They've been blogging since early May of 2006, and seem to have taken to the medium, rubber chicken and all. These guys have some of the eccentric humor of Don Sebastiani & Sons and Bonny Doon. Well worth taking a look at.
Hugh doesn't always write about wine, but he's clearly got a point of view worth listening to. I know that most of you simply don't have time to read everything under the sun, so I try to point to Hugh when he's talking about wine.
And maybe blogging will help WLW get their dartboard back!
One quibble with the current design: When looking at an individual post, there's no way to move to the previous/next posting without returning to the archives. This "prairie dog" design (up-down-up-down...) makes reading from the beginning a true labor of love. Fortunately, there are only four posts so far.
Two other minor quibbles - I hope that Kim will rename the link to the blog from the home page of their site (it's presently called "WLW Whines", but visitors who are looking for their blog may not know that's its name), and fix it so that "Subscribe using Bloglines" works from their home page (WLW has company here: most wineries with blogs don't properly support auto-discovery of their blog from the home page of their Web site).
In pointing these things out, I don't mean to single out WLW. The fact is, most bloggers don't use their own blogs in the same way that visitors do. And that's the whole point of The Winery Web Site Report: you have to identify and think like your site visitors. Making them successful will make you successful.
I've subscribed to WLW Whines (thank you, Bloglines), and added it to our comprehensive list of winery blogs as well. As always, if your winery is blogging and I don't know about it, please tell me!
Elsbeth Wetherill at Escafeld Vineyards let Tim Elliott over at Winecast know about the Escafeld winery blog (Vineyard Diary), and Tim was kind enough to pass it along to me. Another well-kept secret, they've been blogging since April of 2005. Recent posts cover the new San Antonio Valley AVA in Monterey County, California.
"...the document is aimed at people in the wine trade who are not only NOT
web savvy, but downright hostile to all things internet in general.
These people have never heard of blogs or The Cluetrain, let alone Clay Shirky.Even AOL is a bit too "out there" for some of them."
And this blog post (the one you're reading) is an example of the publicity and word-of-mouth that can occur even before the wine is received or tasted. Mankas Hills is smart to be the second winery to try this approach. Its pure PR impact will decrease a bit with every subsequent winery to give it a try (although the value of priming word-of-mouth with this sort of offer will continue, at least until bloggers are innundated with free bottles of wine).
My question to Andrea at Mankas Hills: How are you going to track the results of this experiment? At the very least, you should see how many blog posts it generates. But more interesting would be a way to see if you can track sales that are generated as a result, either directly or indirectly.
I'm not encouraging all wineries to try this particular tactic (well, to be honest, I like free wine!), but Stormhoek and Mankas Hills are doing something most wineries don't: trying something completely different. Another example is wineries like J Winery and Mayo Family Winery that added exceptional food pairings to their on-site experience. Can you step outside the lines of "traditional wine marketing"? This really isn't that big a leap - it's giving people who might talk about your wine (influencers) the opportunity to do so (by giving them some of your wine). Smart ideas are often obvious in retrospect.
A special offer sent immediately to new subscribers
See the full article for the details. Here's a quote to entice you:
...if an individual signed up to be on your e-mail list within the past 60 days, he is vastly more likely to open, click, and convert for additional offers than is someone who opted in more than two months ago.
So, when someone signs up for your list, respond immediately with an offer of free shipping, or a hat, or something, with purchase. Train your list members to respond (that's actually an idea I stole from somewhere else, but I think it's key - get people used to acting on offers presented via e-mail).
As always, great information from Anne Holland over at MarketingSherpa.com (although this is via her column at Chief Marketer which, interestingly enough, doesn't follow her advice on their Web site).
(In case you were wondering where I've been, I haven't posted for the past three days due to business travel)
I think that online tools (Web sites, e-mail, blogs) offer wineries a great opportunity to connect with their "fans" (it's one of the original words we used to describe site visitors in The Winery Web Site Report). On the other hand, I know that you probably have too much to do already. So, I offer this up as a Saturday post for those with time and interest.
There are more than 50,000 restaurants in New York City. Perhaps 200 of them are marketing success stories. Yet at the other 49,800 restaurants, the owners spend very little time working on their breakout idea, and tons of time doing stuff that feels a lot more important.
Change restaurants to wineries and see what you think. In a world with thousands of new vintages each year, your challenge is to make people aware of your wine. Chances are, doing it the same way as everyone else won't do that nearly as well as thinking of a whole new approach.
Who are the best wineries when it comes to marketing? What makes them "marketing success stories?" (I hope that Mary, Tom and others will contribute their choices)
I posted every day (including Saturday and Sunday) during the month of May. It was pretty easy (since I can schedule posts in advance) except toward the very end.
If you read this blog regularly, did you find the steady stream of posts made your experience of this blog more pleasurable? I invite you to take a look back at my posts for May, and let me know.
I probably won't be quite as compulsive during June, but I'm glad I tried the experiment. I recommend that wineries who are blogging try to write something at least once a week (and more if inspiration strikes!).