OK, this might not be Everything You Need to Know to mobile dominance and having a winery app, but it’s a darn good start. We started this project long before the commerce apocalypse that is 2020. We started because a digital connection to your “tribe” was growing in importance. 2020 has made it absolutely vital.Let’s coin a phrase and define it. Let’s talk about the Small independent Winery (SiW). So, we aren’t talking about the million case a year crowd that does most of their business through typical three tier distribution. Those players do represent a huge volume of the wine sold, but actually represent a small percentage of wineries. Most wineries are much smaller. They’re independently (and very often family) owned. They are entrepreneurs. SiW’s exist to deliver their passion, not just a product, to their customers. Wine isn’t just the business to them, it’s a way of life.
In Series 1: Episode 10 of The Wine Show, Matthew Rhys so astutely observes
This is the essence of the SiW. And thus, the tricky bit, is how to share that with your tribe.
Let’s take a minute and think about the tribe. In the wine world, we often think of this as the wine club, and that is a good approximation. In reality, the tribe is probably a little bigger than that. Think about it, there is a collection of customers that are regular buyers of wines from an SiW, but for some reason hasn’t joined the wine club. Very often, it’s because they are loyal to a region versus being loyal to a specific winery. We live in Colorado and have a bias to Colorado wines (yes there are some very good Colorado wines).But why is tribe so important? Consider the channels for an SiW. They may sell into distribution a bit (at reduced margins), hopefully they have some restaurant accounts (again with reduced margins), and then there is Direct To Consumer (DTC). DTC margins are the best by far. Wine has a distinct advantage as compared to beer and spirits here. Wineries can ship DTC! Tribe members don’t have to be (although they often are) frequent visitors to the tasting room.What does a tribe member look like? Here are some common attributes:
In essence, they are engaged with your brand via at least one, or more likely multiple, channels that you’ve provided for engagement. But why?Well, simply put, they like you. Of course, they likely like your wine, but it’s deeper than that. Think of it like this, you have a favorite coffee, or peanut butter, or yogurt, or whatever, but you don’t follow their social media, and certainly don’t visit them. Your tribe likes YOU and YOUR PRODUCT. That’s a powerful and important realization. The don’t just want your wine. They want a relationship with you.How the hell did that happen? There are so many different ways. They could have had an awesome experience with a tasting room associate during a visit. They could love when you post pictures of your winery dog on Instagram (yes that’s a powerful thing). They could have met you a festival or farmers market. They like who YOU are!They have what we call “relationship bias” built right into their pallet. We don’t have a university study to back this, but can see it our own wine preferences. We love the wines of Bonacquisti Wine Company. That has to be influenced by the very real fact that we like Paul Bonacquisti and Emily Diaz. The same can be said for Jayme Henderson and Steve Steese at The Storm Cellar, and Nicki McTague-Krugman at The Infinite Monkey Theorem, and Julie Pedroncelli St. John at Pedroncelli Winery, and Scott & Sherrie Hamilton at Red Fox Cellars, and the so many more that belong on this list. We are members of SO many tribes!Fact: SiW’s do anywhere from 50% to 80% of they’re revenue from their tribe.
If you have an SiW, we haven’t said anything you didn’t already know, at least at some level. So let’s get into some tactics that do a couple of things to:
1. Keep making your tasting room experience special and personal. While the zombie apocalypse has made this channel less effective than before, a true face-to-face personal experience is powerful. Don’t neglect this experience even though it may be less frequent.2. Make digital personal. Does your website tell the story of what brought you to wine? Does it have pictures of you and your team? Do you share details about the crew that you’d pick up in a casual conversation in the tasting room? Pictures of wine bottles and tasting notes are important, but they aren’t really why your tribe likes YOU.3. Don’t treat your website as the ONLY important digital channel. It just isn’t true, and the younger the tribe member is, the less your website matters. We know plenty of grandmas on Facebook. Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are all important too. We’d argue that Instagram and Facebook are table stakes for having a SiW. But you should probably also be on Twitter and YouTube. Social is more mobile than your website (though your website should absolutely be mobile friendly). 4. Don’t treat your digital channels as an afterthought. These are precisely how to stay in your tribe’s lives when they aren’t in the tasting room. Post regularly, make a schedule if you have to. It doesn’t have to be overly produced. It should be personal (they like YOU, not just your product). Being on their phone means you’re in their life.5. Seriously consider how to improve the shipping experience. Think about it. Someone has ordered your wine, and they get a box at home. How awesome can that opening be. Compare that to if they had made the same purchase in the tasting room. At a minimum they’d have a friendly and attentive team member interacting with them. Getting that box at home should have some personal connection. Hand written notes go a LONG WAY. Winery schwag is never unwelcome. A follow on communication thanking them and asking how they enjoyed it, is generally welcome and could turn into another sale. Invite them to share their opening videos. Relationships go two ways.6. YouTube? Really? Really. Video evokes more emotion than still photos, and can be a lot more personal (remember they like YOU, not just your product). As important, YouTube is more “durable” than posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. A social media post loses value pretty quickly as a function of time. The post falls deeper and deeper into your tribe’s stream until it loses all visibility. YouTube content can also be recycled as “new” posts on your other channels, so a single piece of YouTube content can be featured multiple times in your other channels. If you think YouTube is scary, there are experts, talk to one. It isn’t that hard. We recommend Anthony Prichard Communications. He’s not looking to run your channel. He wants to teach you how to do it for yourself.7. Have your own app. You say, we couldn’t afford that, we’re an SiW. That used to be true, but it isn’t anymore. The MyWineList.co platform was built specifically to give you an app at a price point that makes sense. It has direct communication, scheduling, wine club management, news feed (making your social content “durable”), virtual tasting (personal at distance), notifications, and of course, e-commerce for your wine line up. Drop us a note. We’d be glad to talk about it.
What have we missed? What else do you do to surprise and delight? Let us know! Oh, and we know this doesn’t just apply to wine. One thing at a time.