7 ways California wineries can connect with customers sheltering at home
There's a right time for everything, and the right time for your social media communications crisis plan is now.
I have shared details about how to create a five-step social media action plan for business during a crisis and how to keep relationships with customers after disasters. Both articles focused on the North Bay during the fires, but they are also relevant during a worldwide pandemic that is hurting so many in the hospitality business.
Like with any crisis, rules change so quickly that regular communication with your customers is necessary. (Keep your plans up to date through the Wine Institute or the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, aka the ABC.) Right now, the best way to keep your customers updated is through social media, emails, the homepage of your website, and personal phone calls and DMs (direct messages) if appropriate.
Connections matter more right now than ever before
During hard times, it is easier to focus on current customers than on acquiring new ones. Potential customers may not be planning vacations right now, but marketers can focus on their energy on furthering the connection current customers have with your brand. ?
You may have heard that it costs more money to acquire new customers than to focus on your current ones.
This is an excellent time to move some of your marketing budget from trying to get new customers (like ads going to a "visit us" page) to upselling products or services. Update customers with what you are doing at your business to stay clean and safe, perhaps while still being able to ship or provide pickup services at your winery. You can do this by sharing details on social media, creating ads for some of your promotions, and engaging with your customers even more than you share.
Focus on long-term customer loyalty and invite them back once this is all over.
Keep your customers updated through social media: 12 steps
This is as simple as sharing daily posts across all of your social media channels about what is going on at your business. Things are changing quickly, so posting as frequently as necessary is helpful.
1. Be honest about what is happening, even if you are not sure what is going on.
2. Stop all forms of “business as usual” posts; this includes scheduled posts, automated emails, and ads (because an ad inviting people to the winery when you are closed is misleading, and wasteful of your budget).
3. Post uplifting content about your products, but make sure to be empathetic to what your customers are going through.
4. Wine makes people happy and brings some normalcy to daily life for many people stuck at home. People are looking for this! Share content that makes people smile.
5. Be aware of what you and your employees are sharing on your profile pages (these are an extension of your brand).
6. Share links of how your company, or community is helping others.
7. Keep things personal. People do business with other people, and the connection is what people will remember long after visiting your location, sipping on a glass of your wine, or connecting on Instagram.
8. Create personalized video clips or voice messages to share in your best wine club members' DMs/emails, asking them how they are doing (this is not a place to sell unless they ask).
9. Share behind-the-scenes videos, go live on Facebook or Instagram, or do virtual wine tastings, which many wineries have started doing.
10. Create an opportunity to connect through a shared experience of something both you and your customers value (i.e., gardening, sustainability, cooking, entertaining, etc.).
11. Listen more, talk less. If you don't listen to your customers, you'll never understand them.
12. Brainstorm with your team (remotely over video) to think of personalized ways to connect with your customers (e.g., hand-written notes, adding a custom gift to every order, custom videos from the wine club manager, etc.).
Virtual wine tastings go viral
Virtual wine tastings can happen with a general 21-and-over crowd through social networks like Facebook or Instagram, in which winemakers or owners can open up a bottle of their wine and share it live. If you are looking to go this route, make sure to bring something other than “tasting wine online” to the table. Right now customers are looking online to connect with others, get out of their own heads for a bit, and bring some happiness to daily life.
Get in the dirt and find a shared experience with your customers
Dirty & Rowdy Wines in Calistoga has been doing things differently for years. Their core business focuses on online & email sales, events, distribution, and relationships. Even 11 years ago when they first started, they wanted to do something different than the typical winery tasting room. With each experience (both online and in-person) they have with their customers, it is so much more than just about the wine. The co-founder, Hardy Wallace says, “we stripped our winery down to heart, sole and rocks. It was just two guys and a barrel and our customers could see themselves in that.”