So we meet again holiday marketing season. Is it just me, or do Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier every year? Case in point: Golden Coil (my favorite physical planner) ran their “Black Friday” deal last week. Article, the furniture company, is running theirs right now.
Navigating a crowded holiday market presents a unique challenge for wineries--particularly luxury wineries, especially when the landscape is saturated with discounts and a singular focus on a specific holiday.
So, what is one to do when everyone and their mothers are running sales? How do we not get lost in all the noise? And how do we do it without discounting? That's what this post is all about.
The way you stand out in your marketing any time of the year, not just during the gifting season, is by solving your customers' problems.
Answer your customers' main questions and pain points this time of year and position your product or service as the solution- if you can address a genuine concern and make it super simple to make the decision to choose you over the others, you’re golden.
Here are five questions your customers will be asking themselves during the holiday season, and how you can address them as a winery:
“What unique gifts can I give?”
A lot of wineries offer curated gift sets, and that's a great idea still, but if you can find a way to surprise and delight your customer beyond the standard wine gift set, you'll stand out.
Go beyond Christmas with non-denominational bundle themes. For example, “Cozy Winters In," “Hallmark Viewing Party," or even “Prohibition Repeal Day” bundles are all fun takes that will catch your fans' attentions.
Partner with local artisans to create gift bundles that go beyond the simple two or three packs of wine, and really think outside of the box for this--chocolate is fine but we can do better than that! Consider including fine goods like a tasting notes notebook, fine linens or napkins, or a set of fine stemware.
Create unique experiences. I know a winery that offered virtual cooking and wine pairing parties for locals. They partnered with a local chef, butcher, and farmers to put together a pack of all the ingredients they would need to make a three course meal at home in addition to the wine to pair with it. This kind of thing of course requires more logistics, but the result was long-lasting loyalty of those customers. Never underestimate the power of experiences.
"WHAT WINES COMPLEMENT HOLIDAY MEALS?”
Outside of gifting, finding wine to pair with diverse palates and dishes can be challenging and overwhelming for a majority of wine buyers. Sure, your customers could Google this question, but YOU want to be the one to answer it. Even more, you want to be the one to answer it before it is too late for them to purchase YOUR wine (rather than just running to the store last minute). Here's how you can help your customers out while remaining top of mind:
Provide pairing guides. I know this is a super obvious answer, but providing pairing guides is an excellent way to help your customers out. You can do this in a few ways:
- Multiple social media posts that you literally turn into a Guide or a Stories Highlight on Instagram
- Blog Post/Email Series
- A limited-edition event/experience at your tasting room (or virtually, see the above example). This one, of course, is the most high effort and might not be something you do this year; but with a bit of planning, it could be a really great offer. One of my clients did this with their Fall Membership Allocation Event--they had a seated multi-course, small-bites event where they showed how to pair the most recent Membership allocation with unique twists on traditional holiday fare. And it was a hit
Suggest versatile wines: Another “duh” suggestion, and yet here we are. I know it's tempting this time of year to push the wines we have a ton of inventory on, but I instead encourage you to suggest your more food-friendly/versatile wines for holiday meals. Even suggest wines that are great to cook with. P.S. With this, it's helpful to remind and educate your customers on why it's important to use wine they'd actually like drinking when cooking food.
Offer tasting notes: Again, another obvious answer here, but as with the two above, it bears repeating. This is especially important when selling online because some of your customers may not have tried the wine you are trying to sell. It's a basic need that people want to know what a wine tastes like before purchasing. Visual tasting notes are really helpful in these situations, but even sharing tasting notes from a recent review will go a long way.
“Will my wine arrive on time?”
This is probably one of the biggest unrealized concerns for customers. It's one of those things where they don't know what they don't know. Clearly communicate shipping deadlines, offer expedited options, and assure customers of your commitment to timely deliveries. Be sure to give them clear and frequent reminders so they can order with confidence. This has the added bonus of giving them urgency to order.
“HOW CAN I MAKE MY GIFTS MORE PERSONAL?”
We will talk about this more in a future post but customization and personalization is the way of the future in everything from gift options to wine clubs. Introduce personalized labels, custom messages, or even virtual tastings to add a personal touch to your customers' wine gifts.
P.S. This is very much a plan ahead situation. If you could find a way to offer *quality* personalized labels at scale next year, I feel like this would be great.—The messaging could be something like “unique gifts for unique people."
“How do I know my loved one will like this wine?”
Honestly, buying wine for someone else can sometimes be a bit like buying a book or buying clothes for someone else. Sometimes it's hard to know your giftee's preferences. Here are a few ways you can help your customers answer this question:
- Concierge Service. Offer a personalized wine recommendation service where your customers provide details about their friend's preferences, and you can suggest your own wines based on taste, occasion, or preferred wine styles.
- Wine Gift Guides: Similar to the pairing guides, you could create a gift guide (either on social media or in your emails/blog) that categorize wines based on occasions or preferences. For example, "Perfect Pairings for Dinner Parties," or "White Wines for the Red Drinker in Your Life."
- Develop interactive online quizzes or surveys that your customers can send to their friends to sneakily receive personalized wine recommendations.
As with any kind of marketing or sales, understanding your target customer is the key to a successful strategy. That's true no matter what time of year it is. If you need help with this key component to marketing, you can listen to this podcast episode or book a 1:1 Instagram Strategy Session with me, where we will walk through how to identify your ideal customer and create a customized strategy for you.