Marketing wine is both difficult and simple. On one hand, the competitive landscape is nothing short of shocking, sort of like winery financials in the first five to 20+ years. On the other, the good news is that you already possess your number one and number two marketing tools: samples and a corkscrew. (If you bottle under screwcap, then luckily you don't need the second and will avoid the TSA scrutiny I receive every time I accidentally forget to remove the corkscrew from the diaper bag!)
My 15 years of wine marketing experience supports these statements, particularly my five years working with Symington Family Estates of Portugal, who continue to build their North American business, Premium Port Wines, sample by sample. The family just celebrated the tremendous honor of being named to Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list with the number one and number three wine -- Dow's 2011 Vintage Port and Chryseia 2011, respectively.
Samples are indeed your number one marketing tool, and now we also have the data to prove it. Trellis Growth Partners just completed the analysis of our September 2015 national wine media research study. The results and recommendations report we're launching next week finds that 90% of media are either interested or very interested (65% of the 90%) in receiving samples. A respondent said it best:
“Samples are the best way to evaluate a wine. Tastings and events only give you a snapshot of the wine.
I need to taste it over a course of days to really understand a wine.”
While this finding isn't surprising given that media covering our industry need to evaluate wine to write about it, what is shocking is how many wineries resist investing in sampling. It is true that time and shipping costs add up, but many fail to factor in the value of the coverage samples can generate.
We recently did a ROI study on a client's spring sample mailer, calculating the cost of goods on the wines, shipping, time and materials. When we compared their total investment in samples to the earned media value of the coverage we generated, the figure came in at 20 times return on investment. Note that the coverage is still coming in with two more articles just today!
There is of course a catch, and that is that of the 90% of media who are interested in samples, 41% want them sent proactively and 49% want to be pitched first. This means you need to have a relationship with the media with whom you are trying to influence to cover your winery's story. And it goes without saying that the quality of your wine needs to speak for itself.
Stay tuned on Facebook for our report release next week.
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