I love wine.
From the growing to the harvesting, fermenting to aging.
The bottle to the glass.
And finally, the complete embrace of all of my senses at once.
Nothing does that like wine and food.
I love wine.
My issue with wine has nothing to do with the product, it’s with the wineries.
And it’s not even the wineries themselves, it’s with their media. It’s pathetic.
It’s disturbing, actually.
We live in a time where there is access to hundreds of millions of people 24-7. Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking creates superstars on the internet and in social media every day, and you would think wineries were using a cookie cutter for their media content, and the cookie cutter was made in 1998. It reminds me of the scene in Edward Scissorhands when the men leave for work in the morning. Each house looks the same, each car looks the same, leaving at the same time, in the same direction. That’s the wine media.
Everything is the same.
Some do the “everything” much better than others, but it is still the same crap.
This is every wine website:
Pictures of sweeping views of beautiful vineyards (no s***, they are all beautiful. It’s beautiful greenery in rolling hills. Guess what? They all look the same).
Beautifully placed wine glasses, with gorgeous golden whites and deep reds. Wow. Wine all looks the same.
Wine tastings, VIP tours, “cave” tours, concerts, and wine clubs.
Buy our wine. Everyone wants me to buy their wine, Some wineries don’t even explain their wine flavors, differences, nuances, what they pair well with, anything. It is so arrogant. Why would ANYONE buy your wine if they hadn’t already tasted it? Think about that.
Videos, usually consisting of beautifully majestic scenery. I admit, it is beautiful. But you know what? It was beautiful in the 200 other winery videos too.
Recipes. This is actually really cool (but I love cooking, so I’m biased), but everyone else is doing it (the good ones).
I know what you are going to say, “the wine speaks for itself.”
That’s arrogant. Snooty Patooty.
That’s why you are ok with your page looking exactly the same as everyone else’s. That’s why you offer the same thing that everyone else does, because once they try yours they will “fall in love.” That may be true, but you have to get them to try it first. Take whatever number of people come through your winery a year, now times that by a 100 million, that’s what you are leaving on the table with your weak a** media. 100 mil. That’s 8 zeros.
What is driving people to your site?
What is driving people to the store, to your bottle, to the checkout, to their house, to their family, to
their dinner table?
Because you have rolling hills and pictures of wine glasses in HD? Well, whooptie doo! I saw the same thing over and over. And over. And over. It was like Groundhog Day. No one does anything different.
I take that back, I saw one that was great, Tooth and Nail Winery, in Paso Robles. Totally different look, works great on a desktop or smart phone. It totally distinguished itself, bravo! But then everything it linked to was poop. It’s Facebook looked like everyone else’s. Instagram, Twitter, etc., same ‘ol same ‘ol. Their “buy” page was bad too. Ugly. Outdated. Not one descriptive word about their wine. Zero. Gorgeous bottles. Amazing art. No description. Blended red. What the hell does that mean? I’ve had it, it’s fantastic wine, but if you didn’t know about it already, why in the hell would you buy it? It gives nothing to draw you in to what the experience would be like to drink their (very good) wine. A+ on the website (except for the store). C- on everything else (it would be a D if the wine wasn’t so good).
Wineries need to think about the potential customers that have never been to their winery. There are a lot of people that will never make it to Paso Robles, or Napa, or Washington. Your wine is in their local stores I am sure, but what is going to draw them in? Treat it as if they were walking by on the street. You have a cool storefront, but what’s inside? Entice me. Find me where I am, and lead me to you.
Where am I you ask? On my phone. Flipping through my apps, begging for something to be presented well enough to draw me in. Please do that for me.
I saw two other wineries with great sites: Lightfoot and Wolfville Wines and my favorite wine and winery in Napa (and I am a Cabernet/Bordeaux guy, not Pinot Noir), Domaine Carneros.
But guess what? Gorgeous websites. Impeccable views. But, it’s still that same ‘ol s***. If I didn’t go to Domaine Carneros on the suggestion from a big time wine industry consultant (Human Resource Business Partners), I would have never known, or wanted to know, based on the website.
Think about that. Really think about it this time. I don’t think you really did last time.
You Are Missing Out On A Golden Opportunity
Henry Ford. Andrew Carnegie. John D. Rockefeller.
What did they do?
They seized an opportunity.
What are you going to do Mr. Winery guy? Are you going to attack this opportunity, or are you going to keep doing what you are doing?
Showing people pictures of your winery, your bottles, blah blah blah. It all looks the same. They are ALL beautiful! How are you going to separate? Stand out? I am sure your wine is fantastic, but why would I want to try it based on the millions of other sites that look the same? Word of mouth? Great. In the digital age, where information travels as fast as light, you are going to rely on the same thing cavemen did. Awesome.
How A Winery Can Separate
1. Pay someone to do ALL of your media: Web page, social media, videos, blogs, vlogs, short-films, long-films, etc. There is huge money in wine, drop $100-$200k and get an exciting, entertaining, innovative person in there to dominate it. Find the right person, give them the “keys to the car” and watch them take off. This is a huge job, so be very careful on who you hire. They will be one of the faces of your winery, so make sure they exude all the qualities of your winery and the image you want to portray.
Or take some of that money, and either hire or consult with guys like: Chase Jarvis (@chasejarvis), Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat), and MediaMedia (#businessplug). They are genius creatives. 10 minutes with them could change your lives. They are brilliant and can see things that normal people can’t. They will show you your potential
2. LINK EVERYTHING TOGETHER!!!!!! Make sure everything is tied to the other, PLEASE. There are a lot of ideas here, you are going to have a ton of content, but if you don’t link everything together people will not find what you want them to. Are all these ideas designed to “find” people where they frequent? Absolutely. Once they are “found” they can be lead through everything else, but only if you link it! You should be able to bounce between: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and iTunes (for podcasts of course) seamlessly. People are on their phones, they need smooth transitions or they will be “on to the next one.” Jay-Z knows what he is talking about.
3. Copy What Others Do Well: Check out the top 100 wineries and their sites. Things that they do well, make sure you do well too, preferably better. This is a competition. Survival of the fittest. Beat them at their own game, then beat them at a game they aren’t even playing yet. Always be a step ahead.
Copy Club W. Seriously. They have a very cool thing to determine your palette. You (wineries) are throwing out all kinds of crap about your wine that sound wonderful, but what if I don’t know my palette? Maybe I don’t know what I like. Maybe I am too afraid to experiment. Come up with your own “palette evaluator.” Customers fill it out and then you tell them exactly which of your wines meet their particular tastes. Make it personal. It is a beautiful, heartfelt, personal relationship all the way through the wine making process, why stop at the bottling? Continue it on to your customers. Don’t just tell them about your wine, let them find the ones that they will like based on them personally. So many people don’t know!
4. Use the customers you already have: Go through all of your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends. Take the five (5) with the most friends or followers and give them a free tour/tasting for them and a couple of their friends. The only stipulation is they have to “document” it on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. Hell, forget the “or,” AND! For $100 worth of touring and wine tasting you could advertise your winery to thousands of people from a trusted source, not a winery that is trying to get your money. Use the power players (influencers) on social media. They are easy to find.
If your “friends” aren’t very popular on social media, find someone who is and pay them to come out and story tell. Make sure it is someone in your demographic (I am guessing 25-55, professional, $75,000 - $200,000 take home? Sound about right?) and go for it. Hell, go big and pay someone like Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee) to come out and do a special episode of Wine Library TV all about your wines. Boom! Millions of views all over the world right there. You’re welcome.
Have customer competitions: The best recipes for certain wines, a cook off, have them shoot commercials, the best pictures (do different categories: funny, beautiful, inspiring, etc), best videos for why your wine is so great. You can do anything. Get the customers to participate. This is where I think wineries totally miss an opportunity. They always tell you what is good, why it’s good, it’s time to share in the experience. 10,000 ideas from 10,000 different people is better than 10 ideas from one (even if that one is me).
5. Make movies! Not just a, “Hey, look how pretty my winery and wine is” movie, make movies of every aspect of your winery. Get a camera and some editing equipment and go to town. I would suggest getting some decent equipment. Check out this blog post for some suggestions, and get to work. Or find someone to work for you. Remember, you are putting in a couple bucks to get this done. Don’t be cheap. Find the right people to do the right thing.
Show the process: Wine making is a process, duh, let the consumer see the process: pruning, bud breaking, flowering, canopy, harvest, crush, aging, bottling, everything! There are 9 movies a year, just for that, and I know there is more to the process! Do a vlog (video blog) once a week on what you are doing in the wine making process. Document everything, put it together and make it interesting. Everyone is different. You are going to have a different audience for different aspects of the creation process. Cover all your bases.
Do a Q & A: Let people ask you questions. Wineries are so in to telling people information, let them ask about the information. Let them ask the winemakers directly. Let them ask whomever they want to ask at the winery. Maybe they are interested in starting a winery and they have questions. Open up the entire team to be able to answer questions. It’s content that is created by the consumers. You don’t have to do anything. Just sit back and wait. No one asking you questions? Make some up and answer those! Make it look like people are asking you questions until they actually do. It’s called being scrappy.
Short films: Serious, funny, informational, documentary style, skits, etc. Do them all! Don’t know what to do? Search those topics on YouTube and find a topic or a style that you could emulate, or do a parody of what’s popular at that time. Remember #2? Copy what others do well. You could hire people to write out a few funny sketches, or a few screenplays. You are a winery, trade wine for ideas! It’s a win win!
Big Vision. Long Game.
6. Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat: These are all different, but similar enough to group together. People need to see what is going on with your wine and at your winery. Show them. Not just the beautiful wine glasses with the rolling hills in the background. Not just (another) concert in your Summer Concert Series, show them the guts of your operation. Tell them about the behind the scenes. Show them what isn’t obvious to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. Stop only showing pictures of weddings! Everyone knows there are weddings at your winery. I know it’s a money maker but you need to be thinking long term, think big picture. Not the $50k that that ONE wedding will bring you, but the hundreds of thousands that better media will bring in.
Create mini celebrities with the people that are already working at your wineries, the people that are around every day. People will connect with them and want to visit. It’s so easy! Use what you are already doing with the people that are already doing it! Howard Stern, Dave Letterman, and Rob Dyrdek, they all took the people around them and made them stars. Find the stars around you!
HASHTAG SEARCH!!! This is huge. This is interaction at its finest. Hashtag your name, like and respond to EVERYTHING using your name. People love crap like that. I was in San Francisco at the Grand Hyatt in Union Square a month ago. I got there, went to my room, took a picture out of my window at the beautiful view, and hash-tagged #GrandHyatt. 2 minutes later I got a “heart” and a reply, “Hope you have a great stay, please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable.” You know what I said? A whole lot of bad words (but in a good way). That is immediate interaction with a client. Immediate. Guess who has two thumbs and loves the Grand Hyatt? This guy (picture it). You can do that! Do you have any idea how powerful that is? Of course not, or you would be doing it already. Search #wine, #wineries, #winetasting (and whatever wines you sell, #cabernet, #chardonnay, etc.) every day and interact with people. Don’t sell your product, interact. If you are social, witty, charming, they will look at your profile, and because everything is linked, BAM, they are locked in. Be social. Think of Twitter like a cocktail party. Go mingle. You can bring the wine!
I discussed this earlier. Get them in the door. Treat them well. Treat their friends well. Have them share their experience with their followers. It will mean more coming from them anyways, it makes it more personal.
Tell stories, share experiences from around the winery. Or, have customers share their experiences with you, then you share them on the official Snapchat of the winery. Check out the 59parks on SC. They do an awesome job of sharing the stories of their followers when they go to different National Parks around the country. You could also check out ArsenicTV. Models send their personal SCs directly to ArsenicTV and then ArsenicTV decides who goes up and who doesn’t. I am not endorsing this at all by the way. It’s just a bunch of hot chicks talking about bs, but it shows what I am talking about, input from the masses. (Not that there’s anything wrong with hot chicks talking about anything, but it’s not exactly going to revolutionize the world, know what I mean Vern?) Mixing up the faces and voices you are sending out will keep the feed fresh for the consumers as well.
Share the best stuff on one thing with the others. If there is a great snap, share it on FB, Twitter, and Instagram, and vice versa. Use everything for everything. Link up YouTube posts and tweet them out, post a still frame from the video on Instagram and have the link to it in the bio. Make sure every blog post (#7, spoiler alert) is shared on all of these as well. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This is all VERY time consuming, which is why #1 was to hire a professional to do all of this. Pay them well, they could change your life forever if they do it right. Don’t be short-sighted. Don’t think of what you are, think of what you could be. What you are leaving on the table. Make sense? Good.
7. Blog/Vlog/Podcast. The same way you create content for your videos, you do here as well. The process, common questions, uncommon questions, funny stories, history, etc. Put out strong content on a regular basis. You can blog about things you vlog about, and the vlogs can be used for the podcasts. Don’t think of everything as its own separate entity. These all can be manipulated to fit the other’s medium. Speaking of Medium (www.medium.com), that’s where you should post your blogs! Hell, post your blogs everywhere: Blogger.com, Wordpress.com, your website (duh), LinkedIn, and make sure to share those on all of your social media (very important).
8. Revolutionize Wine Parings: I love this. This is going to be huge. Wineries give you recipes to follow for certain wines, everyone knows the general pairings depending on the meats you are eating, or the cheeses, chocolates, etc.
BIG IDEA TIME! Start your own wine pairing app. People input their ingredients and it tells them the perfect wine of yours that fit their meal. You know how many people would use that? Right. Everyone and their mom. Probably even YOUR mom. Man, I should go find an angel investor myself and start this. Why am I giving all my good s*** to you guys?
Stop telling people what they should drink with which wine. Go to them! Pair your wine with things they already eat. Go crazy. What pairs well with all the different items at McDonalds? Or Taco Bell? Burger King? Chick Fil-A? Focus on things they will bring home. Things they could drink your wine with. Then get in to restaurants that you are served in. You are going to be so popular on social media, restaurants will WANT to serve your wines. Do them a “solid” and run through their menu with your wines (except Cheesecake Factory, that menu is too big. It’s like a novel for food, too many choices). Make funny videos and blogs out of it. Remember, your media guy/gal is great in front of the camera and with people, utilize that in videos like these.Who does wine tastings with McDonalds? You do!! You are standing the hell out now baby!
Bring out food trucks that have foods that pair well with your wine. Make it fun. We are drinking after all, right? Even if it’s not fun, it will be after a couple more glasses. Am I right or am I right?
9. Events. I know you have events already, but mix it up. Country music and 70’s rock are great, but make sure you have some comedians in there, maybe even some sketch comedy. Vineyards are huge, host a 10k race. They run all over your vineyard, then hang out all day drinking and eating! Sounds pretty good to me!
Who Is Going To Take Over?
There is someone out there that is running a winery that is going to take this challenge on. Is it going to be you? The first one on board is going to corner the market. Do it soon and do it well. Bring in the best. Spend the money to get the right person. The right person for this job will need to be very dedicated and very hardworking. You will know if they have the right personality the second they walk in the room. It will be obvious. Make sure they have the tenacity and grit. This is a huge project, it will take time to build, and it will always be growing. The right person is key. Check out the book Grit to have some idea of the type of person I am talking about. I have no affiliation to the book, just finished it and think it’s awesome, even if they do talk about the Seattle Seahawks a lot (go Niners!).
The ball is in your court. The gauntlet is set. It’s time to separate. I don’t mean build a huge castle in Napa to get people to your winery but your wine sucks (not naming the winery). This is not a gimmick, this is a New World Order for marketing your wine.
Please. Someone. Get on this.
I can’t wait to see it. Tell me when you do. I’m excited for whomever takes this on.
Go get ‘em tiger.