Content Marketing for Wineries? I Don't Think So!
By Courtney Holmes
Ask anybody - I am a huge, HUGE fan of content marketing, but not for wineries. It sounds like a contradiction given that we do wine marketing, but it is not. Think of it this way - you wouldn't market Coca Cola the same way that you would market a vehicle or accounting software, now would you? For those of you who are unsure - content marketing is driving sales via content like articles, video, webinars, podcasts and infographics. This work is mainly done via the web, but is not limited to the web.
Newspapers and radio were the first content marketers. But they weren't driving revenue for the business with content, but driving business for the advetisers. Now its 2013 - instead of advertising, businesses are creating their own content to drive traffic to their websites. For simplicities sake, we will stop there.
Wine Marketing: Think Backwards
A lot of businesses jump on the bandwagon of the newest marketing tool - but it doesn't mean it will meet their business objectives. At the very least - it may not be the most fruitful effort for reaching their goals.
When thinking of the best strategy for growing your wine sales per year, think backwards. What drives the most revenue for your business? Where would you like to earn a larger share of your winery's sales from?
Most wineries will say wine club memberships are the most lucrative and the most important to their business. Now, if that is the most important element to your business you need to think about where those "conversions" - the point at which someone signs up for the wine club - most often happen. From our experience with wineries it happens either in the tasting room or after visiting the tasting room. So marketing efforts need to be focused on driving people to the tasting room and making sure they convert to a wine club member in the tasting room or after.
In our humble opinion - and please comment to this blog post if you disagree - content marketing is fantastic for increasing organic search engine rankings, building trust in a big purchase decisions and building leads. A winery's best oportunity to bring someone to their tasting room is not going to be organic search results - but the Google Local Search results. As our last post reported, 48% of the total clicks are on local search results.
Content marketing increases organic listings, not so much local. Focus on getting onto the local listings. Hire someone to do you local SEO setup and start getting your customers to review you on sites likes Yelp and Google local (we have an app for that). This way when someone searches on Google or Yelp - your winery will show as a local business and if you have good reviews, they will stop by your tasting room. I know what you are thinking - she supports local SEO because she sells those services. But we could just as easily do content marketing for wineries - we could charge a lot more and it would be a much longer commitment. But it is not the best use of winery's marketing budget, so we do promote these services to wineries.
When Content Marketing Works for Wineries
Content marketing can be very valuable when your tasting staff has collected those precious email addresses from visitors. They may have not yet committed to your wine club but would be interested in joining after they have finished their tasting travels.
So now you want to convert them into a wine club member. Convert them by sending them great content via email. We highly recommend video via email because it can be so much more intimate and it continues the experience that the tasting room delivered. And you will really stand apart from the all wineries they visited. This content is fantastic for repurposing on social media and on your blog. But the primary purpose is to make it easy for them to sign up for your wine club. Not for fun or the glamour of it, but because it will drive your winery's business goals.
But before you make a whole production, make sure you are generating optimal tasting room traffic and getting as many email addresses as possible (BTW - we have a great tool for capturing email addressses). After you have all those ducks in a row, then move onto creating great content.
But What about Gary Vanyerchuck?
Gary is the founder of Wine Library TV, and he came from the wine retail business, not a winery. It works very different for wine retailers and distributors than it does for wineries. We highly encourage online wine retailers and distributors to get heavily into wine content marketing - because their value is quiet different for the consumer than the winery's wine club. For one, distributors have to somehow efficiently convey the value of each new brand to the retailer - so that the retailer can feel confident that they can move it. And the same goes for the online retailer, they need to somehow convey value without ever having their clients taste the wine (presumably). And novelty is a big part of the value, whereas for wineries it comes down to experience and great customer service.
And online wine retailers (not wineries) need to somehow get found online via search engines - and content marketing is the way to go if you want to reach the ranks in Google if the business is not a location based business.