News and marketing for California's coastal vineyards, wineries and food producers.
I write blogs and manage social media for small wineries and artisan food producers in California's beautiful Central Coast region. I have 20 years of experience in wine hospitality and sales. I create customized marketing plans, and provide copywriting, marketing, and media outreach to wine and food artisans. I love my job.
If you'd like to find out more about how to become part of Central Coast Wine Blogs, feel free to contact me any time. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll look forward to hearing from you soon!
Central Coast Wine Blogs provides a full spectrum of services from management outsourcing to individual marketing tasks.
Although I specialize in artisan food and wine accounts, I also engage with a variety of clients and tasks. I've done everything from working on a website about semiotics to drafting an e-book for a former NFL star.
Fermentation Tom Wark's wine industry blog is THE lodestone for common sense reporting, opinion, controversy, legal battles and public commentary.
The Winery Web Site Report Mike Duffy's FREE advice on how to improve your customers' website experience, sales conversion, and loyalty.
Think Wine Marketing The best blog out there for wineries (and food producers) to learn how to market, blog, innovate, and mine social media
ViralVines Wine, wineries, and social media ... how to communicate with customers, industry, and sales channels, and have fun doing it!
Wine Berserkers More industry participants than any other wine forum, with dedicated sub-forums for wine production and wine sales discussions. Registration is free. Industry links encouraged. Use your real name, please.
Last month I was selected by Tripbase as one of the top ten bloggers in their World Wine category. Please bear with me as I do a little chest-thumping, because my real intent is to share with you how you can make your blog impactful.
Now this is marketing! It's fun, edgy, satirical, and the name of the wine is mentioned over and over again. Check it out!
Congrats to everyone on the cast and crew. I thought Whitney was great, so lovable. Austin rocks, and it was clear that everyone was having a good time. But I have to say my favorites are Jorge and Cesar. They crack me up.
Visit Dina Mande's site Juice Ideas for behind the scenes photos and more creative ideas on how to market your wine.
When customers flock to your tasting room this coming festival weekend, whether they buy one bottle or one hundred, you'll want each customer to become an ambassador for your brand—and that means giving them information.
I usually recommend to clients that you craft a postcard handout. Postcards, unlike full size tasting sheets or newsletters, can be affixed to refrigerators and bulletin boards. And they're inexpensive to print—make the first side full color for impact, and the back in black-in-white to save money. With a supply of postcards on hand, you can save your more expensive print newsletters for customers who buy $50-$100 or more. If you have a spare laptop, set it up in the tasting room so visitors can subscribe to your blog and leave comments while they are there. (You might want to cover the keyboard with a plastic protector.)
Make sure you've got all the winery contact information on your cards, including your winery blog address and Facebook or other social media identities. Your goal is to get people to visit your website, subscribe to your blog, become your friend/fan on Facebook, and otherwise subscribe for future contact.
Video advertising is a great way to promote your business or enhance your business blog.
Here's a short video clip produced for The Wine Line, and sent to us by Scot Burns at Redbarn Marketing in Paso Robles. Scot is a San Luis Obispo homeboy, with some serious marketing chops from his career sojourn in The City that includes accounts like Red Bull ... always a favorite with crush pad survivors! Scot and his minions have a talent for getting right to the point, using humor and style to deliver punch for the small family businesses they love to represent.
Scot and the Redbarn inhabitants are also promoting this video clip through video hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo, and on the various groups, pages, and forums populating sites on Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. They've also been sending it out to blogs and discussion forums with an emphasis on food, wine, travel, hospitality and the central coast.
To be accessible to your existing customers and fan base
To build a larger fan base for your product
To network with wine industry contacts, including distributors, retailers and restaurants
Social media sites are for socializing! These are not appropriate venues for a hard-sell product pitch, or for consistent and annoying brand messages.
The really excellent news is that social media can both replace and supplement old-fashioned stumping.
Inter-personal contact has always been important in the wine industry. Wine pourings, charity events, ride-alongs with sales reps ... and of course, the tasting room. Anyone in sales or marketing in the industry will confirm that the personal connection is important. Wine is a fairly expensive luxury good and customers want to know the artisans behind the brand.
Social media gives wineries a golden opportunity to expand that personal connection. You can build a collection of friends and fans, contact them regularly with a personal 'wazzup' and be accessible on their favorite platforms. While it is not an appropriate avenue for hard sales, social media is just as important as personal appearances. In many ways, it's actually more effective because you can relate to your customers on their schedule, and not on yours. Instead of a once-every-six-months appearance at a wine bar, you are accessible at any time.
We asked Mike: What are the 5 most important things a winery website should have?
In no particular order:
1. A clear call to action
Although I've said that you need to make it easy for people to do what they came to do (visitor effectiveness), you should also tell them clearly what you would like them to do: buy some wine, visit, sign up for the newsletter, or join your club. Pick one or at most, two actions, and be clear about the benefits for a visitor if they take that action.
2. An easy way to update and change information on the site
This encourages freshness and experimentation. If you don't experiment, you can't make your site better or take advantage of the moment. For example, it's still the case that the websites of the Harvest Fair Grand Prize winners generally don't get updated for several days after they win, which misses the chance to sell to visitors who come to the website on the day the winners are announced in the paper.
3. A webtender
The best winery websites have someone who spends a lot of time thinking about how to make them better. This is hard for small wineries, where there are almost never enough people, and it's largely considered irrelevant at large wineries, where the impact of the website is tiny compared to the importance of good distribution.
4. Interesting copy
Can we just lose the marketing-speak on winery websites? You don't believe it when you read it on other websites, why do you expect someone to believe it on your winery website?
If you can't measure what's going on, then it's nearly impossible to improve your site. How many people visit your site each day? How many of them are return visitors? Where do most people start their visit to your site? (It's not necessarily the home page, thanks to modern search engines). What pages are most popular?
Google Analytics is free, and helps to answer all of these questions.
Of course, I could add a bunch of basic things like "the winery phone number at the top of every page" and "a good picture of your bottle or label on your home page."
The following article is the second of a three-part interview with Mike Duffy, author of The Winery Web Site Report. Mike's impressive career spans design and development of successful software companies (and their products) and equity venture firms.
We asked Mike: What are the five top mistakes that wineries make in web design?
Mistake #1: It's all about me.
Probably the #1 mistake is making the site all about the winery (look at me!), and not all about what a visitor wants to accomplish when they visit (how can I help you?). Visitors arrive at your website with a goal already in mind. The harder you make it for them to achieve that goal, the less satisfied they will be, and the less likely you will establish a relationship with them. You've got to think like a visitor.
My premise is that there are four types of visitors to a winery website: 1. Someone who wants to buy wine right now (buyers) 2. Someone who wants information about your wines (browsers) 3. Someone who wants to sell your wine (distributors, retailer, restaurants—the trade) 4. Someone who wants to tell others about your wine (the media)
In each case, your primary site navigation needs to get them to the right place—a page focused on addressing their specific needs—with one click. Most sites tend to ignore (3) and (4), although I've seen slow progress in the past couple of years.
Mistake #2: Stagnant as an old pond
The #2 mistake is neglecting the site. Most winery webssites are only updated when there's a new release. People search the web for information, and that makes your web presence key. It's annoying to visit a site which doesn't look like it's been updated in 5 years. For example, ConnValley Vineyards has the exact same home page as when I evaluated the site in 2005. The front page of your website should always feel fresh. One pet peeve I have is a winery home page that trumpets an event two weeks in the past.
Part of the reason that wineries neglect their sites is that they don't have an easy way to make modifications to the site.
Mistake #3: Lack of useful information
Lack of comprehensive information. Ideally, you should have a product page about every wine your winery has ever released. If a visitor can buy it, a big "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" button should be visible. If it's not available, "Sold Out" does no harm. If you make wines to age, it's useful to place results from your most recent library tasting of the wine. If you have library wines available, this is a good place to capture e-mail addresses from people who might want to order them.
Mistake #4: Awkward e-commerce
# 4 goes to all the crappy e-commerce experiences out there. How can you expect people to buy if you make them register first, or you make it unattractive, or generally get in the way of people who actually want to buy wine? People obsess about the Flash intros to their site, but then theysettle for a clunky third-party shopping cart. If you care about selling wine online, the add-to-cart-and-check-out experience must be close to perfect. This is not rocket science.
Mistake #5: Kissing your customers goodbye
Failure to capture an e-mail address for follow-up contact. Of course, you may need to sell this request—people won't willingly give up their personal information without some incentive. Do they get a newsletter? Special deals? Be specific. If there's a newsletter, let them look at the last issue (or better, all of the past issues). Some wineries don't manage list-building in their tasting rooms very well, either.
Mike's impressive career spans the design and development of successful software companies (and their products) and equity venture firms.
We asked Mike:Why did you start The Winery Website Report blog?
I started the blog in 2005 as part of marketing The Winery Website Report, a custom report which evaluated the visitor effectiveness of a winery's website.
We had 25 rating elements, and provided a comparison of a specific winery to the aggregate data we collected from a review of over 2,800 winery websites. We segmented our data by case production, so that a winery could see how it stacked up against similarly-sized wineries.
Other industries are willing to pay for that kind of information, but wineries? Not so much.
What I've finally figured out (a little late) is that most wineries don't make a lot of money from their websites (perhaps 2-5% of total sales), and so they aren't willing to invest much effort in it.
CCWB: Are wineries keeping pace with web design and internet marketing compared to other industries?
As a whole, no. Of course, I don't think wineries need to have the latest and greatest Flash/AJAX/Web-2.0-goodness.
I think that most wineries would see more benefit from spending effort on just executing the tried-and-true.
Have an attractive, easy-to-use site with clear navigation. Give people a reason to give you their email address and then stay in touch with them. If there's anything a person would want to know about your wines or winery, make sure it's on your website so that search engines can find it and index it. When you get emails, answer them. Track results. Update your home page once a month.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and wondering why you get the same result.
If you want to see different results, you need to be able to measure that difference, and you need to experiment.
If there's anyone out there selling tons of wine through their website, I wish they would speak up so that people could see what really works. Of course, if I were selling tons of wine online, I'd probably keep it a secret, too. :)
Coming up, Mike will discuss the: Top 5 Winery Website Mistakes and Five Top Things Every Winery Website Should Have.
Your winery website may be beautiful, but is it functional?
Or ... maybe you think it's functional, but is it attractive?
A website for a luxury product must be both attractive and effective. You don't want to frustrate readers looking for information, and at the same time you don't want an over-engineered site that is crowded, dark, or a maze of information.
Your website should have:
A clear message to BUY on the home page. There should be a link stating "Buy Now" or "Order Form" on the navigation bar and front page.
A clear link to wine club or mailing list sign up forms. If you expect people to click or explore the site to find this information you will lose customers.
Contact information on the home page.
Clear navigation. This means a visible, attractive navigation bar and enough options on the nav bar that readers don't have to click on 'About Us' or 'Wine' to find contact and ordering information. Give each commonly requested action its own link.
Vineyard and wine descriptions should each have their own pages and their own links on the navigation bar. Publish these pages in .pdf format so customers and retailers can easily print this information.
An attractive, clean, bright format. Avoid dark or busy backgrounds and complicated or light fonts; they are hard to read. If you want to use a dark color, use it as a background behind a white or neutral box for the text.
A balanced layout. Space information boxes and photos appropriately. You don't want to have all your text boxes and photos crammed together as if they are tired and holding each other up on the page. A sloppy and cramped layout implies that you can't afford much internet real estate.
Smart use of space. In journalism and advertising, there is a concept known as "white space". It's a powerful thing. Make sure that your most important messages are surrounded by a lot of space. Leave space above and below your navigation bar to help it stand out.
Judicious use of color. Pastel colors are generally a turn off for luxury goods, unless you're selling high-profile baby clothes. If your winery theme is pastel, use your colors sparingly in small banners and lines for impact. And maybe use colors a shade or two darker that mimic your winery theme but have a little more contrast when viewed on a computer screen. Bright colors have more sales impact, but can also be overused. You don't want to come across as a vego-matic commercial. An elegant and readable presentation usually requires a white or neutral background; an elegant, expansive font; smart use of color and space; and a balanced layout and spacing.
Eye-catching photos. Vineyard landscapes and barrel rooms are very pretty. But they're also overdone. Include some attractive shots of your winery facility and vineyard, but also include action photos of people at work, and portraits of employees and/or owners.
Next up, we will visit with Mike Duffy of The Winery Website Report and get the skinny on how to modernize your website, and how to design a website that is competitive in today's internet marketplace.
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