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October 03, 2008

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rick

It sounds like the don't have a web site at all. So what I'd do is get a free blog at wordpress.com and then buy a few credits to get their domain name redirected to the blog (so that instead of wineryname.wordpress.com people can go to wineryname.com). That starts building brand and identity. Do this now.

Then start blogging about the vineyard project. What an awesome story! Come on, everyone and their cousin can make wine from bought grapes. But this place has had a STORY fall in their laps! Talk about it on their site. Email people they know and say "hey, if you want to follow out vineyard project we're blogging it here... [link]" Then update the site at lease once a week, more if there's cause. Put up pictures (maybe shots from a consistent point of view so people can see the transformation).

Even if someone doesn't see the story unfold in real time you can link to it in 2011 when you're making wine from there - "here's where this wine came from."

BTW, I recommend wordpress.com because you can build out a full site, not just a blog, using the Pages feature (Pages are basically sections of the site). So you can create an About page, a Vineyard Project page, etc and add pages as needed. Pick one of the templates you like, maybe one with a photo that you can replace with a photo/graphic that has your winery name etc in it.

Andrew Kamphuis

I agree that starting a website from scratch can be overwhelming. While I definately agree with Mike's 2006 newsletter that website organization should come before design, I think the first thing should be to develop goals and a strategy for your site.

If you don't have any goals or strategy, you can end up with little more than a nice looking web page and a monthly hosting bill (and perhaps a long term contract), but something completely ineffective and little or no results.

As website developers, the questions we start off asking are:
1. Who is your audience?
2. What is your audience saying now about you?
3. What should they say after the new site is complete?
4. What are the business objectives of the web site?
5. What is the primary goal or responsibility of the site?

In general, most of the time your goal as a winery is to take a prospect, have them sample some wine, then have them buy the wine, turn them into a fan, and then have them join your wine club. Ultimately have them become raving fans. (Now if it was just that easy).

You can facility this customer relationship building with your website. Inside the tasting room and on the website ask people to opt-in to your email marketing. Use email marketing to have these prospects and customers, buy more wine, and at the same time share more of your story (having them learn your story is a key in a customer becoming a fan). Give coupon style incentives to customers to get friend referrals, etc.

If you want an effective site, it's key to develop this web strategy before you start developing your site.

If you take Rick’s suggestions and decide to launch a blog, you should figure out what kind of content you are going to put on your blog, what your story is, who is going to publish it, what the first few posts are going to be about, etc. (Far too often we see a blog, a bunch of posts, and then it dies off)

Mike Duffy

Rick: Typepad also has a "Pages" feature.

Whether you build a blog or a Web site, it's important to use a template-based system so that you can make wholesale changes to the site easily.

Andrew: the goal of every winery Web site should be to ensure that the visitor reaches *their* goal as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Andrew Kamphuis

The visitors goal will depend on where they are in the relationship with the winery.

If they are a first time visitor, they might want to know your story, they might have heard about your winery and want to find tasting room hours, directions, etc.

If they are a repeat customer, their goal is probably going to be to buy more wine.

This is where website visitor profiling comes in.

Mike Duffy

Yup!

Seriously though, the homepage/navigation needs to be focused on visitor goals ("I came here to ..."). Too often, it's about what the winery wants the visitor to do, which they can only influence. And really, you *always* want a way to follow up with the visitor, since it may be the one time they visit. This is where your relationship element comes into play.

But most, if not all, winery Web sites completely ignore the state of the relationship with the visitor (have they been here before? have they bought anything? do we have contact info?)

rick

Andrew,

I fully agree with your points above. But they're general points and this winery has a specific situation. They don't need a website right now. They won't until the new vineyard comes online. So, of course, they could ignore the website until that happens, then walk through the process you describe (and which I use too).

However, they have a unique and interesting story. Most people who plan to increase production do so because they'll have access to a new grape source, etc. These folks have a story to tell that can provide prospective customers a bit of insight into the winery and who there are. They can talk about their vineyard philosophy, clonal selection etc. During this time it's not important for them to do a whole range of things that WILL be important as they start to make wine from the vineyard, i.e. offering wine for sale on the site.

Of course, there's no point starting the site I mentioned above if you're not going to take the time to write about the project. If they just aren't that kind of person, then I'd argue that they don't need a web site until they want to start building a mailing list, having pages that describe the new wines, etc. Also, they need to have a plan for selling 10x the volume that they currently have - a web site will not magically solve that, though it might support those efforts.

But we agree on the basics - what kind of web site they need is dependent on their goals as a business and for the site.

rick

Of course I thought of one more things the second I posted...

Mike mentions 'whether they have a blog or a website' - I don't view them as different. Simply because Wordpress and Typepad typically host blogs doesn't mean that they can't host full sites. That's why I mentioned the Pages features (thanks for the heads up on Typepad Mike) - they could start out with a blog that tells the story, then expand it to add other pages as needed. What those pages are and the content that they house still needs to be informed by business goals, but the software isn't a limiting factor.

The other reason I advocate a hosted site like Typepad/Wordpress is that it's quick to start and inexpensive. You can always move to a self-hosted site if what you want outgrows them (both companies offer standalone versions of the software that can import data from the hosted version).

Fabius

Hi guys, thanks for the comments.

At the moment we dont have a website at all!
(I'll check out Typepad/Wordpress)

I think what you're all saying is more or less in line with what I'd like to do, webpage-wise. Like I said, I won't have a product to sell until 2011 so no online sales section required. That leaves 1. a 'brochure' type section (eg, our profiles, our mission statements/philosphy, description of our work in the vineyard, etc, photo gallery) and 2. a blog section, where we can post our latest activities re recovering the vineyard, inviting comments, telling our story,...

The 'purpose' of the webpage would be then (as far as I can see!): to tell our vineyard recovery story (there must be people out there who would find it interesting?), generate publicity/buzz until vineyard start producing so as to have possible clients lined up, and to have a nice functional webpage ready to be integrated into our overall marketing/sales plan (when we do one). I've probably missed out lots of important points(!) but that's what I see at the moment.

Paul Mabray

I know I am late to the game and Andrew (as always) did a great job illustrating some wonderful points. My advice would be to sit down and write your consumer direct plan with emphasis on customer service. Your website strategy will fall out of this nicely. As to waiting and only doing a brochure site - I actually recommend against this unless you incorporate my next point. While you are waiting for your first release your website goals are - tell your story, create buzz, create a database of customers (trade and consumer) that you develop and maintain a relationship until your launch of your brand. For a roadmap see PinotBlogger.

Nuff said
Paul

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