Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Word of Mouth for a Winery

Case Study:
Tehuacana Creek Vineyards, Waco, Texas
Challenge: Create greater awareness in the surrounding communities, generating increased traffic to the tasting room.
Idea Wanted: New ways to generate word-of-mouth about the winery.
The Background: Tehuacana (Tuh-waw'-cun-uh) Creek Vineyards is a small, family-owned boutique winery located a couple of miles outside of Waco, Texas. The owners are a Doctor and his wife; she is the vineyard manager, he is the winemaker. They planted their first vines in 1997 and built a winery and tasting room this year so that they could begin selling their wines. Their biggest frustration is hearing: "I had no idea there was a winery in Waco."

Attempts to market the business led to a wasted effort in the local Travel Host magazine, investing $1500 for a $35 return. The winery has built an email list with 1000 names, which they use to announce new products and promote events. The owners also have some association with the local chapter of the Wine Society of Texas. There is also a large, local wine festival in October, which attracts close to 1200 people.

The TCV tasting room is open from 1-5pm on Fridays and 11am-6pm on Saturdays. Because of the owners' religious convictions, the winery is closed on Sundays. The goal is double the traffic to the winery on Saturdays.

Advice: TCV has some solid assets in place: 1000 name email list, relationship with local Wine Society, and a Local Wine Festival. The key is to leverage those assets into a word of mouth campaign that will cause some conversation within the local community.

The owners also need to leverage the uniqueness of their business into more conversation through local media outlets and civic organizations. TCV is the only winery in Waco, and it can make for a fun and unique afternoon, even for locals.

Our Ideas:
1. Launch a referral campaign using the email list already in place. Email a coupon to the email list worth a certain percentage off the first purchase from the TCV tasting room, then ask everyone on the email list to forward the coupon on to 10 friends. The friends receive the discount too when they use the coupon in the tasting room.
But add another twist: The coupon is also a registration slip for the original forwarder. When the friend brings the coupon into the tasting room, the original forwarder's name is signed to the coupon. Everyone who refers X number friends to the tasting room automatically receives a gift (case of wine, logo shirt, etc.)

2. Email the current list with a graphic of a "Charter Member" membership card and hold a special Charter Members Party in the Fall, featuring wine and entertainment. Include a guest pass to bring another couple.

3. Contact the Wine Society and offer to host an event at the winery at cost.

4. Offer to do a wine column in one of the local community publications. There are two in Waco, The Wacoan and Waco Today.

5. Host a Business After Hours event for the Waco Chamber of Commerce. Or just join the chamber and conduct a ribbon cutting. The Chamber will publicize the event for you and do a write up in the quarterly chamber publication.

6. Contact the local morning talk radio host and invite him out to the winery. Offer to do a weekly wine tip for him.

7. Secure a spot at the Wine Festival and offer sample shots of your wine, pass out flyers with tasting room hours and a map to the tasting room.

The Lesson:
Many times businesses have several assets with easy access that are just not being fully utilized. Look at new ways of utilizing assets like an email list.

Local clubs and civic organizations are always looking for speakers and things to talk about. If you have a unique product or service, or you are making a visible impact on the growth of the community, make connections through social groups and organizations like your local chamber.

If you have more advice, please comment below.
Want your free marketing idea? Fill out this form and submit.For more small business marketing advice, see our other blog: The Marketing Spot. Our website is: http://www.themarketingspot.com/

Note: Our next post on The Idea Spot will be Thursday, September 6th. (Vacation)

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