Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marketing and Social What?

Well here we are in a new year; Cedar River Cellars 3rd vintage is in the barrel, and our 2nd is soon to be in the bottle. It has been a month or so since my last post and truthfully, I have had few topics flow across my brainwaves that was worthy of digital print.  
But alas, a topic has started to stir around and I thought I better put it down. Cedar River Cellars is a business that manufactures and sells wine. In 2012, my thoughts are strong on how we can improve our marketing strategy. Our business plan is written with a sense of local community support and to be the neighborhood winery, for Renton (and surrounding Cedar River townships) wine shops, restaurants, and for wine consumers to enjoy.

We have had very positive support from our local shops and neighbors. However we can do better!

The 2012 Objective:

How to gain more customers and in turn sell more wine?

How do we get more of our neighbors to seek the winery out and purchase direct?

How can we engage our consumers on a social media level and get more response?

Is the answer to make a better? You bet!

To make more donations? Maybe, if that draws more folks to the winery and creates repeat business.

Participate in more tastings? Possibly, but we’ll also be smarter at choosing the tasting events we pour. No more wine events without a wine shop on site, or at least only do one or two. We are too small to be pouring wine for events without an opportunity to sell wine.

Make more online social interactions? Here is where I have a bit of bug up my arse. There have been a few posts on wine critic web sites recently (as of this writing) and in the past about how wineries need to do more social media interaction or possibly do it better. Cedar River Cellars was social before we had wine to sell. We got our potential customers engaged on Facebook, we went to wine events without wine to pour, we engaged in comments on wine blogs, etc.

Now here is the bug wiggling around in my previously stated arse...All these critics and wine bloggers out there get pissed off about wineries not engaging with consumers on a social level, but when our customers are not "liking" us or "following" us or "yelping" about us, we are just shouting into the Ethernet. Thus we are not able to respond to comments, questions etc. to get a dialog going. At every one of our tasting events we did in 2011, we asked consumers to 'like' us on Facebook, to check out our website, sign up for our email newsletter and to get involved with our brand by re-telling our story. The point is…social media is a two-way street! The consumers need to interact with our postings or else it just feels like a waste of time and bandwidth.

Example, I was having a great conversation with three ladies at a recent wine tasting. We were talking about the brand, how wine is made, even talking about my passion for motorcycling. One of the ladies husbands was a biker so we exchanged motorcycle stories. I sold them a bottle of our 2009 Bella Bella Syrah which they drank at the table. We engaged in more conversation, they took marketing materials, signed up on the mailing list, and took business cards. But in the end, none of them joined our Facebook or Twitter feeds...and this seems to be a very common theme.

In 2012 we plan on getting our email newsletter up and running with a goal of sending an update on a monthly basis.

We will continue having engaging conversations on Facebook and Twitter. We will be asking for feedback, thoughts and comments from our customers on these social media outlets and not just from our site, but other wine bloggers/critics/wineries sites.

We plan on sticking with our wine tasting events but as mentioned be more selective with the events we pour out to ensure it is worth our time.

Even though it’s not a large space for entertaining we will increase our open-house times at the winery and drive customers directly to us.

Getting our customers to "Like" and "Follow" us at the point of engagement. Maybe by offering some form of incentive for a future purchase.

I would love to hear some ideas from our customers on what we can do better. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, email, phone, winery…you get the idea.