Vineyard Marketing Ideas for 2012

Marketing gurus and PR professionals are always on the prowl for unique ideas to create buzz for brands they’re representing. With traditional media and print as we know it on life support, each new successful digital platform launch brings us that much closer to the inevitable.

Giants such as the Wall Street Journal have launched additional sites in their network such as All Things D in 2007, a site ultimately created to compete with the likes of Tech Crunch and Mashable.

Speaking of Mashable, they were just acquired by CNN for a reported $200 Million. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, buy them. It doesn’t take much to understand that there’s money where the eyeballs are.

234 Million Americans age 13 and older are now using mobile phones according to ComScore’s March 6 mobile trends report. Of that number, 100 Million are using smart phones. The ability for vineyards to interact with each and everyone of their customers is easier than ever. Unfortunately, the wine industry is notoriously slow to adopt technology and new media into their marketing plans.

Here are some of my ideas to help your customers better interact with your brand. I’ll preface this by saying you absolutely need to have an updated Facebook page and Twitter account. If you’re still using the old Facebook, update to the new Facebook for Pages- if for nothing else, it shows you’re serious about keeping up with the latest resources available. To see what that looks like, look at ours here.

1. Your Grape Vines Can Tweet

A company called SparkFun has created a device that monitors soil moisture levels and, with the help of an internet connection, is programmed to send out tweets on your plant’s behalf such as, “Please water me” and “You didn’t water me enough”.

This includes updates like, “Thank you for watering me!” after you answer the call for help. Their own plant has a twitter handle @Pothos, who’s last tweet on February 15th read, “URGENT! Water me! [822-57]“. It hasn’t tweeted since then, so we can only assume the worst. Rest in peace, sweet Pothos- your 3,797 followers will miss you.

If I were looking for one-of-a-kind marketing ideas for my vineyard, I would adapt this product aimed at house plants for my vines. Spend the $99 for the kit and have your most tech savvy friend assemble the unit and stick it in the ground with some vines. Better yet, keep it inside with an indoors vine (in a planter) so the bare circuit board and associated electronics aren’t exposed to the elements.

Create a Twitter handle for your new-found grape vine ‘mascot’ who will automatically send out tweets about it’s health. Tell your existing fans across the social platforms you currently use about your new program. They can now keep up to date with the vines that are actively growing the fruit for their favorite product- in real time! The only downside to this is the wired ethernet connection required, but I’d expect to see a wifi unit soon.

So what vineyard has done this? Nobody! Are you listening, Connecticut vineyards? New York vineyards? California?

2. Implement Foursquare as part of your tasting room.

Foursquare is a LBS (location based service) app for mobile smart phones that allows your fans to check in when they’re at your vineyard. The GPS shows they’re at your tasting room and the app shares that status update through their other accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. Nothing makes me cringe more than when I look at vineyards that have hundreds of fan check-ins and no interaction or deals for their loyal fans. Raise your hand if you had no idea people were checking into your tasting room. (It’s ok, there is time to make changes, and that time is now).

“There are really three things that matter when it comes to loyalty,” says Tristan Walker, the Palo Alto-based director of business development at Foursquare. “It’s all about recency, frequency and providing real value to your customer set, which is what we’re doing in the American Express deal. When you combine the data merchants have on their customers with our data, it becomes more meaningful.”

So here’s what I’m thinking: If you offer 6 wines on your tasting list, remove one and only offer 5. Take that 6th wine, be it an ice wine or special blend, and reserve that for only those fans that check in via Facebook or Foursquare. Print the Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare app logo onto your tasting list and let people know they will be rewarded with a secret 6th wine to taste if they check in.


How does that help you? When they post photos and positive comments about how much they’re enjoying their time at your tasting room and vineyard, they’re spreading word to all of their friends (the average Facebook user has 245 friends), who may then become new customers and fans of yours.

I would even have 5×5 vinyl logos of Facebook and Foursquare made and posted on your front door with the text, “check in for secret specials”. This is supposed to be fun, so help people share their experience through social media and make it fun!

You can offer additional deals such as wine discounts, coupons or rewards for users that check-in on Foursquare. For more on the impact of social media on your business, this is also a good read. Need help? I’m available to discuss on Twitter any time @ctfoodandwine.

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