How to Know if Your DTC Wine Marketing Needs Improvement.

From my conversations with various wine professionals in my beloved central coast of CA region, most know that they need to keep their direct to consumer sales fires stoked but only a few feel comfortable with where their current efforts and results. As a small business person, are you ever really happy with your marketing progress? Financial experts say that one way to tell if you need to put some extra energy into your DTC sales strategy is by your wine club. Current data shows a healthy wine club having sales holding strong at 38% of annual DTC revenue with an annual net growth rate of 4% to 12% in California. That same data also shows that online sales are accelerating rapidly while retail sales decline. The vast majority of sources covering this data all point to the same conclusion - DTC sales, from wine clubs to selling on Amazon and everything in between, is the future of both regional and global wine sales and it’s time to make it a priority. Did I just hear an ugh sound coming from your screen? 😁
The primary reason many wine brands are reluctant to commit to aggressively expanding their DTC marketing are the difficulties involved with the electronic marketing tools. I can understand that. The learning curves involved in adopting and maintaining the various electronic marketing tools are steep at first but once they are setup and running, the only headache is filling them with appropriate content. Other hang ups like the lack of a clear ROI picture and all the trial and error required to find that effective content is more time consuming than it is challenging. So where does the real hangup come from? Let’s look at it this way: in order to increase DTC sales you need to increase your DTC marketing efforts that connect your brand to your current customers and to your potential customers as well. Those are not the same customers, and if you factor in the customers that once were wine club members but have since moved on you have three different target customers to reach. So, let’s use the right technology to deliver the right marketing message about your brand and your “brand experience” to your three target customers phones and screens. Easy to say, hard to do right? Naaaah.

I’m not a wine owner, why would you want my suggestions?

I started life on an engineering scholarship to the University of Illinois (Go Illini) but got side tracked into a fancy photography college in Santa Barbara. Somehow a few years later, I found myself shooting features for TIME magazine, shooting ads for AT&T, and photographing US Presidents for a living. For my 30th birthday, I signed a contract with Fujifilm, then with Bogen (now Manfrotto) to be their top-dog bigshot seminar presenter to show the world how I shape the light for my photos, doing radio appearances, TV spots, and loving every second. Then, it happened. While I was creating my own brand of photo educational materials, the photo industry changed quickly from analog to digital, from showing prints in an album to showing images on a website, then from presenting to hundreds live on stage to speaking to thousands via YouTube (half a million views on that one video). Many photographers did not survive the changes, but we flourished because of two simple things: we embraced the changes, and we used all the emerging technology we could find as long as it was making our work easier with no loss in quality. That strategy put us ahead and before you know it we were back on top with the worlds #1 website for professional photographers and the top selling educational DVDs sold in over 100 stores. We adapted and won. Our educational products were born as live content for seminars, then moved to VHS tape, and pressed into DVDs and finally migrated over to pay per view and YouTube streaming until we sold the whole she-banga-bang. It was the same basic educational content and style, simply refreshed and reshaped into different forms while we focussed on keeping our customer connected to our brand. Soon, probably faster than you think, electronic / social media marketing will become the primary tool to keep wine buyers connected to your brand.
With the changes ahead in the DTC wine sales cycle and marketing structures, how do the experts suggest you keep your brand connected to your customer? By choosing the most effective electronic marketing tools available that you can realistically handle. It sure worked for my photo brand and I’m gambling the fate of my new marketing company that it will work for you too. 😉
The phrase I like to use to describe how to be successful in the new era of “DTC Social Media Marketing” is connect, communicate & continue because it fits with just about any marketing opportunity. Maybe you should start by deciding which of the marketing tools can honestly connect you to all three of your target customers then subtract the tools that you just can’t keep up with. There’s no sense building a blog for instance if you cannot keep it filled with relevant content right? It’s better to feed two or three electronic marketing tools with good content than feeding ten tools with weak content. And keep in mind that you may be using one tool three different ways to connect with three different target customers. There’s nothing wrong with deleting your Flickr, or Tumblr or event a stale Twitter account if it’s not doing a thing for you because it will give you more resources to pour into tools that do produce.
So what tools am I talking about? The new tools of the wine marketing trade are (in order of effectiveness) smartphones, text messages, instagram, facebook, YouTube, web pages, blogs, social influencers and email. It’s my opinion that these are going to be around for a while so the time is now to learn about them if you are feeling a little behind.
Using those tools to sell wine means connecting with your customer, then communicating your brand and your brand experience to your target customers again and again and that’s exactly what I can help you with. The goal is to spend the least amount of time and money on the most amount of marketing exposure and that’s exactly what we will do.
In this blog we will be helping you to connect the dots between electronic media… and selling wine.

Shameless plug alert-
And if you need a little more help, please reach out to us? My marketing company, PortraitLink, uses brand new technology with a brand new method of delivering your brand to your target customers by using smartphones, social media, texts and a few darn good ideas. We can also solve the problem of “what do we put on instagram to grab customers attention” every week without draining your entire marketing budget. - Will Crockett

In future posts we will take a fresh look at how facebook helps you sell wine, the real difference between facebook and instagram, finding more target customers, the new laws for social media marketing of wine products, tips on creating effective social media content, and some interesting facts and figures that will help you boost your DTC sales.