Winery Stories plus Follow-up lead to Sales!
I learn from my winery clients. I hope they occasionally say the same of me. I’ve been working with Tom Mortimer, founder/winegrower of Le Cadeau Vineyards, for over ten years, initially on the winery’s DTC programs, and now as a media relations consultant. Tom has a dry sense of humor and can be a bit of an enigma, he can also be provocative, but in a good way. He poses lots of open-ended questions such as “Aren’t these solutions looking for issues?” I love being challenged, and am crediting him for inspiring this article, and possibly coining the term “Cellar Share.” Let me explain.
Tom is a transactional guy. He understands the value of media communications and press coverage, winery brand building, and top of mind awareness. However, he wants to see direct correlation to wine sales, and can you blame him? As a winery publicist and media relations consultant, I take the position that getting press is not easily translatable to sales, and in fact, only indirectly affects sales.
In February 2022’s issue of Wine Business Monthly, Cyril Penn’s article “Wine Losing Share” is prescient. The article concludes that “taking share” is now the most important thing for wholesalers and retailers, who have the most clout in today’s marketplace. How do small to medium size producers combat that marketing clout? Storytelling. It is what small suppliers have that many large wineries don’t – the people, families, success and failure stories behind the brand. How do stories help me sell wine? Please read on.
Here is a traditional formula for Top-of-Mind Awareness marketing:
Impressions + Repetitions lead to Awareness, which leads to Trust. Trust eventually leads to Sales. This goes for advertising, media exposure, and just about anything you successfully do as a business. If you don’t put your stories out there, someone else will. And we all know how competitive the winery DTC landscape is these days.
I have had many clients ask me to translate our press achievements into sales. Being talked about by writers (there are exceptions) doesn’t necessarily lead to sales, and it’s hard to track. But wouldn’t you like to have your winery mentioned by Michael Alberty in The Oregonian, Michelle Williams in Forbes, or Meridith May in Somm Journal? Top of Mind Awareness is a constant and ongoing requirement to market wine, as consumers can be fickle and forgetful, and we don’t know when they will buy. But we want to be remembered whenever they are ready to experience your brand.
Here’s Tom’s formula for marketing to compare:
Mindshare, leads to Heartshare, leads to Cellarshare. I love this perspective, but Tom didn’t take it far enough. Here are his (paraphrased) comments to me – Yes, we got in front of wine media in lots of local and out of state markets. We tasted with them (and often with the restaurant Somms), and everyone was pleased and impressed with the wines. Yes, we collected lots of cards along the way, but we’re not sure whether it impacted our sales. The term Cellar Share suggests what all wineries want, which is to be a significant part of a collector’s inventory, or for that matter, part of any retailer’s stock of wines.
Here’s my modified formula for Marketing, Press Coverage and achieving Cellar Share:
Mindshare (Impressions + Repetitions), leads to Heartshare (Awareness + Trust), plus Follow-up, leads to Cellar Share (Sales + Loyalty). The missing action is the follow-up. That is, being covered by wine and travel media doesn’t directly translate into sales unless you take action, such as sharing the good press you receive, post it on social media, send a note of thanks to the writer, call the Somm you met, etc.
What keeps follow-up from happening? Smaller wineries are capacity constrained, and critical growing operations and production activities are always the priority. Tom astutely states, “Don’t start something that you can’t finish, and make sure that you finish what you start.” I agree, and this level of involvement should inform commitment to any media relations campaign. How? Let me explain.
Securing an audience with a writer (or Somm) is not enough. The winery shares responsibility for connecting with writers, influencers and buyers after the fact. Building your brand by obtaining earned media coverage is also not enough. Obtaining feature articles, itinerary based travel pieces, wine reviews and scores is just a start. I have heard from numerous writers and reviewers who invest time and effort to produce content, and then complain that many wineries don’t do anything with their articles and wine reviews. That is certainly a wasted opportunity. Please show content producers you value their work by incorporating and scheduling their content into your marketing programs.
Obtaining press coverage also implies responsibility, especially given the cost and time involved with vetting, communications and outreach, and the follow-up required to obtain these accolades. In other words, any time a writer visits your winery, tells your stories, and endorses your brand, you get exposure to their readers. The winery then has a reciprocal responsibility to acknowledge and amplify that media content. Thank them, and benefit from their efforts by posting, tagging, sharing and generally exposing your audience to theirs.
Whether your winery has a communication professional on staff, or you’re working with an PR agency, at the end of the day Storytelling plus Follow-up helps boost your chances to achieve the Cellar Share results you seek.
Interested in reading more about using press coverage in Content Marketing? Read Jim Gullo’s article from a journalist’s perspective, and click here to read the article I penned on the importance of content in driving winery recognition.