radcru.com. Since that story ran, new websites have entered the game, mainly in the "multiple-winery marketplace" category. Some take orders on behalf of participating wineries and ship the wines themselves, while others simply act as links to winery websites or retailers.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
April 2008
 

Retain Members With Creative Club Events  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Wine Club
Hiring a caterer for wine club events can take the pressure off winery staff and provide fresh ideas, like this "Asian Street Food" festival catered by Wine Country Chefs.
 
With thousands of wineries across North America competing for customers, it's no longer enough to invite wine club members to the occasional winemaker dinner. Chances are, the winery down the road is doing the same thing--and maybe a lot more--for its members.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
March 2008
 

Selling in Domestic 'Export' Markets  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Those of us who live in California tend to believe that our views and preferences are shared by people in the rest of the country. The wake-up call usually comes when we travel to the Midwest or the East, where we're suddenly reminded that not everyone votes Democrat/supports gay marriage/eats raw fish. As it turns out, the same applies to wine: While we Californians assume that consumers in Illinois and New York share our preference for Napa Valley Cabernets and Sonoma Coast Pinots, it ain't necessarily so.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
February 2008
 

The 'Old-Vine' Dilemma  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Old-Vine Dilema
Three iconic old vine Zinfandel brands sourced from vines planted as long ago as 1884.
 
The term "old-vine" has long sparked debate within the wine industry. Some say the term should be left in its current, unregulated state--after all, who wants more labeling rules? Others argue that without a legal definition, the term is reduced to meaningless marketing babble, like "reserve" and "vintner's select."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
January 2008
 

The ABCs of Making Account Sales Calls

 
In the Broadway play-turned-movie "Glengarry Glen Ross," there is a gem of a sales monologue: "ABC! A: Always. B: Be. C: Closing. Always be closing. Always. Be. Closing!" While sales manager Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) is harsh and quite crude in the delivery of his selling tactics message, his ABC acronym can be expanded to include key points that wineries should consider when selling to accounts.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
January 2008
 

Tasting Room Glassware Goes Upscale  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Tasting Room Glassware Goes Upscale
Duckhorn Vineyards opts for varietal-specific Reidel Extreme stemware for its high-end Estate tastings.
 
As recently as the late '90s, most winery tasting rooms in the United States offered samples in standard Libbey-style wine glasses. You know the ones: short stem, small bowl, sturdy as a brick--and just about as sexy. However, as wineries discovered the merits of varietal-specific glasses--such as those made by Riedel, Spiegelau and Eisch--they began replacing the old standbys with upscale models.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
December 2007
 

Winery Podcasts Can Boost Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
As a follow-up to last month's column on podcast advertising, I'd like to highlight another podcasting option: producing your own. Instead of sponsoring someone else's program, you can create one that fits your particular needs and interests. Website visitors can either click "play" to hear the program through their computer speakers, or download the podcast to an MP3 player for on-demand listening.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
November 2007
 

Podcast Advertising: E-Media's New Wave  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Podcast Advertising: E-Media's New Wave
Hosts Leigh Older, Brian Clark and Jay Selman (left to right) taste and talk on GrapeRadio
 
Now that everyone's up to speed on the Internet and blogs (you are, aren't you?), it's time to explore new ­techie territory. While websites and electronic newsletters are great vehicles for promoting your wines at very little cost, it's sometimes necessary to take that extra step: advertising. Yes, I know: The big wine magazines are too expensive for most small wineries, television is even more cost-prohibitive and radio, while affordable, tends to reach a general, rather than a targeted, audience. That's why forward-thinking marketers are turning to alternative media options, like podcast advertising.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
October 2007
 

Wine Competitions That Help You Sell

 
Wine Competitions That Help You Sell
 
Each year, dozens of regional, national and international wine competitions offer wineries the chance to win fame and fortune for their brands. Get a gold medal in an influential competition and your wine could soon be flying off store shelves. For many wineries, however, it's just not feasible--or even desirable--to enter more than a couple of competitions each year. With all the different contests out there, what's the best selection strategy?
 
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Marketing Matters

 
September 2007
 

How to Set Up a Media Sample Program  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Everyone knows that reviews and ratings help sell wine. But with hundreds of wine writers across the country--not to mention a growing legion of wine bloggers--which ones should you target for sample mailings? This decision is particularly important for wineries with limited production and distribution. Is it better to cover all the bases, or to hand-select a smaller number of recipients for each new release?
 
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Marketing Matters

 
August 2007
 

Get More Out of Your Winery Blog  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
When we published our first story on winery blogs in late 2005, only about a dozen U.S. vintners had taken the plunge. In less than two years, however, the number of winery blogs has jumped to more than 50, according to the Winery Web Site Report (blog.winerywebsitereport.com).
 
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Marketing Matters

 
July 2007
 

Top Editors on What Makes A Great Wine Story  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but a "great story" in the eyes of a winery owner or PR director is not always the wine media's idea of compelling copy. Judging by the number of misguided press releases I receive on a weekly basis (one recent example was addressed "Dear Alan,") many wineries could use some help honing a good pitch.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
June 2007
 

One-Wine-Per-Day Websites Build Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
David Studdert
David Studdert, managing director of Wine Country Connect, selects wines and handles fulfillment and logistics for Texas-based wine.woot.com, which sells "packs" of wines from a single winery each week.
Photo: Courtesy of Sonoma Index Tribune
 
Most small-production winery owners have realized that the Internet can be an essential sales tool, and are taking steps to drive consumer traffic to their winery websites. While this is certainly a good strategy, a new breed of wine-sales website offers a cost-effective way for wineries to expand their online reach beyond their own home pages.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
May 2007
 

Tips for Selling Wine Directly to Retailers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
For small wineries in states like California and Washington, selling directly to retailers is not just an elusive dream, it's a legitimate option. While many states still do not allow direct-to-retail sales, opportunities are increasing (see box below). Direct selling can be beneficial to boutiques and start-ups by allowing them to keep profits that would normally go to distributors, and it gives them a chance to hand-select the retailers that sell their wines.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
April 2007
 

Strategies for Effective E-Newsletters  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
I receive a lot of electronic newsletters from wineries, but don't always take the time to read them. The ones that get dumped into my trash file, unread, are typically guilty of one or more of the following sins: too long, too sales-oriented or just plain ugly. My least favorite comes from a winery whose sole strategy is to convey its latest Parker triumph. As soon as I see the subject line, which usually reads something like, "92 points from Parker!!!", I reach for the delete key.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
March 2007
 

Building Loyalty With Customer Blending  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
As wine consumption in the U.S. increases, consumers are taking more of a hands-on interest in the fruit of the vine. No longer content to simply taste wine, a growing segment of the wine-drinking population wants to try its hand at making it. In response to this trend, marketing-savvy wineries are starting to offer blend-your-own-wine programs that let consumers play "winemaker for a day."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
February 2007
 

All-American Wine Lists Highlight Small Producers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
For the October issue of Wines & Vines, I asked five of the nation's top restaurant wine directors to describe their lists, from the number of selections to varietals and regions. I was a bit surprised to learn that the percentage of American wines offered on their lists ranged from just 10% to 30%. Even the San Francisco restaurant--just a one-hour drive from the Napa Valley--devoted 80% of its list to non-U.S. wines.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
January 2007
 

Millennial Marketing: Beyond Names and Labels  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
There's been a lot of discussion lately about the need to market wine to adult Millennials (loosely defined as those born after 1981). By way of various industry studies and conference presentations, wine marketers have been repeatedly warned not to ignore this generation, and the message is starting to sink in.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
December 2006
 

Growers Need Marketing, Too  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
When people in the wine industry talk about marketing, they're usually applying the term to finished bottles of wine. But vintners aren't the only ones who need to worry about marketing--it's essential for growers, too.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
November 2006
 

Is it Time to Join the Club?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Many small and used-to-be small wineries have reaped significant benefits from selling their wine to third-party club managers, who then ship it out to their growing lists of connoisseurs, thirsty for more exposure to wines that are not in broad distribution. There are a bazillion of these clubs, it seems. How do you choose? Or, more importantly, how do you become chosen?
 
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Marketing Matters

 
October 2006
 

What's so Bad About Sweet Wine?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Sweet wines
At the 2006 Ohio Wine Festival, Ohio winemakers sold $204,000 worth of bottled wine--almost 70% had 3% residual sugar or more, attesting to the endurance of America's collective sweet tooth.
 
Parker Carlson, owner and winemaker of Carlson Vineyards outside Palisade, Colo., just loves to hear customers in his winery's tasting room walk in and proclaim, "Oh, I only drink dry."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
September 2006
 

Why Your Story Must Be Credible  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The winery website equivalent of the "About Us" link is the one that reads "Our Story."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
August 2006
 

We're No. 2!  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
At a quick glance, the market for Merlot would seem to be healthy. As participants learned at the seventh annual "Merlot in May," held at Sterling Vineyards in Napa, Merlot remains the most popular red wine in the United States. Based on supermarket scanner data for the 52 weeks ending Mar. 19 of this year, 8 million cases of Merlot were sold, with a value of $575 million, compared to 6.6 million cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a value of $556 million. Merlot represented 11.5% of all table wine sold during that period.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
July 2006
 

Are Big Tastings Worthwhile?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Many small wineries attend large tastings such as those conducted by the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), Family Winemakers and Hospice du Rhône, without a clear idea of what they hope to gain from the effort. For many, frankly, it's fun and a chance to see old friends. After all, if they wanted to work all the time, why not stay in the software or banking business instead of making wine?
 
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Marketing Matters

 
June 2006
 

Tasting Room Strategies For Small Wineries  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Tasting Room Strategies For Small Wineries
The smiling faces of the tasting room staff greet 25,000-30,000 visitors each year at Oregon's Argyle Winery.
 
Whether a tasting room is set among lush vineyards or in a downtown storefront, attracting visitors is a priority for every winery. For smaller wineries that fly below the tourist radar and have limited advertising budgets, it's even more important. Through a variety of techniques--from word-of-mouth marketing to selecting the right merchandise--lesser-known wineries can effectively attract and retain a strong visitor base.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
May 2006
 

Relaunching Brand Carneros  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Relaunching Brand Carneros
 
The concept of repackaging or relaunching isn't limited to brands or products within a brand line. Case in point: earlier this year, the Carneros Quality Alliance made the decision to relaunch one of California's oldest American Viticultural Areas, first created in 1983. The relaunch included a new logo and a new name--Carneros Wine Alliance, (CWA) as well as a new executive director and new board members.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
April 2006
 

Product Placement: Make Your Wine A Star  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Product Placement: Make Your Wine A Star
He's a fan. "Prison Break" star Rockmond Dunbar chose Clos du Val wines for his birthday party, and told the world about it.
 
Imagine turning on the TV and watching your wine being poured by a trend-setting actor on "Sex and the City" or "Freddie." Or how about a bottle shot of your top vintage in "Meet the Fockers" or "Something's Got to Give?"
 
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Marketing Matters

 
March 2006
 

The Wine Find Label  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Here's one you've heard before. Guy walks into a wine shop--in some versions, guy walks into a restaurant-- and says: "I'd like to get a couple of bottles of a real good red wine I had last week at my cousin's house in Chula Vista."
 
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Marketing Matters

 
February 2006
 

Marketing Your Brand  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Most of us are familiar with the "SC Johnson--a family company" tagline. After all, the producer of Ziploc®, Windex®, OFF!® and other well-known brands certainly is not shy about its family roots. Hard-to- miss advertisements, TV commercials and product labels stress that this is not an anonymous corporation but a likable enterprise, managed and nurtured by family members who are not afraid to associate themselves closely with their products.
 
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Marketing Matters

 
January 2006
 

Seasonal Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
If you've lately felt that selling wine to prime restaurant and retail accounts is tougher than selling ice cream to Eskimos, maybe you're not spending enough time watching the weather channel.
 
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