Marketing for Wineries:

Nine Ideas to Jump Start Winery Marketing






August 25, 2013 by Patty Held
Reprint from Midwest Wine Press

It’s harvest time and the busy fall tourist season is almost here.  Perhaps you have been too busy with daily winery tasks to implement the marketing plan created back in January.  So what can be done now to fill the tasting room, turn visitors into loyal fans and increase sales?  Follow the tips below and watch positive things happen.

1. Get found in local search.  Make sure your business listing is found when a potential visitor is doing a local search on their PC or mobile device.  Wineries that are winning local web searches have more customers walking in the door and calling on the phone.  Optimizing your business listing on Google+ Local, Yahoo Local and Bing Local is essential in today’s wired marketplace.  88% of consumers who search for a type of business on a mobile device call or visit that business within 24 hours

2. Add Google Analytics to the winery website.  Google Analytics is a free tool that a web developer can add to a winery’s website. Google Analytics provides the business owner a detailed analysis of website traffic including how people get to the website, either on their own or by referral, what pages they land on, the keywords they use, and much more.  It doesn’t matter if your website is due for an upgrade or not, the key now is to gather information that can be used when you do an upgrade.

3. Position a greeter at the tasting room entrance.  On weekends and during the fall, winery tasting rooms are popular destinations.  If you don’t have a designated greeter, visitors can get ignored by staff who are busy taking care of other guests.  Hire a nice “people person” who smiles and likes to chat.  A name tag is a must too.  The greeter’s job is to welcome people and explain the options available; winery tours, wine tastings, food choices, entertainment.

Oliver Winery Greeter Monica

Oliver Winery greeter Monica

4. Schedule a customer service training session for the tasting room staff.  You are about to have the busiest retail season of the year, and you must make sure that customer service is remarkable.  The goal of a business is to get and keep customers and satisfy their needs at a profit.  Your company can only benefit from a strong customer service culture.  A service focused culture builds loyal relationships with customers and provides a better environment for staff.  Happy Employees = Happy Customers = More Sales.

5. Change the Facebook cover photo to promote upcoming events and website.  Facebook has relaxed its rules on cover photos and you can now include calls to action and website or address information in the cover photo.  There are text restrictions though; you can’t include more than 20% text.

6. Add custom tabs to the business Facebook page.  There’s no call to action on a Facebook fan page until you add one.  Adding a custom tab allows you to collect email signups, sell products and services through e-commerce, and run contests and promotions.  There are also Facebook apps, which allow you to do all sorts of things without having to write code. Up to 11 apps can be added on Facebook, but only four are visible in the thumbnail below the cover photo.  The order of these apps can be adjusted, except for the photo.  In the photo below, Chankaska Creek Ranch and Vineyards in Minnesota, does a great job of using custom tabs with calls to action.

Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Facebook Page, Kasota, Minnesota

Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Facebook Page, Kasota, Minnesota

7. Update the Facebook event custom tab to reflect upcoming events.  This is a free Facebook feature to promote your business. If you are using the event feature on Facebook, make sure to add upcoming events.  If fans click on the event tab and there are only past events, you are missing an opportunity.  Facebook fans may also think you are “closed” for business if there are no future events listed.  7C’s Winery in Missouri, below, does a great job of keeping their event page updated with upcoming events.

 7C’s Winery, Missouri, Facebook Event Page

7C’s Winery Facebook Event Page, Walnut Grove, Missouri

8. Shoot video and take pictures with a smartphone during harvest.  Harvest is a great time of the year to shoot video and photos to use immediately or to save for the rest of the year when you need material to post on Facebook, website blogs and newsletters.  Customers love to see winery action photos and video of a winery task that you think is mundane.

9. Hire a consultant to do all of the above.   You need to do what you do best, so consider hiring someone to do what you don’t know how to do or don’t have time to do.  Consultants can teach you how to do something or outline what you need to do to stay on top of your marketing.

Make it a goal to implement these ideas now to see your winery revenues soar.  For more marketing tips, email or check out her website,



Top Ten Tasting Room Etiquette Tips.

By Patty Held
Reprint from Midwest Wine Press

Spring is here and the busy summer season is quickly approaching for wineries. Visitors will soon flock in droves to wineries to enjoy the weather, the wine aromas and the unbeatable Midwest winery experience.

To ensure all our visitors have a pleasant winery experience, please share these Simple Tasting Room Etiquette Tips with your visitors by posting in your newsletter, website and tasting room.

1. Be polite. Many Midwestern wineries are small, family run wineries that are proud of their wines and operation. Just follow the Golden Rule.

2. Designate a driver and drink responsibly. Tasting samples can add up. By law, tasting room staff are not allowed to serve intoxicated people even if they have a designated driver.  Not surprisingly, police observe the traffic leaving wineries.

3. Enjoy the winery’s picnic grounds but please drink their wine.  Don’t carry in wine from another winery or some other alcoholic beverage you found under the seat in your car. Call ahead to make sure the winery allows you to bring your own picnic baskets.

4. Understand why some wineries will charge a tasting fee. Wineries serve 10-15% of their production in samples. More and more wineries are charging for tasting in order to keep the retail bottle price reasonable for you. (In some places, tasting fees are required per local regulations.) Just like any other business, production costs are not going down, they are increasing. Many wineries apply the tasting fee towards a purchase of wine so it all washes out in the end.

5. Use the dump bucket. You may not want to finish a sample, or it might not be to your liking, so discreetly dump it in the bucket. If you want to spit, ask for a disposable cup to spit into and then dump the contents of the disposable cup into the dump bucket. Other guests really don’t want to watch you spit into the dump bucket…

6. Save the strong perfume and cologne for a night out on the town. Wineries worked very hard to capture the beautiful aromas in their wines and that’s what they want you to smell in the tasting room!

7. Let the tasting room staff do their job by serving your sample. Even though you think you may be helping them out by grabbing the bottle and serving yourself, it’s just not the proper thing to do.

8. Resist the urge to empty the bowl of tiny crackers on the tasting counter. The little crackers at a winery are palate cleansers for you to use in between samples of wine to cleanse your palate before the next sample. Many wineries have restaurants or sell picnic type food for you to enjoy on their property. Plan your visit to enjoy the wineries culinary choices.

9. Have fun but use your inside voice. There are other folks next to you who want to have a memorable experience too. Also, if you’d like to speak on the phone, find a secluded spot away from the tasting bar.

10. Ask questions. Winery staff are just waiting to share their knowledge with you. You have a great opportunity to find out how the wine is made, where the fruit came from, what the winery story is, why that picture of a dog is on that label…and there are no stupid questions.

Special thanks to Waterman Winery in Waterman, Illinois for help with this article and for allowing us to use their winery. Thanks also to Waterman co-owner Alexa Tuntland,  Nisha Aher, and August Ganchiff for the free modeling services



 What’s Your Marketing Plan for 2013?

February 3, 2013 by Patty Held
Reprint from Midwest Wine Press


patty-held-thumb-150x150Recently,  I read a marketing article that said if the fish aren’t biting in your fishing hole, you need to either change your bait, move to a different fishing hole or change your fishing techniques. Look at what you did last year and if you didn’t get the desired results, change the plan.

Start by looking at your marketing plan.  Make adjustments to get more visitors in your tasting room, increase sales and reduce stress. If you don’t have a marketing plan yet,  here are some simple steps for writing one and getting on the right track for 2013.

1. First, what is your marketing strategy? A marketing strategy outlines what you want to accomplish to meet your business goals. A marketing plan provides details on how to accomplish the marketing strategy.  For instance,  if a business goal is to add an e-commerce feature on your website to increase sales by 10%, the marketing plan will outline the details of how to accomplish this goal.

2. What is your mission statement? A mission statement describes what you do, how you do it and why you do it. A mission statement is like the north star of your business;  guiding your activities and leading the way to acheiving goals. Frame your mission statement and hang prominently in the tasting room so all staff and customers can read it. Here’s a great example of a fun, colorful mission statement from Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor Michigan, one of the country’s leading specialty food stores:



3. Who is your target market? What are their wants and needs? You can’t market to everyone, so zero in on those who will buy, and buy a lot. Most businesses have a primary target market that accounts for 30% of sales volume. (Source: Score Blog) Make sure you know who these customers are.

4. Who is your competition? Do a SWAT analysis of your business and assess your competition. A SWAT analysis is a tool to evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  By examining what the compepition is doing right and what they are doing wrong,  maybe you can find a product that they aren’t producing. Could you be the producer for a new niche market product? Think about the potential for adding fruit wines, specialty wines, seasonal wines or charmat products.

5. What is your unique selling proposition? What makes you unique? What sets you apart from the competition? Why should your target market choose your winery or products over the competition? Maybe it’s your great customer service or how your personal passion is expressed at your winery. Here is an example of a unique selling proposition from Purple Cowboy Wine’s website, which is targeting the professional rodeo association. (I am a horse owner so I am their target market.)


6. What is your pricing strategy? How do you decide what to charge for your products and services? This is one of the most difficult aspects of a marketing plan. Some of the factors to consider are: Is your product positioned as a luxury or discount brand? How will price effect demand for your products?  What is the cost to produce the product?

7. What is your promotional plan? How will your target market learn about your unique selling proposition? This includes marketing activities such as internet marketing, email marketing, social media, advertising, public relations, direct sales, and promotions.

8. What is the marketing budget? How much money will you spend and on what activities? Break it down into monthly budgets so you can track return on investment.  Marketing budget spreadsheets can also be down loaded  from or create your own to stay organized.

9. What’s on your action list? Outline exactly what needs to be done and when you need to do it for each of your marketing activities. If implementing an email marketing program is one of your goals, then list all the steps involved including designing, writing, scheduling and frequency. Use a calendar to schedule all your marketing activities to keep on task.

10. Are you tracking results? Track and measure results so you know what’s working and where improvemets can be made.  For example,  online marketing can be tracked with tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.  Offline marketing, like print advertising, TV and radio, can be tracked online by using designated domain names with separate landing pages for each domain name.  Calls resulting from off line advertising can also be tracked by using multiple phone numbers that correspond with each different ad.  The easiest form of call tracking is to ask callers how they heard of your business and document their responses on a phone log.

A marketing plan is an essential part of a successful business. Use these steps to focus on your marketing goals for 2013. For more marketing tips sign-up for my e-newsletter at

Book Suggestion:

One of the best books that have changed how I think about planning is “The 12 Week Year”  by Brian P. Moran. He says that if we think of a year as 12 weeks, instead of 12 months, we will get more accomplished. Focus on the activities that are most important and maintain a sense of urgency to get those things done. Create a master plan; break that down into 12 week increments, focusing on the most important tasks that will generate positive results.

For more information on creating a marketing plan visit Patty’s website at


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