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BARRELS AHEAD

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Address

3558 Round Barn Blvd Suite 200
Santa Rosa
CA, 95403
United States
Phone
(707) 509-0599
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Drew Hendricks

About Us

To better reflect our core market we have changed our name from Nimbletoad to Barrels Ahead.  


Who we are, what we do, when we do it, where we work, and how it is done

 

Who? We are a group of individuals who have a passion for wine and the stories behind it. We exist as a company to ensure that everyone hears your winery's story and becomes raving fans of your wine.

 

What? We help wineries sell more wine.

 

When? At key moments of your customer's buying journey.  From the time someone is researching a visit to your region, to a long-time club member looking to purchase corporate gifts.  Timing is critical.

 

Where? On platforms your customers use every day. From their favorite search engine used to research a visit to your region, to the blogs they read every day, to direct messages on their phones promoting action for a flash sale, we deliver the message where it is most likely to prompt action.

 

Why?  Discovering a new winery and the story behind it is great.  Better yet, telling that story to friends and family so that they might feel the same joy.

 

& How?  We do this by amplifying your brand story by delivering the right part of your story, on the right platform, at the right time for maximum impact.


News Archive


Social Media Guidelines for Alcohol Marketing
09 June, 2020

Social media hasn’t always been around but it has quickly cemented its status as an indispensable tool for digital marketing. According to new data, 89 percent of consumers will spend on a brand they follow on social media platforms, with 84 percent revealing they trust that brand over a rival brand.

As startups, small businesses, and large corporations turn to social media marketing to promote their brands, the rules aren’t the same for everyone. Alcohol marketers can attest to this.

So why are the rules different when it comes to alcohol marketing?

With the number of active social media users around the globe passing the 3.8 billion mark, alcohol marketers must be wary of the possibility that their social media advertisements will reach consumers below the legal drinking age.

An Overview of the Regulatory Environment for Alcohol Products

In the U.S., the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act gives authority to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to regulate the alcohol beverage industry for the protection of consumers. Alcohol, in this context, includes wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages.

Anyone engaged in advertising alcohol beverages must provide the consumer with adequate information about their product and desist from deceiving the consumer. They’re also expected to maintain a level playing field to ensure healthy competition that leads to the growth of the entire industry.

What is considered an alcohol advertisement?

According to the FAA Act, any content, whether written, verbal or visual, that’s disseminated through various communication media to induce sales of alcohol products is considered an alcohol advertisement. Businesses that sell alcohol aren’t required to get their advertisements approved prior to appearing on various media.

However, they’re required to make sure that they follow the rules and guidelines for marketing alcoholic beverages.

Why social media guidelines are required for alcohol marketing

Social media guidelines for alcohol advertising haven’t always existed because social media is a relatively new marketing platform. That said, social media advertising is a whole new ballgame that deserves special attention.

Until guidelines for the use of social media as a medium for advertising alcohol products were recently established, the TBB had to rely on the existing guidelines to regulate alcohol marketing across all media platforms.

With the ongoing evolution of social media, it’s important for alcohol beverage industry regulators to monitor social media trends and make regulatory changes that adapt to those trends.

General guidelines for marketing alcohol on social media

For the benefit of consumers, the TTB has set out general guidelines on what alcohol marketers must, can and can’t do when advertising their products on social media. Take a closer look at what some of those guidelines below.

Read Full Article Here: https://barrelsahead.com/social-media-guidelines-for-alcohol-marketing/


5 Educational Gaps That Stop Customers from Making Online Wine Purchases
18 February, 2020

This guide originally appeared in Nimbletoad's Blog.  For the latest on winery marketing including The Art of Storytelling in Marketing Your Winery please visit us today.

 

Even as eCommerce is taking over most industries, wineries tend to lag behind. According to the 2019 State of the Wine Industry Report by Silicon Valley Bank, only about 8% of total wine sales direct to the consumer occur online. Total wine sales are even lower, as low as 4% according to some estimates. That puts the United States squarely behind other countries like France of the UK, which come closer to 20% respectively.

The reasons for that lag range widely. Shipping tends to be one of them. While a few states forbid the interstate shipments of wine, the 45 states that do allow it represent 94% of the entire U.S. population. These numbers show that although the actual problem is relatively minimal, resistance to buying wine online does exist.

Put simply, buying wine online just doesn't tend to seem natural to a relatively traditional audience that likes to taste it first. While that is beginning to shift as audiences are becoming younger, significant educational gaps still exist that can make establishing a successful eCommerce wine business difficult.

Of course, difficult is far from meaning impossible. If these educational gaps are intangible, they can be changed by savvy businesses who understand them and know how to solve them.

Most often, we see 5 pain points of potential customers that keep them from buying wine online. In this article, we'll outline exactly what those educational gaps are, and how your website and digital marketing can mitigate them to build a more successful eCommerce presence.

 

Educational Gap 1: The Lack of Ability to Taste

According to the 2019 State of the Wine Industry Report, the tasting room accounts for the majority of revenue across wineries. There's a reason that's the case. Tastings turn the purchase into an experience, often lived through socially during special events or wine tours.

On a more basic level, tasting is crucial for many consumers because it allows them to make sure they like the wine before they buy the whole bottle. As any winery knows, no two types taste the same. Only tasting them can ensure confidence in the purchase.

The concern with eCommerce wine purchases is natural. If consumers don't know what the wine tastes like, how can they reliably make a choice that works for them? And, on an even more basic level, how can they make sure that winery they're trying out for the first time actually produces a quality vintage.

This is how we arrive at our first educational gap. The lack of ability to taste a wine before buying it leaves many customers wondering whether the online route is viable at all. Of course, it can be, as long as the right messaging and reassurance is in place.

 

To Close The Taste Gap: Embrace Social Proof

Social proof is important across industries, tapping into our basic psychological desire to get reassurance from our peers and experts alike. It's difficult to imagine an industry where this concept matters more than online wine sales.

Wine tasting is essentially a social experience. Social proof approximates that experience in the online environment. That can happen in a number of ways:

  • Ratings of your individual bottles that show their overall quality.
  • Quotes and testimonials from customers within your target audience.
  • Expert reviews of your vintages (if available).
  • Tasting profiles, established through customers who describe their experience with your wine.

This social proof will be most important on your product and checkout pages, where customers are most likely to hesitate because of their lack of ability to taste the wine. But it can also live on social media and elsewhere on your website and in your digital marketing. 

 

Six bottles of wine in a box being prepared for shipping after purchase online.

 

Educational Gap 2: The Shipping Concerns

As mentioned in the introduction, shipping can be a real issue in wine eCommerce. In some states, it's completely illegal to ship across state lines. But even where it is, you might run into consumer concerns that originate from simple educational gaps.

For instance, many would-be customers fear that the shipping process leads to damage to the bottle. Drastic shifts in temperature alone can be enough to significantly change the taste of even the greatest vino. And of course, a broken bottle will do no one any good.

These fears tend to be especially prevalent among more knowledgable audiences who understand the dangers of temperature changes. But even beyond those experts, the general fear of shipping fragile items rings true in the wine industry, as well.

To Close The Shipping Gap: Offer Assurance (and Insurance)

It's difficult to educate your audience on anything that seems counterintuitive at first. Yes, fragile items can be difficult to ship, and wine bottles are naturally fragile. Still, you can take significant steps to offer your would-be customers the assurance they need to make that purchase.

The key here is showing, not telling your audience what they can expect. A few common steps to accomplish that feat include:

  • Statistics on customer satisfaction or lack of complaints. If you can show that your customers are happy when they get the wine, chances are the shipping didn't negatively influence it.
  • A showcase of the shipping process. A quick video on your website or checkout page that shows exactly how you package the wine to keep it safe can go a long way.
  • Satisfaction and shipping guarantees. Make sure your audience knows what they get if a bottle does break. That way, they know they won't be left on their own for something that's out of their control.

Concerns over shipping exist across eCommerce, but especially with perishable and fragile goods like wine. Consistent and honest assurance is key to overcoming your audience's fears in this area and maximizing your online revenue potential.

 

Educational Gap 3: The Fear of Commitment

Almost everything you can buy online seems to be a subscription these days. That makes sense from a marketing perspective; by locking your audience into a long-term engagement, you maximize their lifetime value to your company and revenue. For your audience, though, it can be a problem.

Put simply, your audience is beginning to have subscription fatigue. They don't necessarily want to commit, especially not to a new winery they don't know much about. And yet, most wineries offer precisely that; subscription services (like online wine clubs) that require regular fees to be a part of.

Here, we arrive at another educational gap: the idea that to buy wine online, you have to commit to your winery of choice and get the same things, all the time. That might be true for some wineries, but it's on you to educate your audience that it's not actually the case. As long as you offer single purchases without any long-term commitment, it pays to communicate that to avoid this fear of commitment.

To Close The Commitment Gap: Be Bold in Your Offers

The first note is obvious: you need to tell your audience that to purchase a bottle of wine from you, they don't have to commit. Just how you do that, of course, can be more complicated.

A few strategies in your digital marketing and web content can get you started:

  • Update your copy; the words 'no commitment' by themselves may not be enough, but they can be a great start to alleviate concerns.
  • Minimize the investment for new customers. While you cannot offer free shipping on purchases of alcohol, you can minimize friction by stating that shipping is included in the overall purchase price.
  • Clearly distinguish any wine club or subscription plans you have from your regular product pages to clarify the difference.
  • Avoid the 'automatic renewal' trap. Consumers are becoming wise to it and will tend to stay away. Instead, make renewal optional on anything beyond the first purchase.

A couple sitting on their couch drinking red wine as they prepare to purchase wine online on their tablet.

 

Educational Gap 4: The Minimum Purchase Expectation

Closely related to the commitment gap is the fact that most consumers will expect a minimum purchase threshold from your winery. Even those that understand safe shipping will realize that these shipping methods tend to be expensive, making purchases of multiple bottles necessary to make up the difference.

Do you really want to try a bottle of wine if you have to buy a case just to get to it? The answer should be fairly obvious. At that point, purchasing a wine seems like a gamble. Nobody wants to end up with 6 or even 12 bottles of a taste they don't especially like. 

As a result, many consumers never even take the time to look further into eCommerce when it comes to their favorite drink, thinking that the investment will simply be too much to make this one-time commitment. It just seems so much easier to visit a wine room or a local store and buy a single bottle.

 

To Close The Minimum Purchase Gap: Offer Low-Quantity Packages

Similar to the commitment gap, the solution here is obvious at first glance but comes with some communication challenges. Closing the educational gap on minimum purchase expectations means simply offering your wine at the single bottle level instead of large packages. Of course, that can be easier said than done; shipping wine continues to be expensive, and you have to make sure that your online business is profitable.

That step, of course, goes beyond simple marketing and promotion. You may decide that your customer return rate is high enough that selling a single bottle to first-time, even if not profitable in its own right, will still result in positive returns thanks to its positive effect on customer lifetime value. Alternatively, you may find the quantity point at which the sale becomes profitable (such as 2 or 3 bottles), and use that as your minimum quantity.

With more expensive wines, where the shipping takes on a lower proportion of overall price, offering single bottles tends to be more straightforward. But even in that case, communication is a vital piece of making sure that your audience actually knows they can buy the bottle.

Here, your marketing content has to be absolutely clear. It should outline exactly what your minimum purchase quantity is, and how your audience can make sure they only go as long as they want to initially. Honesty pays off; the more you can reduce the discrepancy between expectations and reality, the less likely you will be to suffer cart abandonment.

 

Educational Gap 5: The Added Value Concern

Finally, your audience may wonder what, exactly they will get out of buying a bottle of wine online. After all, they will not experience the same or even an approximation of the feeling they get in that tasting room or reading the label in a store. The experience is more impersonal so what, exactly, is that added value?

It certainly isn't tasting the wine. As established above, that is a sales barrier in general, but matters in the overall experience as well. Simply put, your audience misses that feeling of something that leads up to the actual purchase, someone that directly connects them to the bottle they're about to own (and eventually drink).

 

To Close the Added Value Gap: Provide High-Quality Content

This barrier does not have an easy solution. Customers who miss the in-person experience of a wine sale aren't wrong about online alternatives not being able to quite approach that level. What you can do, though, is find other ways in which you can provide added value to your customers through your website and digital marketing:

  • Establish a community of wine lovers that can talk to each other about their favorite vintages and new bottles to try. Social media can be a great channel for that community.
  • Provide content that goes above and beyond the actual wine sale. That might include a tasting guide for when the shipment arrives or recommendations on how to pair the wine for maximum benefit.
  • Behind-the-scenes content from your winery shared on your website and social media, that provide insights into the process of going from grape to glass.

 

Is Your Winery Prepared for the Coming Online Boom?

The barriers to online wine shopping are real, mostly because consumer concerns are real. But that doesn't mean they're impossible to overcome. By closing these five educational gaps, you can leverage your digital presence to make your audience more confident in their online wine purchase.

The time to take action is now. While wine sales online are still relatively low, they're expected to rise significantly in the next few years. As more customers are flocking into the digital space, wineries who can effectively communicate across these barriers have a greater chance of building online equity and loyalty.

That means having a comprehensive digital marketing infrastructure in place, allowing you to effectively add value and address consumer concerns. For help in that regard, contact us. Let's work together to maximize your opportunities in the business of eCommerce wine sales.


6 Steps to Level Up Your Winery Marketing Through Automation
20 December, 2019

This guide originally appeared in Nimbletoad's Blog.  For the latest on winery marketing including The Art of Storytelling in Marketing Your Winery please visit us today.

 

Done right, marketing automation has the potential to be a powerful tool. It allows wineries of all sizes to maximize their resources in increasing membership in their wine club, retain existing members for longer, and boost their wine sales between regular shipments.

 

This concept takes much of the legwork out of the digital promotions you might already be running. You can build a more strategic approach for your marketing efforts, focusing more closely on your customers and better serve their needs and expectations.

 

Marketing automation software increases sales productivity by almost 15%, and that’s especially relevant as you look to improve your wine sales. Through a more personalized approach, you can make your digital messaging more relevant for all of your wine club members. This will ultimately lead to increased conversion rates for new memberships as well as better member retention and increased add-on sales. It accomplishes that feat by catering to the evolving needs of your audience.

 

The Winery Market is Evolving

Technology has brought with it consumer empowerment that stretches across industries. That extends to the wine market, where modern customers expect more than just their monthly wines and nothing else. Instead, a recent research report by the Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division came with a few crucial takeaways relevant to this topic:

 

  • The majority of winery revenue still stems from tasting rooms (42%) and wine clubs (36%). Internet and eCommerce (8%) remain far behind.
  • Perceived value (Quality + Experience / Price) continues to be the core decision factor for most would-be customers.
  • Experience in the above equation can stand for shopping and consumption experience, and generally every interaction between winery and customer.
  • Over-reliance on the tasting room model makes digital marketing for wineries increasingly important as a way to attract new customers.

In addition to these takeaways, digital personalization is starting to take over. In the age of consumer empowerment, it’s impossible to get the attention of potential customers without making it seem like your messages are specifically designed for their needs and preferences.

 

A lover of high-priced red imports will be unlikely to respond to your low-priced white domestic wine. To subsist in an industry MarketWatch deems increasingly competitive, you have to find a way to solve your audience’s needs and accommodate their preferences. Enter marketing automation.

 

Marketing Automation as a Growing Opportunity

Marketing your winery is complex. It requires plenty of time and at least some expertise. Yet, your customers increasingly need and expect a consistent, personalized, professional digital presence. The fact that this truth exists for countless small businesses in other industries as well has given rise to marketing automation as an increasingly common marketing tool.

 

The premise is simple: if you can automate at least some of your marketing execution and processes, you can focus more on the strategy aspect. Especially for businesses with limited budgets, maximizing opportunities becomes vital. Marketing automation accommodates that need, bringing with it a number of core advantages:

 

  • Automation accounts for the increasing non-linearity of marketing. You can build out a number of communication flows that trigger based on customer actions, delivering more relevant content in the process.
  • Automation enables you to personalize your marketing communication at scale. Segment your list, dynamically insert customer information, or trigger those communication flows based on preferences and previously gathered info.
  • The time and budget saved through marketing automation enable you to focus more on the messaging that will ultimately differentiate your winery from those around you and attract more visitors and wine club subscribers.
  • Automation helps you deliver consistent content throughout the customer journey, making sure that you never go dark. Instead, building a constant presence in the channels your audience prefers.
  • Automation can benefit your winery at all stages of the sales funnel, from gathering subscribers to increasing wine club retention.

 

Of course, these benefits aren’t automatic. They require a strategic approach to your winery marketing automation. We’ll dive deeper into just how you can accomplish each of these points, but especially the last one, in our tips below.

 

6 Steps to Level Up Your Winery Marketing Through Automation

Are you looking to increase your club membership? How about improving the retention of your existing members? Can you boost your wine sales between regular club shipments? Just how can you make sure that your tasting room has plenty of foot traffic when those wine tourists come into town?

All of these are crucial questions for any winery. Fail to answer them, and you’ll have trouble sustaining your business. Get the right answers, and you will be able to elevate yourself above your competition. Through marketing automation, you can accomplish them all. These 6 steps will help you get there.

 

1. Gather and Categorize Your Customer Lists

Marketing automation is at its best with great data. Remember that customers now prefer and will pay attention only to messaging they deem personally relevant. It’s an impossible task to accomplish if you cannot rely on data that tells you about your customers and allows you to build more targeted messaging.

That great data, in turn, has to start with gathering and improving your customer lists. It’s an especially important step for both wine club retention and extra-schedule shipments. Beyond gathering customer names and contact information, consider asking for a few of the following:

 

  • What is your favorite wine?
  • How did you find our winery?
  • What is your monthly budget for wine?
  • How do you like to consume your wine?

 

And others like these. The goal here is to find ways in which you can segment your data. That allows you to build more personalized messaging and communication flows down the road. You can ask these questions at any point during the customer journey, whether they sign up for a wine club membership or just want to subscribe to your email newsletter.

 

2. Leverage the Right Marketing Automation Tools

Marketing automation for wine clubs and wineries, as for any other business, has to rely on the right technology. A number of tools have sprung up designed to optimize your marketing experience, and which you choose will inform and determine much of the direction below.

These tools range from email automation to analytics, and it’s impossible to list them all here. That said, it helps to look for a few characteristics to inform your decision:

  • The ability to manage and sort your customer lists into user-friendly databases based on the above factors.
  • Ease of building automated email flows designed to communicate directly with your audience.
  • Options to personalize your messages according to your database.
  • The ability to track interactions on your website to add to the information you have about your leads and club members.
  • The ability to gather analytics on your individual efforts and their success in achieving your marketing goals.

Social media automation tools like Quick Sprout and Hootsuite are also an important part of the consideration. The key here is finding a few tools specifically designed for your marketing automation, and sticking to them.

 

3. Build Your Automated Email Flows

Data might be the most important piece of your marketing automation efforts, but email doesn’t follow far behind. Through this channel, you can build a wide range of communication flows specifically designed to help you accomplish your marketing goals:

 

  • An email flow for new wine club members to welcome them and let them know about future opportunities.
  • A newsletter for other digital subscribers who haven’t become club members yet, giving them incentives to sign up.
  • An email flow for existing wine club members, triggered by their activity within your site, prompting them to make purchases outside the regular club schedule.
  • An email flow for inactive wine club members, providing them an incentive to re-engage and receive your wine bottles.

 

Of course, these are just a few of the many possibilities you have. Email, in many ways, is the single most effective marketing automation channel. Its ability to send targeted messaging at specific user-journey points is unmatched by almost any other opportunity. That extends to personalization capabilities, as well.

 

4. Embrace Personalization

It’s difficult to personalize your marketing communications at scale. As soon as you send messaging to more than a few of your subscribers and club members, sending manual emails no longer tends to be an option. Marketing automation presents an opportunity to embrace the concept without extra work involved.

The possibilities of personalization through automated means are significant:

 

  • Send emails personally addressing your club members by name in the subject line.
  • Send different email flows and offers based on previously-collected preferences and other personal characteristics.
  • Change email text, visuals, or call to actions within an individual email based on these preferences.

 

Through these opportunities, you can build more relevant communication specifically designed for your audience’s individual needs. That, in turn, allows you to both increase retention within your wine club and prompt purchases outside of the regular schedule. In total, fully personalized emails can increase transaction rates by up to 600%.

 

5. Schedule Your Social Media Posts

So far, we’ve focused on marketing automation as it relates to emails. While that channel is and should be the backbone of your winery digital marketing efforts, it’s important to consider the other opportunities this concept presents, as well. That starts with social media.

Social media marketing has become a common tool for many wineries. Only a strategic approach that takes content as well as timing into account can succeed. Plenty of studies highlight the ideal posting frequency for most common social media networks:

 

  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • Twitter: up to 15 times per day
  • Pinterest: 11 pins per day
  • LinkedIn: 1 post per day
  • Instagram: 1-2 times per day

 

Post too frequently, and you’ll alienate your audience. Not often enough, and you may never get the attention you need. But at the same time, posting at that frequency is resource-intensive. Through marketing automation, you can schedule posts and content ahead of time, building a more regular schedule designed to maximize both attention and engagement on your preferred platforms.

 

6. Build a Better Analytics System

Finally, marketing automation enables even small wineries with no dedicated marketing resources to build and optimize their analytics capabilities. By automatically gathering the numbers you need to judge your marketing efforts, you can make better marketing decisions and optimize your efforts over time.

That, in turn, requires a few preparatory steps:

 

  • Understand your analytics capabilities, ranging from your social media networks to your website and email solutions. Most of these platforms now have integrated data components.
  • Define the metrics you want to track, from signing up new wine club members to increasing the engagement of your current members.
  • Build reports — either directly in the analytics tools at your disposal or in an external spreadsheet — that allow you to track your progress towards these metrics.
  • Check in on your efforts at regular intervals that allow you to glean how you are performing in terms of reaching your marketing goals.

 

In addition to automating your analytics and reports, you can also use success metrics to improve your marketing almost instantly. Services like MailChimp, for instance, offer automated A/B testing that allows you to test two different subject lines against each other, then automatically send the subject that works best to the majority of your subscribers.

 

Ready to Talk Automation? Give Us a Call!

Implemented the right way, marketing automation can be a powerful tool for your winery marketing efforts. Its ability to take some of the manual processes out of the equation, all while personalizing your marketing and making it more data-focused, will allow you to respond to your evolving audience and get in front of both future and current wine club members.

 

The above steps can help you get started in that process. But you don’t have to be on your own. In fact, a partner may be just what you need to get this concept off the ground. Contact us to set up a strategy call that helps us better understand your needs, and work with you to build a marketing automation plan designed for your winery business.


The Art of Storytelling in Marketing Your Winery
02 December, 2019

This guide originally appeared in Nimbletoad's Blog.  For the latest on winery marketing including 6 Steps to Level Up Your Winery Marketing Through Optimization please visit us today.

 

Introduction

We don’t buy wine for the bottle. We buy it for the experience. Each customer has a preferred varietal, but what’s really stopping them from going to your competitors? What is making them join your wine clubs and taste your wine?

The unique experience your winery provides.

Customer experience has always been a significant factor in entrepreneurial success. But when it comes to wineries, the story you craft has the power to make or break your revenue.

In this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about storytelling in marketing your winery.

From understanding why storytelling matters to crafting and promoting your winery’s story for maximum impact, you’ll be on your way to reaching more prospects and maximizing the value of your existing customers in no time.

 

Sections

Why Storytelling Should Be a Pillar of Your Winery’s Marketing
What Should Your Winery’s Story Contain?
How to Craft Your Winery’s Story for Maximum Impact
Where to Promote Your Winery’s Story

 

Why Storytelling Should Be a Pillar of Your Winery’s Marketing

A significant portion of your wine’s value is in storytelling. This is pure biology; human brains are simply wired to respond better to storytelling.

Stories are remembered 22 times more than facts alone.

So if you told your (potential) customers that your winery has been operating since 1800s, that wouldn’t be as memorable as telling them that you’re following a tradition your great-great-grandfather started.

When you talk about all the makings of your winery and your brand, people can relate to the struggles and the family traditions. Chances are, they have some of their own. And when you tell a story, you become so much more than a business to your customers. You become someone they know and love.

 

The Role of Emotions in Storytelling and Marketing

With storytelling, your winery suddenly becomes a lot more personal to every customer.

Advertisers recognized this early; they understood that the underlying story was the key to successful commercials. Storytelling made commercials go viral. Storytelling made viewers remember the advertisements even long after they have aired. Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” commercial is an especially poignant example of using storytelling to market your business.

In this ad, viewers followed the story of Budweiser’s founder as he struggled (and succeeded) with starting a beer brewing company in America. The emotional charge was impossible to ignore. Everyone in the audience could relate to these universal struggles, now translated to the metaphor of the founder’s journey. By the time the video faded to black, viewers rejoiced with the main character. He’d succeeded, and the story told them that they could succeed, too. The implication being that they could succeed with the help of the product.

 

The role of emotions in marketing is a powerful one.

People don’t just buy because they need something. Realistically, your customers could just get $1 wine if they wanted something to drink. They could grab a glass of water. People buy your wine because they want to buy it. Because it arouses emotions; maybe they want to impress their colleagues, or they want to feel good as they unwind after a long day.

 When you use storytelling to market your winery, you’re helping your customers feel emotion towards your wine. It stops being a drink; it turns into a story they can experience.

That automatically heightens the perceived value of your brand. With storytelling, you won’t only attract new customers. You’ll maximize the purchase value of your existing and returning customers, as well.

 

The Value of Using Storytelling to Market Your Winery

The overwhelming majority of adult consumers (80%) want brands to tell stories.

However, they want brands to tell meaningful stories. Emotions drive more purchases than logic, so it is your mission to arouse those emotions with meaningful storytelling that, in time, becomes a part of your brand no customer can forget. Just consider a basic fact: 82% of people pick their wine based on the label. They aren’t explicitly looking for varietals. They’re looking for labels that are visually appealing, labels that tell a story. Ultimately, storytelling should be a pillar of your winery’s marketing strategy because it is a great way to build a brand customers recognize and value.

And if you’re ready for specifics, let’s take a look at…

 

What Should Your Winery’s Story Contain?

Take a second to think about your favorite stories. If you can remember some from your childhood, that’s even better. They have to be good stories to stick around for that long. And behind the charm of them, the reasons you fell in love with them in the first place, there is a well-thought-out storytelling structure.

 

Structure

Every story needs to follow a plot structure. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to attract and retain customers.

You can simply follow the tried and true formula:

 

Freytag’s Plot Structure Pyramid.

In the 19th century, a German playwright, Gustav Freytag, analyzed popular plays and realized that they all followed a similar plot structure:

 

source: https://thepatronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com/

 

This plot structure doesn’t only pertain to storytelling in books. It works just as well for advertisements and movies.

Just think about Die Hard, one of the most popular movies to date.

In the beginning, we are introduced to the hero, the action starts rising, he decides to stop the villains, there’s an explosion or two, and there you have it: the hero has saved the day.

That’s a tale as old as time, and it’s still effective.

 

In (winery marketing) practice, Freytag’s Pyramid would look like this:

Exposition

In this part of your plot structure, your prospective customers will get to know your brand, your mission, the setting, and glean at potential twists along the way. Best stories are told with little plot hints peppered into the very beginning of the story. At this point, your customers will understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.  In your case, that’s the reason why your winery produces wine. Sometimes it can be dramatic. Other times, it may be just that your founder looked at the slopes perfect for a vineyard, and decided to share this beauty with the world (i.e. customers).

Rising action

Your hero had great plans and maybe they have been successful but oh no, something happened! All the best stories have obstacles.  The true value of your story lies in allowing your customers to relate to your obstacles, and feel victorious as you overcome them. For example, wineries have often struggled with infestations. If your winery has a long-standing tradition, you could even play with the impact wars and revolutions had on it. Now, your customers don’t own wineries. However, they know the bitter feeling of encountering an obstacle. Especially if you depict it in an emotional way.

Climax

The climax is where the stakes are at their highest. What happened that nearly made the protagonist give up? Let’s say your protagonist was struggling to keep their winery running during the Second World War. And then they received news that someone in their family was injured. That’s an incredibly powerful, climactic moment. In general, your climax has to be convincing. It has to be the single most emotional moment in the story. It makes people root for your winery, and when they root for you, they’ll buy from you.

Falling action

After the spectacular climax, action naturally starts to decrease. The worst has happened, and now your protagonist has to deal with the aftermath and carve out a new hope for the future. You and your customers embark on a journey towards the resolution of the problem.

Resolution

What saved the day and led to your winery successfully producing wine today? Maybe your founder decided that they would not give up. They put in the work, received help from family, and together, they have built the winery you run today. The key to attracting more customers to your winery with storytelling is in baring your story to them.  In a way, your winery’s essence has to be vulnerable. And if it’s honest and relatable, you will successfully draw in more customers than you’ve ever imagined. Think about it: who can truly relate to Harry Potter? None of us are wizards. However, we can relate to the in-between moments and feelings. Working hard to succeed and save the day. It’s the emotions that count.

You have to allow your customers to journey with you on your path to success.

 

Types of Winery Stories

You don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to create an emotionally satisfying and revenue-boosting story about your winery.

 

Source: Wine Industry Advisor

 

According to Wine Industry Advisor’s study, wineries typically use the following plots:

  • Stories about farms and founding families
  • Stories about the founding and the history of the winery
  • Dramatic, exaggerated stories
  • Stories about the origins of varietals
  • Stories about the wine-making process
  • Stories about the region

For example, Felicity Carter shares an incredible story of Grange:

 

Source: Felicity Carter

 

Other possible winery stories include:

  • The Rise and the Fall – This storyline is perfect for wineries with a long tradition. If your great-great-grandfather first saw a patch of ground ripe for wine production, you should seriously consider this story. It’s also a great way to convey your tradition through narratives that emphasize how your winery grew.
  • Rags to Riches – Showing all the obstacles your winery has overcome and came out better for it.
  • Tidbits and gossip – Sometimes you don’t have or simply don’t need a heavy story that will take hours to tell, and make your customers cry. Sometimes, you just need a bit of gossip – a favorite animal around the winery, a room with a story, or simply…

 

Setting

Your winery is clearly the alpha and omega of your story. However, you shouldn’t just let it fade into the backdrop. The entire point of using storytelling in marketing your winery is to make it more personable.

Some of the best stories turn their settings into characters.

While your story will be conveyed through actual characters, you should opt for scenes personifying your winery.

Great examples include:

  • Portraying winery in a special light. When something bad happens, the winery can be filmed during rainy weather, cast as gloomy and dark. When the conflict is resolved, it can be lit by sunlight again.
  • Make your winery change with the times. This is especially important for wineries established on long traditions. How has it changed? Can you find old footage? Then integrate the characters, and show how they grew side by side with the winery.
  • Add details. Your winery isn’t just a winery. It’s a place that has both influenced people’s lives and has been influenced by their lives. Understand your history. Show how your winery has produced more during certain periods and less during others.

 

Characters

The emotional depth of your winery’s story really isn’t about your winery with its walls and vineyards. It’s about the people whose lives it touched. Just like characters in a story, your winery’s story should have characters, as well. No one really wants to see only the footage of vineyards. Your customers want to see stories. While vineyard footage can be entrancing and atmospheric, it doesn’t drive the emotional connection necessary to successfully market your winery. You have plenty of options for your characters:

 

Your employees

A story that follows an employee who takes pride and finds pleasure in the work they do can be a gripping winery story. If there have been any events in which your employees quite literally saved the day, put them at the forefront of your branding. Your employees are relatable. They’re real people with real struggles and goals. And casting them as the protagonists will help you emphasize the work and love that goes into producing your wine. It’s a stellar way of helping your customers relate to your business.

 

Your customers

You can also tell a story about your customers. Simply make up or find one customer that is representative of a lot of your customers. Then, tell a story about how your wine changed their life. This can be as minuscule as depicting them as they unwind with their family, living out some of their most precious moments around the table, with your wine in their hand. You could also show them enjoying tastings at your winery. However, go small.

Richard Price advises: “You don't write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid's burnt socks lying in the road.

While somber, this tip is great for marketing storytelling, as well. Don’t focus on the most obvious thing – your winery. Instead, focus on the impact your winery has on the most important aspects of your customers’ lives.

 

You or the founders

How has your winery impacted your life (or the founders’ lives)? Have there been any notable events? You can relay your experience to tell a gripping story. Perhaps you found peace in running your winery. Perhaps it’s how you met or fell in (deeper) love with your spouse. Maybe you got to see your children grow up, running down the slopes and tangling in the vines, laughter still on their lips. The more human the moment, the more powerfully it will resonate.

 

Animal stories

Finally, there’s nothing like a story about the animals at your winery to delight your audience. If you have a dog that likes “helping” make wine, show it.

In general, your characters have to be likable and relatable.

 

Emotional Connection

Your characters are going to make your plot convincing. They’re the ones your prospects will emotionally connect with.

 

Some of the most resonant emotions you could integrate into your winery’s story are:

  • Mystery and intrigue
  • Suspense
  • Conflict
  • Love
  • Humor

 

Consider the story of Mitsuko’s Vineyard.

Their wine is delicious. However, what makes the winery so memorable is the fact that the winery was named after the founder’s late wife, Mitsuko:

When consuming the story of Mitsuko’s Vineyard, customers won’t only think of wine as a liquid that tastes good. They’ll think of it as a symbol of everything that Mitsuko’s Vineyard represents.

Primarily, a beautiful love story.

 

Humor is another powerful way to connect with your customers.

Slo Down Wines are a great example of leveraging humor to connect with potential customers. First, we expect to see another esteemed story about wine-making. However, Slo Down subverts expectations by introducing scenes where the founder smokes cigars and tastes wine naked.

Obviously, this is not a story for every audience.

However, it is a great example of using humor to connect with your customers.

The story you tell depends on your audience.

And in the next section, we’ll show you how to read your customers’ minds and give them the story they’ve been dying to hear.

 

How to Craft Your Winery’s Story for Maximum Impact

Winery marketing is the perfect opportunity to explore the art of storytelling. However, numerous winery owners and founders struggle with crafting impactful stories. To put it simply: they don’t know where to start. Fortunately, we’ve got a few great tips for maximizing the impact of your winery’s story:

 

What Does Your Audience Want to Hear?

Storytelling is an art. Marketing is a science. And when you’re using storytelling to market your winery, you have to make the best of both.

Start with audience research.

According to Wine Intelligence’s 2018 US Portraits report, there are 6 types of wine consumers:

  • Engaged Explorers – Younger consumers who actively seek out wine experiences. They’re the highest spenders, and they’re most prone to experimentation. They’re the ones who will be most interested in storytelling marketing, especially if it depicts the history of your winery.
  • Premium Brand Suburbans – Mid to older-aged consumers who often drink wine, but aren’t willing to experiment or spend a lot. However, they’re very knowledgeable. They’ll be most interested in stories related to the quality of your production, and your varietals.
  • Contented Treaters – Mid to older-aged consumers who don’t drink often, but look for luxury and hedonism. They’re also one of the highest spenders. When approaching them with storytelling, you’ll want to emphasize the richness of your oenological tradition. They look for additional value in wine, and having your winery tell a story is the perfect way to attract them.
  • Social Newbies – They’re the youngest, and wine isn’t fully integrated into their lifestyle yet. They aren’t very knowledgeable, and they usually look for recommendations. They’re the ones most susceptible to a variety of stories, especially if they come with social proof.
  • Senior Bargain Hunters – Oldest consumers who don’t drink wine frequently. They’re value-driven. Appeal to them with stories of your tradition or your winery’s employees.
  • Kitchen Casuals – Kitchen Casuals are infrequent wine drinkers, considered to be one of the oldest segments. They don’t have a lot of oenological knowledge. However, they could be attracted by stories of your winery’s impact on your customers.

Ideally, you’ll recognize some of your customers in these categories.

If you don’t, you can conduct your own audience research:

  • How old are your customers?
  • Where are they from?
  • What is their lifestyle like?
  • How do they buy wine? Do they buy recommended brands, have a few they know and love, or are they willing to experiment?
  • Which obstacles are they facing? What goals are they trying to accomplish?

The more you know about your customers, the easier will it be to create a story appealing to them.

And when it comes to audience research, you don’t just need to know the age of your customers.

Their age doesn’t define the kind of stories they want to hear. Their personality does.

You have to understand your customers’ motivations, fears, and hopes to craft a story they can relate to.

For example, if you’re dealing with Engaged Explorers, you could craft a story about a significant event at your winery. The more unexpected it is, the better. Was your vineyard flooded? Did an important love story take place? A significant development?

Conversely, if you’re dealing with Contented Treaters, they’ll want to see stories about enjoying your wine. Craft a story about all the positive effects and feelings of luxury your wine conveys.

If you have already have a wine club, simply add a little marketing automation to the mix and start gathering the information on your frequent customers.

Pay attention to which content they’re interested in, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting the right story for the right customers.

 

Define Your Brand Archetype

Brand archetypes are a neat trick marketers often use to tell stories about businesses. It’s simple: your customers don’t want to know that you sell wine. They want to know why you sell wine, and how you make an impact.

They want your winery to feel like a person.

Fortunately, brand archetypes help you personify your winery.

Brand archetypes are universally familiar characters your customers can sympathize with. They’re based on Carl Jung’s personality archetypes theory, which states that in psychology, there are universal patterns and images everyone can relate to.

When choosing your brand archetype, it’s essential to keep your customers in mind. You’ll be effectively creating a character that your customers can relate to.

There are 12 brand archetypes:

  1. The Creator – Your brand loves experimenting. For example, your winery works with different varietals, and you use innovative practices to produce wine.
  2. The Jester – Your brand brings fun into your customers’ lives. Remember our Slo Down Wines example? They definitely embody the Jester archetype.
  3. The Sage – The Sage archetype offers wisdom. For example, if your winery has a long-standing tradition, and produces award-winning wine, you might represent the Sage archetype.
  4. The Innocent – Your brand is safe and positive. For example, if you mainly serve customer segments such as Kitchen Casuals and Premium Brand Suburbans, then your brand has to convey the feeling of being reliable in terms of quality and wine experience.
  5. The Lover – You bring pleasure and luxury to your customers’ lives. For example, if you mainly serve Contented Treaters, you’ll want to create a story that emphasizes the pleasure and delight of your wine experience.
  6. The Hero – The Hero isn’t afraid of obstacles; they overcome them with ease while providing quality throughout. For example, if your winery was founded a long time ago, and you’ve consistently won rewards, you might embody the Hero archetype.
  7. The Rebel – The Rebel is thrilling. When your customers think of your winery, they think of excitement. There’s always something new happening, and they can’t wait to hear what you’ve got cooked up next. You’re not afraid of controversy, either.
  8. The Regular – This archetype is perfect for Kitchen Casuals and Suburbans. You consistently produce high-quality wine, and your experience is consistently flawless. Your customers know they can rely on you, and your story should reflect that. Primarily, by emphasizing your employees and the hard work you put in.
  9. The Magician – Your winery changes lives. You’re constantly at the forefront of innovation, and you aren’t afraid to transform the lives of your customers. Stories highlighting customer experiences with your exotic varietals are a great fit.
  10. The Explorer – Your winery is motivated by meaningful experiences; from tastings to experimentation with new varietals. Stories of exploration both in terms of the winery’s history and meaningful experiences are a perfect fit.
  11. The Ruler – Your winery is a leader. You win awards, you’re acclaimed for your supreme quality, and it’s time the world has found out why. Stories showing how you rose to the top, and your practices – which also include your employees - are a natural fit if you embody the Ruler archetype.
  12. The Caregiver – Your winery provides support to your customers. You’re there with them during their most important moments. You care about them and their lives. Stories that show the impact you have, and how your wine changes lives from your winery to your customers’ table are a great way of emphasizing your inherent emotionality.

Your winery can embody multiple archetypes.

If you’re not sure which one fits your winery, take this quick Brand Archetype quiz to find out.

It’ll help you understand what to emphasize in your story.

For example, if you’re the Rebel, you’ll want to emphasize going against the grain. If you’re the Lover, you’ll know that your customers want to see stories of drinking your wine and drinking in the symbolism of luxury it provides.

According to Wine Industry Advisor, the majority of wineries use the Explorer, and the Sage archetypes to connect with their customers.

 

Source: Wine Industry Advisor

 

Some stories and archetypes are more popular in certain price ranges:

  • High-priced wineries often use archetypes embodying openness and conscientiousness, and stories about the region the varietals come from, and founding families/people
  • Middle-priced wineries often embody the Explorer, the Creator, the Sage, and the Hero archetypes, and tell stories of their founding
  • Low-priced wineries are often the Regular, The Sage, The Explorer, or The Innocent, and their stories focus on the founding families and geography

Each archetype has an inherent story lying at the very heart of it.

When you understand the brand archetypes, you embody, and the brand archetypes your customers want you to embody, you’ll write your winery’s story in no time.

 

Pick the Right Medium

Ideally, your winery’s story will be an integral part of your branding. Everything you do should fit the story you created. However, you must tell that particular story somewhere.

You have two choices for telling your story: written content and video.

Written content can be gripping. However, chances are, your customers still aren’t going to spend hours reading your entire story. It takes too much time.

Video is a great alternative.

In fact, video is the natural language of stories for contemporary consumers.

90% of consumers think that video is useful in making a purchasing decision, with 64% of them claiming that video influenced their purchasing decisions.

There are innumerable benefits to telling your winery’s story with video:

  • It conveys emotion
  • Video is more engaging than any other medium
  • It’s educational; viewers are more likely to retain information than readers
  • It shows your customers your personality, and the personality of your winery
  • It helps viewers immerse themselves in your story and sympathize with your winery and your characters

It’s why wineries primarily use video to convey their stories.

For customers, it’s just like watching a movie.

 

The golden rules of telling your winery’s story with video:

  1. Show, don’t tell. Video gives you the power of literally showing your viewers what happened and allowing them to experience what your characters experienced. Leverage angles, colors, lighting, music, and other elements to tell a convincing story.
  2. Don’t focus on your wine. Instead, keep the focus on your story. Your story is already embedded into your end product, and vice versa. Your customer’s perception of value will increase already; you don’t have to be salesy.
  3. Tell one story. Resist the temptation to say everything with your video. You have to decide on the story your customers want to see. You can always tell more stories later on.
  4. Have you thought about your audience? Your story begins and ends with your audience. Make sure your brand archetype fits your personality and your customers’ personalities, and consequently, ensure that the story is convincing to your target audience.
  5. Keep it short. Don’t film feature-length videos. Instead, maximize the emotional charge of every plot segment. 2-minute videos are usually the most successful. However, you can experiment with length, depending on your customers’ preferences.
  6. Strong entrance. A good tip is to start off the video in the middle of the action. For example, your character could be doing something that is very resonant to the viewers.
  7. Big finish. The finale should be the ultimate cathartic point of your story. Your audience should feel validated and happy to see the protagonist resolving their difficulties.

 

When you’ve created your video, test it on a portion of your audience.

For example, you could send your video to email subscribers who open and engage with your videos the most often. If they react positively, it’s a good sign that you should share your story with the world.

And speaking of sharing your story…

 

Where to Promote Your Winery’s Story

Finally, when you’ve crafted your winery’s story and the materials you need to tell it, it’s time to promote it.

You have a few great options at your disposal:

 

Share It on Your Website

When you share your story on your website, it’ll be available to everyone who’s shown interest in your winery.

Your winery’s story should be a prominent part of your website. If you have other content on your homepage, you can add it to your “About Us” page. In any case, a video story is a great way to explain what your winery is about to new customers. You can also use it to drive up the perceived value of your wine in the eyes of existing customers.

Share It on Social Media

Social networks are still one of the best platforms for reaching new and existing customers alike. In fact, 87% of wineries stated that they felt an impact of social media on their sales.

You can tell your story by:

  • Following a consistent social media strategy highlighting your brand (e.g., tastings, food pairings, behind-the-scenes images, posts about awards, social proof, and more)
  • Repurposing your story video as multiple snapshots to share in bite-sized posts, teasing at the bigger story
  • Utilizing strong visuals, as your customers use social media on their phones and need engaging content to retain their attention
  • Communicating with your customers by inviting them to engage with your content and tell you more about their experiences

Everything you post on social media will automatically promote your winery, so don’t feel the pressure to just post about your wine. Behind-the-scenes snapshots and posts inquiring about your customers’ opinions are equally effective.

Jordan Winery in Sonoma is a great example of a winery living out their story on social media:

They make the most out of BTS images, food pairings, lifestyle content, and social proof on their Instagram feed.

 

Facebook is still incredibly effective at marketing your winery’s story.

You can combine the best of both worlds, video, and text, by sharing a post about your story, and how it came to be, accompanied by your video. You can also invite your customers to share their own content with you, especially if it’s related to your winery’s story. For example, if you’ve focused on particular settings in your winery with your story, you can invite customers to share their photos of those places.

Your founder may have fallen in love right in that very vineyard, but your customers experienced special moments of their own, as well.

 

Don’t forget about Snapchat.

Focus on providing entertaining content, and address your viewers as you would if they were sipping wine in your winery.

 

Share It via Email

Email is the perfect medium for acquainting your existing customers with your winery’s story.

 

Best practice tips include:

  • Addressing your customers by name (This is easy to set up in email marketing clients)
  • Personally inviting them to engage with your story
  • Ending the email with a question relevant to your story (For example, What is your favorite [our brand] wine moment? How do you enjoy your wine? What goals are you hoping to accomplish?)

When done right, you’ll be able to use your winery’s story to boost sales in-between club shipments, and motivate your customers to share your story with their friends.

 

After all, your winery’s story is breathtaking.

The world deserves to experience it.

 

Ready to Amplify Your Winery's Story? Give Us a Call!

Your winery's story is a powerful tool for your marketing efforts. The above guide can help you get started in that process. But you don’t have to be on your own. In fact, a partner may be just what you need to get your story off the ground. Contact us to set up a strategy call that helps us better understand your needs, and work with you to build a marketing automation plan designed for your winery business.

Title Name Email Phone
President Drew Hendricks drew@barrelsahead.com (707) 509-0599 Ext (700)