Everybody wants a piece of the winery action. After all, wineries are cash cows that just need to be milked, right?
Yellow Pages: When people go wine tasting, they will just look in the yellow pages under wineries. Wrongo Buckwheat. Have you ever looked for wineries to visit in the yellow pages? Anyway, we get a free listing in the places to visit section of the phone book which might be useful to someone bored to death of porno movies in a hotel room.
Newspapers: usually these are sold two ways. 1) the business card ad at the side of some even being promoted. Or 2) the thank-you ad for promoting the builder that built your tasting room. Neither is targeted enough to gain any results. I have put redeemable coupons in newspaper ads in the past. The only good part was I never had to redeem a single coupon! Always track your advertising dollars.
Magazines: These usually come as business card type ads around a map of your geographic region. The only problem is that the Rattlesnake Hills AVA has been so badly treated in the press, no one wants to support these rags, so we don't even get a map or get a request anymore. The Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail is trying a series of ads, tied to some editorial ink, in the Washington State AAA magazine. This should be fairly targeted to the group of people we want to reach. Advertising in wine mags just gets lost in the myriad of tiny ads jammed on each page. If you can't afford at least a half-page, it probably is money down the tube. Print advertising is good for magazines, not wineries.
Brochures: The Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail publishes an annual brochure listing all 17 wineries. This brochure is available at visitors centers around the state and we pay for distribution at freeway rest stops. Stop at the top of Snoqualmie Pass to take a whizz and pick up a brochure with a map to the wineries. This seems to be pretty targeted advertising.
Freeway Signs: Don't think these work? Think again. Bonair Winery tries to find the sources of our visitors and believe it or not, "I knew there were wineries in the area and I saw your sign" is a common response. You have to be open quite a few days a week to get one, but it is worth is cost.
Visitors and Convention Bureaus: Not only does this get you in good with the local tourist people, they promote members at the visitors information center - especially if they know the visitors will have a good visit. Bonair Winery just signed up for a back-lit sign to go on the wall of the local VIC. There website is a source of many referrals to our website.
Radio & TV: "Hi, this is Jack from KRAP. Do you know you could reach thousands of customers by supporting this ad, 'Bonair Winery is proud to thank our local law enforcement officers this Fourth of July for getting the drunk drivers off the road.'" What the hell are they thinking? Drunk drivers drink Buttwiper in cans, not fine wine. No, we don't encourage driving while intoxicated nor do we want to support your radio station whose readers are either cops or people who drink bad beer.
The Wine Commission: This is a really expensive advertising cost from which we receive little or no benefit. About 1% of our website traffic is generated by them. The Yakima Valley V&C, and the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail generate far more visits, but by law we have to send them the largest share of our advertising budget every year. Their board is a bunch of 'good ole boys' from everywhere but the Rattlesnake Hills. I haven't heard from them in over a year.
Enter Competitions: This is a complete waste of money. The entry fees and shipping fees add up fast. Then there is the free wine; usually 4 bottles of each wine entered. Enter three wines in a competition and you just gave away a case. Best of all, nobody gives a rip. See why we don't enter anymore.
Send Wine to Magazine Reviewers: This sounds like a good idea. A 95 from Paul Gregutt in the Wine Enthusiast should really boost sales. Maybe it would, but the best I have received from reviewers was a 91 and a best buy. The wine didn't fly off the shelf. In fact, nobody seemed excited except the staff. We were elated. The opposite end of that sword is an 81. Hopefully, nobody reads this either, so it shouldn't hurt - except the staff of course.
Google Pay per click: This works well for the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. I am just starting a campaign for Bonair Winery. There are thousands of prospective customers in Portland Metro and Puget Sound who have never heard of us. Hopefully, we can reach them through targeted advertising like Google.
Sell wine cheap: Believe it or not, this seems to be the best advertising - only if the wine is good and ours is. After 25 years, we are finally gaining brand recognition in the Puget Sound market.
Give Wine to Events: We recently received this email:
"I host the Del Sol Classic Horse show in Del Mar California. We traditionally support our local wineries and give away 9 cases of wine during our three horse shows each year to our VIPs. Our shows reach over 600 people daily from the Southern California area who compete in the Hunter/Jumper world. Would you be interested in donating your wines for your chance to promote yourself and our pleasure to support you? Please feel free to email or call be to discuss. I am happy to come visit to discuss further opportunities."
So local includes Washington wineries now. I'll bet everyone jumps on this one.
If you have any other ideas on how to lose money in the wine biz, let me know.