Is Your Social Marketing So-So?

By. Neil Williamson, Grumpy Marketing Guy

Last week, I attended a “Digital Boot Camp” designed to bring wineries up to speed on the import and size of the social media market.  The program was very good and I learned a great deal, especially about the rise of Instagram and video, but I left feeling absent the winery’s true voice all the social marketing platforms in the world won’t change So-So Marketing.

Please let me explain.

icons-social-mediaI am a huge believer in the immediate client connectivity social marketing provides.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others all are truly an extension of your winery tasting room.  These platforms foster virtual relationships that can generate interest, enthusiasm and in the long run sales but they are dependent on you (or your designee).

I have been incredibly disappointed by some of the advertising agency driven campaigns I have reviewed that provide generic content for wineries in search of clicks.  The very reason your clients “liked” your page is because they thought you were you.  Why now hand off the content to an outside party with no direct connection to the organization – beyond a vendor relationship.

The Facebook post below works because it is real, it is now, it features winery pup “Chance” and it is a place all the “friends” have seen Stone Mountain Vineyards’  Observation Deck:

Our tasting room is now open for the season. We hope you can visit us!

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Consider Groth Vineyards Facebook notification regarding their Sauvignon Blanc harvest — it is real, it is timely and it is interesting:


Lining up the Sauvignon Blanc today. #OakvilleWine #NVHarvest2016

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When I worked in the political world (Early 1990s) if we designed a campaign designed to flood a congressman’s office with postcards, the congressional staff would refer to such mail as “Astroturf” fake grassroots.
The same is true of corporate driven Facebook and Twitter posts that are devoid of real personality.  Some are click bait (and I hwine disappear superpowerave posted some of these) but they are not the life’s blood of your social media conversation (See Wine Disappear  image).
In planning your social media – I would encourage you to develop not only a social media calendar but to also set goals regarding your investment — while much of social media is free it will cost you time — make it count.
Here is my creative side take away from the boot camp:
  • Be relevant
  • Be real
  • Be timely
  • Be interesting
  • Be consistent
  • Be you
  • Make it count
It’s all that easy, and its all that hard.
Respectfully Submitted,
Neil Williamson, Grumpy Marketing Guy




Labels for a New Winery — Think — But Don’t Over Think

By. Neil Williamson, GMG

smv cab francWorking with new wineries I am amazed at the amount of time and energy put into the label creative process.  While I have written about the importance of being consistent and telling a unique story, time is a limited quantity and it is critical that the other marketing elements receive equal if not greater time than your label.

Grumpy Marketing Guy Rule – For every man hour a new winery works on a label design, at LEAST two hours should be spent on other specific marketing objectives.

Please let me explain.

When a new winery opens their doors, and for a substantial time thereafter, the vast majority of sales will be through the tasting room (also known as out the cellar room door).  Wineries that understand this paradigm know that the only wines they will be competing with for attention on the shelf are their own.

A first time label must be competent and include not only the federal mandates but also a few other marketing mandates.

1.  Uniform Product Code (UPC) – While at first the new winery may not need the UPC for tracking sales and inventory, in the future they and others will.  It is much better to plan for this in your label design now rather than having to add a UPC label to bottles after the need has been established.  I once worked with a winery owner to bring a tanker of French Merlot to the United States and bottle it as a private label for a restaurant.  I unsuccessfully advocated for the UPC on the bottle, he had to hand label over 200 cases after the restaurant failed to make sales objectives.

2. Web address – This seems to be commonplace but even 15 years after the internet took over the world I still find wineries not putting their web address on their labels.

3. Physical address – while this is a part of federal labeling requirements I encourage wineries to think Wine is from a place — not a PO Box

4. Phone Number – see #3

4. Signature – People like to relate to people, I encourage wineries to allow their winemaker or owner’s signature appear on the label with some brief testimonial to wine making goals and objectives.

Other ideas –

Directions to the winery – I tend to believe the limited real estate on the label can be better used than directions.

QR Codes – I believe the jury is still out on the use (or non use) of QR codes.  If you like them use them but track if people are accessing your information from the codes.

Photos – Call me old fashoned but unless it is an unbelievable photo of the fruit that went into the bottle – I tend to steer away from photography on labels

Numbering – I have done the sequential numbering process and it is easier today than ten years ago but unless you are producing a highly allocated wine, I think the meaning is lost on many consumers.

Your label is a part of your business identity be proud of it but don’t over think it.