That is not what we intended. In the beginning stages of our business, we spent every open hour hand-selling our wine, we answered every phone call and responded to every email inquiry.
Soon we are busy delivering wine to our trade customers, attending pouring events and working the market. It was natural to delegate first the tasting room, then the general email mailbox, followed by our newsletters and social media postings.
All necessary and not necessarily bad. However, every now and then, it is a good idea to check how your brand is reflected across all communication channels. Hopefully, the people you employ to service your customers are on the same page and delivering the same message. If not,it may be time for some re-education or perhaps making some changes.
Often, you just need to be near the tasting room on a busy day to hear what your staff are saying about your wines and your brand. When tasting room staff either don’t know your story or are not comfortable in delivering it, they will miss natural triggers that help make a sale or enrich your brand’s personality.
Recently, I heard from visitors to Walla Walla that a highly-regarded winery’s weekend staff did not share the incredible story on how one of the wines they tasted, had recently been served at the White House. The only way they learned about this remarkable event, was when I heard that they had tasted this wine, I exclaimed, “Did they tell you?” Whoever was pouring that weekend missed making the sale and the great story that would have repeated when they opened the bottle and share it with friends.
Your audit should also extend to how your staff responds to telephone and email inquiries. Often, just a reminder is needed or a quick review of how we do things here at Brand X to get everyone back on your track.
If you don’t have the time or the writing skills to be effective in emails, Facebook (FB), Twitter or your blog, look to hire someone for your team who does, or think about hiring a brand journalist. The latter will help craft your brand stories and write about them in such a fashion that connects people to your product.
Here are some important points to keep in mind:
1) Give your winery staff permission to tell your stories even if they didn’t happen to them. Better yet, be sure that they are given the opportunities to develop their own stories about your brand. While the good ones will find a way to make your brand stories their own and deliver them in their own distinct fashion, others will need to use your models until they are familiar and comfortable enough to share their own experiences with your brand.
2) Keep (for the most part) your personal views off your winery Facebook and Twitter posts. There are a few personalities that their personal brand and the winery brand are almost one and the same and it works for them. However, the more opinionated you are about certain topics, the more you risk turning off your customers or potential customers.
One winemaker/owner was posting his strong opinions about politics on his winery Facebook page. Aside from the first impression he was giving his brand, he was also offending a good segment of his potential market. Very few of us have customers to turn away before they get to our door.
3) Keep your posts professional and avoid posting negative comments about other businesses. I rarely see negative posting by wineries about their neighbors, but I have seen this between retail stores. So bad! Use your FB and Twitter posts to uplift the industry, to celebrate success, to inform and educate.
Social Media guru Chris Brogan advises that you should post four to five updates about your community (online, real, industry etc) for every self-serving one about your product.
3) If others are posting on your winery’s behalf, be sure they employ your tone, topic choice and preferences in their posting. Far too often social media gets delegated to the “young person who gets this stuff” and their posts have strayed away from your concept of your brand. If you are trying to be an upscale sophisticated label and everything about your brand is geared to that image, it will confuse your audience when your Facebook postings are all about stiletto heels and pajama parties at the winery (true story).
4) Do reflect your brand’s core values in every posting and repeat those themes. Don’t be shy about reinforcing certain buzz words or about relating the same concept multiple times, rather try to find new stories that illustrate your brand message.
I am sure there are many points that I’ve missed. I would love to hear about what works for you.