How To Market Your Winery Tasting Room During Off Season
January to May. Wineries in the off-season have more going on than just bud break and balance sheets. This is a time to make marketing and sales adjustments, to fine-tune attributes and attitudes. All under the ever-present shadow that is the bottom line.
Let's take a look at some ways to increase sales, making this unique commodity of ours not just a compulsion, but a necessity.
There are a variety of ways to maximize your winery marketing during this dead-zone, but the most important goal is to get feet in the door. Here are 3 methods you should be implementing:
1. Hire a Communications Director
Which immediately sounds expensive, and in most cases, it is if not approached correctly. Consultants are notorious for their exorbitant fee structure. Negotiate cor
rectly, however, and you can secure top talent at a marginal price tag.
Think in non-exempt, freelance terms. Hiring a talented PR and Communication director to work part-time to boost your winery marketing and online presence. It's not immediately apparent how quantifiable their results might be, so ask them the right questions such as click-through rates, social media followers per month, unique visitor percentage growth--linear or parabolic?
Spend the time and the cash to find the right director, and all those tweets and targeted emails will put shoes through the door, inevitably ending in a closed sale and potential Wine Club member. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Discount Wine Club
But only for the new or the strong. Basic memberships or "dead members" need not apply. This winery markering strategy is based on a triple incentive structure.
Firstly, your top 10% of wine club members get a library wine you no longer sell. Since their membership will be more expensive than the discounted one you will be offering, you need to pacify your upper-tier with something truly special.
Secondly, offer tasting room only Wine Club discount memberships. Calculate profits and attempt a 15% gross on these new members. You are pulling in less, but it's marginal compared to the influx of new members who will appreciate the additional gesture.
"Consumers that visit wine country in the off-season are looking for a less crowded and more intimate tasting experience," says Morgen McLaughlin, Executive Director of Santa Barbara County Vintners. "Often, there are more opportunities to build stronger consumer relationships during this time."
Thirdly, for the average Wine Club member, offer a one-time 30% off coupon in the tasting room only. You will probably be breaking even on this one but again...shoes through the door. Also, you will be creating a perception of need to elevate one's status to the upper echelon in order to receive those special perks reserved for the elite.
3. Arrange Package Deals with Travel Websites
Or any website. Groupon, although not what it once was, is seeing accelerated traction from Millennials looking for a getaway, with total sales increasing from 1.1 billion in 2011 to over 3.5 billion in 2015.
A more inclusive approach would be winery-specific sites such as Priority Wine Pass, that specialize in outsourced discounts for the more discerning wine traveler.
It's time to erase the stigma regarding online sites such as these. Would you deny selling wine to someone because they wore plaid? Or because you didn't think they would appreciate it? A customer is a customer. Always. Don't forget how you get paid--the bottom line.
Of course, these are only 3 winery marketing methods to bring in more clients. Working with local concierges and those near airports, offering upgraded tasting discounts for wine purchases, and bringing out library wines or special releases in the off-season can all drive traffic, and they shouldn't be overlooked as marketing options.
The absolute essential to these points, however, is they must be set in motion months ahead. So, when the October hordes subside, you are ready at the door to welcome winter and the whales that migrate to the vineyards in the spring.