What should you consider when writing a wine marketing plan?
There is no single answer or list that is right for every winery, of course. But there are actions and processes to consider, whether it’s for a one year or five year plan.
The process of creating a wine marketing plan can be likened to planning a family vacation. Start with the general goals – e.g., relax with the family! — and get progressively more detailed — let’s rent a 3-bedroom cabin! Let’s apply this format to a marketing plan.
Seven Steps to Consider
1. What overall business goals will the winery marketing plan address?
A marketing strategy must be grounded in a concise, written definition of the company’s short or medium-term goals, such as, “sell X cases by 2025,” or “gain retail distribution in Z states in the U.S., by X date.” Start with the big picture before you start talking about campaigns and a marketing mix.
2. Document how and where the brand will compete.
A series of brainstorming sessions—sometimes moderated by outsiders—are useful for identifying and documenting how your brand will complete. Some examples:
a. What is inherently differentiated about your brand?
b. What are the values your brand espouses? What is your brand’s DNA? Do these align with long-term consumer trends?
c. If money were no object, why would you still create a wine brand?
d. What is the 5-year “future state” of the brand given this year’s plan?
e. Why will consumers want to purchase your wine?
f. Where will your target consumers see, engage with and purchase your brand?
g. What will make your consumers lifelong ambassadors?
h. Why will wholesalers and retailers want to represent and sell your wine? What’s in it for them?
i. What is differentiated about your path to market?
3. Identify your marketing mix to include the right tactics.
Matching a set of appropriate marketing tactics — your marketing mix — to address specific business goals takes a disciplined approach. Avoid a common pitfall of starting with tactics rather than your business goals. For example, if your business goal is to drive DTC sales, then PR should not be your primary tool in your marketing toolkit. PR is great for building credibility, but not as efficient as other direct response tools.
4. Start with a Calendar, Budget and Metrics.
Identify what major marketing actions will take place when, how much you are willing to budget for them, and how you’ll measure success or failure. Don’t burn valuable time getting caught in the weeds of creative ideation. Identify whether you need new POS, not the colors of your shelftalkers, for example.
5. Identify Project Champions.
Name one project champion for each major activity or function to ensure accountability.
6. Identify the Process.
So now you know what marketing functions can support your broad business goals, how your brand competes, and a broad overview of what actions will be done when and how to measure them. Next, define and document a project management process that integrates project champions – including inhouse teams and outside partners — with common management tools you’ll use, how often you’ll meet, etc.
But you’re not quite done!
7. Get Buy-in.
Your marketing plan needs buy-in from owners and senior managers. But not just for the obvious reasons. Tap their network of contacts, their expertise, and ensure they’re publicly championing big wins across the whole company.
Additional Benefits of a Good Wine Marketing Plan
Whether long-term or short-term, a good wine or winery marketing plan produces additional benefits:
- Goal Alignment: A clear line connecting marketing actions to larger business goals.
- Message Consistency: Tools that help internal and external teams speak about and present the brand, consistently.
- Transparency: A project management structure with accountability, and that is viewable across the company.
- Accountability: Ownership of results, not just process.
- Excitement! A good plan gets a company excited about the future.
We hope these steps — some obvious, some less so — will help make creating your plan both easier and more effective. Again, it’s not an exhaustive list — we could discuss metrics and budgets much more thoroughly, for example. But it’s a good start that avoids some missteps.
You are welcome to contact our founder and president, Jeremy Benson, for any input or advice on your own marketing plan.
Additional Resources and Related Stories:
- Benson created a “Marketing Communications Guidelines” document that summarizes how to best organize in-house and outside vendors, and how to budget, that packs 20 years of agency experience into a short deck. It’s on our email subscriber signup page here: https://bensonmarketing.com/solutions/
- WIN Interview: Our Sarah Jones discusses virtual press tastings in this interview. https://wineindustryadvisor.com/2020/08/26/win-insiders-benson-marketing-sarah-jones-gillihan
- Interview Series: Here is a good interview from spring 2020 with Jeff Ngo, SVP Marketing, WX Brands. https://bensonmarketing.com/pivoting-and-re-imagining-wine-marketing-digital-dtc-and-pr-winery-marketing-during-covid-19/